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Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

Today I get to be part in the „Sewing for Kindergarten“ series by the over-the-top cool Mie from Sewing like Mad. A warm welcome to those of you that came over from Mie’s blog to my place in the interwebs. I’m so glad you’re here. My post should actually be called “Sewing for Elementary School“. The school system in Germany is very different from the one in the US, so let me first introduce it to you shortly and we will then dive in and I’ll explain my daughter’s dress and that strange thing in her hands.

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

I think it’s quite funny that the german understanding of “Kindergarten“ is so different from the one in the US. Americans stole our word, but gave it a slightly different meaning. In Germany kids from age 3 to 6 attend Kindergarten. It’s not obligatory, but most parents send their kids there. Depending on how many hours you book, the kids are there only in the morning or also in the afternoon. It’s mainly a playgroup, they do crafts, learn social skills, run around and basically have a lot of fun. I’m guessing, but not at all sure, that it’s a bit like what you call pre-school? The last year of Kindergarten is Vorschule (i.e. in direct translation “pre-school“). In our Kindergarten this wasn’t much different. Only one morning out of the week was spent with practising numbers and similar stuff.

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

After Kindergarten, the children start elementary school and this is when visiting school becomes obligatory. Homeschooling is not allowed in Germany. There are some private schools, but it’s not very common. Almost all kids just visit the public elementary school closest to their home. Whenever you want to send them to another school, you have to go through quite some bureaucracy.

My daughter’s first day of school was on tuesday last week, just one day after her 7th birthday. The first day of school is a very important day in the life of a german kid. In the morning they get to take their “Schulranzen“ (a very special kind of backpack that is very strurdy and just made for the kids in elementary school, you can read more about our’s in this post) and they get a „Schultüte“: This is that cornet that my daughter holds in her hands. It is often personalized for the kids, often crafted by the kids and their parents. Many german seamstresses sew a Schultüte for their children. I would have liked to sew one, too, but when my daughter saw which one her best friend was going to get, she wanted to have the exact same one. It was much less time consuming and fun to make, so I was okay with it. The Schultüte is not only pretty, it’s of course what’s inside that is the exciting part for the children. The parents put little presents (books for first readers, pens, a friend book, some candy, a small toy, etc.) in the Schultüte. The children only get to unpack these after school and the excitement gets stronger every minute.

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

The first day of our school starts with a service at church. Afterwards first graders and their parents went to the classroom together. The parents got to stay for about 15 minutes to help give the children a good start. They all got a little name badge from their teacher at the front of the class room and quickly introduced themselves. I was very surprised to see my rather quiet child being the first one to want to go to the front and tell everyone happily her name. After that short introduction the parents went outside to have some coffee and just after one quick hour we picked the kids up and went home to unpack the Schultüte. It’s a very smooth, nice and special start into their life at school and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

Mie gave us some questions to answer about school, too, so let’s see:

Is this your first time sending a child to Kindergarten?
Yes, R is our oldest child. She could have gone to school one year earlier (she was right at the age boundary), but we decided to give her one more year to get a bit braver and more open. Seeing her talk happily in front of a full classroom ensures us that this was absolutely the right decision. She is now in one class together with all her best friends. Just perfect!


Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

Do you feel like crying or like celebrating? And what about your child?
I’m really happy for R. That additional year was so good for her. She’s now absolutely ready for it. She would have been fine last year learning-wise, but her social abilites have grown so much during that year. I know that she’ll rock it. It’s really the absolutely right time for her and she is just so excited.

What kind of school does your child attend (public, private, homeschool)?
As I said: There are almost only public schools in Germany. My daughter rides the bus together with seven other kids from our direct neighborhood. They walk to the bus stop together and go with the bus to the elementary school in the next village. It’s a small school, just about 130 children and with very good teachers.

Question to your Kindergartner: What have been the best and the worst part so far?
It’s the most fun when we practise with our workbooks. There hasn’t been anything that I didn’t like so far.

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

I made a Cocoon Dress (pattern by my good friend Trine from Groovybaby and Mama) for R’s first day of school. Many of the girls and boys wear very special clothes on their first day of school. However, my daughter absolutey refuses to wear anything woven. I talked to her, told her that the other’s might be a bit more dressed up, but that it’s her day and that I want her to enjoy whatever she wears. This day is not about what other’s think about the children, it’s about the best possible start for them. I let her choose and she was 100% sure that she wanted something knit. Trine gave me her pattern during London Sew Social and when my friend Fredi from Seemannsgarn releaesd her first fabric designs with Alles für Selbermacher on some really nice quality sweat, I knew that these two would be a really nice match. Sewing the dress was so easy and smooth and I love how it turned out. My daughter is totally into horses (and unicorns) these days so I decided to add the silhouette of a running horse with some iron-on vinyl. The dress might have been more stylish without the horses, but my daughter’s face when she found the dress and saw the horse on the morning of her first day of school, was totally worth it. I’m sure she’ll wear this dress a lot during fall and winter. It’s comfy, modern and fun. What else could you want?

Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress Sewing for Kindergarten: Cocoon Dress

Thanks Mie for inviting me to this tour. I enjoyed the reading the post of all the other moms and kindergarteners in the last years and am just so happy that I could be part of it now. Fot that reason I’ll now check out the post of Bettina from Stahlarbeit (and you should, too). She’s a journalist and excellent writer. I’m sure her post will be super fun again!


  • Mie says:

    Your daughter looks so cute in her Cocoon dress and OF COURSE it needs a horse on! This series is about clothes for the kids, right! ;-) And you are so right….the fact that the word kindergarten means differently in different countries is definitely confusing for this series. In Denmark it also means the years before Elementary school, where in the US it means the first year of elementary school. I don’t have any plans of changing the name of the series though, haha.
    Annika thank you so much for participating.

  • Emi says:

    What a wonderful tradition you have to ease your children into school. I think the Japanese system is quite similar, in that “kindergarten” is more like pre-school in the US (though it is slowly changing to become more “academic”). The children here also get a special backpack that they use for their entire 6 years of elementary school. I’m very intrigued by the Schultüte tradition. What a great idea. I love that you had her choose her outfit for her special day. It’s so pretty!

  • Jenya says:

    Thank you for sharing about school system and traditions in Germany. I love the idea of putting together a small present for the kids who are just starting school. I agree with you in regars to letting kids choose what they feel comfortable to wear. I bet her eyes lit up when she saw a horse oh her dress :) The dress turned out lovely. Love the print you have used.

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