Category Archives: Remote Learning

Six Animal Stories

Looking for School at Home story ideas? Here are three nicely told and illustrated quiet time stories by Eric Carle, and three classic German children’s shows. You could play them as audio only, or watch the video as well.

Quiet Story #1: Caterpillar
You can’t go past this classic story: It has numbers, days of the week, names of foods, and a biology lesson.  Here is the beautifully presented video of Die Kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (The Very Hungy Caterpillar)

Quiet Story #2: Chameleon
If you watch and listen to Chamaeleon Kunterbunt together, you can pause the video and ask your child to identify the chameleon’s various colours as the story progresses. There are lots of animals to pause on and identify as well. 

Quiet Story #3: Cricket  
Die kleine Grille singt ihr Lied, is about a cricket singing her song, and teaches about insects.

Classic German Children’s Show #1: Mouse
If you want to feel really German, you can join loads of German children (and parents) watching episodes of the hugely popular Die Sendung mit der Maus.  If the German is too complex for you/your child, there are also MausSpots which don’t have much text. 
The mouse has his own page (Die Seite mit der Maus!) where you can download games and short audio-books and all sorts of stuff. 
No doubt many German parents will remember it from their own childhood.  If you are interested, you can educate yourself culturally about the show here

Classic German Children’s Show #2:  Rabbits
For fans of the Guess How Much I Love You rabbits, there is a whole series of Weisst du eigentlich wie lieb ich dich habe stories online. 

Classic German Children’s Show #3:  Polar Bear
Lars der kleine Eisbaer is quite a gentle series. Letting your child enjoy Episode 1, for example, will give you 26 uninterrupted minutes to sterilise your house and hold your video conference for work…. uh, I mean, give your child 26 minutes of German education (!!!).  (Actually, if your child is sensitive maybe sit with them for episode 1 where Lars learns to swim and later accidentally floats away from his family on an ice raft and through a storm, to start his adventure…. from memory, it should be okay after that.  Spoiler alert: He returns safely to his family in the end.)

Tanzen und Turnen – Getting Exercise

Been on your Baerenjagd walk and found all the neighbourhood bears for now?

Tanzen und Turnen (dancing and gymnastics) to music at home is a great way to lift one’s spirits and stay fit and healthy.

 The ABC has some great advice for young and old about staying healthy during the shut down.  

Here are some of our top picks for dance / movement songs: 

  1. Das Lied ueber mich (one of our teachers Katja’s favourite song) covers vocabulary for different parts of the body, and a few animals as well. 
  2. Aramsamsam mit Kinder.  The lyrics are nonsense words but it is very popular with children in Germany. It even has been performed for children by the Frankfurt Opera Company. Have fun with it getting faster and faster! (I wonder if adults sing it in the giant beer tents at Oktoberfest?! Could be a lot of fun… But I digress.)
  3. So ein schoener Tag will have you zooming around the room like an airplane, flexing your tiger-strong muscles, stretching up like a giraffe, jumping, swimming and dancing around holding hands to the music because it is such a beautiful day.
  4. Das Zappellied (the wiggle song) which is also good for vocabulary and concepts like beside / in front / behind / sit down / lie down… when you just can’t sit still on a chair!
  5. Tschu Tschu Wa.  Most GAP parents have participated in this action song at pick up time already, so they can enjoy a reprise at home.  You’d better all know this one off by heart when we get back together later this year!! 🙂  
  6. A-E-I-O-U is another great one for movement. Here’s a version with subtitles, but even if you don’t know the words following the teacher in the first link will give you a pretty good workout. 🙂  (Here is the original of that song with good old Volker Rosin who must have written about a billion children’s hits in Germany since the 1980’s.) 
  7. Ich bin ein Einhorn. I’m not sure what sort of actions you and your children can come up with for this last song, but this one is especially for our unicorn fans.

Viel Spass! (Have fun!)

Rest Time is Important

Want to maintain a GAP-like routine at home at rest time? (Hint: The correct answer is yes! It will keep you and your children SANE!)

The GAP children are used to listening to 40 minutes from our Ruhezeit (rest time) playlist at rest time every day.  It is their cue to lie down and relax. (With any luck, once you have established the routine at home, it can also be your cue to get a whole pile of work done, too!) 

Here’s our quiet time Spotify playlist for you… GAP Ruhezeit.

Rest time (Ruhezeit, pronounced ROO-eh-site) comes right after lunch and story time at GAP. 

For the first ten minutes the children all lie down and relax… no books, no toys… just resting with their heads on their pillows, lights off, stimuli put aside and curtains drawn.  Some children like to be patted on their backs.  No talking, just meditating and day-dreaming.  

