How to teach Oktoberfest in primary school

Most people I know associate Oktoberfest with mass consumption of beer and so it seems hardly an appropriate topic to teach about in schools. For years I avoided the topic and didn’t teach about this historically and culturally significant event at all, but last year I was asked to hold a language celebration afternoon. To me it was a no-brainer – it needed to be some kind of ‘Oktoberfest’ and it needed to be part of our learning for the term. Here is how I taught it…

I decided to teach a unit called ‘Feste Feiern’, which meant we could talk about other celebrations too, starting with what and how we celebrate in Australia before moving onto talking about Germany.

I started with the history of Oktoberfest (see earlier post) by telling the story of the royal wedding in the style of a fairytale, then moving on to modern day traditions, facts and figures. We then learned vocabulary for key words to do with the celebration (foods, activities, traditional dress etc). Then we moved onto popular songs and dances at Oktoberfest, unpacking the lyrics (how great is the Fliegerlied?!).

To work towards our celebration day we learned a Schuhplattler dance and made basic Trachtenhüte to wear for a performance of the dance (more about our language celebration afternoon once we have held this year’s later in the month). After holding our own version of Oktoberfest, we moved on to discuss Karneval and finished up the term/year with Christmas celebrations in Germany.

The assessment for the term was pretty basic but the unit was designed to be more of a cultural unit, allowing students to reflect on their experiences. I really enjoyed this unit and am looking forward to celebrating celebrations with my year five students again this year.

For my year six students who did this topic last year I have a different way for us to celebrate – Oktoberfest for Teens at the Brisbane Showgrounds on October 12th.
Do you celebrate Oktoberfest with students at your school? To get you in the mood, here is a student friendly version of the Fliegerlied…

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