A Hen´s Egg

by Hanna Vock


Scientific thinking and acting can also be practiced with very few resources.

I would like to demonstrate this with an example. In 2001 I led a play and learning group for gifted pre-school children in Düsseldorf (Germany). This offer of the Adult Education Center took place 10 times as planned, each meeting lasted one and a half hours, in the afternoon in weekly intervals.

The seven participating children were four boys and three girls aged 4;8 to 5;6 years. Except for two girls, they did not know each other, and they did not know me or the room where we met. I had to bring all the material with me and take it home each time. Despite these unfavorable conditions compared to the kindergarten, a joyful and intensive playing and learning took place.

…in short…

Seven presumably gifted pre-school children are involved with the chicken egg. They examine it thoroughly and pursue the exciting question of why eggs begin to swim in water with increasing age. And they figure it out.

We spent the 10 afternoons dealing with different topics, one of which was „The Egg“. The children should be able to explore the hen’s egg thoroughly, to make discoveries and to learn about it.

What was important to me was that the children

    • could observe changes over time,
    • should learn a way to record their observations,
    • should learn that joint reflection on what has been observed, accurate conclusions help to clarify an initially „mysterious“ question,

which are all basic scientific procedures.

The children received uncooked and cooked chicken eggs, which they could take apart and examine. The children discovered what the egg looks like inside, how it smells and feels.

All the observations the children made were collected in the group. The most important thing was an exact description and precise formulation.

It was interesting to see that the children were always specifying themselves, but also each other.

According to the information given by the children, I tried a sketch on the blackboard, which was changed again and again until the children were satisfied with the sketch. In the process, the nature and purpose of the egg components were also discussed. Afterwards the sketch was wiped away on the blackboard and the children tried to draw the discussed details from memory.

Girl, 5 years                                   Boy, 5 years                       Girl, 5 years







With the help of sketches and from photos I brought along, the details of the egg were brought together with the development of the chick in the egg.

The children puzzled about what „subject“ they would have had if the whole thing had taken place at school. (They were all still months to years away from enrolment.)

After I had listed the usual school subjects (and what is done there), they found at the end of this discussion that it must have been a mixture of natural science and German and art. I found this assessment remarkable.

To find out more about the hen’s egg, I suggested the „egg freshness test“ to the children. (The egg is fresh when it is left in a bowl of water at the bottom.)

After the children noticed that some eggs stayed on the floor, some stood up in the water and some even swam, everything revolved around the question:

Why is it so different?

The children received some important information: From their drawings of the egg structure they found out,

    • that the lime shell has small holes through which water can get out and air can get in;
    • that the egg whites and yolks feel so wet because there’s water in them.


    • that water can evaporate (go into the air) and the previously wet clothes become drier as a result (for example, clothes hung up);
    • that some things can float if you blow them up with air (for example, water wings).

They were not yet able to process this information in their minds to the point where they came up with the solution why some eggs float and some don’t.

This „egg freshness test“ should therefore keep us busy for weeks, which was not originally planned. Every week we repeated the freshness test, always with the same (marked and initially fresh) eggs and observed how the position of the egg in the water changed from week to week. The eggs endured the multiple back and forth transport and also the handling of the children until the end without breaking.

Since some of the children were keen to write on the blackboard, we also looked at the egg from this side:

The children painted ovals on the blackboard and all the other geometric shapes they could think of. They considered in which words „Ei“ (the German word for egg) occurs and wrote them (with more or less instructions) on the blackboard, partly also on paper.

In the process, I also gained incidental information about the children’s reading skills: Of the seven children, two read fluently, two spelled slowly, the others knew more or less letters.

The exchange of knowledge about the living conditions of the chickens as well as a discussion about it rounded off the topic for the time being.

But still we had the secret why some eggs do not swim and some do, not yet revealed.

At the 5th meeting, before the autumn holiday break, we repeated the egg freshness test one more time. The eggs, which were initially still quite fresh, had naturally aged. The children had observed over the weeks how the position of the eggs in the water had changed and could describe this well.

They received a prepared sheet on which the first three states were already drawn by me.

They should now draw in their assumption about how the eggs would be in the water after the holidays. After the holidays we wanted to do the test and draw the actual position.

This task challenged the children’s ability to make assumptions about future development. At the same time, they learned that observations made during the experiment can be recorded with simple sketches.

Result (boy, 5 years):

Result (girl, 5 years):

After the holidays it turned out that the children had guessed right in principle:
that the eggs had come off the ground.

However, several children now noticed that the eggs were not floating in the water, but were really swimming, i.e. partially emerged from the water. They drew this exactly.

Now it seemed to me that it was time to help the children to find out the reason for the newly acquired swimming ability of the eggs.

The question was: Why do the eggs swim now?

First we looked at our drawings of the egg’s interior again.

On the question: which part of the egg could be important for swimming? the children came to the air chamber, because they remembered the earlier comparison with swimming wings.

The next step was the question: But in the beginning, when the eggs were still fresh, they already had an air chamber and still could not swim. What happened to the eggs that they can now after all?

After the humorous remark of a five-year-old girl: „Maybe somebody blew them up“, the children, after thinking hard, came up with the idea that the air chamber might really have gotten bigger and the rest of the egg smaller.

The next helpful question was: Can anything get in and out of the egg, even if the shell is intact? Here the children remembered the fine holes in the egg shell and said yes.

The final question was: What went in and what came out?

The children said that air had probably come in and that the air bubble had become larger. Something must have come out, but what?

A brief analogy was necessary: What happens when washing is dried on a line? Answer: The water comes out. Question: Where does it go? Answer: Somehow into the air. Question: Can this also happen with an egg? Is there any water in the egg? Answer: „Yes, I think so; it feels all wet. especially the egg white.“

The children had used their little grey cells to solve a mysterious case and were visibly satisfied that they had made it.


Date of publication in German: May 2011
Copyright © Hanna Vock 2011, see Imprint.
Translation: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

From Clown to Expert

by Antonia Herberg


I want to help Manuel (5;3) to develop a different role in his group of children. Very often he is in the role of the clown and the troublemaker.
My way will be to offer him situations in which he comes across to the other children with his interests and abilities and lets his positive potential come to fruition. I also hope to strengthen him by creating friendships.

Manuel should be given opportunities to pursue his urge to explore and learn. At the same time, I want to show him ways to let his things benefit the group of children, to get involved, to let himself and the other children experience that he is an enrichment.
This includes the offer that he presents his results in the chair circle. There should also be an attempt to involve other children in his activities.

A first observation and assessment of Manuel can be found here: Manuel, 5;0 years.


In the last few days Manuel (5;3) has repeatedly taken the (Montessori) offer >lighting a candle< during free play. His attention was clearly focused on the moment when he put out the candle with the wick extinguisher. He did this very slowly each time and let the candle flare up again and again.
To give him a new opportunity to observe the extinguishing of the candle, I provided a candle, matches and a glass for him.
When he gets the candle again the next morning, I ask him if I may show him something else with the candle. Manuel looks at me attentively and agrees. I demonstrate the procedure to him once, Manuel laughs and repeats it several times. He puts his head on the table top and watches the candle go out.

I ask him if he knows why the candle goes out under the glass. He replies: „There’s no air left.“ I offer him a bigger glass. He takes it and says, „It gives her more air.“ Manuel tries it out. When I offer him a second candle, he lights both of them and puts the glasses over them at the same time with both hands and watches curiously what happens.
He asks if I have a very small glass. He extends his observation to five glasses of different sizes, sets them up in an line and one after the other he puts the glasses over the candles with rapid and coordinated movements.
After several passes he beams at me and says: „This is such fun, I’m going to use up all the matches.“

At the end of the free play I ask Manuel to show the other children in the chair circle what he has done and explain it to them. He thinks, smiles and nods.
Everyone sits in a circle, Manuel sits next to me and in front of him stands the tray with the candles, glasses and matches. The children are waiting. I ask Manuel quietly if he can tell them now what he is going to do. Manuel shakes his head, leans over to me and whispers: „You!“
I say a few sentences to the children and Manuel starts lighting the candles. Before he puts the glasses on, he looks seriously and says: „This has to be done in a hurry.“ His performance succeeds. He explains that fire needs air to burn, that there is different amounts of air in the glasses and that the candles go out one after the other. The children are attentive, listen and watch.
I thank Manuel and hand over the chair circle to a pre-school child. Then I leave the room and the children play under the guidance of the big boy for about 45 minutes. When I return, I see Manuel playing in the circle with a satisfied and happy face.

Remark of the course leader:
He begins to share his insights. And he experiences success: first in his investigations, which lead him to new insights, and then the social success that the children follow him attentively during his presentation. This brings good feelings.


Manuel repeats the game with candles and glasses. He acts independently and very concentrated and makes several passes. His attention is obviously focused on putting the glasses over the candles at a fast pace in order to achieve synchrony at the start. (He has set this task for himself.) Sometimes a candle goes out. Then Manuel says „Shit!“ and starts again from the beginning.

Opposite Manuel sits Ole, who is the same age, working with the electric box. After some time Manuel observes Ole, who does not succeed in his task. Manuel gets up, walks around the table, takes the screwdriver out of Ole’s hand and builds an electric circuit. Then he sits back down on his chair, looks at Ole and says smiling: „That’s how it works.“ They talk about their work. Manuel gets up again after a few minutes, stands next to Ole, then fetches his chair, sits down and watches Ole in silence for a quarter of an hour. Then they both tidy up and have breakfast together. They happily talk about what they like to eat.

Note from the course leader:
Two researchers and inventors have found each other!


Manuel gets the offer to grind different raw materials with a mortar. He is concentrated and works on it for over two hours. He keeps looking closely at what is happening, what is changing in the mortar. In the circle of chairs he presents his work confidently and safely.

Note from the course leader:
Oh! What progress after just one positive result. He has learned how to present. Here, too, ease of learning is evident.


On the table are white daisies in a vase. I ask Manuel, „Do you think daisies drink the water?“ He nods and says, „Yes, all plants need water.“ I go on asking if you can see that they’re drinking it. Manuel ponders for a moment and says, „Yes, with a magnifying glass.“ I give him a magnifier and he looks intently at the stems through the magnifying glass. After a while, I ask him if he has observed anything. He shakes his head and says, „I don’t see anything.“

I point out to him that the water in the vase is transparent, that it has no colour, and suggest that he colour it, then the flowers would have to drink coloured water. He looks at me and asks, „What happens then?“ I ask back, „What do you think might happen?“ He touches a blossom and says, „Will it turn colour?“ I ask him to try it and give him a stand with test tubes and red and black ink.

Manuel carefully fills the ink and puts two daisies in red and black ink. Then he sits in front of them, crosses his arms and looks at the flowers. After ten (!) minutes he comes to me and says with a plaintive tone: „Nothing’s happening.“
We put the stand with the flowers on the windowsill and I invite him to do something else now and to have a look in between.

At the beginning of the circle of chairs I ask Manuel to explain to the children what he did with the flowers. He laughs and says, „Yes, I want to do that.“ Manuel tells the children with a lot of facial expressions and a loud voice about his experiment and that he is now waiting to see if anything has happened. The children listen even more attentively than at his first demonstration. Manuel speaks freely and doesn’t even pay attention to me anymore.

When about half the time in the circle of chairs is already over he jumps up and shouts: „There, it starts! One flower is already turning pink.“ Manuel is beaming and all the children look at the pink flower. When he leaves, he says, „Black takes longer.“


Manuel is still interested in the mortar. Every day, something different is pounded. He presents the results again in the chair circle and finds companions who share this passion with him.

Note from the course leader:
This is where the attention you give Manuel begins to have a distinctly positive effect on the group.


Manuel is back from vacation. He heads for the sandpaper letters and says: „Antonia, do you know I can read a bit now?“
I reply: „No, but you could show me.“ He grins and names all but two of the letters. Then he says, „I want to rub them all in and make a book with them.“ He spends a long time doing it, concentrating.


Manuel is always busy with the letters. He talks about secret writing and I show him mirror writing using my name. He is enthusiastic and tries a lot. Among other things, he glues a printing plate and is happy about the mirror writing when printing. In a circle of chairs he explains the mirror writing to the children.


Today Manuel makes an envelope out of paper, writes something on a small piece of paper and puts it into the envelope. I ask if I may see it. He hesitates and then says resolutely: „No, you can’t. It’s a secret!“ I laugh and say, „What a pity.“ Manuel says, consolingly: „No matter. You couldn’t read it anyway because it’s a secret writing.“ Then he puts it in his drawer and says, „You can’t show it secretly in a circle of chairs either“ and laughs again.

Note from the course leader:
Now he is free to choose what he wants to show you and the other children. Again a learning progress.


Manuel now works more often together with other children, today with Ole. They invent patterns with geometric shapes in graded sizes, rework the shapes with coloured paper and stick their „invention“ on.


Today morning, Manuel comes in and says: „I know what I want to do. I’ve always wanted to work with a web frame.“ We prepare a frame for him. He gets the hang of it quickly, weaves persistently and doesn’t let himself be put off even if he makes a mistake. He then gets help and continues. He carefully chooses the colors by holding them to the piece he’s already woven.


Manuel and Hans have worked together more often in the last few days. Today, in the morning, they walk towards each other determinedly and make an appointment for the building room. Emil asks if he can join in too. Hans and Manuel build a rail network with the Brio Bahn. Emil plays beside it alone with a locomotive and trailers. Manuel and Hans talk to each other and present their plans and actions. Manuel says: „Hey, when are we going to connect the rails, by thunder?“ Hans and Emil laugh and fling the rails across the room. Manuel: „Hey, why do you destroy everything? It doesn’t work that way. I need a long run. When are we going to tie?“
The other two kids keep messing around and laughing. Manuel gets upset and swears and shouts: „Stop! It’s not going to work!“ When the both don’t react, he starts throwing things around.

Note from the course leader:
The desperation of the highly motivated when others torpedo the construction work.

I intervene and ask Hans and Emil to listen to Manuel. They do, and Manuel describes his plan. They are rebuilding. I invite them to put trailers on all the locomotives. Manuel tries, distributes, rearranges again and says: „Oh shit, I wanted one with four trailers. But I can’t do that. Then two engines won’t have any.“
He fiddles around for a while. „I’ve got it! We’ll each get one first.“ He does it like this, looks and comments: „That’s justice.“ They start playing. Manuel comments on his moving train: „Move the longest distance. Oh, station forgotten! Station! Stop the train! Next please! Next, please!“

Note from the course leader:
I’m glad you helped him. He learns: I have an idea, a plan in my head. If I want others to go along with it, I have to introduce and explain it to them.


