Category Archives: Special Events

GAP turns 15

The GAP children enjoyed some delicious German cake after lunch today to celebrate the German Australian Playschool being 15 years old this year!

We have had an amazing first 15 years. We started in Scullin with two staff, offering one and a half days a week. We now have a delightful facility in Turner, employing five teachers, a director, a finance adminstration person, and two cleaners; and we operate two classes over four days a week.

We look forward to the next 15 years! The committee is undertaking a strategic financial review this year as part of our “best practice” governance and to ensure we continue to steer our organisation in the right direction. We are grateful to the parents who volunteer on the committee and share their expertise and set our policies, fees and directions.

Many thanks to Janne for the delicious cake!

A-Z of Spielwelt in 2021

Here is an A-Z for Spielwelt in 2021, created by our fabulous President Tobias!

A is for ACT Health, who used our hall three times as a vaccination pop-up clinic. The staff even left behind a lovely note in German for us!

B is for Bilingual Education Alliance seminars: our Präsident, Tobias, spoke at two ACTBEA seminars this year on “Raising Children in More than One Language” and “A Celebration of Languages“.

C is for the Committee. Thank you so much to our wonderful 2021 Spielwelt Committee: Christiane N, Emily K, Janne L, Julia B, Lisa St, Minh-Tam N, Salim M and Tobias B! They make sure that this fabulous organisation remains the best it can be, by providing their time, wisdom and perspectives on all things governance.

is for Deft Financial Management. Spielwelt made only a slight operating loss this year, due to covid. This is about 2% of our annual budget, and is pretty incredibly given the pandemic circumstances. In addition, we spent around $35,000 on capital works to improve our hall and playground. Special thanks to Margie, our amazing Finance Admin person, who keeps everything running smoothly.

E is for Environmentally Friendly, which is a very important element of Spielwelt’s ethos. As part of our continuous pursuit of being Keen to Be Green, we banned non-biodegradable craft items and small plastic toys, ran two clothing swaps, decommissioned the second fridge, and looked into more sustainable cleaning products.

F is for Friederike, who is moving to the coast after 10 wonderful years with GAP. She has such a beautiful energy with the children and her colleagues, and she will be very sorely missed by all.

G is for GAP (ist meine Schule), which celebrated its 15th year in 2021! GAP continues to delight children and parents alike, from the very first day of Schultüte, to Karneval, German Easter traditions, picnics, a lantern walk, nature park play days, music lessons, special guests, concerts, excursions, all the way through the year to the ceremonial ribbon archway at graduation. Special thanks to teachers Gerda, Friederike, Lisa3, and Birgit, and relief assistant Amelia, in 2021.

is for Harmonie Connect. Committee Member Christiane spoke on behalf of Spielwelt at an event hosted at the Harmonie Club in January. The event allowed people to hear all about the amazing German, Austrian, Swiss and German language organisations from across the ACT, including us!

I is for “Ich geh mit meiner Lanterne”, which could be heard again through the crisp night air of Haig Park at our Lantern Walk in June. An estimated 200-250 parents and children joined in the festivities and shone light into the dark winter!

J is for Juice from Grapes, Fermented Quickly aka Federweisser! In March, we were able to celebrate our first combined event since 2019, with a glass of delicious Federweisser, a slice of Zwiebelkuchen and the warmth of the fire barrels.

is for Konzerte: It was such a joy to be able to celebrate the end of the year with our GAP Konzerte. The children enjoyed singing a sample of their repertoire on the new deck in the playground. After our encore, the final act was having parents and children dancing and singing along to the highly popular Tschu-Tschu-Wa!

L is for Lockdown: we made it through another one, we hope we won’t have to go through any more, and think that this Aranda School sign put it best…

M is for Mäuse, die schlau sind: our Schlaumäuse program again provided wonderful play-based German lessons for children in Kindergarten and Year 1. Special thanks to Stephanie for her amazing work that she does for this program.

N is for Nikolaus, who was able to visit GAP, Pfadfinder and Spiel und Spaß again this year. All of the children left their shoes out in the hope of receiving Zuckerstangen, and also were able to show Nikolaus how they can jump, sing, dance, run and read poems. Nikolaus returned the favour to some children by showing how he can (almost) fly! Special thanks to Tim and Tobias for helping guide the good saint our way this year.

is for the Online Resources that kept us all a little bit saner during lockdown. There are so many ideas in the Spielwelt Remote Learning pages to keep up your children’s exposure to German over the holidays. Plus don’t forget to check out our online German language children’s media list and the Spiel und Spass Spotify playlist!

