German Learning Scenario:

Author: Michelle Barnett & Denise Tanner
Level: Novice/Intermediate Low

Students do research on general fitness and nutrition and German health clubs with a culminating activity of hosting and participating in an authentic German Fitneß-Studio. Students prepare printed documents and craft materials to promote and enhance their club, using learned vocabulary and structures. The research component of the scenario can be done in English, but the written and oral activities, including the final product roleplay, are done entirely in German.

(Below are multiple options for tasks within each activity set. Teachers may choose those that best suit their situation and teaching style.)

ACTIVITY SET 1: Body Parts
Show students a short segment of an exercise/morning “wake-up” video (from a television broadcast or other source) with the sound turned off. (If you can find one in German, no need to omit the sound!) Begin introducing body parts vocabulary by using the pause button on the VCR, pointing to the person, and describing what he or she is doing (e.g., she’s touching her toes). Students learn to recognize and reinforce the vocabulary through a variety of activities. For example, they might draw and label a body; create word art with vocabulary words (e.g., Write Auge, i.e., “eyes,” in two half circles, one upside down, to form an eye image.); follow TPR commands given by teacher; sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in German with appropriate body movements; sing Ich habe einen Kopf (see Resources); pin body-part words onto a monster drawn by the class; play Hand zu Hand (the teacher or a student calls “hand to hand” and other similar commands using body parts as the class performs the action); and/or play “Body Parts Bingo.”

ACTIVITY SET 2: Healthy Habits
Students next consider both German and American perspectives on healthy living habits through a variety of activities. To begin, students examine healthy and unhealthy habits they see in their community and/or in the American media over a one-week period. They then work in pairs or groups to perform simple skits/pantomimes that illustrate the habits they observed. Another option is to have students create a collage representing healthy and unhealthy living, then use simple sentences to describe it. Next, students consult other sources such as the Internet or level-appropriate health texts, to learn more about what constitutes healthy living. They may wish to revise their “healthy habits” diagrams or collages after their research. Finally, students conduct similar research using the German media and German Web sites. They then create collages or graphic organizers to compare American and German perspectives on the above topics.

ACTIVITY SET 3: Food Pyramids
In this activity set, students create a model of healthy nutrition through a variety of activities. First, students keep a 3-day food diary, listing foods and amounts consumed in German. Next, they gain an understanding of food pyramids by familiarizing themselves with the USDA Food Pyramid (the teacher can provide a handout) and then researching a food pyramid from a German-speaking country. They may do this by either searching the Internet (see Resources), consulting other health text resources, or listening to a guest speaker such as a health teacher, home economics teacher, or school nurse who is familiar with the pyramid system. The class briefly discusses differences and similarities between the USDA and German-language pyramids. They then demonstrate their understanding of a German-language pyramid by using information from their food diaries to list foods in German by category or to draw and label a food pyramid in German. The proportions for each category can be compared with the official German-language food pyramid. Another option is to make a simple, short presentation in the style of a children’s television show or public service announcement where students name and sort play foods into boxes arranged by food pyramid categories.

As a final task in the activity set, students indicate what they have learned about their personal eating habits by compiling a list on the board of what they should eat more of, what they should eat less of, what they must eat, and what they cannot eat, based on their food diaries and pyramids. Each student writes at least one statement under each of those four headings, and a class profile is compiled. (Relevant modal verbs are reviewed before beginning the activity.)

ACTIVITY SET 4: Roleplay Preparation
Students prepare a German Fitneß Studio for visits by fellow classmates. Pre-roleplay activities are necessary to ensure that the novice student can participate in the health club using the target language. Students review body parts vocabulary and verbs describing health club activities by playing Simon Sagt (Simon Says) with the teacher’s direction. (After a review of the commands, students may lead the game.)

Students use the Internet and other provided resources to explore the characteristics of German health clubs (see Resources). Using what they discover and what they know of American health clubs, students brainstorm characteristics of each. Half of the class lists characteristics of American clubs; half the class lists characteristics of German clubs. The two lists are compared, and students express their like and dislikes of the two systems in German: Ich mag ____, Ich mag überhaupt nicht ____, Ich spiele ____ gern/nicht gern, Ich habe ____ gern/nicht gern, Ich möchte ____, etc.

After having investigated German health clubs, students begin work on the opening of their own German Fitneß Studio. The class picks a name and an “image” for the club, determines what services the club will offer (in line with what a German club would offer, e.g., squash instead of racquetball), and works in small groups to prepare signs that indicate hours of operation, club rules, information desk, and available activities. Drawing on their knowledge from Activity Set Three, students prepare a large-scale food pyramid and fitness chart (including information on calorie use, etc.) to decorate the club. They also create a brochure to advertise the health club, with each group responsible for a different section: general club information, health and fitness tips, the club’s mission, available services, and rules. Students also design the physical layout of their German-style health club by drawing a map of it for their customers. They then work with a partner to practice asking for and giving directions.