Manuel comes in the morning and says: „I have to check my leaf. I’m very curious.“ A few days ago he brought a big leaf from his trip to the kindergarten and put it in the flower press.
The leaf is not dry yet. He looks at it and feels it and says, „Do you think it’s ready?“ When I say no, he says: „Then it must go back in“ and clamps it again.

Note from the course leader:
He shows real talent for research, such as constant interest and perseverance in his projects.


Manuel arrives at the kindergarten in a good mood. He goes to his workplace from the day before to print his name with the printing plate he has made. He chooses the colours, mixes a shade of colour and applies the ink evenly with the roller. He prints for the first time, looks at the result, laughs and shouts happily: „Everything’s back to front!“ (Mirror writing.)
He makes several prints, then tidies up his workplace and strolls through the group.


Manuel sits down at the table where the children do folding work and begins to fold. I ask him what he is folding. Manuel: „I just fold. Let’s see what comes out of it.“
Very concentrated he tries it out. The result is a regular folding work, where all folds correspond to each other on the right and left. Hans comes and watches him. Then they both fold „just go ahead“ and show each other their results.
Manuel holds up his and says: „It looks like a plane. I must try it out.“ He likes the test flight and he repeats the folding in a different colour. Then he tidies up and goes for breakfast.

Then he purposefully fetches his weaving frame, holds a ball of wool to the woven piece, mumbles something, puts the wool away and takes red wool. Again he holds it to the woven piece, says „yes, good“ and begins to weave. His movements are relaxed and concentrated. He does not look at what is happening around him.


Again and again Manuel asks to mortar. It almost seems like a ritual of arrival in the morning. Another child always joins in and they enjoy this action together.


Manuel watches as I show a boy of the same age something with brown stairs and red poles (Montessori material). He gives advice on the construction. With the agreement of Konrad he plays along and they try out all kinds of things with a lot of fun. The common play continues throughout the whole morning.

When Manuel arrives and I greet him, I ask: „How does it look like? What do you mortar today?“ Manuel replies: „No, today is the day when I stop using mortars. Today I’m going to the site with Konrad.“ They disappear into the construction corner, and there they’re in good spirits all morning, building a huge railroad.


Manuel plays the role of the wolf in „The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids“. He plays with commitment and the right stakes. When the little goats finally dance, singing, around the fountain into which wolf Manuel has fallen, he jumps up and runs to his seat.

We talk in a circle of chairs about how we enjoyed it. I ask Manuel what suddenly happened to the wolf in the well. Manuel says: „I thought this thing was stupid. I don’t want to be dead.“


Manuel plays with four-year-old Mira. He builds a rhombus with the (Montessori) poles and shows it to the kindergarten teacher. She makes a new suggestion. Manuel says, „No, I want something else.“ He explains with hands and words what form the building should take. The teacher asks, „Like a funnel?“ He beams: „Exactly like a funnel!“
His plan succeeds and he dances enthusiastically with Mira around his work.


Manuel has received our support to experiment a lot and to try out new things in the kindergarten as well as to deepen and expand material work.
Our support consisted in

    • to prepare offers for him which we assumed would interest him,
    • to get involved with his guidelines and ideas and to be available to him when he implements them.

Several times he presented his work in a circle of chairs. The group reacted with curiosity and recognition. There were imitators of his work, whom he helped with words and deeds, and also other children presented their things in the circle of chairs.

In the meantime this form of presentation has become part of everyday life and enriches the group life.

Increasingly, play situations developed in which Manuel acted well with children of the same age and also much younger children. His basic mood, which he showed in the kindergarten, changed at an amazingly fast pace. He now comes to the kindergarten full of energy and happy.

He hardly ever takes on the clown role anymore, but acts very humorously, with a lot of wit and joy in situation comedy.

He actively participates in the chair circle offers. As a play partner, he is now in great demand among the children.

Since a few weeks Manuel is also at the kindergarten over lunchtime and can play intensively with other children in the afternoon in the smaller group. We had suggested to the mother to try this step, because it had become clear in conversations with the parents that Manuel (he also has three siblings) was straining the family and himself with many fights at home.

He accepted the afternoon care with enthusiasm. I don’t take this for granted because his younger brother is always picked up before him and has lunch at home.

During this time of targeted demands and attention, Manuel has been able to stabilise his emotional state and his social position in the group through offers and has gained in self-confidence.
Conflicts are handled by him in a relaxed and appropriate manner.
He has a clearly friendly relationship with the teachers, which sometimes has an almost complicit character.

Note from the course leader:
Well, it’s the best thing that can happen to gifted children.

Further considerations

In the last two weeks I have increasingly withdrawn, a colleague (who already has the IHVO certificate – see also: Journalism in Kindergarten) has taken over his company in a very competent way over the weeks. I took this step because of the necessity of everyday life (devotion to other children) and also because I felt that now was the right time to let Manuel go his own way more often. In this way I want to avoid that he only experiences himself as good when he acts close to the adult. It is important to me not to let my attention for him diminish – but to find the right balance in the attention so that Manuel continues to experience and behave as a member of this group of children and his independence grows.

I am confident that we will succeed in this as a team of kindergarten teachers and that Manuel will be able to take further positive steps in his development with his new starting capital of competence.

What impressed me very much about this project was the extent of the profit for the other children. Some children, imitating at first, but then according to their own needs, demanded new forms of play for themselves and also made use of them again for the group.

During this time, we adults were able to discover many new things for our work with the children in general and also specifically with Manuel. The next step for me will be to see exactly when Manuel needs new input and where he can go on alone. Manuel is so enthusiastic about every suggestion that as an adult you might be in danger of slipping into the role of an animator. I would like to observe and reflect on this with myself.

Remark of the course leader:
I don’t see the danger that you could become an animator (i.e. just entertaining and „joking“ him. Manuel implements every suggestion very independently and also has his own ideas… The more of them he can successfully implement (with support, also by further questions; where it makes sense), the more good ideas he will produce himself.

Very often Manuel comes to the kindergarten in the morning and has his own plan in his head and knows what he would like to do. I want to provide him with the necessary means to do so and thus support him in following his own development plan, his own learning paths in and with the group.

(All children’s names have been changed.)


Date of publication in German: April 2020
Translation: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)
Copyright © Antonia Herberg, see Impressum.



Vom Clown zum Könner

von Antonia Herberg


Ich möchte Manuel (5;3) dabei helfen, sich eine andere Rolle in seiner Kindergruppe zu erarbeiten. Sehr oft ist er in der Rolle des Clowns und des Störers.
Mein Weg ist, ihm Situationen anzubieten, in denen er bei den anderen Kindern mit seinen Interessen und Fähigkeiten ankommt und seine positiven Potentiale zum Tragen kommen lässt. Auch hoffe ich ihn durch das Entstehen von Freundschaften zu stärken.

Manuel soll Möglichkeiten erhalten, seinem Forscherdrang und seiner Lernlust nachzugehen. Parallel dazu möchte ich ihm Wege zeigen, seine Dinge der Kindergruppe zugute kommen zu lassen, sich einzubringen, sich selbst und die anderen Kinder erleben zu lassen, dass er eine Bereicherung ist.
Dazu gehört das Angebot, dass er seine Ergebnisse im Stuhlkreis präsentiert. Es soll auch den Versuch geben, andere Kinder in sein Tun einzubeziehen.

Eine erste Beobachtung und Einschätzung von Manuel findet sich hier: Manuel, 5;0 Jahre.


In den letzten Tagen hat sich Manuel (5;3) während des Freispiels wiederholt das (Montessori-) Angebot >Kerze anzünden< geholt. Seine Aufmerksamkeit galt dabei deutlich dem Moment, in dem er die Kerze mit dem Dochtlöscher ausmachte. Er tat dies jedes Mal sehr langsam und ließ die Kerze immer wieder aufflackern.
Um ihm eine neue Mögichkeit zu geben, das Verlöschen der Kerze zu beobachten, stelle ich ihm eine Kerze, Streichhölzer und ein Glas hin.
Als er sich am nächsten Morgen wieder die Kerze holt, frage ich ihn, ob ich ihm etwas anderes mit der Kerze zeigen darf. Manuel schaut mich aufmerksam an und stimmt zu. Ich demonstriere ihm einmal den Ablauf, Manuel lacht und wiederholt es gleich mehrmals. Dabei legt er den Kopf auf die Tischplatte und schaut so der Kerze beim Verlöschen zu.

Ich frage ihn, ob er weiß, warum die Kerze unter dem Glas ausgeht. Er antwortet: „Die kriegt keine Luft mehr.“ Ich biete ihm ein größeres Glas an. Er nimmt es und sagt: „Da hat sie mehr Luft.“ Manuel probiert es aus. Als ich ihm eine zweite Kerze hinstelle, zündet er beide an und stülpt die Gläser gleichzeitig beidhändig darüber und beobachtet gespannt, was geschieht.
Er fragt, ob ich auch noch ein ganz kleines Glas habe. Er baut seine Beobachtung bis auf fünf verschieden große Gläser aus, stellt sie der Reihe nach auf und stülpt mit raschen und koordinierten Bewegungen die Gläser darüber.
Nach mehreren Durchläufen strahlt er mich an und sagt: „Das macht so einen Spaß, ich werde alle Streichhölzer verbrauchen.“

Zum Ende des Freispiels bitte ich Manuel, doch den anderen Kindern im Stuhlkreis zu zeigen, was er gemacht hat, und es ihnen zu erklären. Er überlegt, lächelt und nickt.
Alle sitzen im Kreis, Manuel sitzt nben mir und vor ihm steht das Tablett mit den Kerzen, Gläsern und Streichhölzern. Die Kinder warten. Ich frage Manuel leise, ob er ihnen jetzt sagen kann, was er vorhat. Manuel schüttelt den Kopf, neigt sich zu mir und flüstert: „Du!“ Ich sage einige Sätze zu den Kindern und Manuel beginnt die Kerzen anzuzünden. Bevor er die Gläser darüberstülpt, schaut er ernst in die Runde und sagt : „Das muss jetzt zack-zack gehen.“ Seine Vorführung gelingt. Er erklärt noch, dass Feuer Luft braucht um zu brennen; dass verschieden viel Luft in den Gläsern ist und deswegen die Kerzen nacheinander ausgehen. Die Kinder sind aufmerksam, hören und schauen zu.
Ich bedanke mich bei Manuel und übergebe den Stuhlkreis an ein Vorschulkind. Dann verlasse ich den Raum und die Kinder spielen unter Anleitung des großen Jungen etwa 45 Minuten. Als ich wieder dazukomme, sehe ich Manuel mit zufriedenem und fröhlichem Gesicht in der Runde mitspielen.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Er beginnt seine Erkenntnisse mitzuteilen. Und er erlebt Erfolg: zuerst bei seinen Untersuchungen, die ihn zu neuen Erkenntnissen führen, und dann den sozialen Erfolg, dass ihm die Kinder bei seiner Präsentation aufmerksam folgen. Das bringt gute Gefühle.


Manuel wiederholt das Spiel mit den Kerzen und den Gläsern. Er agiert selbstständig und sehr konzentriert und macht mehrere Durchgänge. Sein Augenmerk liegt offensichtlich darauf, die Gläser in schnellem Tempo über die Kerzen zu stülpen, um Zeitgleichheit beim Start zu erreichen. (Diese Aufgabe hat er sich selber gestellt.)  Manchmal geht dabei eine Kerze aus. Dann sagt Manuel „Mist!“ und beginnt noch einmal von vorne.

Manuel gegenüber sitzt der gleichaltrige Ole und arbeitet mit dem Elektrokasten. Nach einiger Zeit beobachtet Manuel Ole, dem sein Vorhaben nicht richtig gelingt. Manuel steht auf, geht um den Tisch herum, nimmt Ole den Schraubenzieher aus der Hand und baut einen Stromkreis. Dann setzt er sich wieder auf seinen Stuhl, schaut Ole an und sagt lächelnd: „So geht das.“ Sie unterhalten sich über ihre Arbeiten. Manuel steht nach einigen Minuten wieder auf, stellt sich neben Ole, holt dann seinen Stuhl, setzt sich und schaut Ole eine Viertelstunde lang schweigend zu. Dann räumen beide auf und gehen zusammen frühstücken. Sie unterhalten sich fröhlich darüber, was sie gerne essen.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Da haben sich zwei Forscher und Tüftler gefunden!


Manuel bekommt das Angebot, verschiedene Rohstoffe mit einem Mörser zu zermahlen. Er ist konzentriert bei der Sache und arbeitet über zwei Stunden daran. Er schaut immer wieder genau hin, was passiert, was sich im Mörser verändert. Im Stuhlkreis stellt er seine Arbeit souverän und sicher vor.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Oh! Was für ein Fortschritt durch ein positives Ergebnis. Er hat das Präsentieren gelernt. Auch da zeigt sich Lernleichtigkeit.


Auf dem Tisch stehen weiße Margeriten in einer Vase. Ich frage Manuel: „Meinst du, dass die Margeriten das Wasser trinken?“ Er nickt und sagt: „Ja, alle Pflanzen brauchen Wasser.“ Ich frage weiter, ob man sehen kann, dass sie es trinken. Manuel überlegt kurz und sagt: „Ja, mit einer Lupe.“ Ich gebe ihm eine Lupe und er betrachtet aufmerksam die Stängel durch die Lupe. Nach einiger Zeit frage ich ihn, ob er etwas beobachten konnte. Er schüttelt den Kopf und sagt: „Ich sehe nichts.“

Ich weise ihn darauf hin, dass das Wasser in der Vase durchsichtig ist, dass es keine Farbe hat, und schlage ihm vor, es zu färben, dann müssten die Blumen farbiges Wasser trinken. Er schaut mich an und fragt: „Was passiert dann?“ Ich frage zurück: „Was könnte passieren, was meinst du?“ Er berührt eine Blüte und sagt: „Wird die dann bunt?“ Ich fordere ihn auf, es auszuprobieren, und gebe ihm einen Ständer mit Reagenzgläsern sowie rote und schwarze Tinte.

Manuel füllt die Tinte vorsichtig ein und stellt jeweils zwei Margeriten in rote und schwarze Tinte. Dann setzt er sich davor, verschränkt die Arme und guckt die Blumen an. Nach zehn (!) Minuten kommt er zu mir und sagt mit klagendem Ton: „Da passiert nichts.“
Wir stellen den Ständer mit den Blumen auf die Fensterbank und ich lade ihn ein, jetzt etwas anderes zu tun und zwischendurch immer mal nachzuschauen.

