For German this year, we are going to use a number of resources. If you have followed our blog for a while, you know that we used a lot of free resources to build up their basic skills… numbers, colors, animals, basic greetings, etc. You’ll find links to those at the bottom of this post.
This year, we will be buckling down a bit more. Just so you know, I come at learning a language from a number of different angles… conversation, reading/comprehension/stories, grammar, and writing/translation. This is partly because I taught English as a foreign language in Hungary for a couple of years (in the Peace Corps) and saw how languages were taught there. Many of the students there were amazing English speakers by the time they reached 10th grade! My kids are no where near that level, but I do see the importance of covering a foreign language from these different angles.
We will be using a number of resources that I have made for conversation practice (stay tuned for those!!) as well as a number of books that I have purchased/gathered over the years! After looking through more than a dozen German text books, I’ve whittled it down to the resources that will work in our family.
My kids are 7, 9 (almost 10) and 12 this fall. They have a good grasp of basic words and spent a week at a German immersion camp (ie. they are not very beginners). My youngest, however, is much weaker in German than the other two.
German Curriculum We Will Use This Year:
1) We will continue listening to the stories in the Bobo Siebenschlafer (affiliate link) series. We have four of these children’s books and all of the CDs as well. Keep your eye on Amazon and you can often find them for sale for under $10. I usually read the story aloud and go over the vocabulary. Then we spend several days listening to that ). We then spend a few days listening to stories that we’ve already covered. Each little story covers a different theme… Bobo is sick or goes to the museum… Bobo plays at the playground or goes shopping with his Mama… This is a series written for little kids in Germany, but I find them really useful.
2) My older two will use Essential German by Berlitz. (affiliate link) This book has a realistic dialogue at the beginning of each Lektion/Lesson. It has a fairly substantial set of vocabulary words to learn for each section. If your kids are absolute beginners, this would probably not be a good first choice unless your kids are a bit older (middle school/age 12 and up).
My daughter (age 9. amost 10) likes the fact that the English translation is under each sentence in the dialogue.
3) We are going to add in Living Language German (affiliate link) this year for independent work (essentially like homework). The kids have work they do on their own while I work with the others. This resource comes as a set with three levels–Essential (Beginning), Intermediate, and Advanced. The kids can follow along with the book as it covers new vocabulary and grammar points. The Essential (Book 1) starts off slowly and might even be a good fit for a very young learner without much background in German.
I suspect all of my kids will fly through the first book fairly easily (and without much help from me).
4) Practice Makes Perfect Complete German Grammar (affiliate link): This is a workbook that my older two kids started using last year. There is nothing fancy about this book, but it’s one we will definitely keep using. I like that the kids have some basic written work in German. We are using it VERY slowly, but it goes over new grammar points clearly.
5) Komm mit!: Beginner Reader Lies mit mir Level 1 (affiliate link) This is a book that actually goes with a school textbook. The textbook won’t work for us, but I do like the stories (fiction and non-fiction) and accompanying practice exercises in this book. We use this about once a week. I think you have to have an adult who knows German to use this effectively with kids, but I like it since I want the kids to hear German (not just practice with choppy sentences here and there, if you know what I mean).
6) There is one more resource that is definitely worth a mention. This really might work well for some families with beginners… and I think I will use this with my youngest (age 7) this year. It is called Learn German the Fast and Fun Way. (affiliate link) It is much more colorful than Essential German or Complete German Grammar (that I’ll use with my older two). It introduces new vocabulary with a picture and has a blank where students can write the word again (or at least that is what I’ll have ED do).
7) We’ll probably still watch some of the German stories on you-tube. See this post here about German Stories for Kids Online (and our free Animal Packet – in German) or click here to see the Vier Freunde by Bookbox, one of 8 or 10 stories we liked online.
8) We will be singing songs we learned at the German immersion camp — the CD is called Waldsee Lieder. Find our more about Concordia Language Village Immersion Camp here or check out the post (with lots of pictures) of what we did and what the program was like here: German Immersion Camp (Even for Mom!)
