Kinder bringen Leben in Altersheim

Continuing this week’s topic of the German education system we thought we’d provide you with a heart-warming story about an activity which many German schools (generally primary schools, sometimes even Kindergartens!), particularly in smaller towns and villages, take part in.

When people make time for each other and engage in meaningful conversations, relationships start to form. These relationships are what make life worth living! The bond which develops is the reason why children in second grade want to go back to a nursing-home after their first visit or why children in sixth grade are visiting some of the lonely seniors in their spare time or starting a Brieffreundschaft (they become pen pals) with some of the elderly ladies.


Some German schools have strong relationships with local Pflegeheime (nursing homes) or Altersheime (old-age homes). School classes will occasionally visit these homes and spend time with the elderly – cooking for them, baking cookies with them, doing arts and crafts, singing Christmas carols, playing board games together (often old favourites such as ‘Mensch ärgere dich nicht’) or simply having a chat. As in Australia, many elderly residents in these homes either have family living far away or family who are very busy and therefore unable to visit regularly. Whilst some residents may receive (several) weekly visits, some receive none. Having school students visit and foster these relationships is beneficial for both the children and the elderly. For example, in some cases, dementia patients were starting to make progress, as they started to recall things from the past as their long-term memory was activated during children’s visits.


Children start to learn at an early age that things change when people become older – their vision starts to worsen, they may not be able to hear properly and they often start requiring assistance for even simple tasks, such as eating. Some schools prepare their students with so-called ‘Empathieübungen’ (empathy-practice/ exercises), such as putting cotton wool in their ears to mimic partial deafness, wearing a blindfold and letting another student safely guide them through the room to build up trust, spoon-feeding each other pudding or sitting on an office chair with wheels to practice pushing a wheelchair.

Many students end up forming close relationships with some of the elderly residents and even choose to visit them on the weekend with their parents! Others may send letters or postcards and even bring them a small handmade present for Christmas.

Information retrieved from:

Images retrieved from:

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Die Schultüte

Die Schultüte

We hope that you enjoyed our first Infosheet. It provides an overview of the German education system as an introduction to this year’s theme – ‘Arbeitswelten’. Therefore, we thought it was only appropriate to write a blog about our favourite German tradition surrounding the first day of school!

The first day of school is something incredibly special for all children and parents around the world. In Germany it is common for both parents and grandparents to take the little ones to school on their first day and present them with a Schultüte.

So what is a Schultüte and where did it come from?

Literally translated, a Schultüte it is a ‘school-bag’, but really, it’s more of a giant cone made out of cardboard, decorated to reflect the child’s hobbies or favourite things, and filled with goodies!


Before the tradition of the Schultüte started, school students would receive a Brezel (pretzel) on the first day of school from their teacher. Legend said that there was a Brezelbaum (pretzel tree) in the cellar or on the roof of the school and first graders would receive one or two Brezeln after school for the first few days of school; after this, the tree would be empty and the ‘Brezel-Segen’ (pretzel-blessing) would be over. At first, the community covered the costs of the Brezeln, however, eventually parents were asked to pay for them and then, some years later, they had the idea of giving their children something sweeter.


The tradition of the Schultüte can be traced back to the early 19th century around Thüringen (Thuringa), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) and the Vogtlandkreis (a county in Sachsen). For example, in the city of Jena (in Thüringen) around 1820, a child would receive a bag from his/ her father filled with sweets from the confectionery shop. The reason behind this was not only to celebrate the first day of school, but also because the first day of school marks the first day in a child’s life when he/ she must start taking responsibility – parents wanted to sweeten the seriousness of life (‘den Ernst des Lebens versüβen’). A few years later, these bags started to take on their cone-shape and thus, the Schultüte was born!

Schultüte mit Kindern

In the early days, Schultüten would be filled with sweets, dried fruits, nuts and similar treats. Nowadays, they still include treats and small toys, but also practical items, such as books, games (e.g card games), vouchers, materials for arts and crafts, audiobooks, key chains (with a house key attached; the first day of school is the first time many children receive their own house key), jerseys (often from their favourite football (soccer) team), fashion accessories for girls (such as colourful hair ties), plush toys, wallets, umbrellas, lunch boxes, drink bottles, good luck charms and many more!


The Schultüte is one of our favourite German traditions – who knows, maybe it’ll become a trend in Australia in years to come?!

You’ll find instructions on how to create your own Schultüte at:

Or watch the following video (in German):

Information retrieved from:

Images retrieved from:–49338012.html

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5 Gründe, warum man Deutsch lernen soll!