Zu Beginn des Stuhlkreises frage ich Manuel, ob er den Kindern erklären will, was er mit den Blumen gemacht hat. Er lacht und sagt: „Ja, das will ich machen.“ Manuel erzählt den Kindern mit viel Mimik und lauter Stimme von seinem Experiment und dass er jetzt wartet, ob etwas passiert ist. Die Kinder hören noch aufmerksamer zu als bei seiner ersten Demonstration. Manuel spricht frei und beachtet mich gar nicht mehr.

Mitten im Stuhlkreis springt er auf und ruft: „Da, es fängt an! Eine Blume wird schon rosa.“ Manuel strahlt und alle Kinder schauen sich die rosa Blume an. Im Hinausgehen sagt er: „Schwarz dauert länger.“


Das Mörsern interessiert Manuel weiterhin. Jeden Tag wird etwas anderes zerstoßen. Er hat die Ergebnisse wieder im Stuhlkreis vorgestellt und findet Gefährten, die diese Leidenschaft mit ihm teilen.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Hier beginnt sich die Aufmerksamkeit, die Du Manuel gibst, für die Gruppe deutlich positiv auszuwirken.


Manuel ist aus dem Urlaub zurück. Er steuert auf die Sandpapierbuchstaben zu und sagt: „Antonia, weißt du, dass ich jetzt ein wenig lesen kann?“
Ich antworte: „Nein, aber du könntest es mir zeigen.“ Er grinst und benennt bis auf zwei alle Buchstaben. Dann sagt er: „Ich will jetzt alle durchreiben und ein Buch damit machen.“ Er ist lange und konzentriert damit beschäftigt.


Manuel beschäftigt sich immer wieder mit den Buchstaben. Er spricht von Geheimschrift und ich zeige ihm Spiegelschrift anhand meines Namens. Er ist begeistert und probiert viel aus. Unter anderem klebt er eine Druckplatte und freut sich über die verkehrte Schrift beim Drucken. Im Stuhlkreis erklärt er den Kindern die Spiegelschrift.


Heute bastelt Manuel sich einen Umschlag aus Papier, schreibt etwas auf einen kleinen Zettel und steckt ihn in den Umschlag. Ich frage, ob ich es mal sehen darf. Er zögert und sagt dann entschlossen: „Nein, geht nicht. Ist ja geheim!“ Ich lache und sage: „Wie schade für mich.“ Manuel sagt tröstend: „Macht nix. Du könntest es eh nicht lesen, weil es Geheimschrift ist.“ Dann bringt er es in seine Schublade und sagt im Weggehen: „Geheim kann man auch nicht im Stuhlkreis zeigen“ und lacht wieder.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Jetzt kann er schon frei entscheiden, was er Dir und den anderen Kindern präsentieren will und was nicht. Wieder ein Lernfortschritt.


Manuel arbeitet jetzt öfter mit anderen Kindern, heute mit Ole zusammen. Mit geometrischen Formen in Größenabstufung erfinden sie Muster, arbeiten die Formen mit buntem Papier nach und kleben ihre „Erfindung“ auf.


Manuel kommt morgens rein und sagt: „Ich weiß, was ich machen will. Ich wollte schon immer mal am liebsten auf der Welt einen Webrahmen machen.“ Wir spannen einen Webrahmen für ihn. Er hat es schnell raus, webt ausdauernd und lässt sich auch bei Fehlern nicht beirren. Er holt sich dann Hilfe und macht weiter. Er wählt die Farben sorgfältig aus, indem er sie an das schon gewebte Stück hält.


Manuel und Hans haben in den letzten Tagen öfter zusammen gearbeitet. Heute gehen sie morgens zielstrebig aufeinander zu und verabreden sich für den Bauraum. Emil fragt, ob er auch mitmachen kann. Hans und Manuel bauen ein Schienennetz mit der Brio Bahn. Emil spielt daneben alleine mit einer Lok und Anhängern. Manuel und Hans reden miteinander und stellen einander ihre Pläne und Aktionen vor. Manuel sagt: „Ey, wann verbinden wir die Schienen endlich, zum Donnerwetter?“ Hans und Emil lachen und schleudern die Bahngleise durch den Raum. Manuel: „Hey, warum macht ihr alles kaputt? So geht das nicht. Ich brauche eine lange Bahn. Wann binden wir endlich?“ Die beiden anderen Kinder werfen weiter alles durcheinander und lachen. Manuel regt sich auf und schimpft und ruft: „Stopp! Das wird nix!“ Als die zwei nicht reagieren, beginnt er heftig alles Gebaute umzuschlagen.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Die Verzweiflung des Hochmotivierten, wenn Andere die Aufbauarbeit torpedieren.

Ich habe eingegriffen und Hans und Emil aufgefordert, Manuel zuzuhören. Das tun sie, und Manuel schildert sein Vorhaben. Sie bauen neu auf. Ich lade sie ein, die Loks alle mit Anhängern zu versehen. Manuel probiert, verteilt, ordnet wieder um und sagt: „Oh Mist, ich wollte eine mit vier Anhängern. Aber das geht nicht. Dann habn zwei Loks gar keinen.“
Er hantiert eine Weile. „Ich hab´s! Jede bekommt erstmal einen.“ Er macht es so, schaut und kommentiert: „So ist es gerecht.“ Sie beginnen zu spielen. Manuel kommentiert seinen fahrenden Zug: „Längste Strecke fahren. Oh, Station vergessen! Bahnhof! Anhalten! Der Nächste bitte! Der Nächste bitte!“

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Gut, dass Du ihm geholfen hast. Er lernt: Ich habe eine Idee, ein Vorhaben im Kopf. Wenn ich möchte, dass Andere mitziehen, muss ich sie ihnen vorstellen und erklären.


Manuel kommt morgens herein und sagt: „Ich muss mal nach meinem Blatt sehen. Ich bin schon sehr gespannt.“ Vor einigen Tagen hat er von seinem Weg in den Kindergarten ein großes Blatt mitgebracht und in die Blumenpresse eingespannt.
Das Blatt ist noch nicht trocken. Er betrachtet und befühlt es und sagt: „Meinst du, es wäre fertig?“ Als ich verneine, sagt er: „Dann muss es wieder rein“ und spannt es erneut ein.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Er zeigt wirklich gute Anlagen zum Forschen, zum Beispiel beständiges Interesse und Beharrlichkeit bei seinen Vorhaben.


Manuel kommt gut gelaunt im Kinderhaus an. Er geht zu seinem Arbeitsplatz vom Vortag, um mit der angefertigten Druckplatte seinen Namen zu drucken. Er wählt die Farben, rührt sich einen Farbton an und trägt die Farbe mit der Walze gleichmäßig auf. Er druckt zum ersten Mal, schaut das Ergebnis an, lacht und ruft erfreut: „Alles verkehrt!“ (Spiegelschrift.)
Er fertigt mehrere Drucke an, räumt dann seinen Arbeitsplatz auf und schlendert durch die Gruppe.


Manuel setzt sich an den Falt-Tisch und beginnt zu falten. Ich frage ihn, was er faltet. Manuel: „Ich falte einfach mal. Mal sehen, was dabei heraus kommt.“
Sehr konzentriert probiert er aus. Es entsteht ein regelmäßiges Faltwerk, bei dem alle Faltungen sich rechts und links entsprechen. Hans kommt und schaut ihm zu. Dann falten sie beide „einfach drauflos“ und zeigen sich gegenseitig ihre Ergebnisse.
Manuel hält seins hoch und sagt: „Sieht aus wie ein Flieger. Ich muss es ausprobieren.“  Der Probeflug gefällt ihm und er wiederholt den Faltvorgang in einer anderen Farbe. Dann räumt er auf und geht frühstücken.

Danach holt er zielstrebig seinen Webrahmen, hält ein Wollknäuel an das gewebte Stück, murmelt etwas, legt die Wolle weg und nimmt rote Wolle. Wieder hält er sie an das Gewebte, sagt „ja, gut“ und beginnt damit zu weben. Seine Bewegungen sind entspannt und konzentriert. Er schaut nicht, was um ihn herum geschieht.


Immer wieder verlangt Manuel danach zu mörsern. Es erscheint fast wie ein Ritual des Ankommens. Immer stößt dann auch ein anderes Kind dazu und sie erfreuen sich gemeinsam an dieser Aktion.


Manuel schaut zu, wie ich einem gleichaltrigen Jungen etwas mit brauner Treppe und roten Stangen (Montessori-Material) zeige. Er gibt Ratschläge zur Konstruktion. Mit dem Einverständnis von Konrad spielt er mit und sie probieren mit viel Spaß allerlei aus. Das gemeinsame Spiel zieht sich über den gesamten Vormittag.

Als Manuel ankommt und ich ihn begrüße, frage ich: „Wie sieht es aus? Was mörserst du heute?“ Manuel antwortet: „Nee, heute ist mal Schluss mit mörsern. Heute will ich mit Konrad in den Bauraum.“ Sie verschwinden im Bauraum und sind dort über den ganzen Vormittag guter Dinge, bauen eine große Eisenbahnanlage auf.


Manuel übernimmt beim Rollenspiel im Stuhlkreis die Rolle des Wolfes in „Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein“. Er spielt engagiert und mit den richtigen Einsätzen. Als die Geißlein zum Schluss singend um den Brunnen tanzen, in den Wolf Manuel gefallen ist, springt er auf und rennt zu seinem Platz.

Wir unterhalten uns im Stuhlkreis darüber, wie es uns gefallen hat. Ich frage Manuel, was mit dem Wolf im Brunnen plötzlich los war. Manuel sagt: „Ich fand diese Sache doof. Ich will nicht tot sein.“


Manuel spielt mit der vierjährigen Mira. Er baut mit den (Montessori-) Stangen einen Rhombus und zeigt ihn der Erzieherin. Sie macht einen neuen Vorschlag. Manuel sagt: „Nein, ich will etwas anderes.“ Er erklärt mit Händen und Worten, welche Form das Gebaute haben soll. Die Erzieherin fragt: „Wie ein Trichter?“ Er strahlt: „Genau, wie ein Trichter!“
Sein Plan gelingt und er tanzt mit Mira begeistert um sein Werk herum.


Manuel hat unsere Unterstützung dabei bekommen, viel zu experimentieren und sowohl neue Dinge im Kinderhaus auszuprobieren, als auch Materialarbeit zu vertiefen und auszubauen.
Unsere Unterstützung bestand darin

    • für ihn Angebote vorzubereiten, von denen wir annahmen, dass sie ihn interessieren,
    • auf seine Vorgaben und Ideen einzusteigen und ihm zur Verfügung zu stehen, wenn er sie umsetzte.

Mehrfach präsentierte er seine Arbeit dann im Stuhlkreis. Die Gruppe reagierte darauf mit Neugier und Anerkennung. Es fanden sich Nachahmer seiner Tätigkeit, denen er dann mit Rat und Tat zur Seite stand, und auch andere Kinder präsentierten dann ihre Dinge im Stuhlkreis.

Inzwischen gehört diese Form der Darstellung zum alltäglichen Vorkommen und bereichert das Gruppenleben.

Zunehmend entwickelten sich Spielsituationen, in denen Manuel gut mit gleichaltrigen und auch deutlich jüngeren Kindern agierte. Seine Grundstimmung, die er im Kinderhaus zeigte, veränderte sich in einem erstaunlich schnellen Tempo. Er kommt nun voll Tatendrang und fröhlich in den Kindergarten.

Die Clownsrolle übernimmt er so gut wie nie mehr, sondern agiert sehr humorvoll, mit viel Witz und Freude an Situationskomik.

Er beteiligt sich aktiv an den Stuhlkreisangeboten. Als Spielpartner ist er inzwischen bei den Kindern gefragt.

Seit einigen Wochen ist Manuel auch über Mittag im Kinderhaus und kann in der kleineren Gruppe am Nachmittag noch einmal intensiv mit anderen Kindern zusammen spielen. Wir hatten der Mutter nahe gelegt, diesen Schritt auszuprobieren, weil in Elterngesprächen deutlich geworden war, dass Manuel zu Hause (er hat auch noch drei Geschwister) mit vielen Kämpfen die Familie und sich selber strapazierte.

Er hat die Übermittagsbetreuung mit Begeisterung aufgenommen. Das finde ich deswegen nicht selbstverständlich, weil sein jüngerer Bruder immer vor ihm abgeholt wird und zu Hause zu Mittag isst.

Manuel hat in dieser Zeit der gezielten Anforderungen und Zuwendung durch Angebote seine emotionale Befindlichkeit und seine soziale Stellung in der Gruppe stabilisieren können und an selbstbewusstem Auftreten gewonnen.
Konflikte werden von ihm entspannt und angemessen ausgetragen.
Zu den Erzieherinnen hat er ein deutlich freundschaftliches Verhältnis, das manchmal fast komplizenhaften Charakter hat

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Nun ja, das ist das Beste, was besonders begabten Kindern passieren kann.

Weitere Überlegungen

In den letzten zwei Wochen habe ich mich zunehmend zurück gezogen, eine Kollegin (die das IHVO-Zertifikat bereits hat – siehe auch: Journalismus im Kindergarten) hat im Laufe der Wochen auf sehr kompetente Weise seine Begleitung übernommen. Zu diesem Schritt hat mich die Notwendigkeit des Alltags (Zuwendung zu anderen Kindern) bewogen, zum anderen auch der Eindruck, es sei nun der richtige Zeitpunkt gekommen, Manuel häufiger seinen eigenen Weg weiter gehen zu lassen. Dadurch will ich vermeiden, dass er sich nur dann als gut erlebt, wenn er dicht am Erwachsenen agiert. Es ist mir ein wichtiges Anliegen, in meiner Aufmerksamkeit für ihn nicht nachzulassen – aber in der gelebten Zuwendung die richtige Balance zu finden, damit Manuel sich weiter als Mitglied dieser Kindergruppe erlebt und verhält und seine Unabhängigkeit wächst.

Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass uns das als Erzieherinnen-Team gelingen wird und dass Manuel mit seinem neuen Startkapital an Kompetenz weitere positive Entwicklungsschritte machen kann.

Sehr beeindruckt hat mich bei diesem Projekt das Ausmaß des Profits für die anderen Kinder. Einige Kinder haben zunächst nachahmend, aber dann doch ihren eigenen Bedürfnissen entsprechend, neue Spielformen für sich eingefordert und auch wieder der Gruppe zunutze gemacht.