9) I’ve come across a number of useful pages from Rocket German (for example, you can visit their page about the weather here… Weather in German. You can see they provide not only the phrase but a button for you to listen to the German pronunciation as well.). I’ve found this to be a really useful website. They have a course that you can purchase, but I haven’t checked into that. (These are not affiliate links. They are provided for your convenience.) I believe you can get a free trial (for about a week) there.
Homeschool Den Resources:
For conversation practice, we’ll still use many of the resources I have made for the kids. For example, last spring I shared the Family Tree… which we used as the kids learned the words for brother, sister, aunt, uncle, etc. and practiced asking “What’s your name?” or “Is that your brother?” and things like that. Find out more here: German Family Vocabulary Practice
So there you have it! We will make our way slowly using those various resources (affiliate links):
- Bobo Siebenschlafer books and CDS
- Berlitz Essentials: German for my 9 and 12 year olds
- Practice Makes Perfect Complete German Grammar for my 9 and 12 year olds
- Learn German the Fast and Fun Way for my 7 year old
- Living Language German, Complete Edition: Beginner through advanced course, including 3 coursebooks, 9 audio CDs, and free online learning for independent work (listening/speaking practice with a CD)
- Bookbox, youtube stories
This summer when we were at the German immersion camp (Waldsee at Concordia Language Villages), I asked one of the instructors if they knew of a good DVD program or curriculum geared just for kids. She said she cobbles her own curriculum together as well. She did mention that there is a German TV station for kids that you can watch online (similar to PBS Kids). Plus, she recommends DuoLingo and the resources at the Goethe Institut (which are free). There is a free vocabulary trainer app (for android or iphone) here also from the Goethe Institut. I know a number of people who have used Rosetta Stone; my sister’s kids, for example, used Rosetta Stone/German with her homeschooled kids. We have Rosetta Stone, but it hasn’t worked out for us up to this point.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
You may be interested in these related German posts & how we’ve been learning German in our Homeschool:
- German Family Vocabulary Practice — die Familie
- Free German Grammar Worksheets (sein — to be)
- German Books for Kids — the books and stories we used last fall (2014 when the kids were 6, 8, 11)
- Free German Worksheet Packet on Animals (Part 1)
- German Stories for Kids Online — and a Packet on Animals Part 2
- Free German Worksheets for Kids
- Foreign Language Gold Mine: German Flashcards, German Writing Worksheets
German Conversation Card Sets:
I have found it difficult to find good German materials and curriculum for kids. Early on we used a lot of free German worksheets and materials, but then at a certain point the kids were ready for more. See more about the German Curriculum we use now in this post.
I made a whole series of Conversation Cards and we are slowly building conversations skills and vocabulary from day-to-day, week-to-week. This is what we will be covering (Click on the links to find out more about each packet):
- Family tree for greetings and family words (See this post.) – 2 files, approx. 20 pages
- The days of the weeks, months, weather and seasons, (will be shared Sept. 25) – Approx. 15 pages
- Clothing (will be shared next week — probably Sept. 30) – Approx. 9 pages
- Where are you from? Nationalities
- Food and Drink
- Daily Activities
Last spring I made our first set of German conversation cards. It consisted of a family tree and various family members (brother, sister, mom, dad, aunt, uncle and grandparents). We used these to practice greetings and for basic conversations asking and answering questions like What’s your name? How old are you? Is this your aunt? etc. Wow! Having props absolutely transformed German for us. So this summer, I made a half-dozen more sets. The kids have made amazing progress with these already.
These sets are available for $2.50 each (click on the links above) or you can purchase the bundle below for $6.50.
With the purchase of this bundle you will receive 4 pdf files to download. Once you pay through Paypal, you will receive an immediate link to download these materials. You will also received an email from Sendowl (the service I use) with a link that you can click on. That too will allow you to download the files. Be sure to check your downloads folder (sometimes the files sneak in there). And of course, if you have any trouble with your order or if you have any questions be sure to contact me via email liesl at homeschoolden dot com, or via the Contact Form here on the blog, or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page. ~Liesl
Remember, these materials are best for teachers/instructors who speak German. The contain basic vocabulary and conversation starter suggestions only. (ie. there’s no scripted back-and-forth dialogue).