Christmas Around the World: Germany

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

I love teaching Geography and Christmas time is the perfect time for interweaving your Social Studies (History) with Geography through the study of how Christmas is celebrated in other countries.

Over the next few weeks I will show you how you can take your early years students on a journey of discovery to learn about different cultural celebrations around the world.

This week Germany!

All the materials for exploring Germany can be found in my Christmas in Germany pack, available for download here.

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

HOW THE GERMANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

Christmas Eve in Germany is called Weihnachten and is typically the beginning of Christmas celebrations for many German families. In preparation for Advent, families prepare for the arrival of das Christkind (the Christ Child). Traditional advent activities include the Adventskranz (Advent wreath). Children also enjoy the advent calendar, which contains twenty-four doors, one of which is opened each day leading up to Christmas. Many advent calendars contain a chocolate treat behind each door or pictures of a holiday scene. 

During the Christmas period, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) become a feature of almost every city, town or village in German-speaking countries. 

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

On the 6th December, Germans commemorate Saint Nicolas (Nikolaustag) by placing a boot outside the front door and overnight the Nikolaus (a figure similar to Santa Claus) visits the house and fills the boot with sweets and small presents if the children have been good. If the children have been bad, they receive a twig from a birch tree!

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.


GERMAN CHRISTMAS FOOD

Germans really love their food and Christmas is a time for children to become really involved in food preparation through icing gingerbread people (Lebkuchen). Stollen is a traditional German bread made at Christmas time and can contain fruit, nuts, spices and candied fruit. You can purchase Stollen in most shops (I purchased mine from ALDI but most shops have them stocked for Christmas) or you can make one of your own if you have students who are sensitive to nuts (recipe included). Nothing will engage visitors to your classroom more than tasting food from another country! 

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

In this pack I've also included some German paper dolls for students to make as they add something magical to a classroom display and teach children about traditional German costumes. 

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

Let children find Germany on the map and then plot its relation to your own country. Use Venn diagrams to compare German Christmas traditions with your country. Hand out flyers to visitors to your classroom (complete with passport stamp!), colour in posters and make foldable brochures on Christmas in Germany. There is just so much you can do with this activity in your classroom!

Christmas around the world: Germany. Take your students on a guided exploration of German culture and traditions at Christmas time. Perfect for your geography or social studies lesson.

The Christmas in Germany pack can be found here, along with the Geography pack All about Germany. 

Christmas around the world. Take your students to Germany by exploring German culture and traditions at this special holiday time. #foundationintofirst #techteacherpto3 #germany #christmas #geography #socialstudies


A fun, hands-on experiment with changing states of matter, that your students will love!

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

Year 3 Science ACARA tells us that students need to investigate how liquids and solids respond to changes in temperature and, like any task for young students, the best way to demonstrate this is through a fun hands-on activity.

No child can resist chocolate, so you have your lesson hook already!

Here are the steps I undertook recently to teach this concept to students using the Chocolate Experiment Flip Book available in the Year 3 Chemical Sciences pack.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.


1. We reviewed our prior knowledge about solids and liquids

After a discussion we undertook a quick cut, sort and paste to refresh ourselves on what these concepts were. We also reviewed the criteria for a solid and a liquid, whilst reviewing different states of matter.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

2. We posed questions

We took our flip books out and cut and pasted them together (super quick and easy) and began to pose questions about turning a solid into a liquid. 

Teacher note: It's important for students to understand that science is about posing and answering questions and there is a Scientific Process we need to follow with any experiment (free posters available here).

3. We tried to predict what might happen during the experiment

We thought about what we knew about hot and cold, solids and liquids; and then tried to predict what might happen when solids were heated or cooled.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

4. We undertook the experiment and observed what happened when we heated the solid

We melted the chocolate in the microwave (this took a few attempts to get the timing right - around 2 minutes) and then observed what happened to the solid. Was it a liquid? How do liquids behave? How do solids behave? We marked our observations against the criteria in the flip book. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

5. We then cooled the liquid and observed what happened.

Teacher note: spray some oil on to the ice cube tray before pouring the melted chocolate in, it will come away much easier after it has frozen. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

6. We recorded our observations

While the chocolate was freezing we decorated our flip books and practised writing our observations using key scientific terms. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

7. We examined the results of our experiment

We looked closely at the results of our experiment and made some observations about how the state of matter changed from solid to liquid (with some students eating the experiment afterwards!).

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

8. We concluded our experiment

We finished our experiment by concluding what we had found about about solids and liquids, how we knew this to be true and how we can communicate our findings in writing. 

Teacher note: this is where you can use the vocabulary cards that come in the pack to help students with their writing. Make a Science Word Wall on one of your walls in the classroom and encourage students to come to the wall to write down the key terms and use them in their written response. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

You can find the flip book used in this experiment, full teacher instructions, posters, worksheets and more flip book experiments in the Year 3 Chemical Science pack.

There are free Scientific Method Posters available here.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.  #techteacherpto3 #teaching #science #experiments #elementary



How to discuss Remembrance Day with young students

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914 - 1918), which makes this year a major event in any social studies calendar.

As part of the Australian Curriculum HASS for Foundation Year, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 studying community celebrations and commemorations here and around the world is a large focus, so all year levels can benefit from studying Remembrance Day.

Any discussion about war and death can be difficult topics for young students to explore, however, they are essential foundations of knowledge that early years' students need to have in order to understand the 'why' of how we commemorate. So what key points do you need to keep your students focus on when teaching about Remembrance Day and how can you do this in an effective way? Here are some of the ways I unpack this event for primary school students.

