Thursday, August 13, 2009

Schulette: A New School Year Tradition

I recently received this email:
"I saw an article on that referenced the Schultuete tradition and mentions you. I wanted to share with you that my wife started a company this year that brings the tradition of the Schultuete to America. She is German and was inspired by our own daughter (1 of 4) entering first grade back in 2005. It's a great tradition which she's adapted by writing a little journal and including some other items. We also have been helping kids make their own cones at the street festivals here in Chicago that we use to promote the business. See and thanks for sharing the idea." I looked over the website and see that they care about the little customers they serve. Their site states: "KinderCone wants to inspire every family and their young children to enjoy learning by celebrating this special event in their lives."

KinderCone has done that. Learning and getting an education is always a special event. It a freedom, a blessing, a God-given right and should be celebrated.

So, far any new arrivals...let's review the German Schulette tradition. We discussed them as early as 2005 at 4 Real Learning Forums when I discovered them mentioned at the Catholic Montessori Playschool eloop. I had a Pre-schooler at the time and was frantically searching and expending myself on any and all things Montessori. These "school bags" became a hit that year and has remained so each year. It's an especially special way to present homeschooling children their new school supplies.

It was never my idea, of course. Never my original idea, but it became quite possibly the most frequent search hit on my blog. I'm not even the #1 Google search for the Schulettes but, somehow, parents and teachers found me and, somehow, I got credit. The only credit I can take it that my maternal grandfather was a Miller, a large red-headed German of a man, and the fact that I have made these cones for my three younger children for the past five years and they are indeed a testimony to making your child's first day of school a memoriable legacy. My children love them, expect them, adore them. And they are very easy to make. Extremely so. Here is what I did:
Buy a regular poster (our store had them 5 @ $1.00 for the school year) and cut off a 10 1/2" rectangular piece leaving a square piece of poster. Roll into the cone and tape it secure. Place it on a section of wrapping paper, fold over the whole cone and tape it. They look very festive! And they're plenty big for the play-doh and new calculator and stickers and colors and notepads, etc. that will go inside.

First you will want to know how to pronounce the name. I was told they can be pronounced:
"Shool-toy-tuh" with the accent on the "shool".

And an alternative pronunciation: shool-toot-tuh (and the "toot" should really be done as "teet" pronounced with the lips in an "O" shape).

So there you go.

As I have moved my blog from typepad to here, I want to preserve the memory of our past schultuetes (for my children's scrapbooking) so let me share what I wrote a few years ago on my old blog and some of the comments I received throughout the years:

  • "Start the new school year by presenting your child with a Schultuete (also known as sugar bags in Germany) on the first day of school. These clown-hat cones are a fun way to present new school supplies to your child and are sure to be a hit. Mark it a tradition to continue throughout your child's schooling.
  • I made them last year for my younger girls and they were thrilled with their schultuete. I made them out of poster board and wrapping paper. Very simple to make. My youngest also wore it as a dunce cap (her incentive, not mine).
  • Since it was my first time making a schultuete, I think I went a little overboard. I made them with large poster board and they were large. Too large for the new pencils, erasers, stickers, and other small objects placed in it. So I suggest using the smaller poster boards unless you're planning to be generous and include stuffed animals, lunch buckets, crayon boxes, slingshots, and other school necessities.
  • Silly me...this year I kept forgetting to buy poster board and we began school two weeks ago. I assumed---falsely---that the girls would not remember their German schultuete from the previous year. Wrong! Last week Chelsea questioned me, "Aren't we getting one of those sugar cones again this year?"
  • Perhaps the German school fairy can whip-up a couple for this Wednesday (she did (-; ) as the area children (neighbors, friends, and cousins) go back to public school for the first day.
  • I'm eager to hear of your ideas in filling your child's schultuete. Let us all know (in the comments section) what goodies you add."
Clarifying comments followed:
  • "I am not sure how much you about the German tradition of the Schultuete (School Cone). From reading your blog, I am getting the feeling that you are intending to giving your girls a schultuete on the first day of each school year. If that is your desire, you are more than welcomed to do so. However, the tradition in Germany is that a Schultuete is a special gift to children on their first day of 1st grade only." ~ Daniela J.
  • "Nice ideas and great pictures. Would like to make a correction...Schultuete directly translated is Schul (School) and Tuete (Bag) so Schoolbag or many people indirectly translate as Schoolcone. Sugar (Zucker in German) should not be used as a word to translate this item." ~ Tina
  • "Wondertime magazine just had a great article (Sept 08 issue) about this tradition, including directions for making a schultuete. Just like the previous comment noted, the word means "school bag" and is only given on the first day of FIRST grade. The cones in Germany ARE large, so poster board is appropriate for this project!" ~ VJHR
  • "Love these. We actually had many German neighbors (we've lived in Germany several times) who expanded the tradition from just the first day of first grade to the first day of every year. Zuckertüte is an alternate name for these in some areas, which is why they are sometimes called "sugar cones" in English. I'll be making some again this year ~ they're so fun!! Thanks, Cay!" ~ Sue
I encourage anyone wishing to do a Schultuete to do it however they wish. Make it a new tradition within your home. Don't worry about what it's called, what's suppose to go inside of it, what grade the child should get it (I give it to each child every year), or how to properly pronounce it. Just do it and your children will remember it fondly.

My friend Helen shared these German treats at All Recipes incase you want to sow and reap all the benefits of a German-flavored first-day-of-school celebration.


  1. We first heard about them from you and they are now a tradition. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Phyllis, How wonderful! Thanks for sharing. :-)


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