Wir Erwachsenen haben während dieser Zeit viel Neues für unsere Arbeit mit den Kindern im allgemeinen und auch konkret mit Manuel entdecken können. Der nächste Schritt für mich wird sein, genau hinzuschauen, wann Manuel neues Input braucht und wo er alleine weiter kommt. Manuel steigt so begeistert auf alle Anregung ein, dass man sich als Erwachsener vielleicht in die Gefahr begibt, in die Rolle des Animateurs zu rutschen. Das möchte ich bei mir selbst beobachten und reflektieren.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Die Gefahr, dass Du zur Animateurin werden könntest (also ihn nur zu unterhalten und zu „bespaßen“) sehe ich bei Dir nicht. Manuel setzt ja jede Anregung sehr selbstständig um und hat auch eigene Ideen… Je mehr er davon (mit Unterstützung, auch durch weiter führende Fragen; wo es sinnvoll ist) erfolgreich umsetzen kann, desto mehr gute Ideen wird er produzieren.

Sehr oft kommt Manuel morgens in das Kinderhaus und hat einen eigenen Plan im Kopf und weiß, was er gerne tun möchte. Ich will ihm die dazu nötigen Mittel zur Verfügung stellen und ihn so unterstützen, seinen eigenen Entwicklungsplan, seine eigenen Lernwege in und mit der Gruppe zu verfolgen.


Alle Kindernamen wurden verändert.

Datum der Veröffentlichung: April 2020
Copyright © Antonia Herberg, siehe Impressum.




Manuel, 5;0 Years

by Antonia Herberg


In our Montessori kindergarten, observations are written down and later entered into the child’s file. For my first IHVO homework I would like to look at the collected notes using the observation chart by Huser, according to points A and B (see below). It is therefore necessary to select the notes that can say something about these points.

My goal is to get a clearer perception of how Manuel behaves in different situations, which conditions are conducive to his development and whether my assumption is correct that he has a great talent potential.

A short description of the child

Manuel is now 5;0 years old and has been with us for one and a half years. His parents both have highly qualified professions, Manuel has two older and one younger sibling.

From the beginning Manuel appears as a child for whom the encounter with things is more important than the relationship with the adults and the other children. He makes an extremely serious impression, speaks very purposefully and emphatically. For a long time he used language with us only when he wanted to have something. From his side, communication was mainly limited to „yes“ and „no“. Now he also tells us about his experiences, feelings and likes to exchange ideas with us kindergarten teachers.

At first he had an exclusive relationship with a boy of the same age, who was cognitively inferior to him by far. His games with him became mostly within a short period of time exuberant jokes in which Manuel took on the role of clown.
Now he seeks contact with the pre-school children. One girl seems to be particularly important to him. He speaks much and lovingly with admiration of her, they also meet „privately“.
Furthermore, after a few days I noticed that he is able to devote himself completely to one activity and to carry it out in a concentrated way over long periods of time. If the situation is boring for him, he takes on the role of a clown and cannot stop this without help, even if the kindergarten teachers ask him to.
If he is then confronted with a challenging task, he is immediately back in the mental collection position. His facial expression becomes friendly and he acts turned towards the adult who gave him the task.

Remark of the course leader:
Here a close connection between challenge and mood becomes apparent.

The mother has reported in parent-teacher talks that Manuel behaves quite differently than his siblings. She finds him very difficult, has many conflicts with him and often knows no other way to help him than to isolate him from the family. In this situation Manuel loses his temper completely, rages and smashes things.

Arranging the written observations

A1 – General developmental advantage / interest in numbers and letters

Manuel (5;0) would like to calculate. He solves plus tasks exceeding ten with the help of the pearl steps (Montessori material). He carefully writes down the solved tasks in a booklet.

Two days later he wants to continue working in his arithmetic booklet. He does it on his own, for 1.5 hours and then shows me his work: „Look, I’ve done that much.“ He doesn’t look at the other children at all while doing his calculations.

A2 – Quick comprehension and curiosity

Manuel (4;8) got an introduction to numbers and chips. I showed him that there are even and odd numbers. Numbers that can be halved (divided by 2) and the odd numbers where it is not so easy.
He tries all the numbers from 1 to 10 and then says, „zero cannot be divided either.“
Then I ask him to rub through the even numbers using paper, wax crayons and sandpaper. He does this independently and carefully. He decides to make a book out of it. He says to me: „I also want the numbers that can’t be divided.“ I nod and he makes two books. He’s obviously doing well.

Manuel (4;9) is playing with the electric box every day at the moment and is very skilled, has a plan and tries to realize it (series connection, circuit connection). He checks if the connections are closed, discovers where cables come loose and fixes them again until it works. Then he leans back and looks at it with a smile.

Manuel (4;11) is busy with the electric box. He discovers that the front part of the screwdriver conducts electricity. Enthusiastically he calls me and shows it to me. I give him a wooden stick and ask him to hold it in place of the screwdriver. Manuel takes the stick and throws it scornfully on the table. With a defensive voice, he says, „Wood does not conduct.“ I ask, „How do you know that?“ He replies defensively, „I just know!“

Manuel (4;11) lights the candle and and plays carelessly with it. I take the matches away from him and give him a lighter instead, because I think he is underchallenged with the matches. After a short time he manages to light the candle with the lighter as well.

A 3 – Orientation towards older children and adults

Manuel (5;0) runs in the garden behind the big boys. Like them he calls out loud cheers. Several times he pushes one of the boys from behind. At first the boys ignore this. Then Manuel pushes harder, one falls down. The boy and his friends scold him and tell him to run away. Manuel stands still and listens; as soon as the boys start running, he runs after them again.
This process is repeated over a few days.

Manuel (5;2) has for some time now been looking for Luisa (6 years). She plays with him and he seems radiant and happy.

Remark of the course administration:
Could you observe how this contact came about? What are their common play contents?

A 5 – Long attention and strong self-motivation

Manuel (5;0) was not in the kindergarten for a few days. He comes right in and goes straight to his drawer. He says: „I have started something here. I want to continue it right away.“ (Copy dinosaurs.) He works on it for an hour and a half without paying attention to the surroundings.
The next day he comes in beaming and goes straight to work. He wants to paint more dinosaurs. He works on it for almost 2 hours and only interrupts for a short breakfast. He threads his book together. Because the holes are small and the thread is thick, he has some trouble. And when it’s done, he says to himself, „There you go.“

Manuel (4:6) plays with the NAEF stones. He recreates the shown patterns. He succeeds with all of them. Whenever he has made one, he beamingly invites me to look at his work. He often plays with these stones throughout the day and is very concentrated and persistent.

A 6 – High demands on himself

Manuel (4;11) takes part in the trainee’s knight project. They make a shield and paint it with a motif they have thought up themselves. After a while Manuel comes out of the room and looks very dissatisfied.
I squat down with him and ask him why he comes back. He sobs: „I don’t no longer want to take part.“
He lets me take him in my arms and tells me that he wants to paint a lion on his shield and that he can’t do that. „The B. (trainee) can’t do it either.“
I remind him of the coats of arms he has worked with before. We’ll pick one with a lion on it and copy it. He runs back happily and shouts, „I have a lion now!“ He processes the copy into a knight shield. The product is a success: A shield with a handle. He is the only child of the group who came up with this idea.

A 13 – Innovative use of materials, artistic originality

Manuel (4;7) spends days cutting stamp-sized pieces of paper and carefully painting them. I ask him if he wouldn’t like to have a bigger paper for painting. He rejects it with a narrow „no“. After several days he comes to me with the many painted snippets and says: „Now I want to make a book for my photos.“

A 14 – Sense of humour and puns

Manuel (5;2) says after a long search and with a happy face: „Now I know what I’m doing, he gets the Europe puzzle, puts it on the carpet. He looks at me and says: „I want to do the tracing outlines.“ Using the puzzle pieces as templates.
I help him get started and he sketches out piece by piece. He says: „Jetzt kommen die Dänen mit den Zähnen.“ (Now come the Danish with their teeth) – „Here come the Swedes with noise and racket“, etc. He looks for a saying for each country he draws and then laughs happily. When it gets tricky because the countries are so small, I say, „A tricky thing.“ He replies: „Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s fun. I want more of that.“

When he finished the map of Europe, he worked in the same way on the continental map.

Manuel (5;1) has been working on a crocodile for two days. He seems satisfied and proud. He sticks a leg on the crocodile, lifts it up, looks at it and sings: „Krokodil hat nur ein Bein und ist irgendwie ein Schwein.“ (Crocodile has only one leg and is somehow a pig.)
Two older children next to him demand in a rebuking voice that he should stop immediately. Manuel looks at them with astonished face and sings his rhyme again. He looks at the one child. The girl turns to me and says, „Manuel is singing bad words.“ I say, „Is that bad?“ Manuel with a raised voice: „This is not evil, this is funny. That’s right, funny!“ He sings it again and looks at me laughing. Then he tinkers on.

B 1 – Not concentrated in hard work

Manuel (5;2) paints the map of Europe, which he has sketched with great perseverance and care in the days before (see above). At first he transfers the original colours very precisely, later he takes any colour and finally he paints over the edge with bouncing movements.
He starts talking and fooling around with the children near him, spreading the paint on the paper without paying attention to the contours.

B 3 – Aggressive, demanding or clownish behaviour

After Manuel (5;0) has disturbed the other children of the group for a few days by fooling around, making a lot of noise and breaking the rules, I intercept him in the morning. I want to give him a task. He reacts defensively, shakes his head and makes a pouty face. I take him by the hand wordlessly, choose a game, spread it out on the carpet and formulate the task.
It is a game of association from the linguistic realm (putting nouns together to form new terms). He listens, we arrange two pairs together and then he continues alone.
Manuel is not distracted by anything and manages all the cards. Afterwards he goes on to other things in a balanced and busy way. There is no clash with other children this morning.

Manuel knows exactly what he wants and what he doesn’t want: He has filled out the interest questionnaire and especially the last page clearly and energetically:

(play in a theatre
learn another language
draw and paint
care for plants
singing and making music
find out new things on the computer
inventing and telling stories
listen to music and stories
write something
learn to cook and bake
deliberate over questions
solve a riddle)


I have partially achieved my goal. It is clear that Manuel has his own idea of what he wants to do. If we can afford to keep an eye on him with his interests, to hook into them and be on hand, he will move on to more advanced activities.

I have become very aware of how strongly his emotional state depends on what he can do and how beneficial it is for him to have an appropriate playing partner.

It would have been good to have more concrete observations available. This failed because I was very busy with other tasks in the kindergarten in the last few weeks (loss of personnel). I would like to continue this form of observation using the observation sheet.

In addition, an irritation in the evaluation of what has been perceived has arisen because Manuel´s father no longer lives with the family. Now it is necessary to take a very special look in order to be able to recognize which behaviors can be traced back to this break in Manuel’s life and which are „merely“ expressions of his „hunger for education“. In this way I want to avoid the mistake of always responding to emotional needs with cognitive challenge. This could possibly have fatal consequences for his development.

More on Manuel:
From Clown to Expert


Date of publication in German: April 2020
Translation: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)
Copyright © Antonia Herberg, see Imprint.



Manuel, 5;0 Jahre

von Antonia Herberg


In unserem Montessori-Kinderhaus werden Beobachtungen schriftlich notiert und später in die Akte des Kindes eingetragen. Für meine erste IHVO-Hausaufgabe möchte ich die gesammelten Notizen an Hand des Beobachtungsbogens nach Huser betrachten, und zwar nach den Punkten A und B (siehe unten). Es gilt also die Notizen auszuwählen, die etwas zu diesen Punkten aussagen können.

Mein Ziel dabei ist, deutlicher wahrzunehmen, wie Manuel sich in verschiedenen Situationen verhält, welche Bedingungen für seine Entwicklung förderlich sind und ob meine Vermutung zutrifft, dass er ein großes Begabungspotenzial hat.

Eine kurze Kindbeschreibung

Manuel ist jetzt 5;0 Jahre alt und seit anderthalb Jahren bei uns. Seine Eltern haben beide hochqualifizierte Berufe, Manuel hat noch zwei ältere und ein jüngeres Geschwister.

Von Beginn an erscheint Manuel als ein Kind, dem die Begegnung mit den Dingen wichtiger ist als die Beziehung zu den Erwachsenen und den anderen Kindern. Er macht einen ausgesprochen ernsten Eindruck, spricht sehr gezielt und mit Nachdruck. Längere Zeit hat er Sprache bei uns nur dann eingesetzt, wenn er etwas haben wollte. Die Kommunikation beschränkte sich von seiner Seite aus vorwiegend auf „ja“ und „nein“. Jetzt erzählt er uns auch von seinen Erlebnissen, Gefühlen und tauscht sich gerne mit uns Erzieherinnen aus.

Zunächst hatte er eine ausschließliche Beziehung zu einem gleichaltrigen Jungen, der ihm kognitiv mit Abstand unterlegen war. Seine Spiele mit ihm wurden meistens innerhalb kurzer Zeit zu ausgelassenen Albereien, in denen Manuel die Clownsrolle einnahm.
Jetzt sucht er den Kontakt zu den Vorschulkindern. Ein Mädchen ist ihm anscheinend besonders wichtig. Er spricht viel und liebevoll mit Bewunderung von ihr, sie treffen sich auch „privat“.
Desweiteren ist mir nach wenigen Tagen aufgefallen, dass er in der Lage ist, sich ganz einer Tätigkeit hinzugeben und sie konzentriert über lange Zeiträume auszuführen. Wenn die Situation für ihn langweilig ist, nimmt er die Clownsrolle ein und kann dies auch bei nachdrücklicher Bitte der Erzieherinnen nicht ohne Hilfe stoppen.
Konfrontiert man ihn dann mit einer herausfordernden Aufgabenstellung, ist er sofort wieder in der Haltung der Sammlung. Sein Gesichtsausdruck wird freundlich und er agiert zugewendet zu dem Erwachsenen, der ihm die Aufgabe gegeben hat.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Hier wird ein enger Zusammenhang zwischen Herausforderung und Stimmung sichtbar.

Die Mutter hat in Elterngesprächen berichtet, dass Manuel sich ganz anders verhält als seine Geschwister. Sie empfindet ihn als sehr schwierig, hat viele Konflikte mit ihm und weiß sich oft nicht anders zu helfen, als ihn von der Familie zu isolieren. In dieser Situaltion verliert Manuel dann vollkommen die Fassung, tobt und zerschlägt Dinge.