After ten minutes, teachers silently mime opening a book (using baby sign language, as depicted below) and those who haven’t fallen asleep then look at books or play with a soft-toy, either sitting or lying on their mattress, for the remaining 30 minutes. 

Even for older children who don’t usually sleep at rest time, it is a good recharge and a chance to just relax and day-dream for a while. After their day-dreaming time, they could extend their rest time with an audio book or chapter book.

The GAP children are all pretty good at this, and it is a good skill to have in life. 

Baby sign language for reading a book

Enjoy your Ruhezeit!

Going on a Bear Hunt

Looking for some extra fun while you are walking in your neighborhood?

Perhaps you and Oma and Opa would like to join in the fun while staying safe indoors, too.

Pop a teddy bear (or a few of them) in your window, and walk around the neighbourhood in the coming days and see if you can find more.

To extend the educational experience, you can enjoy children’s author Michael Rosen’s delightful telling of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story (in English).  

There’s a fun audio version of the Bear Hunt song (in German) here, too. 

Be sure to participate in the actions, and enjoy your Baerenjagd.  

Viel Spass!

Setting Routines at home

Here are our tips for setting a routine at home, now that the family are working and schooling from home.

* Set a routine schedule for the kids; it helps make things predictable for the children. 

* Communicate with your partner and share the workloads: one of you works (the paid work) while the other looks after house/food/children (the super-valuable unpaid work), then you swap.

* With a steady schedule in place with your partner, you will know when you will be available for video conferences with colleagues, for example. Stick to that schedule as much as you can.

* If you are on house/food/children duty and are squeezing work in on the side, that’s fine, but if the children need attention remember YOU are on duty and your prompt attention to their needs will ensure your partner can keep working (and they will do the same for you when it is their turn). 

* Schedule in that each parent gets a bit of free time once a week as well, while the other does the children/food/household.

* Whenever both parents can work (ie kids’ nap times, special movie time), do that.

* Involve children in laundry folding, bed making, dishwashing, meal preparation, etc… even if it takes three times as long, it counts as time spent with them, keeps them busy and keeps your household moving forward.

* Plan (and shop for) your meals for the week so you don’t have to interrupt your partner’s work to find out what am I meant to be cooking tonight, nor find out that the ingredients you planned to use on your rostered dinner-night have already been used up. 

* Be realistic in what you can achieve at (paid) work. Your productivity may well dip but that is to be expected.

* If trying to juggle it all starts negatively affecting your relationship with your children, stop and reassess your priorities. Hone down your work commitments or seek outside help.

* Be patient and kind to each other and to the children…. Remember it’s tricky for everyone to adjust to the new situation.  

* Remember the children are not actually trying to wreck your work life (really, they’re not! It just seems like it sometimes!)… They just want love and attention.

* Our teachers will help you by preparing some materials (which we will post on the webpage and email to our GAP families) with activity ideas, and hopefully we will be able to make little videos for the children, too.

* If you have room, set up individual spaces in the house so you each have somewhere to retreat to recharge and maintain your sanity.

* Keep your family routines: Keep normal meal times, wake and sleep times.

* Get dressed properly for work on your work days. It maintains a sense of normalcy and reminds you you’re still working. 

* Make a “happy list” of things you can do and enjoy while at home, include things you can do even when locked down or isolated.

* Music is a wonderful mood setter. Use music to calm children and your household, or cheer everyone up.

* To cut down on the number of directions (orders) you need to give to children throughout the day, like “brush your teeth, get ready for bed, come to the table to eat, tidy up, rest time…” keep to routines and take a tip from our teachers and choose some non-verbal cues such as a certain song or the sound of a little bell or similar to signal the beginning of routine activities. GAP children will know [ring, ring! (of a bell)] “Wir räumen auf!” or “Wir gehen rein!” for example.

* The children have all learned how to sit quietly for one minute (and sometimes longer) having meditation time at GAP. It is a great calmer. Ask them to show you how to do it, and add it to your regular daily routine (we did it 2-3 times per day at GAP after circle/story time and before handwashing and meals). We sometimes chime a little triangle [ding!] to gently signal the end of meditation time.

* Remember that ‘social distancing’ is really just ‘physical distancing’; keep in social contact with your friends, neighbours, colleagues and extended family.

* Think of lockdowns, travel bans and closures not as a reason for panic, but more as a chance for humanity to all stand still for a while, in an act of mass cooperation worldwide to protect the vulnerable in our society.