André’s Show was “elephantastic”

“Come in.  The standing room at the back is reserved, but otherwise everything else is still free” – with these words and a glint in his eye André Gatzke welcomed the guests on Saturday, 23rd April, 2016 to the Georg-Hieronymi-Saal in Oberursel’s town hall.  The book show Libra had invited them to two presentations of “Andrés Spiele-Show”, or put another way, to an active reading of his book.  Around 20 children came to each of the shows with their parents, and even the new Fountain Queen Nadine I. stopped by and took one of the “reserved” places.

André Gatzke is better known to many families simply as André, one of the presenters of “Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten” (“The programme with the Elephant”) on the KiKA channel, as a reporter on the “Sendung mit der Maus” (“The programme with the Mouse”) or from the programme “2 durch Deutschland” (“2 through Germany”).  Less well known is that he is also an author, writing for “Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten” and now his own book of games.

But his career began in a completely different way.  For 10 years he worked as a occupational therapist in Cologne, and it is here that the beginnings of the book can be found.  Back then he wanted to write a book of games, partially because he recognised that parents had ever less time to play with their children and were often short of ideas what play when they did.  Now, with a collection of 365 games, the book is almost like a calendar of things to play.  The games are kept simple and can mostly be played with things around the house, without having to go out and buy something first.  There is not a lot of background information to them, they are just meant to be fun.

What does the film case smell of?What does the film case smell of?

Enough of the explanations, it was time for the reading.  André Gatzke opened the book and started to read, just as one would expect at a book reading, before he looked up at the children, smiled, and simply asked “do you want to play?”

Of course the children wanted to play, and it was explained to them that as they not at school, they did not have to put their hands up during the games, they could simply call out.

The first games were about guessing names and ages.  Then some of the children took items out of their pockets and swapped them.  André had to now only guess what they had in their pockets, but who they had swapped with as well.  They played “Word-Tennis”, where he gave them a category and the children had to answer with someout suitable as quick as possible.  For exampled: Colour – Blue.  Then they played a round of “Musical Statues” (“Freeze Dance” for readers in the USA) – and danced until the music stopped when they had to stay as still as possible.

Musical Statues
Musical Statues

There were variations on well-known games, such as playing “I am going on a trip” with sounds instead of items.  They identified the theme tunes to a number of children’s television programmes, and gurgled songs (take a drink of water, hold it in your mouth and gurgle a tune that other have to try and recognise).  Somewhat more difficult was the game to recognise what the film cases smelt of.

And then there was the game “what swims, and what sinks?”  For this, a large transparent container of water had be placed on a table at the front of the room, and the children had to guess whether items such as Andrés shoe would sink to the bottom or swim on the top.  The trainer stayed at the top, but not the old mobile phone.  When it is the turn of a book to be placed in the water, there was a cry from the audience that it was valuable, causing the presenter to look somewhat perplexed, considering that the same person had not called out previously about the phone.

André Gatzke with Fountain Queen Nadine I. and ChristianAndré Gatzke with Fountain Queen Nadine I. and Christian

The two shows continued back-to-back without a break, so that the games latest for almost two-and-a-half hours.  During this time André Gatzke was very active and continuously in the middle of his audience.  Everyone could join in the games and both the children and their parents had an “elephantastic” time.  Afterwards they were able to collect autographs and if they purchased the book have it signed as well.

The “André Spielebuch” for children aged 5 and over has been published by Beltz Verlag, the ISBN number is 978-3-407-75407-3.

This article appeared in German in the Oberurseler Woche on Wednesday, 4th May, 2016.



About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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