Ordnen der schriftlichen Beobachtungen

A1 – Allgemeiner Entwicklungsvorsprung / Interesse an Zahlen und Buchstaben

Manuel (5;0) möchte rechnen. Er löst mit Hilfe der Perltreppchen zehnerüberschreitende Plus-Aufgaben. Die gelösten Aufgaben trägt er sorgfältig in ein Heft ein.

Zwei Tage später möchte er weiter in seinem Rechenheft arbeiten. Er tut es selbstständig, 1,5 Stunden lang und zeigt mir dann seine Arbeit: „Guck mal, so viel hab ich geschafft.“ Er schaut während der Rechnerei überhaupt nicht nach den anderen Kindern.

A2 – Schnelle Auffassungsgabe und Neugier

Manuel (4;8) hat eine Einführung in Zahlen und Chips bekommen. Ich habe ihm gezeigt, dass es gerade und ungerade Zahlen gibt. Zahlen, die man halbieren (durch 2 teilen) kann und die ungeraden Zahlen, bei denen das nicht so einfach geht.
Er probiert alle Zahlen von 1 bis 10 durch und sagt dann: „Null kann man auch nicht teilen.“
Anschließend fordere ich ihn auf, die geraden Zahlen mittels Papier, Wachsstiften und Sandpapier durchzureiben. Er tut das selbstständig und sorgfältig. Dabei beschließt er, daraus ein Buch zu machen. Zu mir sagt er: „Ich will aber auch die Zahlen, die man nicht teilen kann.“ Ich nicke und er macht zwei Bücher. Es geht ihm sichtlich gut dabei.

Manuel (4;9) spielt zurzeit täglich mit dem Stromkasten und ist dabei geschickt, hat einen Plan und versucht zäh, ihn zu verwirklichen (Reihenschaltung, Kreisschaltung). Er konrolliert, ob die Verbindungen geschlossen sind, entdeckt, wo sich Kabel lösen, und befestigt sie wieder, bis es funktioniert. Dann lehnt er sich zurück und schaut es lächelnd an.

Manuel (4;11) ist mit dem Stromkasten beschäftigt. Er entdeckt, dass der vordere Teil des Schraubenziehers den Strom leitet. Begeistert ruft er mich und zeigt es mir. Ich gebe ihm ein Holzstäbchen und fordere ihn auf, es an die Stelle des Schraubenziehers zu halten. Manuel nimmt das Stäbchen und wirft es verächtlich auf den Tisch. Mit Abwehr in der Stimme sagt er: „Holz leitet nicht.“ Ich frage: „Woher weißt du das?“ Er antwortet abwehrend: „Weiß ich eben!“

Manuel (4;11) zündelt beim Kerze anmachen gewagt herum. Ich nehme ihm die Streichhölzer weg und gebe ihm stattdessen ein Feuerzeug, weil ich denke, er ist unterfordert mit den Streichhölzern. Nach kurzer Zeit gelingt ihm, die Kerze auch mit dem Feuerzeug anzuzünden.

A 3 – Orientierung an älteren Kindern und Erwachsenen

Manuel (5;0) läuft im Garten hinter den großen Jungs her. Er ruft wie sie laute Anfeuerungsrufe. Mehrmals schubst er einen der Jungen von hinten. Zunächst ignorieren die Jungen das. Dann schubst Manuel kräftiger, einer fällt hin. Der Junge und seine Freunde schimpfen und sagen, er soll abhauen. Manuel steht still und hört zu; sobald die Jungen los laufen, läuft er wieder hinterher.
Dieser Ablauf wiederholt sich über ein paar Tage.

Manuel (5;2) sucht seit einiger Zeit verstärkt die Nähe von Luisa (6 Jahre). Sie spielt mit ihm und er wirkt strahlend und glücklich.

Anmerkung der Kursleitung:
Konntest Du beobachten, wie dieser Kontakt zustande kam? Was sind ihre gemeinsamen Spielinhalte?

A 5 – Lange Aufmerksamkeit und starke Eigenmotivation

Manuel (5;0) war einige Tage nicht da. Er kommt gleich rein und geht gleich zu seiner Schublade. Er sagt: „Ich habe hier noch was angefangen. Das will ich gleich weitermachen.“ (Dinos abpausen.) Er arbeitet 1,5 Stunden daran, ohne die Umgebung zu beachten.
Am nächsten Tag kommt er strahlend herein und geht gleich an die Arbeit. Er möchte noch mehr Dinos malen. Er arbeitet fast 2 Stunden daran und unterbricht nur für eine kurze Frühstückspause. Er fädelt sein Buch zusammen. Weil die Löcher klein sind und der Faden dick ist, hat er einige Mühe. Als es dann klappt, sagt er zu sich selber: „Geht doch!“

Manuel (4:6) spielt mit den NAEF-Steinen. Er baut die abgebildeten Vorlagen nach. Alle gelingen ihm. Immer wenn er eine geschafft hat, fordert er mich strahlend auf, sein Werk anzuschauen. Er spielt über Tag hinweg oft mit diesen Steinen und ist dabei sehr konzentriert und ausdauernd.

A 6  – Hohe Ansprüche an sich selbst

Manuel (4;11) macht beim Ritter-Projekt der Praktikantin mit. Sie basteln ein Schild und bemalen es mit einem selbst ausgedachtes Motiv. Nach einer Weile kommt Manuel aus dem Raum und schaut sehr bedröppelt aus.
Ich hocke mich zu ihm und frage ihn, warum er zurück kommt. Er schluchzt: „Ich kann nicht mehr mitmachen.“
Er lässt sich in den Arm nehmen und erzählt, dass er einen Löwen auf sein Schild malen will und das aber nicht kann. „Die B. (Praktikantin) kann es auch nicht.“
Ich erinnere ihn an die Wappen, mit denen er schon gearbeitet hat. Wir suchen gemeinsam eines mit einem Löwen aus und kopieren es. Er läuft fröhlich zurück und ruft: „Ich habe jetzt einen Löwen!“ Er verarbeitet die Kopie zu einem Ritter-Schild. Das Produkt ist gelungen: Ein Schild mit Haltegriff. Er ist das einzige Kinde der Gruppe, der auf diese Idee gekommen ist.

A 13 – Innovativer Gebrauch von Materialien, künstlerische Originalität

Manuel (4;7) schneidet tagelang briefmarkengroße Papierschnipsel und bemalt sie sorgfältig. Ich frage ihn, ob er nicht ein größeres Papier zum Malen möchte. Er lehnt es mit einem knappen „Nein“ ab. Nach mehreren Tagen kommt er mit den vielen bemalten Schnipseln zu mir und sagt:“Jetzt will ich ein Buch machen für meine Fotos.“

A 14 – Sinn für Humor und Wortspiele

Manuel (5;2) sagt nach längerer Suche und mit frohem Gesicht: „Jetzt weiß ich, was ich mache. Er holt sich das Europa-Puzzle, legt es auf den Teppich. Er sieht mich an und sagt: „Ich will das mit dem Drum-herum-malen machen.“ (Also die Puzzleteile als Zeichen-Schablonen benutzen.)
Ich helfe ihm beim Start und er zeichnet Stück für Stück ab. Dabei sagt er: „Jetzt kommen die Dänen mit den Zähnen“ – „Hier kommen die Schweden mit Krach und Radau“, usw. Er sucht für jedes Land, das er umzeichnet, einen Spruch und lacht dann erfreut. Als es knifflig wird, weil die Länder so klein sind, sage ich: „Eine schwierige Sache.“ Er antwortet: „Ja, ist anstrengend, aber macht Spaß. Davon will ich mehr.“

Als er die Europa-Karte fertig hat, bearbeitet er auf dieselbe Weise die Erdteil-Karte.

Manuel (5;1) bastelt seit zwei Tagen an einem Krokodil. Er wirkt zufrieden und stolz. Er klebt dem Krokodil ein Bein an, hebt es hoch, schaut es an und singt: „Krokodil hat nur ein Bein und ist irgendwie ein Schwein.“ Zwei ältere Kinder neben ihm verlangen mit tadelnder Stimme, er solle sofort aufhören. Manuel sieht sie mit erstauntem Gesicht an und singt wieder seinen Reim. Dabei schaut er das eine Kind an. Das Mädchen wendet sich zu mir und sagt: „Manuel singt böse Wörter.“ Ich frage: „Ist das böse?“ Manuel mit erhobener Stimme: „Das ist nicht böse, das ist lustig. Genau, lustig!“ Er singt es noch einmal und schaut mich dabei lachend an. Dann bastelt er weiter.

B 1 – Unkonzentriert bei Fleißarbeiten

Manuel  (5;2) malt die Europakarte aus, die er in den Tagen zuvor mit sehr viel Ausdauer und Sorgfalt aufgezeichnet hat (siehe oben). Zunächst überträgt er die Originalfarben sehr genau, später nimmt er irgendeine Farbe und schließlich malt er mit fahrigen Bewegungen über den Rand.
Er beginnt mit den Kindern in seiner Nähe zu sprechen und zu albern und verteilt dabei die Farbe auf dem Papier, ohne die Konturen zu beachten.

B 3 – Aggressives, forderndes oder clownhaftes Verhalten

Nachdem Manuel (5;0) einige Tage lang durch Alberei, große Lautstärke und Regelüberschreitungen die anderen Kinder der Gruppe gestört hat, fange ich ihn gleich morgens ab. Ich will ihm eine Aufgabe geben. Er reagiert abwehrend, schüttelt den Kopf und macht ein Schmollgesicht. Ich nehme ihn wortlos an die Hand, wähle ein Spiel, breite es auf dem Teppich aus und formuliere die Aufgabe.
Es handelt sich um ein Zuordnungsspiel aus dem sprachlichen Bereich (Zusammensetzen von Substantiven zu neuen Begriffen). Er hört zu, wir ordnen zwei Paare gemeinsam und dann macht er alleine weiter.
Manuel ist durch nichts abzulenken und schafft alle Karten. Danach geht er ausgeglichen und geschäftig anderen Dingen nach Es gibt an diesem Vormittag keinen Zusammenstoß mit anderen Kindern.

Manuel weiß genau, was er will und was nicht: Den Interessenfragebogen und insbesonders die letzte Seite hat er klar und energisch ausgefüllt:


Mein Ziel habe ich zum Teil erreicht. Es ist deutlich, dass Manuel eine eigene Vorstellung davon hat, was er tun will. Wenn wir es leisten können, ihn mit seinen Interessen im Blick zu haben, da einzuhaken und zur Stelle zu sein, kommt er zu weiterführenden Tätigkeiten.

Sehr bewusst ist mir geworden, wie stark seine emotionale Befindlichkeit davon abhängt, was er tun kann, und wie förderlich es für ihn ist, wenn er dabei einen angemessenen Spielpartner hat.

Es wäre gut gewesen, noch mehr konkrete Beobachtungen zur Verfügung zu haben. Das scheiterte daran, dass ich in den letzten Wochen mit anderen Aufgaben in der Kita sehr belegt war (Personalausfall). Ich möchte diese Form der Beobachtung mit Hilfe des Beobachtungsbogens weiter fortsetzen.

Darüber hinaus hat sich eine Irritation bei der Wertung des Wahrgenommenen dadurch ergeben, dass der Vater nicht mehr bei der Familie wohnt. Jetzt ist es notwendig, ganz besonders hinzuschauen, um erkennen zu können, welche Verhaltensweisen sich auf diesen Einbruch in Manuels Leben zurückführen lassen und welche „lediglich“ Ausdruck seines „Bildungshungers“ sind. Dadurch möchte ich den Fehler vermeiden, auf emotionale Bedürfnisse stets mit kognitiver Herausforderung zu antworten. Das könnte für seine Entwicklung unter Umständen fatale Folgen haben.

Mehr zu Manuel:
Vom Clown zum Könner


Datum der Veröffentlichung: April 2020
Copyright © Antonia Herberg, siehe Impressum.


Project „Letters“ – Activity for Small Groups

by Lucy Rüttgers


I discovered an increased interest in letters in several of the children in my group when I specifically observed them. Conversations with the children conveyed to me their desire: to learn to read and write.

Edith (name changed) (5;0), whom I had specifically observed in my first practical task (in the IHVO Certificate Course), was one of them.

This was – when she was 4;7 years old – her spontaneous answer in the Questionnaire on Child´s Interests to the question: „What have you ever done that you are really proud of?“:

Starting the project

For the start of the project my colleague and I used our „morning circle“. The aim was to address all interested children in the kindergarten group, regardless of their age. The result was (from our two groups) 19 interested children who wanted to participate in the letter project. We formed four small groups. Two small groups were accompanied by my colleague, two were supervised by me. We organized it in such a way that every second day every child was playing / learning in his or her small group.

… In short…

The author does not only take up the interest of many children in letters on the side, but also carries out a series of activities in a small group with six children. Especially one girl (5;0) shows a great eagerness to learn. In the course of time it becomes apparent that this child almost always wants to continue learning when the others are already satiated and can no longer concentrate.

The girl Edith becomes more confident and enjoys the cognitive support.

In the following I will concentrate the report on the group Edith was in. The group initially consisted of five children: three high-performing children (in my estimation), combined with two somewhat weaker ones. Edith was the youngest in this group at just five years old.
The preparations for the project, the red thread, were made by my colleague and me together. The concrete course of the project then depended on the respective children, their knowledge, skills, interests, wishes and ideas.

The children

Edith, who just turned five years old at the beginning of the project, is a quiet, inconspicuous, shy, cautious girl. Although her self-confidence has visibly grown through our intensive contact and my great attention in the last three months (during my first practical assignment), she still needs a lot of emotional support.

According to her previous knowledge and her knowledge of letters, Edith had to join a group with older children to find equal interest partners. The combination with three other girls would have been good, which was not possible for organisational reasons. Thus, to provide emotional support for Edith, her play partner Nele joined the group. Nele is two months older than Edith, and I couldn’t really assess her knowledge of letters.

Furthermore, Lotte (5;10) was part of the group. For the parents the question of early school enrolment arose at times, but they decided against it. Then there were Ole (6;11) and his friend Max, who was only 5;6. With him I also suspected a special talent and was very curious about his level of knowledge. For him the presence of his friend Ole was very important.

See also: Advancement in Small Groups – Possibilities and Advantages

First offer

In the beginning there was a conversation about the wishes and expectations of the children. It turned out that with the exception of Nele (5;2), who wanted to play with letters and learn their names, all others had as their goal learning to read and write.

