Thursday, June 12, 2014

German Club: Club Activities

German Club didn't get to meet as often as we'd initially hoped to (thanks to snow days, midterms, HSA's, AP exams, and other scheduling problems).  We did, however, manage to throw some pretty awesome events that we'll hopefully get to do again next year.  
After our election and at another meeting later in the year we played some German games.  I have a couple board games from Germany (Monopoly and Scrabble), plus we sometimes play Settlers of Catan.  And there's always Skat and Mau Mau if you're looking for a card game.

During our December meeting, students build Ginger Bread Houses.  I'm no ginger bread marvel, so we didn't bake anything ourselves - we purchased kits and students could use the kit to build a house.  There was an activity fee associated with it just to cover the cost of purchasing the kits.  Students had to pay ahead of time so that I knew how many kits to pick up.

We then had some teachers rate the houses based on stability, appearance and overall creativity, then awarded a winner for each category plus overall best.  The students had a lot of fun, but we did have some issues (one of the ginger bread kits had cracked pieces, the that group had to use what was left to make what they could).

Next year I think we might try a different tactic - instead of using the kits, we'll build them out of Graham crackers, honey, frosting, and candy.  Although not as culturally authentic, I think it'll take care of some of the problems we had this year.  It'll also be a bit more of a challenge and give the kids an opportunity to show off their creative side.

Fliegenklappe Tournament
Students love playing Fliegenklappe and the officers decided it'd be a fun club activity.  I created three Fliegenklappe boards, each with a large number of cognates.  We decided to go with cognates because we wanted the tournament to be open to students who maybe had never taken German before and we didn't want to discriminate against students in lower levels of German.  

We created a bracket based on how many students showed up.  Each round was best out of three - one word was called per board.  I tried to randomize the words as much as possible (both location on the boards and the words themselves) to keep it fair. 

I decided to buy a prize for the first and second place winners - an "engraved" fly swatter (I painted "Deutschklub 2013-2014" on it) and a toy pig (I'm big on pigs) for first place, and a toy pig for second place.  Our German Club president also donated a bag of gummy bears as part of our first place prize.

Students had a lot of fun with this one.  It's definitely a keeper for next year - not only is it easy to set up and fun for the kids, but it's also a free activity (this was right after the Pfefferkuchenhaus club meeting, which had a fee).

Musical Chairs
The students wanted to do something music related, but I told them just sitting around listening to music didn't count as a club meeting.  The officers decided that they would play musical chairs using German music. 

We had to move back all the desks to make room, and eventually I had to institute a "hands over your head" rule to avoid pushing.  You'd be surprised how rowdy high schoolers can get (I had no idea they'd be so in to musical chairs).  We did a few rounds and the winners got candy (as donated, once again, by our German club President).  


Because activities that involve food is what drives German club, the officers planned a pretzel baking day.  We reserved our school's Food and Culinary Sciences room and got some Auntie Em's pretzel baking kits.  

There was an activity fee of I believe $3 for a fair share of the pretzels.  We got two boxes of pretzel mix and made all of it - we divided the dough between the students who showed up.  Each student then made a pretzel with whoever much dough they had - some did small ones, others did one massive one.  

I would've loved to actually bake them, but because of time constraints we opted for the kits.  Timing wise it actually worked out quite well.

Spaghetti Eis
Another food activity with an activity fee.  We got big containers of vanilla ice cream, some strawberry sauce, and of course some sprinkles and tried to make Spaghetti Eis.  This was my first time trying to do this, so we weren't quite sure how to get the shape.  We used a potato masher I borrowed from a colleague.  I'm not sure if it's because the potato masher was on the older side, the ice cream was too cold or if it's just not the right tool for the job, but it was a bit difficult to get the ice cream into a spaghetti form.  Delicious, but we'll have to work on the execution (and maybe pair it with another activity).

Tie Dye
This one didn't have much of a connection to German culture, but the kids wanted to do it and put the event together.  We used the revenue from pretzels (there was a small profit margin, really just enough to fund this activity) to get a tie-dying kit.  Students had to bring in their own shirts, but we also had some extras students could be if they forgot theirs.  

A fun, messy activity but I don't know if I would do it again.  A shirt-decorating activity might work, but I think we'd have to use fabric paint and we'd put on German-related designs.  The tie-dye didn't really scream "Deutsch!"

As our final activity of the year, the German Club challenged the French and Spanish Clubs to a friendly soccer match.  With the World Cup starting, this seemed like a fun cultural connection for all three clubs.  Unfortunately, French Club declined the invitation, but Spanish Club was up for the challenge.

We reserved one of the gyms after school and one of the German club members brought in a couple soccer balls.  Because of the size of the gym and the number of students on each team, we played 5x5 plus a goalie.  The kids did a great job of reffing themselves - I was really just there to keep track of the time and score (and to make sure the kids were subbing out and staying hydrated - it was quite hot and humid in the gym).  

This was a lot of fun (and not just because German Club won) - the kids are already talking about next year's match up and getting French Club involved.  One of the Spanish teachers said we should have some sort of Field Day for the languages.  There'd be multiple activities and/or races and students could compete for their "country."  Basically, a mini-Olympics.

Other Activities
Here are some other activities that we didn't do this year but that we might try to do in the future.  

  • Movie Night: We were hoping to do a movie event that's like an outdoor movie theater.  We were going to project the movie onto the side of the school and have a picnic as we watched.  The only real problem we had in setting this up was coming up with an appropriate German movie that could a.) could be viewed by all age groups and b.) would be of interest to the school population in general (instead of just German students).
  • Schuhplattler: At some point I hope to have the students learn a basic slap dance that we could then perform at a school event.
  • Oktoberfest: We always want to do an Oktoberfest related event, but we still haven't pinned down exactly what we want to do.  We might move the Brezel cooking to Oktoberfest or try the Schuhplattler then.
  • Wurst and Kaese Tasting: French Club does cheese tasting, so this seems like a great opportunity for our students to come together for a joint activity.  This is something I think students will like - food and culture are usually a great mix.
  • Schultüten: Because we started the club so late in the school year, we missed the chance to do this.  I found some Schultüten available on Teacher's Discovery.  I got a set of 24, perfect as a first meeting activity at the beginning of next school year.

Deutschklub: End of the Year Gift
As a special thanks to the members of German Club, I made copies of the club picture and gave one to each of them.  It was just a little something to show I appreciated their participation and energy in making this year's German Club a success.  Students seemed to like them - it was a nice treat to end the year right :)

I'm always interested in suggestions for other activities - if there are any events that you do with your German Club, please share!

- Frau Leonard

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