With approximately 121 million native speakers, predominantly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, German is one of the key languages in Europe. A knowledge of German makes it significantly easy to travel and do business in many European countries. A survey conducted by the Center of Applied Linguistics in 2008 found that 2 percent of elementary schools and 14 percent of secondary schools in the United States teach German. Luckily, there are many fun and easy German games that can help stimulate children's interest in the language and make learning German an enjoyable experience.

Sardinen

"Sardinen," or sardines, is a fun German game that is similar to the American game "tag." One child is chosen to hide and the other children have to find him. Whenever a child succeeds in finding the one who is hiding, she has to join him in the hiding place. By the end of the game, all the children will be squeezed into the hiding place like sardines. When the last child finds the hiding place, the game is over and that child is the loser. Children can be encouraged to practice German numbers while playing this game if adults encourage them to count from one to 20 in German while the first child is hiding.

Hatschi-Patschi

This strange-sounding game is named after a German equivalent of the English sneezing sound "ah choo." Children sit around in a circle of chairs, arranged so that one child does not have space to sit down. This child leaves the room while the other determine who is going to be "hatschi-patschi." In a group of 30 children, it is ideal to have three or four "hatschi-patschis." The child who was outside comes back into the room and asks the others a predetermined question in German. Examples of suitable questions include "What is your name?" or "When is your birthday?" The children take turns to answer the question. When it is the turn of one of the "hatschi-patschis," they must shout the word "hatschi-patschi" very loudly. This is the signal for everyone to swap seats and start again.

Doctor's Advice Game

The Doctor's Advice Game is an easy game that works well with older children in a classroom environment. The teacher provides two sets of cards, one containing illnesses and one with medical advice. Every child receives a card and must find another child with a card of the same color. Once in pairs, the child with the "patient" card reads their sentence aloud, then the child with the "doctor" card reads out their advice. Together, the children discuss whether the advice is suitable for the illness. If not, they must both seek another partner. This is a good game for mixed-ability groups of children as the more fluent ones can help those who are struggling with their sentences.

Online Games

The Internet provides many opportunities for children to play easy German games. Websites such as Purpose Games offer a variety of online games that allow children to practice basic concepts such as colors, body parts and numbers in an enjoyable manner. Older children can also complete quizzes on more advanced themes like German states, Germany's neighbors and German rivers. This is a good way to learn about German geography and culture whilst having fun.