Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tuesday Evening Russian

Two weeks ago I began my Russian class at the M√ľnchener Volkshochschule. A Volkshochschule is something like community center meets community college where anyone can enroll in classes of all sorts from cooking to yoga and adventure sports to  languages.  Especially in big cities, the selection of classes is extremely extensive.  And the best part - the price! These centers are non-profit organizations partially funded by the German government, so the courses are very affordable and available to the ''Volk'' (people).

To be honest, I left my first class a little skeptical.  There were only 5 of us in attendance and I was not only the only non-German participant, but also clearly the youngest by at least 30 years.  Three of the other four participants had been learning Russian with this teacher basically since the beginning, so I was feeling a little out of the loop.  All in all though, I was happy to be back to speaking, reading, and writing Russian, so I decided to give week number 2 a try.

And boy was I glad I did!  Everything was off to a better start before class even began, as I sat in the Hauptbahnhof  Starbucks drinking my coffee and finished up the reading assignment for Tuesday evening's class.  Arriving early (as opposed to the first week when I found myself rushing into class just past 7:30) I greeted my classmates who were also all there early and was pleasantly surprised when a girl who looked to be about my age walked in! It turns out that she is from Tajikistan, but not from a Russian-speaking family, so she wants to improve her Russian abilities.  There was also a man of about 35 or so who joined us this week, so our class is starting to get some more character and diversity.

And did I mention our teacher?? She's great!!! It has been my experience that middle-aged Russian women teaching their language to foreigners are some of the friendliest, quirkiest, funniest, most interesting people I have ever met (and I've had my fair share of Russian teachers in my life)- Their students love them, while somewhere deep down always being the tiniest bit afraid of them, hence the assigned homework is always completed for the next class haha.

And like any proper Russian, she has a cat who is equally as quirky.  This week she shared with us with true disappointment that Thomas has stopped cleaning his nose as he used to.  She explained that she showed him his dirty nose in the mirror and gave him a stern talking to, but she has still been having to clean his nose for him lately.  Hopefully poor Thomas gets his act back together soon ;)

In any case, I'm glad that I made the decision to sign up for this class.  It breaks up my week with something other than work, studying, housework, or the gym and I love love LOVE getting back to speaking Russian.  Maybe I'll get have to sign up for the Ukrainian class next semester too :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

If All The Snowflakes Were Popsicles And Ice Cream

A few weeks ago when most of us around here were pretty over winter and it's lingering cold and snow, I decided to embrace the circumstances and have a little fun with the kiddos!
You probably know the song "If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops oh what a rain that would be" and the enthusiastic ''Ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh''s that make up the fourth line of the text.  Well, for winter we had a verse that went a little something like this:

If all the snowflakes were popsicles and ice cream 
Oh what a snow that would be!
I'd stand outside with my mouth open wide.
Ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh
If all the snowflakes were popsicles and ice cream 
Oh what a snow that would be!

The children had an absolute blast learning this song, especially as I encouraged as loud of ahh-ing as their little hearts desired. 

We followed up learning this song with a fun and simple activity and craft.

As prep work, I printed off copies of this picture, and these ice cream cones and popsicles.  I printed one bigger copy of the popsicles and ice cream to color in and several copies on colored paper to be cut out. 

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I added the writing on the bottom

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Some of the ones on darker paper didn't print very well, but the kiddos didn't seem to mind ;)
After we had sang the song together once, each child got to choose one of the bigger, colored popsicles or ice creams from a small envelope.  I then modeled two sentence constructions in English - ''I have a popsicle/ I have ice cream'' and ''It is (insert color)''.  We then went around the circle and each child told what he or she had and its color. The first time I had to prompt the children several times with ''Can you use a full sentence?'', but by the second and third day of this activity and song they were using full sentences on their own. Even better? ''I have (insert any object of choice)'' began popping up the whole day long.  I'm so proud of my little smarties!! 

After our group work, the children had the chance to work individually on a small craft.  The picture was colored-in and the popsicles and ice creams were glued in as falling from the sky among the snowflakes. 

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End product
As we endured a couple more weeks of winter flurries, the presence (or lack there of) of ice cream and popsicles falling from the sky became a major point of discussion during outside play time.  

In any case, a good (and educational!) time was had by all!