As a German English family we have celebrated our children’s first day at school in a typical German fashion as did their Oma and Opa with daddy, with a Schultüte. It is given to children to make this first day of school a little bit sweeter.
In Germany the first day at big school is celebrated with a Schultüte. A large cone is filled with gifts and sweets to celebrate this momentous occasion. Last week, in Germany I had a look in the shops for Schultüten. They come in so many shapes and sizes, ranging from as tall as the child to about 40cm. There were Star Wars and Cars for boys and Princesses, Unicorns and butterflies for girls. The cones alone were 25 Euros before even starting to buy contents.
I asked my mum in law what she put in my Hubby’s Schultüte, 37 years ago. She answered “Sweets, crayons, pens and other things he would use at school”. This is what I had put in the Schultüte for my children too.
This is a special tradition in our family and a lovely way of marking this special day. When I found out Kiddicone were producing cones that could be used in the same way I was very excited. Sourcing cones and contents from Germany is not easy. I wish it had been around when my children were at school starting age.
The cones can be bought individually or ready filled with school supplies and sweets.
We have a special offer from Kiddicone for you Kiddicones are a brilliant way to celebrate your child’s first day at school. We can offer Lingotastic readers an exclusive discount of 10% quoting code LINGOKID.
Free Delivery” to the U.K. only (an additional charge of £4.99 applies for deliveries to the Republic of Ireland).
As a German-English family we like to include traditions from both cultures in our Easter celebrations so we celebrate both a German Easter and English Easter.
The first Easter I spent in Germany, I was astounded by all the beautiful Basteln (crafts) and Osterschmuck (Easter decorations). Walking around the neighbourhood, I saw many Osterbäume (Easter trees) festooned with Ostereier (Easter eggs). Many of the houses also had beautiful Fensterbilder (homemade window decorations).
I love crafts and decorating so I brought home many materials, magazines and templates to make our own Easter crafts.
In the week leading up to Easter we go up into the loft to bring down our decorations, which grow in number each year. Last year we were in Germany for Easter, so we brought home some beautiful decorations. My favourite is the Osterkranz (Easter wreath): I love the pastel colours and it is something not often seen in the UK. It was also an absolute Schnäppchen (bargain)!
We love to decorate a branch with brightly coloured eggs. We decorated our own plastic ones with pens the first few years. We’ve bought more plastic ones to add to our collection in following years. As we decorated it this year, my older daughter started to talk about the Osterbaum. I was surprised she still remembered the word.pic
In our home we know it is almost Easter as Oma’s Osterpaket arrives from Germany. It is brimming with lots of yummy German food and chocolate, ready for Easter.
Before Easter my girls often make Easter bonnets to wear to school.
On Karfreitag (Good Friday) we go to church as a family to think about Jesus’ death on the cross, and what that means to us personally.
My husband has described Karsamstag in Germany to us, with the lighting of the Paschal candle to mark the period from Easter to Pentecost. Many churches also have an Osterfeuer, which dates back to pagan times: a time for the young people of the church to have fun together.
On Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) our children get up to find their baskets filled with Chocolate (Osterhasen) Easter Bunnies (must be Milka) and lots of delicious things zum Naschen. We also buy them an English Easter egg in a box. Maik, my husband, always had a few small gifts for Easter so we’ve continued this tradition with our own children – usually a book, stationery, or something they have asked for in the run up to Easter.
We all head to church together to celebrate Easter with our church family. It is a very special service with music, dance, and readings where the whole family is involved.
At some point in the weekend we have an Easter egg hunt in the garden.
As spend time playing games together.
As Monday is a Bank holiday in the UK, we take time to have a roast dinner together and head out for a walk in the afternoon.
Some years at Easter, we have visited my family in the Yorkshire Dales. My parents have friends who are sheep farmers, so we have been lucky enough to watch a lambing and help bottle feed the orphan lambs.
To me, Easter is a time of hope, of celebrating that the dark days of winter are over and the days are getting lighter and longer.
As we have two cultures and languages in our family, I think we are so much richer for embracing them both.
This week was my birthday. If you follow our blog you’ll know we love to experience other languages and cultures whenever we can. We found out a local pub The Black Horse was holding a polish meal, it was on my birthday so the perfect excuse for a night out with my hubby. So the babysitter was booked, and we headed out in our glad rags.
