Category Archives: playgroup

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 of around $6,000. This is about 2% of our annual budget, and is pretty incredibly given the year we’ve had. 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 Childcare, 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: All GAP teaching and administration staff are now paid 12.5 per cent above the award wage, up from 10 per cent previously. The Committee has also pledged to slowly increase this to 15 per cent in coming years, as long as this remains financially appropriate. The increase is 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 $360 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!

Playground Corner Upgrade

After years of trying unsuccessfully to get some greenery to grow in the North-East corner of our playground, we called in Canberra-based playground expert carpenter and educator, Aaron from Pallet Play.

Aaron’s background in early childhood education combined with his artistic talent, experience with playground creation and carpentry construction skills were the perfect skill set. Our director and some of the teachers, committee and children all provided input into the design, and the Black Forest Retreat was born.

Aaron was happy for the children to be involved and ask questions while he installed it, which they enjoyed. Once the children could see what the finished product was going to look like, the most common question of course became “Have you finished yet?!”

The children were interested in the construction and had many questions.

The new corner space provides a deck, a stage, a hiding retreat area when the curtains are drawn, a cubby, a display area, a house, a horse stall, a colourful forest, a pretty reading corner, and much more.

The new corner cubby deck is also a great place for a class photo with its creator Aaron!

There is a forest theme inside, and when the sun shines through the leaf-shaped cut-outs, the interior lights up with pretty colours which move around as the sun does. When you dance on the stage, you can have pretty coloured lights on you. When you hide in the cubby, the colourful lights add a fun atmosphere. When you lead your horse into the stable, it becomes a unicorn.

The early morning sun has just started to shine through our beautiful colourful forest onto the stage.
What a lovely surprise: the colourful leaves shine onto the curtains in the mornings too!

Do the trees look familiar? They echo our indoor tree art made by the Pfadfinder scouts with our artists in residence, Byrd and Hanna, a few years ago.

We can hardly wait to see what Aaron’s magic will do for our Sandkiste sand box.

We are Back Again

Thanks everyone, for your patience during the COVID-19 pause.

We are returning to operations, with increased hygiene protocols, on the following dates:

Spiel und Spass: Wed 27 Oct 2021
GAP: Monday 25 Oct 2021
Pfadfinder: Monday 1 Nov 2021
Schlaumaeuse: Tues 9 Nov 2021
Spiel und SPORT: TBA

We will be outdoors as much as possible.

Parents are asked to remain outside unless:
– they are leaders, teachers or rostered on to help
– their playgroup child needs to be accompanied to the toilet
– they are attending a Schnupper session

Remember to use the CBR Check-In app (mandatory) on arrival.

If you do need to enter the building then:
wash or sanitise your hands (please)
wear a mask (mandatory for people 12 years and up)

We are in accord with the sign outside Aranda Primary School!

The maximum occupancy in our hall, at 4 sqm per person, is as follows:

main hall: 21 people
large (east) foyer: 10 people
kitchen: 3 people
quiet room: 4 people

Birgit’s Nature Mandalas

Wenn ihr spazieren geht und in der Natur seid koennt ihr doch mal versuchen Mandalas zu machen. Es gibt viele Dinge mit denen man kreativ sein kann. Zum Beispiel: Blumen, Baumrinde, Blaetter, kleine Aeste.

When you go for a walk out in nature (or as our indigenous friends say, when you are “on country”), it is fun to be creative by making natural mandalas. You can try using flowers, bark, leaves, grasses, small sticks or anything you find.

To be even more keen-to-be-green, try to use objects that have already fallen to the ground rather than picking fresh flowers and living leaves .

It can also be fun to use these natural objects to make ladybird playgrounds with slides and mazes, or tiny decorated fairy tents.

Here are some of Birgit’s beautiful nature mandalas

Survival Tips From Families

In our phone calls to GAP families, we asked them to share some of their lockdown survival tips. Here are some of the tips.