P is for Pfadfinder, who have been busy this year learning about German traditions, culture and history through fun games, as well as going on hikes, canoeing, orienteering, helping others, baking to raise funds for charity, learning to service their cars (our L- and P-Platers), making amazing nature art, floating home-made boats, treasure hunts and LOTS more. Special thanks to our leaders: Jens, Wolfgang, Stephanie, Struppi, Melanie, Alice and Lisa, and all of the Adult Helpers who make this such a great program.

Q is for Quality Children’s Services, with the successful renewal of our Children’s Services Licence for another three years. Special thanks to Lisa for the mammoth effort that goes into this process.

R is for Raises for Staff: The committee is aiming to increase staff wages in recognition of the important, and often under-valued, work that childhood educators do every day in caring for and educating our little people, and the big responsibility they take on.

is for Spielgruppen: Spiel und Spaß, and Spiel und Sport. We have had such fun growing and playing together this year, whether in person or on Zoom. Next year, we will launch Spiel und Spannung, in addition to continuing Spiel und Spaß. Particular thanks to Seyhan, Doris and Meike for all of their wonderful work in organising the groups and fantastic activities, whether online or in person.

T is for Teachers: we all know that we’ve got the best teachers at GAP, and they’ve won yet another award to prove it! We also welcomed the fun-loving Toby to our GAP staff in 2021. In the words of one of our little people: “I like Toby, he is richtig gut.”

is for Upgrades to the Hall, which included the Black Forest Retreat in the north-east corner and the amazing murals around the hall. We’re also looking forward to seeing the new fans in the hall and our new sandpit, both to be installed in early 2022.

V is for Volunteers – without them Spielwelt wouldn’t exist! A huge thank you to all of our volunteers in 2021, whether you helped lead one of our programs, kept the hall in top shape, helped out at one of our fabulous events, or did the little, often-unnoticed but super important things to make sure everything we do runs smoothly.

W is for Wolfgang (der Wolf), who took over leading the Joey Scouts from the wonderful Alice this year, has been on the leadership training course, and brought such joy to our Joeys.

is for X-mal, for the countless times that you checked in, washed your hands, wore a mask, kept socially distanced and stayed home when you were even just a little bit sick to make sure that we all remained safe. Thank you!

Y is for Yummy Mangoes: despite smaller trays due to a lower harvest, we still raised funds for Spielwelt and filled big and little tummies alike!

is for Zweitausendzweiundzwanzig! We can’t wait to see you all again for more fun next year, whatever comes our way!

Raising Children in More Than one Language

The ACT Bilingual Education Alliance recently held an online seminar for families and educators helping to raise children in more than one language.

This informative seminar with Dr Mandy Scott (a linguistics researcher at the ANU and undoubtedly Canberra’s foremost expert on bilingual education) outlined the benefits, approaches and challenges, and then a wealth of knowledge was shared by panel members from the community as well.

You can read our Committee President’s panel presentation text in German and in English, and his reflections on the seminar. (He lost his voice shortly before the presentation, so when you watch the recorded seminar you’ll get to hear his robot voice covering his presentation.)

There is a recording of the one hour session that you can watch, including some excellent discussion and ideas being shared.

Lantern Walk 2021 Report

Somewhere around 200-250 parents and children attended the 2021 Lantern Walk, and enjoyed seeing the children’s hand-crafted lanterns, the delicious Bratwurst sausages and sauerkraut, the German music, the warm tasty Gluehwein and yummy Kinderpunsch, singing the lantern walk songs, the atmosphere, catching up with friends, the little bonfires, the Pfadfinder play about Sankt Martin, and of course the lantern parade.

Thank you to the organisers and everyone who contributed food and volunteered at the event. We all enjoyed it!

Here are some photos. If you have more photos (particularly of the gates of Amiens at night, the Children’s Circle parade in the ‘forest’, and the Pfadfinder play), please send them along so we can post them for all to enjoy.

We started the event with a meet and greet…. and EAT !!! Thanks to our BBQ volunteers and to Thomas at Brathaus for the German sausages.

The barrel bonfires provided a nice atmosphere and warmth all evening.


There was a chance to show off our lanterns while it was light, as well as when it was dark.

As it got dark, we assembled to sing the lantern walk songs, with the help of Sonia (vocals) and Silke (guitar) and the lyrics projected onto our ” Gates of Amiens”

Laternen Licht verloescht mir nicht, Rabimmel rabammel rabum!

After practising all the lantern walk songs, it was time for everyone to walk under the “Gates of Amiens” to start the parade through Haig Park.

Our lanterns helped guide the way, along with little lanterns hanging in the trees to mark the route. It was dark, but our voices carried us all along!