Maybe you’re already learning German and wondering whether it’s worth continuing. Maybe you’re thinking about studying German in future, but aren’t sure whether you should bother. Maybe you’ve decided that you want to learn a foreign language, but aren’t sure which one you should choose.

Here are five great reasons why you should start or continue with your German studies.

Keep Calm

1. Kommunikation (communication)

German was the language of many important historical figures, such as Goethe, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Wagner, Mahler, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Einstein and many more.

Did you know that 18% of the world’s books are published in German? Germany is the 5 th largest publisher of books in the world, behind the UK, USA, Russia and China. Many of these books, including important works in philosophy, literature, psychology, physics, engineering and medicine, are never translated into English. By learning German you are able to gain a wealth of knowledge otherwise unattainable.

2. Karrieremöglichkeiten (career opportunities)

Germany is Europe’s largest and strongest economy, and the fourth largest economy in the world (in terms of GDP). German language skills increase your chances of gaining employment with German companies, both in Germany and overseas. Some of these companies may include BMW, Mercedes-Benz, SAP, Siemens, Lufthansa, Bosch and BASF. Furthermore, it increases your job opportunities in Australia, not only with German companies, but for organisations dealing with Germany or continental Europe. Whilst many working Germans speak English, speaking their native language can substantially improve business relationships; therefore, you will be a more desirable job applicant.

3. Wissenschaft und Forschung (science and research)

German is the second most commonly used scientific language in the world. Germany is at the forefront of scientific research and gives out many research scholarships to foreign researchers to join research teams in Germany. Many of these scholarships require a basic to expert level of German language skills. So if you’ve always dreamt of being a rocket scientist, learning German may be the propulsion fluid you need!


4. Bildung (education)

Many Australian schools have existing partnerships with Germany and offer exchange opportunities over the summer holidays. To be considered for the exchange program, many schools require or prefer students who have a basic knowledge of or have shown an interest in the German language.

Furthermore, Germany offers a variety of scholarships to foreigners to complete their higher education in Germany – why pay for university here, when you could be studying at a world-class university in Germany for (almost) free?!

5. Reisen (travelling)

German is the second most widely spoken language in Europe (after Russian and before French and English) and is the native language of over 13% of Europeans (that’s 95 to 100 million people!). Basic knowledge of German can help you get through a lot of Europe (including many of the former Eastern Bloc countries)!

German Speaking Population in Europe

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:

“Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen”

(“He who doesn’t know foreign languages knows nothing about his own”)



Information retrieved from:


Images retrieved from:

http://www.keepcalm-o- and-learn- deutsch-61/ speaking-population- in-europe Borchmeyer-Roman

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Schools open for business (Schülerfirmen)

You might be asking yourself – was ist eine Schülerfirma?

Literally: students’ firm/ company.

Schülerfirmen are not official business enterprises, rather, they are school projects which have educational goals. They were first introduced in the mid-1990s and can now be found at approximately 10% of German schools. Schülerfirmen are started and run by school students (with a supervising teacher) – school students work together to come up with a business concept, whether it be goods or services, and create a business which generates a real profit. Parts of the profit are reinvested back into the company and the rest is donated to charity. These businesses range from Schülercafés (student cafés), Schülerreisebürös (student travel agencies) to Schülertheaters (student theatre). These student ‘companies’ generally operate on a local scale and should therefore attempt to avoid competition with real local businesses.

Schülerfirmen are so popular that the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) introduced an annual nationwide competition for the best Schülerfirma – the Bundes-Schülerfirmen- Contest – where the top 10 teams invited to Berlin for the awards ceremony can win from 500€ to 2.000€.


The Bundes-Schülerfirmen- Contest 2015 included a variety of different businesses ranging from costume hiring services to bottle openers made entirely from recycled materials. The winner of the 2015 Contest was the Gymnasium ‘In der Wüste’ from Osnabrück with their project ‘Bienen in der Wüste’ (bees in the desert) whose slogan was ‘Bildung gegen Armut’ (education against poverty). Students built up a beekeeping business at school – honey from these bees was sold locally to raise funds for India, in collaboration with IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. (India Help Germany).



Find out more about Schülerfirmen at:

http://www.umwelt-im- lernprojekt/


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Life as a teenager can be expensive – you want to have the newest phone, great clothes for free dress day, go to the movies with you friends, and you might even be saving up for your first car! This is why, similar to Australian teenagers, many Germans start their first jobs when they are 14 years old. Whilst the pay may not be great, there’s a German proverb that says “Kleinvieh macht auch Mist!” – although the literal translation (below) may be a little confusing, it means that every little bit helps! Remember, if you look after your pennies (cents), the pounds (dollars) will look after themselves!