REMEMBRANCE DAY IS A COMMEMORATION NOT A CELEBRATION

During the lead up to ANZAC Day I heard many people talking about the upcoming ANZAC Celebrations... we DO NOT celebrate ANZAC Day, we commemorate it. Likewise we commemorate Remembrance Day (in the United States Veterans Day has  replaced Remembrance Day as a celebration). It's so important that students understand the difference between the two types of events. If you need to teach this to students you will find this pack particularly useful for sorting the two types of events. 

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

WAR CAN BE SCARY AND WE MUST NEVER FORGET THIS

The phrase 'Lest we forget' is important to teach to students. Yes war is scary. War is dangerous. Many people die in a war. Lest we forget this - for if we do, it can so easily happen again! Students must understand this line because it is key to why we commemorate Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day and state the ode during official assemblies.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

THEY WILL NEED TO STAND IN SILENCE FOR TWO MINUTES

Standing in silence can be almost impossible for young students, however, it's important they understand this tradition and observe it. On November 11 I always tell students early in the day, that they will need to stand very still at 11 am for 2 minutes silence. I explain that this is a time we are to spend reflecting on the sacrifices made by our armed forces and the impact war can have on people's lives.

I've always found this video to be particularly powerful for showing students that standing still during the traditional 2 minutes silence is respectful and appropriate.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

THE POPPY IS A SYMBOL OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

Although we are now seeing the poppy as an acceptable flower to help commemorate ANZAC Day, it is still the traditional and widely recognisable symbol of Remembrance Day. The history of why the poppy was chosen is a difficult one to explain to young children (the red symbolises the blood-soaked battlefields of northern France and Belgium during the First World War) but there are some picture books that cover this topic in a child-friendly manner.

Some of my favourites include...

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Crafting a poppy can make a fun final activity and these poppies can be used in a whole class display or as part of a writing prompt for students to display their learning.

You can download a free Poppy Craft activity sheet here.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


INVITE A MEMBER FROM THE ARMED FORCES TO YOUR SCHOOL - PAST OR PRESENT

Not only does an incursion of this kind allow students to practice their questioning skills (older students should be working on developing open questions by now) having a real person to ask questions to can be a fantastic way to make this a real experience and put flesh on the bones of history.

Students might like to find out about the different branches of the armed forces and how these differ from country to country.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


If you're unable to get a person from the armed forces to attend, past or present, then let your students write to a member of the armed forces currently serving through the Message to the troops page. Students can write a postcard or a letter to service men and women to thank them for their courage and ask them questions - they might write back!

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


Interesting facts
  • Did you know that the United States do not commemorate Remembrance Day on the 11th November each year, but instead call this day Veterans Day and it is a public holiday.
  • In the United States Remembrance Day was initially called Armistice Day but was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
  • Veterans Day is a celebration and honours military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
  • Veterans Day in the Unites States is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a public holiday in May, which is a commemoration of those who died while in military service. 
How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Powerful picture books on natural disasters

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Picture books are a highly undervalued teaching resource, with many teachers leaving them to the early years teachers. However, having taught all grades, I can let you into a secret - picture books are powerful!

Nothing tells a story quicker than a picture book, because pictures DO speak louder than words. Facial expressions, colour and paint techniques, shades of light and dark - all of these things can be expressed to students through good quality picture books. By exploring communication through not just words but pictures, students develop a deeper understanding of text structures. They can also build their visual comprehension skills, which are vital for all subjects throughout their school years. 

I want to show you 4 books by the wonderful Australian author Jackie French, each one a visual feast on the raw emotion a natural disaster can have on a community. 

I have used these picture books for teaching English (visual and reading comprehension), Visual Arts (the use of colour and line to express meaning), Science (exploring natural disasters) and HASS (seasons weather patterns and their impact on the landscape).

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Beautiful illustrations compliment this book so well. Bruce Whatley really captures the feeling of a real fire. Perfect for discussing the use of colour and tone to give the impression of heat. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Raw emotions are captured well. Great for a discussion about body language. What are they feeling and why? How do they know what? Encourage students to look deeper and explore the visual imagery as evidence to support their statements.  

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

How do you show something is drenched in water? What does it feel like to be in a flood? What are the people in the flood feeling? What are the colours of a flood? The images evoke a powerful imagery of what is it like to live through a flood. 

Brisbane teachers may want to pull up videos of the huge Brisbane flood of 2011 and watch some videos of the Mud Army (who helped clean up). You don't always need to focus on the negative of a natural disaster, these things actually bring people together and it's important to show students both sides of a natural disaster. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.


Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

A cyclone is a terrifying experience and one that can be difficult to discuss with very young students. However, these are life experiences some of them may have already discussed with family members. Find out what they know about cyclones before discussing them. Great for older students, this book shows the emotional impact of a cyclone on families but isn't too graphic. Students often explore the scientific reasons for cyclones but talking through a book like this helps students explore the multidimensional aspects to natural disasters. Who is affected and why? How can they prepare themselves for next time?

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

As Australia is experiencing another drought filled year, how does the drought impact on your students? This text would tie in so beautifully with any study on where food comes from. Where do your students get their food from and how will the drought impact on their food choices? Why is it important to help the farmers? 

In addition to exploring some big newsworthy topics, this text has the most endearing illustrations. The emotion on this farmer's face is full of worry, sorrow and anxiety. Drawing dry/arid objects is also another challenge so worth using topical book studies to tie in with any Science study of the properties of objects as well. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

I just love these text from Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, they are so versatile for primary classrooms. How do you use yours? 


Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students. #foundationintofirst #teacherblog #teaching #ideas #picture #books