The parade stopped amongst the trees in Haig Park, and formed a protective circle of parents and scouts along the perimeter, while the young children paraded their lanterns in the middle of the circle while we all sang.

It was a delightful evening, and quite enchanting to see the children with their lanterns and their friends.
Minh-Tam, one of our committee members (and last year’s Spiel und Spass co-coordinator) kindly carried the Jelly Fish Lantern this year. This lantern is an easily recognisable safety spot for anyone needing first aid or lost children to be quickly reunited with their parents.

Our children’s circle parade was quite large this year! Many folk really appreciated being able to gather outdoors like this to socialise.

The lantern walk can be quite a colourful spectacle!

Lantern Walk 2021 – Plan Your Visit

The Turner Scout Hall and surrounding Haig Park will come alive with bobbing lanterns, excited children, traditional lantern walk songs, families socialising and delicious food on Saturday 19 June 2021, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Bring cash for food and drinks: $4.00 per German Sausage; gold coin donations for each mug of Gluehwein, Kinderpunsch or soup, and each serving of other delicious foods. Water is free. (Participants are encouraged to bring a plate of finger-foods to contribute to the tables. Members: see the volunteer sign up list.)

Dress warmly and wear footwear suitable for walking on wet grass.

Covid safety rules apply: Stay home if you are unwell. Distancing of 1.5m between different families at the event. CBR check-in app is mandatory.

The order of events are:

4:30pm Arrive, CBR check-in, purchase food/drink tokens, socialise, browse the children’s clothing swap table. Food tables and BBQs begin to serve.

5:00pm MC gives official welcome while folk enjoy food, drink and each other’s company.

5:25pm All gather to sing lantern walk songs (covid-singing for 2021), as food tables and BBQs start packing up.

5:45pm The parade commences.

5:55pm Parade forms a circle amongst the trees; young children’s parade inside the protective circle of adults.

6:10pm When the children’s parade finishes, adults should STAY IN THEIR CIRCLE FORMATION until we have reunited all children with their parents.

6:15pm Parade arrives back at the scout hall and assembles at the stage (behind the scout hall) to watch the Scouts’ play about Sankt Martin.

6:30pm Pack up and head home. If everyone tidies up at least three items, the job will soon be done.

6:30-8:30pm Fire-side chat for those people with older children who want to stay on for the “after party” (and help with the clean up).

8:30pm Scouts aged 11-14 are staying at the hall overnight for a sleepover (2021 only)

Read more about the lantern walk event here!

What Makes Spielwelt Special

The committee has been discussing “who is Spielwelt and what makes it so special?”

These are some of our answers:

  • German language
  • We are welcoming
  • Teachers spending time with children rather than admin during the day
  • Teachers having the time to show care and love to each child and family
  • We look at the family as a whole
  • We consider each family part of our wider Spielwelt family
  • Families can progress from playgroup to GAP to Schlaumaeuse and Pfadfinder
  • We host great German cultural events each year
  • We enjoy small numbers, so families have a personal experience
  • A great sense of community (including at our events and working bees)
  • Great teacher:student ratio at GAP and Pfadfinder
  • Teacher retention is high: most of our teachers have been with us for quite a few years
  • Experienced staff
  • Committee involvement is high quality
  • We go on really cool excursions (at GAP and Pfadfinder)
  • Parents make friends too (as well as children making friends)
  • Our mental health program is strong
  • We are keen to be green in our operations and events

Clothing Swap 2021

From 7 to 19 June* 2021, we are hosting a second hand stall for quality baby or children’s clothing up to size 12. Tables will be set up in the east foyer (the coat hook/red hat room). Parents are encouraged to donate quality children’s clothing their child has outgrown, AND / OR  browse through the many donations and take whatever they like for free. 

If you don’t find anything suitable one day, check back the next day or week, as fresh items will have arrived.

*The last day will be 19 June, which is also the day of the Lantern Walk, so remember to check the tables when you come that evening.

Photo of just a few of the clothes available last ime, after lots of clothes had already changed hands.

Thanks to Emily, our committee’s “Keen to be Green” officer, for organising this.

Anything left on 20 May will be donated to our nominated charity Round About Canberra, or to Salvos or Vinnies. Enjoy!

Nikolaus at GAP in 2020

Der Nikolaus war da!  The children had a really lovely visit from Nikolaus this week and since parents couldn’t attend this year, I thought I’d share this blog with you. 

The day before our visit from Nikolaus, we baked and decorated some wonderful Christmas cookies, ready for him.