Afterwards, we talked about the difference between the names and sounds of the letters on the basis of letters about 20 cm in size (cut out by children in free play) and tried it out with examples.

I realised that children are more familiar with naming letters than with the sound. They already know the alphabet mostly by heart – speaking or singing – so we practiced speaking the sound of the letters. We practised listening and speaking carefully, for example with words where the letter is at the beginning of the word.

To keep it clear, we initially used only eight letters, including the first letters of the children’s names.

Finally, each child chose its first name from the letters.

Duration: about 35 minutes.

How did Edith behave?
Edith seemed to me quiet and reserved, insecure towards the group. She was safe in her knowledge. She knew almost all the letters with names and sounds. She took the offer seriously and concentrated and had no understanding for silliness.

Second offer

Each child receives a booklet and can walk through the entire kindergarten to collect and copy letters, words and sentences. All children appear highly motivated. Afterwards we looked at the yield together.

The children should show their results to the others and, who can and wants to, read out the collected letters

The children should show their results to the others and, if they can and want to, read out the letters they have collected. Nele, Max and Ole wrote little and unclearly. They do not dare to read out because they do not know many letters yet.

Edith and Lotte have written a lot, Lotte a little more, but Edith much more precisely and exactly.

Both read out their letters exactly (sometimes the letter name, sometimes the letter sound). Lotte reads faster, Edith reads more carefully. Edith does not know a letter, I give her the hint: the third of the alphabet, she counts it by the alphabet and names it.

Joint final consideration: What happens the next day?

I Offer: If you want to continue, you can stay – no one else wants to.

Third offer

As jointly decided the day before: Cut out letters from advertising magazines and stick them on – single letters, names, words or sentences, just as you like.
I think that this way weaker children are not overstrained and more powerful ones have the possibility to power according to their needs.

Edith works slowly but very precisely and puts her name together twice. Then comes a game that the children have asked for: From ten letters (20 cm high, cut out of cardboard) the children try to feel a certain letter with blindfolded eyes. This is no problem for the children, but it is fun for them.

For the next project meeting, I announce that they will get to know a reading table as an aid to learning to read independently.

Edith will say: „I want to learn to read.“

All the children will then be allowed to go to the beloved gymnasium. Only Edith wants to continue with me alone, she prefers learning with me alone to the gym!
We discuss the reading table for the next time. She names the terms and the sounds of the letters. She needs help with some unclear pictures. Then I write down the following words for her and she reads!

Bild (picture), Tag (day), Tanne (fir tree), Wolke (cloud), Tafel (blackboard). The last three were a little bit more difficult for her to read, because of the two-syllables.

Then she wanted to stop and go to the gym with the others!

Fourth offer

On this day I offered Linus (six years old) to join this group of letters as a guest. According to my latest observations (he can already partially read) Linus fits better to this advanced group.
At the beginning of the offer I gave each child a reading table, which contained only capital letters. All children followed my explanations with interest and were highly motivated to name the letters using the pictures.

Although Edith was already familiar with this table, her concentration and motivation were not negatively influenced by it.
Up to now the children were mainly familiar with the capital letters. But now that a game was due in which lower case letters were also used, I first added the reading table for the children. So they could now read the corresponding lower case letters independently in addition to the upper case letters they already knew.

Then we played an educational reading game with animals. The game material included small cards with a picture; one card, for example, showed a zebra. The same motif existed again on each of the large cards, with the corresponding word written below the picture, for example „zebra“. This large card was cut into strips, in such a way that on each strip a letter of the word and a part of the picture could be seen.
The children drew a card and then puzzled together the corresponding picture. Now they could try to read the resulting word, i.e. the animal name.
Letters that they could not recognize (especially the lower case letters) should be looked for on the reading table.

This was no problem for Edith! She had now gained self-confidence within the group. She had recently dared to read aloud, and she announced her wishes.

Each child placed three animals.
After the offer was completed, Edith and Linus decided that they wanted to continue. When I asked Linus if he would like to continue working with this group, he spontaneously said, „In all of them!“

Edith and Linus got on extremely well with each other during the rest of the offer, although they otherwise have no contact in the kindergarten’s daily routine. (Edith plays with the girls and Linus with the wild boys.)
The task now was to write any words independently with the Nikitin LOGO letter cubes. Edith writes <Roller> (scooter)  and <Edith>. When reading aloud, she reads every single letter and strings them together to form a word – with clear, distinct pronunciation and high concentration.
Linus finds this boring and wants to write highly motivated <Fettsack> (fatman). He then writes with some support: <FÄTSAK> and <PO>.

Fifth offer

Linus now always participates in this group, so there are now six children. Also this time the offer consists of a letter game.
A letter card is placed in the middle, on it is a large printed letter, and on the corners of the card is the corresponding lower case letter. To the right and left of the card a picture is to be placed, whose name begins with this letter.
Everyone played for about half an hour.

Edith wants to continue afterwards. Ole keeps her company for a short time, but when it becomes clear what we want to do next, he quickly says goodbye: Heinevetter’s reading trainer.

I give Edith a reading card. She reads and then looks for the corresponding picture. Terms are: flower, banana, tomato, key, doll, doll’s pram. She does not yet know some lower case letters. I’ll help her to name them, or we can look in the reading table.

The combination „Sch“ is also not familiar to her, but then it is no problem for her to use it correctly. Edith enjoys the time alone with me and tells me a lot on the side – from past and future. On this day, her concentration lasts for about an hour.

Sixth offer

The introduction to the offer should be the common laying out of the large cardboard letters in alphabetical order. Then I wanted to create a letter game with the children.
However, the children had already completed a morning circle with musical instruments lasting about 35 minutes. It was also very hot that day.
The children developed something else from my planned start: They made letter chains, letter-hanging earrings and letter puzzles from the existing large cardboard letters.

But then suddenly Edith, Lotte, Linus and Nele started to design the new game as I had suggested it to them.
It went like this:
Cut out a board and many small tiles from special corrugated cardboard, then write letters on them using the alphabet. Because the grooves of the special corrugated board fit into each other, you can now put letters, words or sentences together on the grooved board (similar to a magnetic board).

While the four children work on it, Max and Ole romp around in the seat cushions for a while and then feel like making an animal alphabet puzzle together. The others continue to fight with the cardboard strips.

Edith works slowly but carefully. She always pays attention to accuracy. Besides, she usually works carefully so as not to do anything wrong. That’s also the case this time.
The children write the letters of their names on the tiles, one letter per tile. There is one more difficulty: They have to pay attention to the direction of the grooves, otherwise the letters will be upside down when they are fixed on the board. Edith has done this several times despite several detailed explanations. Until now she had not been able to cope with such situations without tears, especially when others noticed her difficulties.

That is why I was now amazed at how calm she remained and how well she could admit her little mistakes without being completely frustrated.

Max and Ole joined in at the end, and so each child was able to write its name on the alphabet board.

The offer lasted about an hour after all, and then Edith didn’t feel like doing anything more.

Seventh offer

It was planned to extend the letter game of the previous day; however, this was apparently not very attractive for the children at the moment. So we agreed on any two words they should write, except their own names. Edith did it well, the other children needed more or less help.

Edith was the only one who hadn’t got enough input. She wants to continue with Heinevetter’s reading trainer. She knows almost all the letters, but still needs help with some lower case letters, for example she confuses d and b. We also have to look up the combinations like ei, eu and au in the reading table.

Her reading method, which she has invented for herself, goes like this:

First, she spoke the first letter of the word,
2. then the second letter individually,
3. then she lined up the second letter with the first and spoke them both together,
4. then she turned to the third letter, read it one by one,
5. then she lined him up with the first two and said them together,
6. then she did the same to the end of the word.

Then she did not know immediately which word she had just read, the meaning of the word only became clear to her when she pronounced it a second time.

Edith read and assigned the following words to the pictures:
Puppe (doll), Tomate (tomato), Banane (banana), Vogel (bird), Ofen (oven), Igel (hedgehog), Leiter (ladder), Maus (mouse), Eule (owl), Eimer (bucket), Auto (car), Sofa (sofa), Uhr (clock), Wagen (carriage), Rose (rose), Esel (donkey), Dose (tin), Hose (trousers) and Ameise (ant).

She could have gone on with me forever. But all alone, without me, she didn’t want to anymore. So she preferred to go and play with the others.

Eighth offer

Today I suggest to the children to paint the alphabet with watercolours on paper and then stick the letters on our stairs between the ground floor and the first floor.

First, they will paint the letters of the entire alphabet in print capital letters.
Edith works again slowly and very neatly and accurately. For Linus, it is not going fast enough.
Then everyone can paint and write what and as much as they want. Linus writes FÄTSAK and SAU again and is very proud. Lotte just writes letters, Ole and Max did nothing more and Nele and Edith still write their names.

Then Edith wants to finish playing Heinevetter’s reading trainer. This time new letter combinations are added: Sp, St, ch, ü, ö, ä. Lotte joined in, and the two of them took turns reading aloud.
Lotte reads the beginning and tries to guess the rest of the word.

Ninth offer

Reading lesson with Edith alone, with the „First Brockhaus“.

At first she reads a few words, but then the pictures in the book give her new narrative ideas again and again.

For example, she enumerates many objects that are missing in a picture of a house where you can look into the interior. We spend about an hour like this, then she doesn’t feel like doing anything else, not even another action.

Tenth offer

I ask Edith this morning if she would like to do the letter offer again today with the other children of the group or with me alone. Without thinking twice, she answers, „Alone with you.“

Then I ask, „Would you rather read or write?“ She decided to read. We read a short text from a reading primer:

„Paint with…
Lilo malt (paints) Mama (mom),
Lilo paints mum with (picture of a hat),
Tilo paints Mama with (picture of another hat),
Tim paints (picture symbol),
Tom paints (picture symbol),
Mama paints (picture symbol),
Grandma paints (picture symbol).

I find it striking that Edith read every word as if she saw it for the first time and read it for the first time.
In the end, „malt“ (paints) was then read faster and more fluently, but not as naturally as I had expected. I had thought that she would recognize it and then insert it quickly by heart.

Then she read another text:

„Dinos sind im (Bildsymbol Ei)“ (Dinos are in (picture symbol egg)).
In Ninos (picture symbol bed) are dinos.
There are dinos as (pictogram shoe).
There are cups with dinos.“

Now about 25 minutes had passed, and I noticed that Edith became more distracted. So I asked her if we should stop, she agreed. I explained to her again that she should always let me know when she no longer felt like going on.

The question whether we should stop completely for today or whether she still wants to write something with the LOGO-stones, she answered very clearly: „Continue.“

And I thought she was exhausted!

So we turned to the Nikitin LOGO Cubes.
We took the exercise booklet as a help. The words were written one below the other. The first letter was shown as a letter, the other letters were replaced by symbols, for example sun for S or roller for R.
The first six words consisted of four letters, the following six of five to six letters.
Together we looked for the corresponding symbols on the dice. Edith placed them on the corresponding fields. Then she gradually named the first letters of the symbols, turned the dice to match and read the word at the end.

After 35 minutes, I noticed some careless mistakes and she wanted to stop.

She knew all the letters except Sch, Sp, Pf, Qu, Ä, Eu, Ei. With these she needed my help. Sometimes I noticed that she read the word correctly and well articulated, but did not understand the meaning at first, so she did not recognize the word as a whole.

Final thoughts

About the project as a whole:

The project was received with enthusiasm by all participating children. The children’s level of knowledge increased, which was also visible to the children themselves.
The children, who were rated as „letter-performing“, confirmed this expectation.

Together with all the project children, we have now put together new groups for everyone. In this way, the children who can already read will be able to continue working at a pace suitable for them, and the other children will be able to build on their knowledge.
Due to the group changes, only a few children experienced a short sadness; because all of them still have friends in their group after the changes. Everyone wants to continue with the project.

About Edith:

First of all it is noticeable how close our relationship has become. This can be seen, for example, in the daily heartfelt greetings and goodbyes, or in the fact that she asks every day whether she can sit next to me during the morning circle and lunch. But she can also get along quite well without me, she doesn’t „cling“ to me.
Edith’s friends both will enrol school now, only Charlotte is still with her, who will also turn 5 soon. My goal is to bring Lotte and Edith closer together. They are very different children and so they don’t really have a connection. But I can imagine that they complement each other well in some areas. Furthermore, I believe that both Lotte and Edith lack adequate play partners when the others will be at school. By continuing the letter project I also hope to improve the connection between the two.

During our joint activities as a couple Edith received a lot of attention, which I think she needs. I was calm, patient and everything should be done without any pressure to perform. I made my suggestions and asked my questions carefully. Nevertheless Edith often seemed to be under some kind of pressure to perform. She never sat relaxed and calm, but fidgeted back and forth and had to constantly change her sitting position.

Is this a negative sign or a sign of positive excitement?

Her great intrinsic motivation could not be overlooked. When all the children were already at the end of their strength and concentration, Edith started with me alone. She otherwise participated in the activities without attracting attention, but had the courage and self-confidence to express wishes or read words aloud in front of the group. Sometimes it seemed to me as if she waited patiently for time until she could really work on her interests with me.

For Linus, on the other hand, I would always have had to have extra difficult tasks ready, but this was not easy, because I could not assess his knowledge and wishes so well. Otherwise he got his attention in the negative way, just did nonsense and called everything „Pepp“ (much too easy), but then he often couldn’t do it yet.

It has become obvious to me that Edith needs additional cognitive stimulation and that it does her good. When the letter project will be finished, I would like to try to meet her further cognitive needs. She has already expressed,

It has become obvious to me that Edith needs additional cognitive support and that this is good for her. When the letter project is completed, I will try to meet her further cognitive needs. She has already expressed that she also wants to learn to calculate.

At the same time I also try to learn about her other areas of interest. Thus, in addition to mathematics, there are also experiments and scientific questions.

Let’s see what possibilities the kindergarten routine leaves me with.

Edith was later tested as highly gifted.

Date of publication in German: July 2012
Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)
Copyright © Lucy Rüttgers, see imprint.

I Think: „Reading Is for School Children“

– and then our Reading Club was born.

by Edith Baur


I became attentive to Lara because of her distinctive understanding of language and her strong will. She has a friend Greta of the same age who lived in the same house until recently. In addition, Lara knew five-year-old Ellen, who lives very close to her, even before kindergarten. When she came to kindergarten at the age of 3;8 years, Lara approached all the children openly, asked „What is your name? – What do you do?“ and quickly found contact to other children in the group.

