Saturday, December 31, 2011


Silvesterlauf is the annual New Year's 10 Km run held near our house in Germany. Many running clubs enter the race and often members run together throughout the entire race. They usually dress alike too. You can see one in the background of the second picture.

At the end of the race hot tea and orange slices (no water) were handed out to the runners. Red and white bratwurst, meat sandwiches, cake, beer and gluhwein were also available.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

History Co-op Writing Assignments - Vikings

A writing assignment was given most weeks of the Viking History Co-op. The children presented their work the week following the assignment.
 1.    If you were to take a long voyage to a new land as the Vikings did, what would you bring and how would you use it? Put pictures or descriptions of your items in your sack (envelope) and write on a separate piece of paper.
2.    Write instructions for how to make a cloak.
3.    Write about a day in the Viking village as if you are a:
         a.    Thrall
         b.    Bondsman
         c.    Karl
         d.    Jarl
Then tell which person you would prefer to be and why.
4.    Write a Viking rowing song
5.    Pick a Viking fighting name for yourself and write a story about how you got your name.

To read more about our homeschool history co-op activities click on Homeschool History under Homeschooling Topics on the right-hand side of the blog, or one of the cultures below.
Ancient China

Viking History Co-op. Week 8: Food and Feast

Week 8: We made butter, prepared a Viking stew, and had a Viking feast complete with drinking horns and mead.

The Vikings ate a variety of grains, meats, fruits and vegetables including; wheat, barley, rye, venison, wild boar, fish, carrots, garlic, leeks, apples and berries and more. Their favorite drink was a weak honey beer known as mead. Horns of cows served as cups during Viking and medieval times. They were hallow, but couldn't be set on a table due to the curved shape.

Viking Stew
To make the stew each child was responsible for chopping or preparing one item. The soup included carrots, parsley, spinach, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, barley, and fish.

Everything was tossed into a large pot and boiled.

Home-Made Butter Activity for Kids
Making butter is a fun and easy child-friendly activity. All that's required is a carton of heavy cream, a glass jar and 20 minutes of energy.

After pouring the cream into the jar, 20 minutes of shaking results in butter and butter milk. Once the butter milk is poured off and the butter is rinsed, it's ready to be spread onto a slice of bread.

Mead for Kids

Kid friendly Mead recipe - apple cider and ginger ale

Drinking Horns for Kids

Drinking Horns - Start with a plastic cup. Tape aluminum foil stuffed with newspaper to the cup in the shape of a horn.

To read more about our history activities click on one of the cultures below.
Ancient China

This post is linked to: 
Saturday Show and Tell

Viking History Co-op. Week 7: Mythology

Week 7: We made Tree of Life Pendants.

Yggdrasil, was the Norse name of a giant ash tree connecting all worlds. An eagle lived at the top and guarded the tree. A destructive dragon lived beneath it's roots in Niflheim. The tree gave life to the people of Midgard and was the home of many creatures.

Since Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, was so central to Viking mythology, we created tree of life pendants.

Following the Tree of Life Pendants instructions, the kids slipped beads onto wires and wrapped them around the hoop constructed from thicker wire into the shape of a tree.

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Mythology describes each of the Viking gods and important aspects of Norse Mythology in a story format. It is great for kids, but I wouldn't recommend it for young children.

Ancient China

Thursday, December 22, 2011


In Germany Christkind (Christ Child) comes on December 24th to leave presents for children. He usually dresses in a white robe and looks similar to Santa Claus. He brought the wooden manger scene to the children in the preschool a few days early.

Kindergarten Christmas Crafts

The children in the the pre-school made these cute elves for Christmas. They cut out hands feet. The legs are one piece of red paper. The arms are one piece of paper too. The body is two fan folded pieces of paper put together. The braids are yarn. It's pretty simple and pretty cute.

Preschool Powol Packets

Tree Lighting Party

Each year the village Christmas Tree is lit in a special evening party. The local band plays, the adults drink gluhwein, and the kids drink kinder-gluhwein. The festivities can last late into the night for the small annual celebration.

Winter Solstice

Germany is pretty far north. Sunrise is about 8:20 and sunset about 4:20 for the shortest day of the year. That's 8 hours of daylight.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

German Christmas Parties

Many German sports clubs hold their own Christmas parties which are varied in activities. This is my favorite annual Christmas Party held by the Fasching (carnival) club.
 This year the children began with candle light procession.
 They did a short play,
and a simple dance. In between the procession, play and dancing, was a talent show which consisted of recorder, piano, violin and guitar playing, singing, poems and dances put together by the children.

Each year club members and parents bring a salad or desert. At the party guests can buy dinner for a small fee which is a plate of the salads plus a wurst, and the proceeds pay for show costumes and other club expenses.

