Introducing the “KinderCone”

When my daughter started school in Germany, she was given a traditional Schultüte – a cone which is filled with useful things like stationary and books, and also some less useful things like sweets.

Time seems to have flown by since then, as that was 200 days ago!

When I first blogged about this particular tradition, I received a comment from a company called KinderCone in the USA that sells the same type of cones there – bringing the tradition to America.

Renewing the contact a few weeks ago, I found out that the cone is not just delivered empty (as in Germany), but also contains amongst other things a KinderJournal called “Me, Myself and First Grade”, and Vivian from KinderCone was kind enough to send my a copy to look at.

"Me, Myself and First Grade" Cover (Courtesy of“Me, Myself and First Grade” is a journal of a child’s first year at school.  It starts by introducing Karli the Cat, who accompanies the child through the book.

Each page contains an activity for the child to do, which in turn documents that precious first year.  The text is kept simple, and there is a mixture of spaces to write in, boxes to tick and pictures to draw.  I particularly liked the idea of the space for writing your name – one box for the beginning of the year, and one for the end so that you can compare how the handwriting has improved.

So not only does a child practise writing in a book that will be special for the rest of their life, but it also gets them to think about their time at school: what are they good at?  What do they like best at school?  Everything that they read and do is positive.  There is even a special page to celebrate the first 100 days of school.

It’s the sort of book that I would like to see available in Germany, except that I’ve never seen anything like it here.

A word of warning to British readers: the book is obviously written for the US market, so expect words like “grade”, “recess” and “candy” (for school year, break and sweets).  I would also point out that the story about how the Schultüte came into being is not something that everyone in Germany agrees on, and the book – understandably – only gives one version of the story.

But all of that probably doesn’t matter to the children.  For them it is a nice surprise on their first day of school, and it’s nice to see a local tradition spreading to another part of the World.

Remember, the book is included when you buy a KinderCone, so if you want one you’ll have to go to the KinderCone shop.

The first day at School

The big day finally arrived yesterday: our daughter started school.

The day started at 9am with a church service, where the children were blessed and the satchels were sprinkled with holy water.  From there, it was a 20 minute walk to the primary school.

Starting school: with the Schultüte in front of the Church

Starting school: with the Schultüte in front of the Church

Inside the school, we were crowded into a side area of the entrance hall where, after a few words from the headmistress, the children were called up one-by-one to join their new teachers, who then led them in groups off to their classrooms through an aisle of over-sized raised pencils.

Thus began the long wait outside, during which we were fed and watered by the Förderverein (a sort of “Friends of…” association).

And while we waited, our daughter was being told the rules of the classroom, was given her first homework (!), her timetable and even a school T-Shirt.  Her satchel was also loaded up with various papers for us to read, and some to sign.  Finally, we were allowed to collect her and take her home to open her Schultüte and, of course, for her to do her first homework.

The day is a major event for German schoolchildren, much more than the first day of school in many other countries.  The children are accompanied by their parents, grandparents and even godparents who, where possible, spend the whole day with them.

It means that the children are at the centre of attention on their big day, and our daughter mastered the event brilliantly.  We are so proud of her!

A Schultüte from the Supermarket

Today one of our local supermarket chains  (Rewe) was offering a free Schultüte (school cone) to all the children who start school next week.

Not only is the cone filled with healthy fruit and useful things such as a timetable to fill out and a ruler, but the promotion was well organised.

Although we had received a voucher in advance, we went early to make sure that our daughter did not miss out.  Excepting to find a large display – possibly with none left by the time we got there, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they were being kept out of public view and were only being issued on production of the voucher.

So even if this isn’t the cone that will be going with her to school next week, it was a nice thing for them to do and really brought home the fact, that there are only a few days left to go.

Thank you Rewe – and well done!

Our daughter and her school cone

Our daughter and her school cone at the supermarket

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