German and Polish food are very similar, so we were excited about what we’d have to eat and we were not disappointed!
It was the first “Around the world on a Black Horse.” A chance to celebrate the different cultures around the UK, I love the idea! We have such a rich cultural and food heritage in this country and the more we can understand each others culture the better we can get on together.
This was the starter.
What you cannot see in the picture was lots of warm, fresh sourdough toasted Chleb. Delicious. The pickled mushrooms were new to me as was the smoked cheese. The platter was in interesting mix of smoked,salty, sour and sweet and the vegetable salad really balanced the other flavours. There was also lots of Vodka on offer as with any Polish celebration!
The main dish was two pork schnitzel, mashed potato and picked red cabbage and carrots.
The meat on both our plates was as much as I’d usually use for a family of five, obviously lots of meat on the menu in Poland.
There was some traditional Polish music being played, it sounded good but I didn’t understand a word!
The desert was delicious, as you can see mine had a birthday candle in it :0. It was a sort of pastry croisont with chocolate sauce inside served with raspberries and cream.
When the guitarist heard it was my birthday I was treated to my first ever hearing of Sto lat the Polish birthday song wishing a hundred years of life.
It was a brilliant evening with lots of delicious food and a chance to experience some polish culture. The next around the world on a black horse event is an Indian evening and I’m really looking forward to it! Book in with The Black Horse .
Over the last five weeks I’ve learned enough Mandarin to teach a beginners class to 1- 8 year olds with their parents and teachers. Just in time for Chinese New Year. It may sound a crazy idea but I had a few theories to test out!
I attended the Language Show Live in October 2013 I want to a seminar which really inspired me. It was called Discovering Language – multilingual language awareness They are working with Manchester Metropolitan University and advocate teachers enjoy learning and learn with their pupils. They say it is possible to teach a language and be just ahead of your learners.
At my Lingotastic classes I advocate to the families I work with that the best way to learn a second language is the way you learn your first. Hearing, responding and using that language. In a playful environment rather than a classroom setting.
With this in mind … I decided to learn Mandarin in time to teach a class for Chinese New year, just 5 weeks away. No pressure then!
Toni Wang from “ A Little Mandarin “, back in October, had sent me a CD of some funky traditional Chinese Children’s song. However, I’d been too busy to do more than have quick listen – until now. The countdown had begun …
Tuesday – day 1 (14th January)
I listened to “Little Mandarin” music CD, whilst driving to and from the German class I was teaching. In 40 minutes I’d learned “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) and the other songs had started to sound familiar.
I also saw a Chinese mum on playground today and said my one word of Mandarin 你好 nǐ hǎo. She replied so it can’t have been too bad!
I chatted a little and found out she spoke Mandarin, so asked the Mandarin for good bye. Used it twice then forgot it!
I found out my local library has a free link to a resource called “transparent languages”. I must check that out!
Wednesday – day 2
I listened to more of the Little Mandarin CD in the car. I met up with another mum with two little ones who speaks Mandarin to talk about the class I’m planning. I scheduled the meeting between her toddlers’ nap time and my school pick up. She loves the Little Mandarin CD and heard many of the songs in China. She teaches me how to say “sing nyen kuài lè ” I recognise the words kuài lè from the CD. It means happy. She teaches me about rising and falling tones. She tells me how to say goodbye again: 再见 zài jiàn
I printed out words to songs from http://www.alittlemandarin.com/lyrics
I listen to the CD between classes. My hubby is listening to a “Learn Mandarin in the car” CD so shared what he’d learned.
My seven year old daughter listened to Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) on the CD; she was singing along in Mandarin by the end of the song! I had a look at the free Transparent Languages course through my local library. I like it but it’s a shame it is only available on desktop.
I found a blog about counting to hundred by Transparent Language
I can count to three now!
I have offered to lead a few songs for Chinese New Year in my Children’s school. That’ll help me focus, if the looming library class didn’t already!
Hubby showed me the audio course he had found by Hank N. Raymond, Henry N. Raymond for Penton Overseas, Inc.in Deezer. I can now listen whilst walking.
Monday (19th January)
I listened to A Little Mandarin CD whilst traveling to my classes. We watched Peppa Pig and Little Einsteins in Mandarin.
