From Bach to BMW cars, Germany has a distinct and compelling culture. It retains centuries-old traditions while influencing and participating in the modern worlds of fashion, sport, automobiles and media. However, you don't have to fly to Germany to learn about its culture--or to teach your children about it. Help your kids learn about Germany's culture with these fun, at-home learning projects.
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German food is at the heart of its culture. One very German recipe is Pfannekuchen, or pancakes. They are traditional, simple, and versatile. In Germany, they are most often served with applesauce, though other common toppings include jam, browned butter, or meat and gravy. If your children are learning German, practice the German words for the ingredients as you prepare the Pfannekuchen. Assist your children in using the stove-top. Pfannekuchen Recipe (Rezept) 4 eggs (Eier) 1 cup flour (Mehl) 1 cup milk (Milch) 1 tsp sugar (Zucker) oil or butter for frying (Öl zum braten) Mix all ingredients. Heat oil or butter in an 8-inch frying pan over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add about 1/4 cup batter, spreading with a spatula to fill the bottom of the pan. When the visible surface has changed colour from white to tan, the pancake is cooked. Flip the pancake and brown the other side if you wish.
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Sing traditional German children songs with your children. These teach some German history and some of the German mentality, and are at the heart of German kindergarten or preschool. See Mama Lisa's website for an excellent compilation of German songs with their tunes, sheet music, and English translations. Have older children learn about some of Germany's composers (including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Strauss, and Wagner) and then listen to or play their music. You can also introduce them to some more modern German dance music and dance together. Some kid-friendly bands include K2, Technohead and X-Dream.
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Germany celebrates traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. It also celebrates another holiday not typically recognised elsewhere: St. Martin's Day (Martinstag). Research the origins and meaning of this holiday with your child, then celebrate it together on November 11. To do so, make a paper lantern together and sing "Ich geh mit meiner Laterne": Ich geh mit meiner Laterne Und meine Laterne mit mir. Dort oben leuchten die Sterne Und unten leuchten wir. Mein Licht ist aus, Ich geh nach Haus, Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum, bum, bum For even more fun, walk around your neighbourhood with lit lanterns that evening. When you return home, put some candy in your children's lanterns.
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One of the most important aspects of German culture is soccer, or Fußball (pronounced "foosball"). Play this sport with your child or watch a German soccer game. Pick a German team and follow it throughout the soccer season.