Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Piggeldys Geburtstag

In Deutsch II, our first new vocabulary unit relates to gifts and holidays.  Students discuss common gifts to give different people, as well as holiday traditions in Germany (with a focus on Christmas and birthdays).  In order to get a better look at birthdays, the class throws a birthday party for Piggeldy.  This is one of my favorite activities for the year because the kids really get into it.  It's a chance for them to have fun but still do something related to German and our current unit.

Maybe I should back track a little.  Who's Piggeldy?  Well, he's a character in a children's book and cartoon show called Piggeldy and Frederick that I frequently use with my students (great for listening practice and circumlocution, but more on that some other time).  Because of how often we use this cartoon show, even in Deutsch I, I do happen to have a stuffed pig in my classroom that we call Piggeldy.  So when we do activities related to the show, or when we have this party, we can bring Piggeldy front and center :)

Every year students start by watching the Piggeldy und Frederick episode titled "Geburtstag."  In this particular episode, Piggeldy wants to know what a birthday is and then wants to find out when his is.  We find out that  he's 5 years old and that today is actually his birthday.

After this introduction, I tell students we need to have a birthday party to celebrate Piggeldy turning 6.  We go through all the steps of planning a party.  After we've discussed the date and location, students write invitations.

This year is actually the first year I've handed out these invitations - I sent the invitations along with this explanation to our school administrators, inviting them to see what we're doing in the classroom.

To further prepare for the party, students had to write a birthday card for Piggeldy and find him a gift.  Students obviously didn't have to buy a gift - I told them to find something they thought Piggeldy would like, print out a picture of it (or draw it themselves), and explain why they thought it was a good gift for him.  They're usually pretty creative (though there's usually at least one student who gives him bacon each year...).  Here are some of the birthday cards and gifts:

Yesterday was our actual celebration.  In class we played three birthday games.  We played Gummitwist, Schlangenschwanz, and then Steck dem Schwein den Schwanz an (see below!).  Since I'm not German and don't have a German family background, I didn't know too many authentic games.  When we first started doing a party for Piggeldy, I had to look into the types of games German kids play at birthday parties.  These were the ones I found (though I did change it from pin the tail on the donkey to pin the tail on the pig, just to go with our birthday theme).  If you know of any other games, let me know and I'd be glad to try and incorporate them!

After playing games, students gave Piggeldy their cards and gifts, we sung Happy Birthday in German, then got to eat :)

The kids had signed up to bring the food ahead of time - I promised to bring the cake, but they had to do the rest!  We usually get a pretty decent spread, though (what can I say, teenagers love to eat).

I'm really glad that this year I invited our administrators.  Three of the four of them came, and they got to see the kids in action!  They experienced a whole class in German, with both me explaining the games completely in German and the students speaking to me and each other in German (without needing to be prompted, which is always a plus!).  They were really impressed with how much they were using the language in a level 2 class and loved the activity.  I loved that the kids got a chance to show off what they can do while having fun!

- Frau Leonard


  1. I love this activity idea! I'm glad it went so well with your administrators in the room. That's always a good feeling.

    To be truthful, I was thinking about you the other day. As I use Wordpress, your posts don't pop up automatically in my feed which is a bummer. I came to your page and I see you've been up to all sorts of awesomeness! Keep up the great work!

    I would like to talk with you because I have some curriculum questions. Is there any chance you use Twitter or would email me? My email is and I'm @SraDentlinger on Twitter.

    1. It was such a great experience to have the administrators there - two of them are new to our school this year, so it was a great introduction to what I do with German students. Can't wait to do it again next year!

      I'll drop you an email (I have Twitter, but honestly I don't really know how to use it...)!

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