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Schultüte - a German tradition to celebrate the start of school

Can you believe it’s August and school is starting? Our schools don’t start until after Labor Day so we have a few more days, but I know some of you have already begun!  Do you have your Schultüte ready?

The Schultüte is a lovely German tradition that we have adopted in our family to celebrate the start of school. A Schultüte is a decorated cone typically filled with school supplies and also some goodies like small gifts and candies. Children in Germany and Austria receive a Schultüte from their parents on the first day of school as they enter First Grade. The Schultüte is a big deal, a cherished tradition, and an instantly recognizable cultural icon.

T2 will be starting at a new school, so she’s asking for a Schultüte again this year…

We learned to stretch the “First Grade” rule from our wonderful preschool teachers, Anita and Anne. On the first day of school, they had the preschool class color a drawing of a Schultüte, cut out and paste it on a paper lunch bag, then filled it with little goodies. By the time our kids started Kindergarten, they knew they should receive a proper Schultüte. Then in First Grade, they both started new schools, so of course they should get a Schultüte! And the tradition continues…

In Germany, pre-decorated or plain cardboard cones are found in any shop that sells stationary. The cones come in various sizes. They can be decorated with themes like horses or princesses, or more simple designs. Flat cones are also available, and much easier to pack, so you may consider picking one up next summer.

Kindercone 3KidsIn the US, our friends at KinderCone offer a lovely selection of pre-filled or fill-your-own cones in various sizes. Their cones are custom designed, in a variety of colors. KinderCone is a family run business in Chicago which offers same day shipping. You still have time to place your order before school begins!

You can also make your own Schultüte and personalize it for your child. Crayola has simple directions in English, or search for “Schultüte basteln”online for more ideas and directions (in German), many of which are quite elaborate. Over the years, Thea has made a Schultüte for T1 with Yoda – “May the Force be with you!”, and for T2, one decorated with a princess crown and silver ribbons and another with Prinzessin Lillifee drawings. The kids were excited, and it really got the first day of school off to a good start!

We give the Schultüten to the kids at breakfast and then take photos at the front door before they leave for school – creating lasting memories!

Some suggestions for goodies:

  • Small books – such as the MiniBook sets
  • CDs – a new audio book (try the Playmobil “Schatz der Teufelsinsel” for a Pirate theme) or a fun Kinderdisco CD such as “Endlich geht’s los!”
  • Colored pencils (take this opportunity to add some fun to your home art supplies)
  • Fun erasers
  • Rulers – a traditional ruler or a cute small one
  • Card games (we carry “Gegansätze-Memo“)
  • Trading cards such as Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh
  • Small Playmobil or LEGO figures
  • Hair bands and barrettes
  • Treats – German candies such as Gummi bears or other small candies

Erste Schultag + SchultuteSchultüten can also be a simple fundraiser for your German school. Our German language Saturday School takes photos of all the kids holding Schultüten (both individually and then as a class with one child holding a Schultüte), prints the photos at Costco, then sells them to the parents.  The families get a a lovely keepsake, and the school gets a little bit of help.

The Schultüte has become a happy symbol of the first day of school for our family, that has helped to transform a day that many kids dread into one that we look forward to.  Try it yourself!


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