With the aroma of our baking still lingering in the air and a delicious feeling of anticipation this morning, we lined up our shoes very neatly near the door, and went to sit in our morning circle to sing some of our Christmas songs that we have been practising.  Then just as we were excitedly discussing Nikolaus’ expected imminent arrival, there was a loud knock at the door!  Der Nikolaus war da!

Nikolaus made a rather spectacular entry (the jury is out as to whether he meant to trip on the stair or not), and the children sat in awe, with big eyes and big grins as he made his way gliding along in his grand outfit to the morning circle to join us.  Nikolaus wears a snowy white robe, a flowing cloak, a tall mitre hat, and he carries his bishop’s crook and golden book.  Our classy Nikolaus was also sporting a very smart bow tie. 

Nikolaus introduced himself and kindly said that the children could call him Nikolaus or Nik or Niko… but please NOT Laus!

Nikolaus asked what the children had been doing at GAP so we sang our GAP school song to him, in which one of the lines is “wir basteln, singen, spielen und lernen hier”.  He enjoyed hearing that and said he also loved Christmas songs, so he joined the children in singing O Tannenbaum.

Nikolaus is a wonderful singer.

There was then even more merriment as Nikolaus pretended to get the children’s names mixed up, and asked them to show him various tricks they could do like walking backwards, hopping on one foot, jumping as high as they could, singing as deeply/high/loudly as they could, etc.

Showing Nikolaus how we can roar like a lion.

Some children showed Nikolaus how they could dance, and at one point Nikolaus stood up to show the children how he could spin around and twirl his cape!  We all LOVED him!

Nikolaus’ twirling cape

Nikolaus then treated us all to a demonstration of how high he could jump:  He sprang up from behind the children, leapt over their heads and landed with gusto in the middle of the circle!!!!  We were all AMAZED!  I can guarantee that nobody has ever seen this sight before in the history of Nikolaus (and well done, Lisa3 for capturing this shot)!

Never-before seen footage of a flying Nikolaus!

Every child received a delicious apricot and a Christmas chocolate from Nikolaus, and I’m sure he made a note in his Golden Book of Good Children about those children who remembered to say “Danke”.

The class presented Nikolaus with some of the cookies they had baked and after admiring each of them he said he would take them home to his wife Frau Nikolaus.  

We were able to get a class photo with our wonderful Nikolaus.

Nikolaus departed as the children sang the last verse to their Nikolaus song, about how grateful they are to him…

Nikolaus ist ein guter Mann
Dem man nicht genug danken kann
Lustig, lustig, tralalalala…

When the children went outside to play, they each found a little treat from Nikolaus in their shoes. 

Thanks, Tobias, for being our GAP Nikolaus this year (as well as being on the committee and co-coordinating Spiel und Spass). Today’s performance will definitely become legendary at Spielwelt!

sniffles and coughs: When Is It Okay To Come Back?

The health advice is clear: stay home if you are sick. This applies equally to adults and children. It applies whether it is a simple cold, flu or the dreaded coronavirus.

So, the rules at Spielwelt are:

Stay home if you are sick. Even if it is just a cold.

You can return when you are symptom-free.

The only exception is for a lingering dry unproductive cough IF it has been 14 days since your cold started AND all the other cold/flu symptoms have cleared up.

How long do you need to stay away from playgroup, playschool or scouts though?

We have sought advice from our resident doctor and infectious diseases expert to help us all clarify when children with sniffles or coughs can return to their groups.  His advice is paraphrased here:

The short answer is that people can be infectious while they have symptoms. … In most cases of cold or flu, children will be infectious for around 5-7 days (but perhaps up to 2 weeks). Even after people have recovered, some may have a persistent cough for quite a while. This is usually not because they are still in any way infectious, more a reflex to the damage done to the airways that causes them to be extremely susceptible to any kind of irritation. More information about catching and caring for colds can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/common-cold/

Why do I need to keep my child home when it is just a cold?

Whenever a simple cold spreads to other children and families or staff members, it means those people then also have to take time off sick or unnecessarily to isolate and get tested for coronavirus.

Do I need a note from the doctor?

There is no requirement from Spielwelt to present evidence that you have recovered from a cold or flu, or tested negative for coronavirus, in order to start attending sessions again. (Obviously, you should stay home and get tested if you suspect you might have the virus, though!)

It’s just asthma!

Children who have an asthmatic cough can attend, and are likely to have their puffer with them. Asthma is not contagious.

Our apologies and thanks

Sorry to make you stay home when you are busting to join us, folks. We know it is hard, especially for our GAP families needing to get back to work – but you are doing your bit to help protect everyone else and we all appreciate that.