… in short …

For more than one and a half years, the author accompanies the learning process of reading and writing of little Lara and other children and gains important experiences which lead to the foundation of a reading club.

This reading club will become an integral part of kindergarten life for many years for the children, some of whom have a lasting interest in the two important cultural techniques of reading and writing (in some cases well before they enter school).

During the IHVO Certificate Course, I observed Lara for a long time and oriented myself on Joelle Huser’s observation sheet. At the beginning of the targeted observation Lara was 4;3 years old.

I discovered her great interest in letters and numbers when I sat with her at the painting table. She points to a sheet of paper with smilies and explains: „I have 14 grinning men here.“ I’m amazed. „You can count that far?“ Without hesitation she answers: „Yes – and I can count even further“ and counts to 27 – completely correctly. After that she counts to 100…

She gets up, graps a new empty painting sheet and sits down next to me again.
„I’ll show you what else I can do,“ and she draws all the numbers she can write. „You must see what I’m doing“, she pokes her finger at me when I get distracted for a moment. I apologize and explain to her that I had to answer another kid’s question She’s like, „It’s okay, but you have to look now or you’ll miss out.“
While she now writes more numbers and and also her name, she asks me again and again to look „exactly“ (so she says) to her. Thereby she moves closer and closer to me.

After a few minutes she asks me: „What big numbers can you write?“ As an example, I write a 44 and she asks, „What is the name of this number?“ – „It’s a forty-four.“ She shines at me with her eyes wide open and says: „Look, I can write a 1 and a 2. Is that a twelve then?“ I accept most happily. She gets a red pencil and says: „I’m writing down more, a lot more. Then you can see I’ve been diligent.“

„But what other letters should I write?“ she asks me and looks at me. „What other letters can you write?“ – „An S,“ she replies, drawing an N on a new sheet of paper. „Now you’ve drawn an N“ – „Oh, really?!“, she grins at me and asks: „How do you write an S?“ I draw it to her with my finger. „I see,“ she notices and paints an S.

Lara sets high standards for herself. That becomes clear when she sits at the painting table together with Ellen, who is one year older, and then more often notices: „I can’t do that.“ Lara often watches Ellen painting and looks critically at her own painting result. She holds her sheet in both hands and turns it back and forth. She tilts her head from left to right and wrinkles her brow: „I can’t paint a beautiful rabbit like you.“

In the parental conversation with the mother, Lara’s early urge for independence and autonomy becomes clear. At the age of two she said: „Mum, I don’t want a nappy anymore“ and from then on she actually didn’t need one. I experienced another example with her when she came back from the Christmas holidays with a single braid. Before that she had two side braids (she called them „Pippi Longstocking braids“). When I saw her in her new hairstyle, I said it made her look very pretty. She said: „Yes, I only wanted one more.“

Lara shows her good expressiveness in her own use of language and also when she improves other children: „But that means THE dog and not THE dog!“ (in German: DER Hund, nicht DAS Hund).

She demonstrates her leadership skills when she explains a board game to two younger boys and plays it with them. „I’m going to explain how the game works.“ – „No, Yannick, now it’s Silvio’s turn.“ – „You and your male must go that way now.“ The two boys are letting it happen to them. It goes on for about half an hour. Then Lara says to them: „Now we play something else“ and the two of them join in.

Note of the course leader:
This is good; because this way she experiences that her real superiority in this area is acknowledged. She experiences factual authority. A really strong girl.

I don’t learn to read until I go to school

When Lara asks me once if I can read something to her, I have to put her off until later. But she insists and keeps on asking: „I’d like you to read something to me now.“ Once again I explain to her that I do not have time at the moment and she gives in. „Okay, then you’ll just have to change Yannick’s wet pants.“

I make her the suggestion: „I could help you read by yourself. Then you won’t have to wait when I can’t read to you right now.“ She says, „No, I don’t want that.“ – „Why not?“ –


„Because I don’t want to learn this until I’m in school.“

At least she seems to know once again exactly what she wants and what she doesn’t want. Or was learning to read perhaps a little too early for her after all?

A few days later I am taught better. I had not been mistaken and I had not misinterpreted her curiosity about reading and writing letters.
After the gymnastics Lara changes her clothes. She looks at our alphabet poster. There are objects next to the letters, e.g. an apple next to the A. Lara says to me: „Look, there is a B like banana – right?“ and smiles at me. „Yes, that’s right.“ So she goes through the whole alphabet, smiling every time: „… look, a W for wolf – and there a U for umbrella.“
For letters she doesn’t know yet, she asks me. I am amazed and ask her how she learned to recognize some letters. She answers: „Some letters are in my name. And sometimes I ask Mama what they are.“

I take this impulse from Lara and the next day I show her a letter game: „Buchstabenmix“ (Mixed letters) by Haba – a kind of memory. On each card there is for example a capital A with the picture of a car. On the partner card is a small a with the same car picture.
I ask Lara if she would like to play the game with me and two other children, including her idol, the older Ellen. She says yes and we play for almost an hour. Lara insists on playing on and on. When she has turned over a card, she looks at me and asks: „That’s an A, isn’t it?!“ So she always asks for letters she already knows. She remembers the letters that are new to her and then repeats them just like the letters she already knows.

I am supposed to play this game with her almost every day now. Again and again she wishes: „I want to play this with you alone.“ When I asked why the others shouldn’t play, she says, „Then I can’t concentrate as well.“

Note from the course leader:
In many cases, this selective 1-to-1 work is an important phase in the integrative promotion of the gifted child, which may be necessary for the child.

During this time, a reading group for the pupils in the day care center took place. These children had suggested reading to the kindergarten children. I had told the teacher of the group about Lara’s interest in letters.
Without further ado she asks Lara if she would like to join the reading group. Lara goes along immediately.

When I ask her what happens there, she says: „There, one of the children in the after-school care reads a book to the other children. I think that’s great.“ – And I say, „Would you enjoy reading to other children?“ – „Yes, but you have to be able to read to do that?!“ – „Right. But if you want, I could help you learn to read.“ – „Oh, yes!“ she says now enthusiastically. Shortly after that she is already urging when we finally start to learn to read.

Now she wants to!

During this time Lara paints and writes like this:

Her mother comes to pick her up. Lara welcomes her with the words: „I want to stay here and learn to read with Mrs. Baur! Only when I assure her that we can start the very next morning is she ready to go along. While getting dressed, the mother tells me that Lara is also very interested in letters at home and asks for them when she goes shopping, for example. I encourage her to continue supporting Lara in her interest, especially in such everyday situations.

Writing and reading promotion in the daily routine of the kindergarten

When we sit together at the painting table again, I ask Lara to write down all the letters or words she already knows. „From the letters you have written here we can now form words,“ I say and she: „Oh yes, I’ll think about it. Give me an example.“
I give her a few words, spell them out slowly and clearly. She’s taking notes. For almost every word she paints a picture. She is very concentrated and sends every child away who wants to watch. „Please leave, I need to concentrate.“ When she has filled her sheet, she says to me: „I can now also colour in the O and the triangle in the A.“ – „Yes.“

Note from the course leader:
For Lara it is certainly good to learn to read and to write at the same time and to learn the reading about the writing, because she wants it that way and because of her visibly good fine motor skills she can manage it. But this is by far not true for all children, especially often not for boys.

Lara calls this „playing school“ and insists on sitting alone at the table with me while learning and practicing, „otherwise I cannot concentrate“. She obviously enjoys being alone with me.

When she gets a little brother, I ask her if she would like to make a name chain for his room. She explains: „Yes of course. But then I need one too. Because Oliver still sleeps with our mommy, but then with me. And then everyone who comes to visit will know that I sleep in the room with Oliver.“

I go with her to the painting table and ask her if she knows how to write Oliver. She writes OLIFA. „Super!“ I praise her, „there is Olifa. The name is just spelled a bit differently. Shall I show you how to spell it?“ –

„Sure, I want to learn to write properly!“

I write OLIVER on the paper.
We go to the workroom where Lara can choose different coloured paper – I suggested her to make each letter in a different colour. Then I ask her to consider how big the letters should be. She shows me a distance of about 10 cm with her index fingers. Then she cuts the paper into pieces, about 10 x 5 cm. I ask: „How can you paint on the individual letters so that you can cut them out better?“ – „Well, thicker than that.“ No sooner said than done.

In between she says: „Whew, it’s exhausting. Now I’m taking a break,“ and goes for a drink. In the meantime, Lara’s friend Greta has also sat down at the table and asks me what we are doing. „Would you like to make a name chain, too?“ – „Yes.“
When Lara comes back, she is not at all enthusiastic. I tell her: „Now you know how to make a name chain – you can show her. When you’ve finished yours, of course.“ Lara finds this suggestion good. But „because of the concentration“ Greta should not watch her handicraft work.
So Lara eagerly finishes her chain while Greta watches her from a distance without disturbing her. Lara in turn explains to Greta how she can do something best: „Look Greta, the letters have to be thick, otherwise you can’t cut them out well.“

When Lara is finished, she gets a piece of paper and asks me how to write „Greta“. I pronounce the name slowly and emphasize each letter – Lara takes part in the writing. Greta is very happy to be able to make a name chain with Lara, even if she is not allowed to do much. „No Greta, I’ll cut it out for you.“ When I tell her that she should have Greta cut out too, because it is her chain after all, Lara gives in. „OK, you’re right.“

For the magnetic board in the group we bought magnetic letters. Lara is the first to stand at the board and form words with the letters, including the word ZOO.
How she knows the word, I ask her: „Well, I went to the zoo and mum read the word to me. And then I just remembered it.“

A little later I suggest Lara to play school with a smaller boy at the blackboard. She is thrilled. „Super! Come Yannick, let’s do it!“ Yannick also finds it interesting at the beginning, but after half an hour (at least!) he goes to the construction corner. Lara: „Man, now I don’t have anyone to play school with me anymore.“ At that moment Silvio joins the group. When she asks him to play school with her, he agrees.

One morning Lara comes up to me and says: „I don’t know what I can do.“ – „Do you feel like writing in the sand?“ – „Yes – is that possible?“ – „That works, but the sand must be pretty damp.“ We find a spot in the sand and moisten it with the garden hose. I explain: „So now we smooth the sand here. What do you think we could use for writing?“ – „Well, I’ll just find a stick.“

No sooner said than done – the „sand school“ (Lara’s expression) is complete.

But only Silvio is allowed to play – and only after my suggestion: „Lara, your school is still empty. So it would be nice if Silvio could be your first student! You can ask even more children – then you will have a bigger class.“ – „No, I don’t want that. They won’t write it the way I want them to.“ I ask her to consider: „But that is what a teacher is for, as you can be: To teach her students how to spell it properly.“ But she keeps saying, „No, I want to write on the blackboard by myself.“

Note from the course leader:
Basically, she wants to be the student herself and learn. She probably only wants to be a teacher sometimes.

Lara’s desire to learn to read with me alone shows me how serious she is. She simply needs peace and quiet, which she emphasizes again and again.

This underlines her seriousness and her eagerness to keep at it.

Early interest in numbers

I also encourage her great interest in numbers. The game „Sagaland“ gives her the opportunity to do so. She masters the rules of the game, which is recommended for children from 8 years of age. (Lara is now 4;8.) Among other things, it is important to count and remember dice points and playing fields accurately.

Later – Lara is now 4;10 years old – I show her the Montessori Hundreds Board. I explain to her that she can, among other things, place the number cards up to 100 in the correct order in the designated frame. Since there are only a few children left in the group this afternoon, she can once again enjoy tackling this task with me. „It’s really nice when you do the game with me,“ she says thank you.

By 30 she puts the tablets in the frame completely correctly. Then I should help her: „Look Lara, now the front number does not change yet, but the one behind it. After the zero you just start with the one again – it will then become the 31. After that comes?“ – „The 32“, she answers with a smile and then puts the numbers up to 39. I explain to her that now the front number also changes: „So after the three comes?“
Lara: „The four! And the back number is zero, so 40!“


I will also continue to promote reading and writing. This also works within the group theme „Our body“ – Lara is now almost 5 years old. She can already name almost all parts of her body. I decide to create and label a body collage with her. „Oh yes, then I can write down everything I know, and the others can read it too!“
Lara lies with her back on a large piece of paper and her friend Greta draws her outline with a wax crayon. While Lara then cuts it out, she explains where the „wrist“ is.

We stick the outline on the wall in the group room. „But now I have to write everything down, otherwise you can’t see what it’s called,“ she says to me. But now that the „Lara made of paper“ (that’s what she calls the outline) is already hanging on the wall, she asks: „I can’t write anything on it anymore.“ – „What do you mean: „How could you possibly label your paper Lara?“ – „Well, then I’ll write on a white paper and then I’ll hang it up.“

So Lara then labels all externally recognizable body parts, like „knees“ etc. She says the word she is writing out loud. I am supposed to sit next to her the whole time. If she is not quite sure, she makes sure to write „How do you write shinbone?“ – „Write it down the way you hear it.“ So she writes „Schinbain“ (Schienbein), „Handglenk“ (Handgelenk), „Zene“ (Zähne) and so on. After each word I should go with her to the outline to stick it in the right place.

Greta and Ellen watch curiously Lara’s work and want to help. Lara refuses: „No, I started this, you can watch.“
Since the two of them do not want to write but to paint, I give them two large sheets of paper on which they also draw their silhouettes. Greta wants to paint the skeleton on them, Ellen the blood circulation.
(Within the framework of our group project, we looked at the book „Mein Körper“ (My Body) from the book series „Why, Why, Why“, among others, in which there are such illustrations).
All three children are happy. We hung Greta’s and Ellen’s body pictures on the wall next to Lara’s inscribed outline and the other children marveled at the artwork of the three girls.

Also in the next group project „healthy nutrition“ the promotion of reading and writing is not neglected. At our suggestion, the children bring along advertising leaflets from supermarkets and then cut out food pictures. We discuss which of them are healthy and which are less healthy. Lara reads out labels and sorts the cut-out pictures in a concentrated way according to „healthy“ and „unhealthy“. She has to be slowed down a little bit every now and then so that she doesn’t do everything alone and constantly corrects the younger children. In the end she is allowed to label the two collages she has created with „unhealthy“ and „healthy“. She thinks that’s great.

In between we grind flour with a grain mill and bake a cake. Lara reads the inscriptions on all the bags that we have provided for this purpose. She thinks it’s great when we say: „Please pass us the sugar cube!“ Then she reads through the packets until she finds the sugar and hands it to us.

