Sunday 11 March 2018

German for Kids: Fünf kleine Entchen - Five little ducks

Counting to 5 - Our first lesson!

A familiar song 

I decided to introduce the children to German through one of their favorite songs, Five Little Ducks. Using a song with a familiar tune captured their attention straight away and allowed us to chat about the reasons why it sounded different to them.

I explained to Stanley that we live in a country called England and we understand each other because we speak language called English. I showed him where England was on the map, then went on to explain that people from other countries often speak other languages. I showed him Germany on the map and told him that Mummy lived there once and that I had to learn another language called German so I could understand the people that lived there.

Whilst this all went over Rosie's 2 year old head, 4 year old Stan was really interested and seemed to understand. We talked about a recent Pepper Pig episode we'd watched about a character that visits from France, and that she spoke French. This really cemented the idea of why people speak different languages, and they were keen to learn some German!

Eins, zwei, drei! 

We sang the English version of the song, Five Little Ducks, together and clapped each time we heard a number. We also put some simple actions with the words which would help them understand the German version of the song too.

Next, I introduced the kids to the German numbers 1 to 5. I used the sandwiching technique in a sing song voice to help with their understanding. Sandwiching is when you say the words in the target language, repeat them in English, then say them in target language again. Both Stanley and Rosie enjoyed repeating the words, they were really keen to join in!

Multisensory play

To really capture Rosie's attention, I introduced a tray of homemade blue rice (the pond) and some plastic ducks. We had fun counting the ducks in English and in German, and playing in the rice. I popped in some Numicon shapes for numbers 1-5 for Stan to reinforce the word - digit link. These maths tools are very common in EYFS and KS1 classrooms, and he was excited to match up the correctly numbered duck to the Numicon shapes. It really increases children's confidence to use something they are already familiar with when introducing new learning. So far, so good!

Fünf kleine Entchen

We went back to the German version of the song and had a go at clapping when we heard the numbers and putting in the actions we had practised earlier. (You can find the song we used here.) I was so proud of them when they said the numbers too! Stanley pointed some out on the video saying, "Look Mummy! It's fünf! That's 5!" It's fair to say that our first little German lesson was a success!
If you fancy having a go at this yourself, you can find the vocabulary that you need at the end of this post. Please let me know via comments below if you try this with your children; I'd love to know how you get on. Good luck!

Finding joy in the little things: In the days following our little lesson, Rosie has asked to watch the "vier, fünf duck song!" That made my heart melt a bit! She can say, "drei, vier, fünf," by herself already so that's really positive, considering that she's only just learnt how to count to ten in English! Stan has been counting in German independently, practising when he doesn't realise I'm listening! He doesn't get all the numbers right yet each time, but it makes me smile to know he's interested and having fun learning something new. Long may it continue!


Fünf kleine Entchen - Five Little Ducks / Duckies 
(You may also see Enten - ducks, or Entlein - ducklings).

Fünf (5) kleine Entchen gingen schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Mama Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
doch nur vier kleine Enten kamen nach Haus

Vier (4) kleine Entchen gingen schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Mama Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
doch nur drei kleine Enten kamen nach Haus

Drei (3) kleine Entchen gingen schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Mama Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
doch nur zwei kleine Enten kamen nach Haus

Zwei (2) kleine Entchen gingen schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Mama Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
doch nur ein kleines Enten kam nach Haus

Ein (1) kleines Entchen ging schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Mama Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
doch kein kleines Entchen kam nach Haus

Kein (0) kleines Entchen ging schwimmen
über den Berg und weit hinaus
Papa Ente sagt 'Quack, quack, quack,'
und alle kleinen Entchen kamen nach Haus

Eins - 1
Zwei - 2
Drei - 3
Vier - 4
Fünf - 5 

If you need a direct translation of the German song words (as the English version doesn't directly translate), just let me know!

** Please note: I am not a native German speaker! I try my best to be as accurate as possible, but mistakes do happen and my language skills are a bit "rusty!" If you do spot a grammatical error or spelling mistake, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments. Danke! **

 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria   Confessions of a New Mummy


  1. Such a great idea! I wish I spoke another language so I could teach the Girls!!!

  2. Thanks Lottie! You could definitely try some of the ideas from this post, you don't need to be an expert. Let me know if you do, I'd love to know how you get on!

  3. What a lovely activity. I love how you have used the numicon in the sensory tray, too, genius! Thank you so much for linking up with #tacticaltuesdays looking forward to reading more of your great posts. :-)

    1. It certainly helps being a KS1 teacher with access to all the wonderful resources we use at school! Thank you for commenting Jenny. :-)

  4. This is such a great idea! I wish I had started to learn another language as a child. Thank you for linking up with this week's #TacticalTuesdays

  5. Lovely idea, I really enjoyed learning about new languages when I was a kid, and would have loved this! I really like the multisensory pond you've set up, too, that's brilliant! x

    1. The children have since asked to play with the ducks in the rice pond a lot, and automatically try counting in German as a result! Thank you for your lovely comment Malin!


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