Money is also raised for the upcoming year with a tombola. A tombola is a popular type of raffle in Europe. For this tombola each ticket wins. Guests purchase tickets for 1 euro each and then claim their prizes. We bought six tickets and in return received; a pen, a slightly water damaged calendar, a Valentines Day ceramic duck decoration, bottle of schnapps, small fake poinsetta plant and an 18 inch jester doll.
Then of course Santa came to visit and handed out chocolate Santas. (Candy canes are not handed out here as they are in the US. In fact, I have never seen them in the German stores.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life of Fred - Math Curriculum

Life of Fred and Math-U-See are two excellent math curriculums. Up until this year we have relied on games and appropriate level workbooks for math. This year however, we have added both of the afore mentioned curriculums to our homeschool.

We have made Math-U-See our daughter's math curriculum because she is flying through math and learns very well with this method. It is straight-forward and visual and she can do the majority of work on her own. The curriculum includes DVD's which show a teacher leacturing to a typical math class. The lectures are short (10-15 minutes) and each topic is explained very well.

(This is not my son. We brought our Life of Fred books to a homeschooling event for a friend to evaluate. Her kids liked them so much they couldn't put them down. My kids treat them the same way.)

Although my daughter learns well with the Math-U-See curriculum, we have found Life of Fred much more in-line with my son's (and my husband's) learning style. Life of Fred is a fairly new series of books that follows Fred (the main character) through his daily life and his interactions with math. The books are written in story format with a few problems to be worked at the end of each chapter. The questions at the end of the chapters are never repetitive like more traditional math texts. They may include questions such as how do you spell the third day of the week? Followed by how many in a dozen, count the perpendicular lines in this picture, and what is 3+4. In addition to covering math the story goes off on many tangents covering subjects such as astronomy, healthy eating and the German language. What I love most about these books is that they teach thinking. My son loves them so much that the one he is working in right now has made its way up to his bedroom so he can read it when he is supposed to be sleeping. My daughter has chosen on her own to read through the first three books in the series and has told me she plans to read all the books.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Viking History Co-op. Week 6: Warriors

Week 6: We made Viking shields.

Not all Vikings were brutal fighters. Some were peaceful farmers, blacksmits, wives and mothers. And, they didn't wear hats with horns? That style of dress was originally used to portray Vikings in a play in much more recent history.

On the other hand, some Vikings were fierce warriors. Their ships were lined with men rowing oars seated next to round shields. Most of their attacks took their enemies by surprise and they loved to attack religious establishments as they contained many treasures, but were not well guarded.

Dying in battle was respected, honorable and desired by Vikings. Those lucky enough to die fighting went to Valhalla where they fought all day and feasted all night.

In conjunction with learning about Viking warriors, we created Viking shields. Viking shields were round and constructed from metal with raised designs. Our shields were constructed from round pieces of cardboard found in pizza boxes.

They were adorned with glue droppings, lids from food containers and buttons to create raised areas.

Then they were painted.

Here are links to other hands-on history activities.
Ancient China

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Street Signs

Driving rules and street signs are a little different in Germany.
The yellow diamond designates the road as a priority road. Stop signs are not used nearly as frequently as in the United States. Instead, if the road does not have the yellow diamond, drivers are required to watch for traffic at intersections. The car on the right gets to go first, not the first car to reach the intersection.
 This sign means no parking. The arrow on the bottom pointing to the right means no parking in front of the sign. If the arrow were on the top and pointing to the left it would mean no parking behind the sign.
This sign means don't drive here. No automobile entry. The German text means agricultural vehicles can use the road. It is placed at entrances to paved walking trails and used when construction blocks passage.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Matilda Jane for Mommies

I was excited to pick-up a package from the post office today in a Matilda Jane box. As I have said before, a friend of ours started this company that sells clothes through home shows a few years back. Anyway, I was even more excited to find out all the clothes were my size. It turns out I just opened my Christmas Present. Thank you Jeff and Matilda Jane.

Matilda Jane Clothing

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nikolas Day

Today - December 6 is St. Nikolas Day. Children leave their shoes or boots out on the night of December 5th and St. Nikolas fills them if the child has been good.

Today St. Nikolas visited the children at the local pre-school and handed out the gifts in the picture. The hand-made show contains both home-made and store bought cookies, chocolate santas, peanuts and walnuts.

He was dressed in a red robe,with a red hood, black boots and had a long white curly beard. Does that sound familiar?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Closets

Most houses do not have closets. Instead portable closets called schranks are used. There are bathroom, kitchen, television, coat and clothes schranks.

Crane Construction

Most houses are constructed using cranes.

Bring Your Own Bags

Grocery stores sell plastic bags so most people bring their own and there are no baggers so customers must work quickly to fill their own.

Country Music in Germany?

Country Music is not very popular in Germany, but it does exist. There are even line dancing clubs. Last night we went to a Country Music Concert with two live bands. I have never seen so many cowboy hats in Germany. The line dance club was there and I was very impressed with the bands. They sounded straight out of Oklahoma.
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