The history of creation

During the Advent season we read the story of creation from the children’s Bible to the older children. The next day it turns out that the children have kept much of what they have read. I suggest the children to choose a part of the story and then draw it with crayons. Then the children choose a watercolor and paint over their entire picture with a brush. Since they use little paint but a lot of water, their pictures look like watercolours.

I ask them what they would think about writing the appropriate text to the picture and sticking it under the picture. The children are thrilled. „Oh yes!“ Lara calls immediately, Ellen nods and Greta beams at me, too.
Lara: „Shall we just copy this, or do you want to read it to us and then we write?“ I ask: „You mean I should dictate the text to you and then you write it down?“ „Sure,“ Lara says, „that’ll go faster then!“ Ellen says: „Besides, I don’t know where I am.“

The children get white sheets of paper that fit exactly under their pictures and on which I have drawn generous lines to help them orientate how much space is available.

First, Lara wants to be dictated a text. Very slowly she writes word for word on the sheet; after almost every word she looks for confirmation from me: „Am I making this beautiful?“
I affirm and am amazed at how patiently and with dedication she writes the words – by ear, I do not correct her. The letters are sometimes capitalized, sometimes small, sometimes she writes two words together. But you can read everything very well.

Note from the course leader:
And that’s the most important thing. Details come later.

I have simplified and shortened the text, because otherwise it would have become too long for the children. Not that the children (especially Lara) lose concentration. „Phew, it’s exhausting – and my fingers hurt, but it’s fun,“ Lara laughs at me when she finishes her text.
I had given the children a tip beforehand that they should take a break from writing and shake their fingers out in between. They gratefully accept this, but Lara says: „But I don’t want to take a break too long, otherwise my fingers get cold.“

I am astonished about Greta. She writes her text without asking me in between how to write e.g. an F or a Z (letters which are not so familiar to the children). She also draws the letters very precisely, all of them are almost the same size.
Greta is rather reserved in her manner, unlike Lara, who meanwhile clearly demands what she has put into her head.

Leon also wants to join in

In between Leon (a boy from our group, 5;2 years old) comes to our table and watches. He looks at me and says: „But I can already write a little bit, because my sister is already in school.“ – I ask him: „Would you like to write on your own picture?“ „Oh yes“, he replies.

Here I must briefly explain that I told the three girls that they could also write on the other children’s pictures if they wanted to. Lara and Greta affirm that, Ellen says she’s written enough, she doesn’t want to do it anymore.

„Fine“, I say to Leon, „then sit with me.“
As he writes, he lets his tongue circle on his lips, he seems very concentrated and strained.
He asks me how to write one letter or another, but on the whole he hardly needs any help.
When his mother picks him up, he proudly presents his written text and smiles at her. She praises him and tells me that he often comes to her and also wants to write when the older sister is doing schoolwork.

So now I will observe Leon a bit closer, especially his interest in letters and numbers.

Also Lara, Ellen and Greta proudly showed their works to their parents.

Würzburg Language Training Program

In order to take up the great interest of Lara, Ellen and Greta in language even further, I am working with them with the „Würzburg Training Program for the Preparation for the Acquisition of Written Language“. They are happy to participate, but I quickly realize that I have to think up more difficult variants for them.

In the unit „I’m thinking of…“, for example, the sun is to be guessed. I say, „The thing I’m thinking of is bright and warm, the word begins with S.“

That’s too easy. So I make up, „All flowers and trees belong to this thing, it begins with P.“ No sooner said than Lara calls out: „Plants (Pflanzen)! You mean plants!“ I praise her and she says: „Yes, the word was quite difficult, too. Many people say „Flanzen“, then you don’t hear the P.“

I find it interesting for myself that I have to improvise again and again so that the language program remains exciting especially for Lara.

Later we will also use the computer for the Würzburg language program as a supplement, so that the children can start the program themselves and work with it independently.

Remark of the seminar leader:
According to our telephone conversation, I suggest that you continue to work on the reading and writing culture in the kindergarten for your next practical work.
Greta, Lara, Leon and possibly Ellen, as far as she enjoys it, could be considered for such a reading club.
– Tools: Table with upper and lower case letters so that the children are able to read texts to themselves.
– Short, funny or exciting stories with puzzles or quiz questions.
– Discussion rounds about the texts read with clever questions from you.
– Creating a collection of suitable stories, books…
– Maintain and expand written communication (as with the texts for the children’s Bible).
– „Reading children“ could get a mailbox for letters you write to them or they write to each other.

Goal: Make the club a „self-running“ thing that new children will join little by little (with your support).

The reading club is born

I want to further promote the reading and writing culture in our kindergarten. Your proposal seemed almost perfect for the children I had in mind. So I sit down with Lara (now 5;10), Greta (5;10) and Ellen (6;7) and submit my proposal to them to found a reading club.

I present them my idea that they could bring their own books from home and read from them – and that we could also solve riddles together.

Lara: „What is a riddle?“ – Greta: „Well, you can answer questions there.“ They are all three enthusiastic and I ask them to bring their favorite books to the next meeting. Greta writes herself a note: „Then I won’t forget the book.“

They also want to continue doing the Würzburg language program on the computer at the reading club. They also like my suggestion to bring a folder to file worksheets and everything else that might accumulate in it.

„Oh yes“, says Lara, „then it’s almost like at school!“

The first meeting

We’ve chosen Monday as Reading Club Day. Ellen comes directly to me in the morning and smilingly shows me the two first grade books she brought with her (written in capital letters). And she takes a sheet with the complete alphabet out of her bag.

Greta comes towards me with the corners of her mouth pulled down: „My dad pushed so hard this morning that I forgot my books.“

Lara screams from behind:
„Yes, and I’ve forgotten them too!“

So we look at Ellen’s books. She shows them around and the kids decide to do a little detective story with a dog.

On the recommendation of my colleagues I invited two more kids to the reading club: Merle and Marius. Leon also came. He suggests to make a door sign „Reading Club“. While they make the individual letters for it, I quickly think up and draw a riddle and copy it for all six.

Now I ask the children whether they want to read the story together or each of them separately. Lara says „I prefer to read to myself, otherwise I get distracted.“ – „Well“, I mean, „you can make yourselves comfortable here in the reading corner and read in peace.“

Marius says: „I prefer to read the news or my knowledge book.“ I suggest he bring his knowledge book to the next meeting, if he doesn’t like today’s story.

Then Ellen says to Marius: „You don’t know yet if you’ll like the story, just read it!“ He nods affirmatively.

Besides, the children have finished making the door sign and we hang it on the staff room door. I encourage them to take (almost) anytime their folder with the story and the riddles to the „Reading Club Room“ to work on it.
However, I notice that the children do not dare to go into the reading room between our meetings. „It’s a bit scary when we sit there alone,“ says Lara. Only weeks later do they accept the offer.

For Greta it is no challenge…

but for Merle and Marius it’s too difficult.
Greta reads the story alone and solves the riddle without any help.

(What’s the name of that smart dog? – Schnüff.
What is it? – Detective.
What did he discover? – The empty birdcage.
Who was kidnapped? – Welli.
What kind of animal is Welli? – Budgie.
What was he investigating? – The cage.
What did Schnüff see on the kitchen floor? – Traces.
What’s the name of the black cat? – Schnief.)

Marius and Merle cannot keep up with the reading speed of the others. I give them a piece of paper with the alphabet in upper and lower case and suggest – so that it is not too frustrating for them – to write the letters they already know on a piece of paper. „Yes“, says Marius, „then I can choose the words I know from the letters!“ And Merle adds: „Then I’ll paint under the words what I have written!“
That way her own „dictionary“ is created, and more and more words are added over time during the Reading Club meetings.

Greta helps Lara and Ellen to solve the riddle and together they find the solution: Sonnenschein (sunshine).

Note from the course leader:
Attention! There should always be real challenges for Greta as well…

Reading the story and answering the questions takes several meetings – and each time they have bright red heads, when they sit together like that. Once Greta is sick, Lara and Ellen help each other. But Lara does not cope well with Ellen reading out loud. I suggest that they read the text to each other in turn. „Okay“, says Lara, „but everybody is allowed to read the same amount. And that works well then.

New children and club ID cards

After the summer holidays, Leon (see above) decides to „enter“ the club, and a child from a neighbouring kindergarten group joins the club. (It is important to get hints from the colleagues which child is ready to join the club in a meaningful way).

The children design club badges that they always carry with them when they go to the reading club.

Greta starts to go to the club more often with younger children to read to them. Afterwards she always raves about how great and cosy it is. Leon and Lara also notice this and do the same.

I am quite happy with how the reading club is developing. The children are looking forward to Monday and the reading club and so am I. The children who have an ID card are proud to belong to it. That’s good for me to see.


Now, over seven years later, the Reading Club is still in existence and has indeed been active all along.

When I moved to another city, a colleague took over the club. Many children have now already felt comfortable in the reading club and learned a lot.

Date of publication in German: April 2015
Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.


Kindergarten as a Good Place for Learning

by Hanna Vock


The kindergarten is a good place to learn…

… and for the advancement of gifted children.

The reasons for this are:

1. the structures of the kindergarten are favourable (compared to school). The kindergarten – and here especially the all-day kindergarten – offers undivided periods of time that can be used for projects of any duration and intensity. There is no pause bell, no subject borders, children and kindergarten teacher can illuminate a topic or an object from all sides practically and theoretically.

2. the children have free space in the form of free play. They can freely choose their activity, their material and their playmates in large contiguous periods and pursue their own goals.

3. the committed kindergarten teacher sees herself as an observer and supporter of children’s learning processes, but gives suggestions to the group through thematic offers. The kindergarten is open to a wide range of play and work materials.

4. the kindergarten teacher can work again and again, even spontaneously, with a small group composed according to abilities and needs. She does not have to keep the whole group in mind, as she has a second pedagogue in the group on many days.

5. it is relatively easy and spontaneous to get out of kindergarten and into the wider environment for the purpose of exploratory learning in kindergarten.

6. the parents are often present in the kindergarten; conversations „on the doorstep“, where kindergarten teachers and parents can exchange their impressions and ideas, are in principle possible on a daily basis.

The kindergarten thus has opportunities that teachers in many schools first have to struggle for.

It is also important that kindergarten pedagogy (elementary pedagogy) in Germany basically postulates that it focuses on the needs and thus also on the learning needs of children.

Holistic learning, learning in life contexts, perception of the individual child in the group are therefore a matter of course for committed kindergarten teachers.

Characteristics of an appropriate play and learning environment in the kindergarten

In order for these good structural prerequisites of the kindergarten to be converted into effective support for gifted children, further conditions must be fulfilled:

    • Research-based learning must play an important role.
    • Instead of age norms, the level of development of the individual child must decide on the cognitive level of what is offered to the child.
    • Children’s intellectual abilities and activities must be valued and supported.
    • Children must not be urged into activities for which they do not feel an inner willingness on the grounds of dealing with the deficit.
    • Spiritual activity is to be regarded as activity. An observing and thinking child should not be pushed into other activities („Play something!“).
    • It is important to actively look for playmates who can exchange ideas on a similar intellectual level.
    • Within the framework of small group work, it must be possible to form small groups with similarly gifted children not only, but also time and again.
    • The formation of integrative groups with several gifted children must be tackled.
    • Kindergarten teachers must have specific knowledge on the subject of giftedness and have opportunities for professional exchange so that they can also fulfil the educational mission of the kindergarten vis-à-vis the gifted children.
    • Cooperation with the host primary schools must be qualified on both sides in order to promote the transition of gifted children to school and to reduce stress for the families. (See also ch. 6: Making Transition to School.)
    • The standards for the design of kindergartens (staffing, group sizes, space available, size of the outdoor area, material equipment) must not be worsened but should be further improved, as otherwise the task of promoting the gifted children cannot be performed satisfactorily.


See also: What Can We Do in Kindergarten?

Improving Framework Conditions! (German version)

Integrative Focus Kindergarten for the Advancement of Gifted Pre-School Children


Date of publication in German: 1.12.09

Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.

Lena Learns How to Code

by Hanna Vock


Lena (name changed) was eight years old when she had to spend a few weeks in a clinic, far away from her home. The clinic had its own school, the children had to bring their school supplies and a letter in which the home class teacher had listed which school material was to be given in the next six weeks.

Lena wanted to go to hospital school on the 3rd day after her serious operation because it was boring for her to lie on her back the whole day almost motionless and look up at the ceiling. She did not have to attend class for a long time and the nurses wanted to dissuade her. But Lena managed to get her to go to school in bed.

She was very lucky and met a sovereign and mentally mobile young teacher. He briefly checked the contents of the schoolbooks for the next few weeks, was visibly surprised and said: „You can do it all already“.

He only needed a few seconds to make the decision: „Then we can put away our school supplies.“ A few seconds later followed the question: „Do you want to learn to program on the computer?“ It was a long time ago, and it was a C 64, but the young teacher was already fit because of his own interest in computing. Here he had something he also wanted to teach, although the subject of computer science did not yet exist in schools, let alone in primary schools.

It only took Lena seconds to say yes without having an exact idea what „programming“ meant. But she was highly gifted, had already skipped a class and apparently had confidence in the teacher in a few seconds. After all, he had recognized what she was already capable of at lightning speed, and had drawn a reasonable conclusion: Put away school supplies. Then his suggestion could also be interesting.

Nothing is without problems:
How can you work on the computer when you have to lie in a plaster bed after the operation? But there were two people here who were capable of unconventional solutions.

„When may you get up?“ „In one week, I’ll get a plaster corset and will be allowed to wallk.“ „Well, we’ll have to do some theory first.“

The word „theory“ had magic powers for the eight-year-old. It played a big role in every phone call with the family.
A clipboard, which held not only the upper but also the lower paper margin, helped Lena to write down the programming rules and steps that the teacher taught her. Soon the first small programs were written, because Lena only stopped working „when the clipboard had fallen on her nose a few times and her arm forces were exhausted“ (original sound teacher). After a break she continued because she loved to learn programming.

Later the leg forces limited the workload, because a plaster corset is a heavy thing and she was not allowed to sit down at all. So Lena stood in front of the computer and tried out whether the programs developed in theory worked in practice. And so it was continued until the legs threatened to buckle – then theory went on.

Lena learned a lot in these weeks. The discomforts of hospital life were suppressed in her feelings by her enthusiasm for learning. When she returned to her home class, absolutely no rework was necessary. It was as if she hadn’t missed a day at all. But she was now able to program – which could not be demonstrated at school and which, unfortunately, no one was interested in.


Date of publication in German: May 2012
Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. hannavock@ihvo.de)

Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.