Finally, in order to “run” the Fitneß Studio, students determine what roles are needed and who will fill them. Possible employee roles include front desk worker, nutritionist, aerobics instructor, personal trainer, etc. Customer roles may include the “jock,” the novice patron, the weekend athlete, etc. Students make necessary preparations based on the role chosen. Those who run the front desk will design an application form and payment plan schedule, aerobics instructors select German music and come up with routines; nutritionists devise a healthy meal plan and practice explaining it; trainers prepare posters illustrating weight-lifting techniques and practice giving instructions in German, etc. Each student has an opportunity to roleplay a customer and an employee, therefore everyone participates in these preparatory activities.

ACTIVITY SET 5: Grand Opening
Students open and operate the Fitneß Studio using only German. To join the club, customers fill out an application form using factual information or an assumed identity as mentioned above. As part of the application form, they convert their height and weight (actual or desired!) to the metric system. To pay for their membership, they use a currency converter to figure costs and use play “Marks” or “Euros“ to complete the transaction.

To make the roleplay as authentic as possible, students bring in sports equipment such as balls, jump ropes, or small hand-weights from home, or they may borrow from the school’s Physical Education Department. Students who are customers visit the club and participate in at least one selected activity after “signing up”: fitness training, nutrition counseling, aerobics, etc. (This is an excellent opportunity to recycle command forms.) The roleplay is repeated and the “customers” become the employees so that every student has a chance to play each role.

ACTIVITY SET 6: Rating the Experience
Students reflect on what they learned about health and fitness, both linguistically and culturally. In a whole class discussion, students state what they learned and also indicate what they enjoyed and did not enjoy about the different activities. Another option is to use a target language evaluation form (using a Likert scale), developed either as a class or by the teacher. The form is used to summarize the experience in German with students rating each activity as gut—schlecht (good—bad) on a scale of 1 to 5.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Nature of Language, Concept of Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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  • Exercise video
  • Art supplies for posters, collages, etc.
  • Computers with Internet access, software for brochure design (optional)
  • Sports equipment (borrowed from PE, brought in by students)
  • Body parts bingo game
  • Level-appropriate health textbooks (both German and English if possible)
  • German health magazines, health-related texts

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met


Communication: The interpersonal and presentational modes are used as students do the health club roleplay. The interpretive mode is used as they conduct research in the target language on nutrition and German health clubs.

Cultures: Students research differences between German and American health club practices. They then apply this knowledge in hosting their club. Students also gain insight into the German culture as they learn about their perspectives on nutrition and healthy living.

Connections: The students use German to gather information about health clubs in German speaking cultures. They also connect to the subject areas of health sciences and physical education as they learn about and create food pyramids and do research on health club activities.

Comparisons: Students use German to compare the two health club cultures and are called upon to reflect on the benefits of each system. They may also discover vocabulary similarities that show the influence of the German and English languages on one another.

Communities: Students bond with their classroom community and discover the benefits and difficulties of working together to meet a goal. They also work with the larger school community by inviting a health sciences, home economics, etc. educator to share information.

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Expansion Ideas

  • Invite other German classes to participate in the Fitneß Studio.
  • Invite a native speaker of German to speak to the class about German perspectives on healthy living, nutrition, exercise, etc.

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Atongi, N. et al. (1999). Handreichungen für den Unterricht an Deutschen Sprach/Samstagsschulen. Cherry Hill, NJ: American Association of Teachers of German.
This book contains the song “Spiellied,” that teaches body parts and corresponding senses.

Krenzer, R. (1997). Spannenlanger Hansel. Lippstadt, Germany: Kontakte Musikverlag.

NTC Publishing Group. (2000). Weit und Breit. Lincolnwood, IL: Author.

Sherman, L. et al. (1994). Kinder lernen Deutsch, Loseblattsammlung. Cherry Hill, NJ: American Association of Teachers of German.
The song Hand zu Hand can be found in this book’s appendix.


NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.

(Tip: Search under “Fitneß-Studio” for more sites.)

    The American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) Web site contains a multitude of resources for German teachers. Of particular interest with regard to this scenario are the headings “Gesundheit” and “Sport” and the Loseblattsammlung, which are collections of activities, songs, games, resources, methods, etc. developed by elementary classroom teachers of German involved in the Kinder Lernen Deutsch program. You can find the game Hände zu Hände in this collection. Also available through the AATG site is Handreichungen für den Unterricht an Deutschen Sprach/Samtagsschulen, which contains the song “Spiellied,” sung to the tune of “Mary had a little Lamb”.
    This site has information on "MyPlate," which replaced the USDA food pyramid.
    This site has information on the Swiss Union for Nourishment’s food pyramid.
    This is the German Women’s Health Consul site, which provides many useful links within on nutrition, calories, and general fitness.

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