By Anita Skaber Lee, Primary School German Teacher

The Primary School German Team has been involved in a diverse range of activities and events throughout the past few years, which have strengthened our connections with the local community. By getting our students out of the standard classroom situations, learning German becomes fun and engaging and offering students unique learning experiences gives us authentic links to the German language. 

German language learning not only benefits our students, but the experiences they are having is also inspiring their families to get more involved locally. To help ISZL families, we post periodic updates to Schoology about events for children and families and families who are new to Switzerland have a chance to find out about important customs and events in our area.

Starting in Kindergarten, ISZL students experience contact with the local language and culture. In late autumn 2018, we had a visit from Officer Kempf, a policeman responsible for 'Verkehrsschulung' or traffic training in local schools. Speaking in German, he helped the children become more aware of traffic safety and conducted training in crossing the road. Children with all levels of German eagerly participated and those who were fluent speakers of German translated to aid in understanding. All children drew upon their knowledge of German and their comprehension was enhanced by gestures, props and contextual cues as well as translation by their teachers.
As part of their year-long unit of inquiry ‘How We Express Ourselves’, the children in Kindergarten also participated in local activities and celebrations. During our ‘Kerzenziehen’ or candle-dipping workshop, conducted in German and English, children learned this traditional craft. Many children shared that they subsequently returned with their families to the workshop in Baar or to similar events in their neighbourhoods.
Our Kindergartners also represented ISZL for the first time at the 'Lichterweg' or Path of Lights in Baar and were warmly welcomed by the local organisers. The Path of Lights is an Advent tradition where a pathway along the foot of the Baarburg mountain is lit for 1.5 kilometres. The children led the walk proudly holding their handmade lanterns and were followed by their families. After singing seasonal songs together in German and English, this lovely community evening concluded with refreshments around a bonfire at the ‘Waldsofa’ or forest sofa. 


As Fasnacht celebrations are such an intrinsic part of the Swiss celebration calendar, we were delighted to once again take part. Dressed as sea creatures, almost sixty ISZL Kindergarteners paraded along with other local schools during the ‘Kinderumzug' or the children's parade in Baar. During the ‘Zuger Chesslete’ or Fasnacht parade in Zug, nearly eighty Grade 2 children participated in wearing costumes inspired by modern painters. Throwing confetti and sweets and seeing their families among the spectators were special memories for our students.
Swiss Baking Traditions
Sharing food, naturally, plays a significant role in many Swiss celebrations. During regular baking engagements in German class throughout the year, our students acquire the skills to make ‘Zopfteig’.  This enriched dough is used as the base for many Swiss breads such as ‘Grittibänze’, ‘Zopfhasen’ and ‘Sonntagszopf’, the sweetened bread eaten by many Swiss families on Sundays. ISZL students enjoy these baked goods during our regular forest visits, where they also learn to value this precious local amenity and how they can use it sustainably.

Grade 1
Grade 1 students are learning within the unit of ‘How We Organise Ourselves’ about communities and their needs. In September, Grade 1 visited a Fire Station and a Post Office in Baar, which enriched their understanding of the role and importance of these institutions. During the one hour visit at the Fire station in Baar, our students had a chance to see the vehicles, clothing and equipment used by Swiss firefighters. Speaking in German and English, they asked about all of the different aspects of the firefighters’ duties. This visit has been beneficial, not only for strengthening children’s understanding of the importance of certain institutions within the community but also in positively developing their German skills.

Grade 2
In addition to participating in the Fasnacht parade in Zug, our Grade 2 students visited the ‘Dorfmatt Schule’, a Swiss primary school in Baar. Grade 2 spent some time with the Baar students in their classrooms and played a range of board games and sport together, all the while practising their German and English skills. We are hoping the Swiss school will be able to visit ISZL before the summer break.
In March 2019 our Grade 2 classes also had a chance to participate in a presentation by representatives of the ‘Amt für Gesundheit’ or Office of Health from Canton Zug. Students had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge about health and illness, share their experiences and ask health-related questions. The presentation put emphasis on strategies to remain healthy as well as recommendations for healthy lifestyles as well as the importance of medical checkups and vaccinations.

Grade 3
As part of the unit of inquiry into protecting the environment, Grade 3 students have been learning about nature, the environment and energy. During lessons, students researched local recycling facilities as well as learned about animals which were previously extinct and recently successfully reintroduced to Switzerland. In April, to complement this learning, the class visited the ‘Tierpark Goldau’ or the Goldau Animal Park known for its nature conservation programme. The Educational Department of the Animal Park provided the students with a range of artefacts and resources to explore in the classroom.
Grade 4
Grade 4 students have engaged in pen-pal letter exchanges with a school in Luzern and more recently with a school in Zug. To strengthen the developing relationships between the students and teachers, a visit to the school in Luzern is currently being planned with the hope that further visits to local schools will be possible. We hope this initiative will turn into longer collaborations and that students will have a chance to undertake a range of projects together.
Our Grade 4 students also enjoyed a visit from three hockey players for the local team EVZ, who shared their experiences about their sports careers and training details in English, German and French. Within the same grade, we have been working on organising theatre workshops in German, led by Stefan Koch from the ‘Kinder-und Jugendtheater Zug’ or Children’s and Youth Theatre in Zug. We do hope to further explore this connection in future.

Grade 5
Grade 5 students were visited by Katharina Morello, a local fairy tale author and our children read and discussed some of her works. Needless to say, we would like to be able to welcome more local artists in our lessons. 

In the previous years, one of our Grade 5 classes exchanged letters with Swiss students from the primary school in Cham. Each year, we visited each other a couple of times and this enabled the children to work on a range of bilingual projects together. One of these projects resulted in a script for a performance, which was presented during an assembly. 

Additionally, in March our Grade 5 students were featured in ‘die Luzerner Zeitung’ or Luzern Newspaper in an article about amphibian protection. The class had been inquiring into the purpose of the ‘frog fence’ near the Zug campus, which is a structure set up in early spring by the locals to help protect frogs whilst passing a busy road. 

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