Kleinvieh macht auch Mist

So what are the four most popular jobs amongst students in Germany? In no particular order, they are…


1. Online-Umfragen beantworten

Teenagers, 13 years or older, can answer online surveys and receive a monetary reward. They may receive money or vouchers to some of their favourite stores in return for their efforts. Whilst answering surveys doesn’t provide a huge income, it’s an easy way for students to boost their pocket money.




2. Babysitten/ Kinderbetreuung

Babysitting is a very popular job for teenagers in Germany. For many it is the first time that they realise that real babies are very different to dolls – you can’t play dress-ups with them all day and they don’t lie still! This job not only provides teenagers with an income, but it helps teach them about responsibility.





3. Nachhile, Hausaufgabenbetreuung

Why should parents pay for expensive tutors for their children, when other students are happy to tutor them for much less money? Many students tutor younger students on a weekly basis in subjects which they excel in. It’s a win-win situation!




4. Botendienst, Gartenarbeit, Einkaufshilfe

Many students aged 14 years or above, earn a substantial amount by running errands for or helping out the elderly. Whether it’s picking up bread rolls from the bakery on Sunday morning, going to the grocery store to buy milk, weeding the garden, or cleaning the house, students are often an inexpensive option, whilst still earning more than they would at a job at the supermarket.


This article was based on:

Schuster, K. (2015, November 6). Diese Schülerjobs kannst du ab 14 Jahren machen. Retrieved from schueler/schuelerjobs-ab- 14-jahren

Images retrieved from: translated-literally- into-

english?utm_term=.qnj7lvWrz#.lf7bVewDG most-of- online-surveys/

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Let’s get this OktoberFUN for Teens started!

Herzlich Wilkommen zum Oktoberfest für Teens 2016!

Whether you’re a newbie or Oktoberfest for Teens veteran, we can’t wait to see all your smiling faces at this year’s festival for schools! Your favourites are back – Heidi yodelt, die Band spielt Musik, there is delicious Essen, exciting Spiele and, most importantly, lots of FUN!

NEW FOR 2016!

We are excited to announce that we are joining the Goethe Institut for this year’s Infosheet and Quiz theme – “Arbeitswelten” (world of work/jobs)…. but that’s not all!



Participating schools will be receiving weekly Arbeitsblätter to help facilitate the students’ learning of Berufe (jobs) and what you should know when looking and applying for jobs in Germany!


We have a new game in store for you which guarantees nail-biting excitement and even more opportunities to win great prizes.

Our tip: work through the Arbeitsblätter carefully and you’ll have the edge over your competitors!


So brush up on your Fliegerlied moves, dust off your Dirndl and Lederhosen, and WATCH THIS SPACE

– we have some great blogs coming your way!🙂

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Paula Hay at

Bis bald!

Your Oktoberfest for Teens Team

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Caspar, Melchior und Balthasar

The 6th of January marks the day on which the three wise men visited Jesus. According to Christian belief, the three wise men followed a bright star (the star of Bethlehem) to visit baby Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Some Germans attend a special church service to mark the occasion and churches with a display of the crib add the three wise men to their displays on this day. The day is more commonly known to mark the end of the 12-day Christmas period (starting on the 25th of December) and most Germans will take down their Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations on the 6th of January.

three wise men.jpg

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Frohes Neues Jahr!

We hope you had a fantastic Rutsch ins neue Jahr 2016!🙂

May 2016 bring you success, laughter and good health.

As first Oktoberfest for Teens blog of the year we thought we would share our favourite three German Silvester traditions with you.

1. Feuerwerke (Fireworks)

Of course we have wonderful firework displays in Australia for New Year’s Eve, but did you know that you can light your own firecrackers in Germany? Yup. You can go into Aldi and buy yourself as many fireworks as you like and light them in your backyard, on the street, off your balcony, on the roof, or any other place you can think of! Whilst we enjoy watching the displays, lighting your own fireworks is definitely a highlight of spending Silvester in Germany!

silvester in belin.jpg

2. Dinner for One (or Der 90. Geburtstag)

In 1963 an 18-minute long sketch of Miss Sophie’s (May Warden) 90th birthday was filmed for the first time. Miss Sophie has outlived her four best friends and so her butler James (Freddie Frinton) must act out the roles these. Since this show first appeared on television screens it has become a must-have on Silvester for all Germans. Why is it so popular? Well, no one quite knows – but everyone does know it’s not quite Silvester without watching “Dinner for One”!