  • Alter your expectations and reframe what “a successful day” looks like.
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  • Yes, you know you want to avoid children having screen time, but this is a pandemic. Give yourself a break.
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  • German podcast Betthupferl (4-5 minute audio stories) and other BR.de German podcasts for children of all ages.
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  • When you make dinner, cut up a plate of crudite to put out on the table with dip the next day so the family can graze on healthy stuff during the day when you are too busy to stop.
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  • We ordered a pile of craft supplies from Office Works through click-and-collect, and have been very busy.
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  • I organised with my boss that I do an hour of work, then spend an hour with the kids, an hour of work, an hour of kids….
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  • We are renovating / moving house, and do not recommend this as a tip for families during lockdown!!! 🙂
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  • Netflix has German kids films and programs like Octonauts, Zauberschulbus and Sesam Strasse. Or you can turn on German language on some of the English programs on Netflix.
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  • My child is regressing a bit in lockdown. This happened to some kids in the last lockdown and they all bounced back, so I’m not too worried.
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  • My partner and I tag-team: one parent is with our child while the other works, and then we swap.
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  • My child really felt connected and lit up hearing the German songs on the Spiel und Spass Spotify list.
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  • If you join the GAP Morgenkreis a few minutes early, you can get individual attention from the teachers (but maybe not now that the secret is out!)
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  • We joined the GAP Morgenkreis and I was delighted to see how happy my child was to see her teachers again.
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  • A number of families were really enjoying using the Reading Eggs app (different stages for ages 2 to 10).
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  • Our child is quite keen on Tag the Picture (a card / bead matching game with 5 languages, including German, suitable for 3-7 year olds).
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  • Involving our child in all the aspects of the housework is a good way to make it all work. It takes longer but our child learns and the job at least gets done. We change bedsheets, hang laundry, fold clothes, cook food, make sandwiches, set the table, stack/unload the dishwasher and vacuum together.
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  • Get used to the clutter at home. It is how you know you’re having fun. HOWEVER, if it starts to feel overwhelming, dedicate some time to tidying up – for the sake of your mental health – even if it is just one room that is tidy.
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  • Restrictions permitting: See if any of your neighbours have a friendly dog that would be willing to get patted, played with or walked. What a mood lifter. We call it Vitamin D (as in Dog) or Vitamin T (for Truffle the GAP therapy dog, pictured above, running near the GAP).
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  • With Lisa3’s craft videos, you can still watch the videos even if you don’t do the craft.
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  • Stay connected with others by writing cards and delivering them into people’s letter boxes. (You can augment your education with our mail lesson #1 and mailbox lesson #2.)
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  • If work and homeschooling older kids clash too much, let kids play while you work weekdays, and leave homeschool stuff until the weekend.

Support Material for Young Children about Covid

We hope you are all doing well, and are still having fun.

The Australian Childhood Foundation website has plenty of covid-19 related resources for families, including social stories to help explain covid-19, mask-wearing, and beating lockdown-boredom for children and to help them manage any worries they might have. There are activities and posters you can download too.

Their Activity Alphabet has good stay-at-home acitivity ideas too.

You can also download the story of Edna-May. It is a true story about an Australian lady, now over 100 years old, who was four years old at the time of the Spanish flu. (Story suitable for 3-6 year olds.)

Igelchen and Echidna Lesson

The little echidna pictured at the top of this blog lives in Canberra. I took a little video for the children, showing the echidna walking along. She has short bent legs, and it reminded me of a German children’s song about a hedgehog (ein Igel). Hedgehogs and echidnas look quite similar.

Here is my very silly Igelchen action song video (5 min) which includes a little chat, an action song, a silly story and a very simple craft.  

There’s also an Igelchen colouring sheet for you to download and print.

 If you want to sing along to the song, here are the lyrics:

Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind krumm!
Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind kurz!

Sind meine Beine auch krumm,
Dreh’ ich mich trotzdem herum!
Sind meine Beine auch kurz,
ist mir das piepe und schnurz!

Make a Crown

Paper crowns are super easy to make, and who doesn’t want to be a Queen, King, Prince or Princess for a day? Schön wäre es, Königin, König, Prinz oder Prinzessin zu sein!

One of our Pfadfinder venturers models the crown she made (… for her Queen Mother, no doubt…ahem!)

Lisa3 has kindly created a fancy crown template for you to download, print and colour in.

Once you have coloured it in, all you need to do is cut it apart along the zig-zag lines, as seen in the photo at the very top of the blog.

Turn one piece 180 degrees and line up the points all in a row, and stick the two pieces of paper together with some sticky tape!

Wrap the length of paper around your head to see how big your crown needs to be, then tape it together at the size you want.

All done, and you’re ready to wear your crown, start issuing orders to your servants, blessing your royal subjects with gracious acts, and generally ruling the world!

Bohnenblumen: Bean Flowers

Spring is in the air and flowers are starting to appear! Maybe you can make flowers appear inside your house too…

Join GAP Teacher Gerda in making some beautiful flowers and hearts using beans and lentils! Click on the link to download / watch the video.

As you know, we love art and craft using natural and recycled items!

The educational value here is developing fine motor skills, art and creativity, counting, colours, and the concept of symmetry, if you like.

You can download Gerda’s Bohnenblumen instructions (in German and English) to augment your educational experience by reading aloud and following instructions in German, and be inspired by some of her example pieces.

Please supervise and/or discuss safety with children, as we have heard stories of children putting beans up their noses… and nobody wants that to happen!

Natural objects like beans and lentils make great things to glue to your art work!
Glue on your stem and leaf, and then clutter (ähm! I mean decorate) your house with your beautiful creation!

Once you have made your flower, try some of the variations below.

Variation 1: You could also decorate other shapes (see our activity about learning geometric shapes).

Variation 2: Hunt around the house and garden for other little objects to glue on: grass, pine needles, tiny flowers, wool, cereal, pasta shapes…

Try different shapes!

Potato Prints

Here is a great craft you can do indoors or outdoors: Kartoffeldrucken (potato prints)!

Parent supervision / help will be needed with the knife and cutting part, but the rest children can likely do themselves.

You can download and watch Lisa3’s lesson about Kartoffeldrucken in German.

Tip 1: If you plan to do letters, make sure to cut out the mirror image so when you print it, it will be the right way around.

Tip 2: If you are ready to make a new print shape, just slice off your old shape and start again on the same potato.

Tip 3: After a good wash, your potato scraps are ready to make delicious German Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)!