Singing along to A Little Mandarin whilst travelling to work. I can sing two songs now: Two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) as well as Happy Birthday which I learmed earlier! Picked out part of a song understanding the words for “we are.” Listened to a few chapters of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1” whilst walking to get children from school.
Listened to the first chapter of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1”
Lots of traffic on way to work meant plenty of time for “Learn in Your Car -Chinese Level 1”: three Chapters today! Slowly picking up phrases. I met Chinese lady and enthusiastically used my now expanding vocabulary. 你好 nǐ hǎo, nǐ hǎo ma and 再见 zài jiàn (3 phrases now)
Week 3 -26th January
Continuing with A Litle Mandarin CD in car. I can sing and understand another song now Find A Friend 找朋友 (zhǎo péng yǒu). That’s three songs now. This is sung really quickly so I’m really pleased with myself. So much so I’m singing it most of the time. This explains why my chidren can sing it too.
I find out about an app by Eurotalk
which means I can learn Mandarin by playing on my phone when I have a few spare minutes. It sounds perfect to fit into my busy schedule.
Week 4 (2nd February)
Continuing with A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Starting to learn the Good New Year song 新年好 (xīn nián hǎo ). Playing the Eurotalk app for 10 minutes a day. I like the way it links a picture word and says the word, too. A few phrases are starting to stick in my brain! I like that I can play the app when I have a few minutes to spare.
Week 5 (9th February)
Listening to the A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Playing the Eurotalk app for 15 minutes a day. I like the fact that it’s just playing games and as you can see the mandarin script as well as hear it. It’s sticking!
I’m finding I understand more of the songs I’m singing. I’m singing a lot around the house too and the rest of the family are picking them up (grudgingly in the case of my husband!) We decided to record our family singing the 新年好 xīn nián hǎo song to help market the Chinese New Year special we’re doing next week.
Our You Tube video has been seen by a few native Chinese speakers who think we sound native –result!!
Both me and my Children picked up the songs in the same order so I’ll teach the simplest song first Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè).” then two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ). I’ve been lent two big and I mean BIG tigers especially for the class!!
I’m spending about 15 minutes a day playing the uTalk app and gradually learning more.
14th February Saturday
Chinese New Year Blast Off Class at The Library. It was AWESOME! We had 25 children singing in Mandarin with even their parents joining in at some points! Really exciting to see. The write up is an earlier blog post. (http://lingotastic.co.uk/?p=307)
We took the family out to Rickmansworth Aquadrome. Whilst we were there we recorded the two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) song to send out for Chinese new year
My daughter has asked if we can stop recording us singing Mandarin songs now please!
25th February I taught the Mandarin Class to 30 children from Reception and Nursery of a local school. The children were amazing! All could say hello , good bye and thank you. I had rave reviews from the teachers, who plan to continue using the few words they have learned in class. “Both the staff and children immensely enjoyed having Sarah to visit and we would love to learn more Mandarin in the future, with her”
Not bad for five weeks of playing and singing Mandarin!!
Which language do you think I should attempt next?
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On Saturday, the sound of drums thundered thoughout Chesham town
centre as people gathered to watch a traditional Chinese New Year
lion dance. However, not far up the road, in Chesham Library, you
could hear children singing in Mandarin Chinese as they took part in
a popular Lingotastic event run to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Enthusiastic children made their own Chinese Dragons and “blasted off”
to China with their rockets; they also learned how to say hello in
Mandarin (你好 nǐ hǎo)) and even had a close encounter with a dragon!
Attendees heard the story of the Chinese Zodiac and used puppets to
act it out themselves, as well as learning how to sing Happy Birthday
in Mandarin生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè). Two tigers joined in the fun, listening to a Mandarin song about themselves 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) and the children then played a game to another
song called Find A Friend 找朋友 (zhǎo péng yǒu). The fun event rounded up with a hearty
chorus of Good New Year 新年好 (xīn nián hǎo ).
The families who came along ranged from those with a smattering of
mandarin to those who heard if for the first time that day. “The
children were all really enthusiastic and really quick to pick up the
songs and phrases in Mandarin; it was amazing to see,” said Sarah
Barrett, the founder of Lingotastic, who organised and ran the event
at the library. “Children are so keen to learn other languages and it
is magical to see their progress.” Lingotastic runs language classes
for children from birth to age 6 in Chesham, Chorleywood and Gerrards
Cross. For all classes and further details, visit their website at