You can watch it here:

3. Bleigieβen (“lead pouring”)

Bleigieβen is a fun tradition involving a spoon, a candle, lead figures and a bowl of water. The kits can be purchased in any supermarket in Germany leading up to Silvester. You simply light a candle, pick a lead figure out of the packet, place it on the spoon and then place the spoon over the candle. Then you wait for the lead figure to melt and quickly throw the lead into the water bowl (without the spoon). The lead instantly solidifies and leaves you with some kind of shape – this shape is said to predict the new year (the explanation of shapes is included in the package). We do admit – it sometimes takes quite a bit of imagination to figure out what the shape could be (see below), but nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun!

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Halloween originated many, many years ago in Ireland, however, it only became popular once it reached the United States. In recent years the tradition has spread back to Europe, including Germany; this was sparked due to the increasing depictions of Halloween in Hollywood movies and on television and the presence of many American soldiers after World War II. Since the 1990s it has become such a popular holiday that it brings in over 200 million Euros in revenue each year, making it one of the most commercialised holidays in the country.

Halloween 1Süβes oder Saueres (sweet or sour)

Whilst trick or treating may be one of the most popular activities on Halloween in North America, it is the least popular Halloween-activity in Germany. You’ll most likely only see children roaming the streets for lollies in the large metropolitan areas and the occasional country town. Instead of saying ‘trick or treat’, children say ‘Süβes, sonst gibt’s Saures’, which essentially means the same thing – give us something sweet, or we’ll give you something sour (i.e. we’ll prank you!). The lack of popularity of trick or treating may be attributed to one of two things – firstly, children participate in St. Martinstag just 11 days after Halloween, where they roam the streets with lanterns, sing songs, and receive baked goods. Secondly, many older generations are not aware of – or do not participate in the trend of Halloween and do not appreciate children knocking on their doors and are particularly unhappy when children (try to) trick them.


Halloween costumes are becoming increasingly popular in German costume shops. However, one interesting difference between German costumes and those generally found in North America (and Australia!) is that Germans attempt to dress up a lot scarier, even the kids. One reason for this might be that there are ample opportunities to dress up in Germany shortly after Halloween – for Karneval. Thus, dressing up is not the novelty of the holiday, but rather, it is the scary costumes.

Halloween 3Parties

Whilst trick or treating may not be as popular as in other countries, Germans love their Halloween parties. Throughout the week leading up to Halloween and on the day itself every city will host many Halloween-themed parties and particularly students will host large Halloween parties or Halloween-themed Roomathons (several students decorate their apartments and provide food and drinks and the party moves from apartment to apartment throughout the night).

ca. 1995, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA --- Skeletons sits at a dining room table during a Halloween party at the home of William Joyce, well-known children's writer and illustrator. --- Image by © Philip Gould/CORBIS

Haunted Castle

The oldest Halloween event in Germany takes place in Darmstadt’s Burg Frankenstein. The castle is over 1,000 years old and visitors are able to wander through the ruins whilst actors and actresses dressed as ghosts, ghouls, ghosts and even Frankenstein’s monster himself wander around, the lights flicker and an eerie soundtrack makes the castle’s ruins feel like a truly haunted house. The highlights of the event are the many interactive shows – ranging from children’s shows on the family day to terrifying shows on other days!

Halloween 5

Happy Halloween!!!

Fun fact: The 31st of October is also the date of another German holiday: Reformationstag. The Reformationstag is a celebration of the reformation of the church, particularly for Lutherans, and is a public holiday in the states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.

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Fun Food Facts from the Oktoberfest Brisbane 2014

It would be hard to pin-point our favourite thing about the Oktoberfest Brisbane – singing and dancing along to the Fliegerlied, attempting to yodel or cuddling with the baby farm animals – but one of our favourite things would have to be trying all of the delicious food! Whether it be the savoury sausages, Schnitzel-burgers and pork knuckles, or the sweet gingerbread hearts and fairy floss – we love it all! Here are a few fun facts about the amount of food the festival goers devoured at last year’s event:

Sausages25,794 Sausages savoured

13,500 Pretzels eaten (including 3,500 Giant Pretzels!)

6,145 Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts) treasured

3,760 Pork knuckles devoured – a staggering 3.5 tonnes!

Lebkuchen2,500 Schnitzel burgers sizzled and munched

950 kg Potatoes – baked and spiralled into amazing Kartoffel-Creations

750 mighty Oktoberfest burgers mastered by only the bravest

400 pieces of pork belly in paprika-kraut enjoyed

Brezel350 Tyrolean speck dumplings scrumptiously tasted

231 ‘Bavarian Brettl’ VIP table platters prepared

1st pork knuckle of the festival, the ‘Pork Knuckle of Destiny’ auctioned for $10,000 – all for Brisbane charity, Youngcare

Pork Knuckle of Destiny

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