Sep 192012

Vera had a lot of anxiety over starting school this fall. Perfectly natural: she’s shy, she’s only three, and she’s never been away from family before. But we were all awfully stressed in the few weeks before the transition.

I decided a little “play therapy” was in order and went online to look for toy schools. Ended up with a cute school set from Playmobil. (Playmobil’s the greatest!) But my web search for “Playmobil school” also brought up some kids holding giant cones. Huh?

(Seems to be gone from the Playmobil site. Here it is on Amazon.)

Apparently there’s a German tradition called Schultüte, or First Day of School Cones. Big paper cones are filled with toys, sweets, and school supplies to brighten up a child’s first day of school. Traditionally they’re given to a child starting school for the very first time, but the tradition has expanded so that many kids get them every year on the first day.

(image source:

The gifts sounded like a wonderful way to give Vera something to enjoy on her nerve-wracking first day, so I put together a little Schultute of our own. I wrapped a few small gifts — the Playmobil cone kids, some pink sparkly nail polish (she’s wanted this forever but I was holding out for both a nontoxic version and a special occasion), some pink sparkly hair items (you may notice a theme), a giant round lollipop, and some extra-special school supplies (patterned tape! magnets to hang school art! Post-It notes!).

The presentation wasn’t anything fancy. We were staying in a hotel that week, so the cone and decorations were pieced together from whatever I could find at the nearest drugstore. Luckily, CVS had big sheets of poster board in its office supply aisle. I just rolled the paper into a cone, scotch-taped it together, and added some curly ribbon, tissue paper, and Sharpie-d drawings. Here’s the final result (showing Vera’s real name, shhhh):

We brought the cone after school so the gifts wouldn’t be too distracting during the school day. Obviously it cheered her immediately, ha.

But opening the gifts really did send her over the moon. As parents, wouldn’t we do anything to transform our child’s scariest day into one that ends in bliss like this?? Schultute for the win!

(P.S. Don’t know whether they do this every year, but looks like Chasing Fireflies sells pre-made school cones if you like the idea but don’t have the inclination to make your own.)

  4 Responses to “Schultute: First Day of School Cone”

  1. Tara, what a great tradition! Elsa’s expression is priceless! {Definitely something to tuck away for future reference.} :o)

    • Thanks! I’m normally all philosophically opposed to rampant consumerism and buying things (gifts) to make a day special, but this was just such a sweet, wonderful success. Now I’m trying to tell the whole world! :)

  2. My husband is German and told me about this tradition, so I started it when my oldest started kindergarten. We do it every year, as its a nice way to document each new school year too (because of course I take their picture!) Glad to see others picking up the tradition. And it can easily be filled with home made goods if you don’t want to contribute to rampant consumerism. You just have to plan ahead (which I always fail to do!)

    • So glad you commented — how cool to hear from others who are carrying on the same tradition! And I love your idea of filling with home made goods. But, like you, I’m failing on the planning ahead front for that. Kiddo is starting a new school this year so talked me into another cone (seems fair — totally new environments require some real bravery), and it’s three days before the start of school but I still have almost nothing to fill the cone. I see a panicked post-bedtime Target trip sometime in my future….! Good luck with the start of school, to you and your family.

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