Saturday, August 29, 2009

Colorful KinderCones Celebrate School Kids, Especially Fabulous 1st Graders

Sagezilla was uber excited to receive a giant, German KinderCone, or Schultute, to celebrate the start of 1st grade.   We spent the summer reassuring her that 1st grade would be great, but she still looked anxious and worried, on the first day of school, as she moved up.

That's why I was especially happy to come across KinderCones at Andersonville's Midsommerfest and again at Old Town School of Folk Music.    

We needed a happy, positive spin, to celebrate Sage and school and how fabulously exciting it is to be entering first grade.   It was especially cool for us to embrace and learn about this tradition, since we're half German in heritage, albeit back a number of generations.   We still love to introduce German and Swedish customs to the kids.

Local Chicago Mom, Vivian Lie, has not only found time to parent her four daughters, but she's also rolled out a creative, small business, in these tough economic times.   ChiIL Mama caught up with Vivian and her charming family, at their home, last week.   The family's fervor for KinderCones is contagious.
 At this point, Vivian still writes personal notes to everyone who orders a KinderCone, and she and her daughters lovingly check over each cone before it goes out, to make sure it's perfectly round and nothing has settled in shipping.   It really is a family affair.

Her oldest daughter, who is entering 6th grade, beamed as she told me she's manager of the inventory and the best bow tier, among a host of other duties.   She was also a huge help at all the fests.   Vivian exclaimed, "I couldn't do it without her!"  That's an impressive resume for a tween, who is also already a world traveler, and fluent in German.

They were all a bit "fested out" when I saw them, after an ambitious summer of working the festival circuit, to introduce KinderCones to the greater Chicago area.    But their hard work has paid off, with an e-newsletter list that now exceeds 500.       

Vivian's excitement is evident, as she dreams of possibly making a KinderCone US Tour next summer in a Karli Cat RV.   For now, a number of local shops are stocking KinderCones, and Vivian will ship anywhere.

KinderCone is making it's philanthropic mark, as well.   When 1st graders returned to Robert Emmet Elementary, an impoverished CPS school in the violence plagued Austin area, they had a surprise waiting.   KinderCone paired with DirectEffect and the Emmet School alumni group, F.O.R.E.S., to bring backpacks, and basic clothing necessities to the kids..........and KinderCones!   Among the utilitarian donations of basics like socks and underwear, the KinderCones stood out as something bright, funky and fun.  The kids were thrilled.

Vivian said, "It's so much fun to give the cones away."  And she'll have another chance soon.  All the first graders at Bell Elementary in Chicago, will be generously gifted with KinderCones this year, in an elaborate moving up ceremony, this September.
Me, Myself and First Grade Journal............

 Karli the cat (a sweet snuggle with a messenger bag, for those anxious moments).   Her bendable, poseable legs were a big hit..........
A numbered, limited edition certificate............
and Karli cat pencils and tattoos rounded out the fun set.

The following excerpt is from the web site:
KinderCone LLC , is based on a German tradition dating back to the early 19th century. Oftentimes, the first day of school can be a bittersweet moment in a child’s life, but in Germany and Austria it is marked by a day of celebration and appreciation. On that day, families present their first grader with their very own Schultüte. Inside, the child finds little gifts, treats, and school supplies. KinderCone wants to inspire every family and their young children to enjoy learning by celebrating this special event in their lives.

Vivian Lie founded KinderCone in 2008. Vivian was born and raised in Munich, Germany and lives in Chicago with her husband and four young daughters.

Two years ago, when Dugan was about to start 1st grade, I heard his earnest little voice from the back seat of the car.   "Mommy," he said, "About this whole going to 1st grade thanks.   I'm not going."

It was one of those poignant moments where I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.   All his heartfelt fears and uncertainty mixed with excitement just about broke my heart.  We had lots of reassuring talks that summer, and he met his new teacher and had a great tour of the space, all of which helped to allay his fears.    It really is a time of passage from being a little kid to being a BIG kid.
Now we're going through it again with Sage.   It's so hard to see a beloved child agonizing and stressing about those necessary next steps.   And moving upstairs to 1st grade--literally and figuratively--is a doozy.   

It's an especially big step in Montessori schools, since Elementary I encompasses 1-3 graders together, and Sage was used to being the big kid in the early childhood class.   She worried all summer that she wouldn't be a strong enough reader yet, and that everything would be monumentally harder in 1st grade.   But her KinderCone made her feel like a special, big kid.

So, whether your new 1st grader is raring to grow or a bit anxious about what elementary school will bring, KinderCone is sure to ease the way, and bring a big Cheshire cat grin to a special little face.  

Check out the impressive KinderCone web site to order from their on line store, sign up for the newsletter, find local retailers, run a school fundraiser, or read recent KinderCone news coverage.  

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing concept! Teachers could use some kindercones, too. :)

    Hooray for Sage for facing her fears. She'll be running things in no time up there in the new classroom.