Those of you from Germany or who have lived or visited there around the time schools begin in the Fall will be familiar with this fun German tradition.
And though we do not live in Germany, my connection with the country inspires me to incorporate various German traditions into my family. And though we homeschool, we still start our school year at the same time public schools start.
This year is a special year because my middle child is starting first grade, the traditional year to receive a Schultüten.
"What's a Schultüten?" you ask? It is a gigantic decorated paper cone filled with special treats for the first grader. In Germany, you can buy these in your local stationery store. In America, you either have to order one online or make your own. I opted for the latter.
It was simple enough. I wanted something more stable than craft paper (which I had used when making the cone for my eldest several years ago - it was fragile to say the least), so I purchased several pieces of poster board. I didn't want to leave out my eldest from the festivities (she's entering fourth grade), so she got a smaller cone. But my first grader got a cone as big as she is. That means, for the eldest, a single piece of poster board was enough, but for my middle child, I put together three pieces of poster board:
I used packing tape to connect the poster boards together. I then used a pencil and non-stretching string to draw a partial circle on the paper (as a guide for where I cut):
I simply tied one end of the string to the pencil and held the other end at a corner of the paper. Using this as a type of homemade compass, I drew the quarter circle line all while holding the string at one corner of the paper. Look at the photos to see which corner I chose. This was to get the maximum size of quarter circle as possible out of the paper. I determined the length of the string by finding the furthest point it would go without running off the paper.
I then rolled the quarter circle into a cone and used packing tape to tape down the inside seam of the cone. Using a glue stick, I glued the outside seam shut and used rubber bands to hold the paper in place while it dried:
I then weighted the inside of the cone to ensure it would sit on the seam for added pressure to help it dry together:
Once both the cones were dry, I then had the task of decorating them. I chose a "space" theme because the unit study we are starting the school year off with is "The Moon". I have no pictures to show of this part of the project so you'll have to use your imagination. Start by imagining the cones standing on their large ends drying after having been hand-painted with black acrylic paint. Next, imagine a lot of scraps of felt being used to create a moon, stars, and a rocket ship. There in the corner is my hot glue gun. Imagine me using that to glue all the pieces of felt together (such as the details on the rocket ship) and then glue these felt items to the cone. Now imagine me with a stack of tissue paper, deciding what color I would use for the tissue to go around the opening to the cone. Glue stick in hand, I paint a line of glue along the inside rim of the cone and then quickly pat down the chosen tissue (length-wise). I use two pieces of tissue to make it around each of the cones.
Now the fun part. Stuffing the cones. Imagine me again with that pile of tissue paper. I knew if I just threw the goodies in the cones, they would look sad and empty, all the small items having fallen to the bottom of the cones... so I loosely wrapped each item separately with tissue paper and placed them carefully into the cone. It did the trick and made the cones look very full. I chose items I knew my kids would be excited about: small stuffed animals, pencils and stickers, gum and gummy bears (an homage to Germany!), wooden tops... stuff like that.
All that was left was to give the cones. Both girls were excited to receive their cones:
And best of all - the large cone was so large, once it was empty, both girls took turns crawling into it like some type of hermit crab (sorry, no photos of this... you'll have to imagine!!!).