Children’s Corner

The stories are aimed at children aged 6 to 12. Yet, for those of you who only learn reading, it might be a good idea to have your parents help you or maybe even read the stories out to you. Here is the German version of this page.

Meet Ben and Kate


Hello everyone! It’s great that you’re joining us! We are Ben and Kate, two friends who like to explore our home city Berlin and learn new things. As part of the online exhibition
Britons in Berlin: An Exploration through the Senses, we will find out more about the theme of arts and British artists in the city from the 1920s up until today. In our three stories, we will “travel in time” to get an idea of the city – we are glad to have you with us! This is going to be very hands-on because we will be doing some colouring, baking, and have a look at different places in Berlin. So, get your pencils and baking tin out and get ready to visit the city!

See you soon!

Ben and Kate

P.S. We prepared a little surprise for you at the end of the page. You can download your very own diploma for taking part in the children’s corner of this online exhibition.

Kate excitedly waving her hand and smiling.
Ben with a big smile on his face.
Figure 1. Kate and Ben, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

An Afternoon in Berlin in the 1920s

Ben and Kate sitting on the floor and crafting figures out of paper.
Figure 2. Kate and Ben playing paper dolls, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

Ben and Kate met up for a playdate at Ben’s house. It was raining, so the two of them did some tinkering: Kate had brought along a set of paper dolls which they started to dress up while happily chatting along. Then, Ben’s Dad, John, came in from the kitchen to have a look at their work.

“Look, Dad, we are fashion designers! And these are our models!” Ben explained while waving one of the paper dolls at him.

“Fabulous,” his Dad replied while taking a closer look at the dressed paper dolls.

They were all very colourful; the clothes had everything from stripes to dots and love hearts. However, one of the dolls caught his attention. A boy was dressed in a purple skirt and an orange and black striped t-shirt.

“Oh yeah,” Kate said, “we kind of ran out of trousers, but I really like the way he looks. Why can’t boys usually wear skirts, John?”

John smiled at her instantly and said, “Well, of course, they can!”

“Really?” Ben asked. “How? There is no boy wearing skirts or dresses in my class, Dad. And most of them prefer blue over pink too,” he added thoughtfully.

“Actually,” Ben’s Dad said, “it’s good of you to notice that. But some boys and men like to wear pink clothes or dresses. It also works the other way round, with girls and women who wear what other people might think are boys’ clothes.”

“But, they aren’t boys’ clothes?” Kate asked curiously.

“Well, I suppose they are in a way, or at least people think they are. But whether something is considered to be boys’ or girls’ clothing does not mean that it’s not okay for girls to wear boys’ clothes and for boys to wear girls’ clothes. There’s a word for this. It’s called cross-dressing. It’s about wearing what you feel comfortable in. And for some boys, this may be a dress or a skirt and for some girls, this might be having short hair and wearing a jumper from the boys’ section of the shop. And that’s ok,” John explained patiently.

“Cool,” Ben said, “so we should actually make more of these then.”

“Yes, let’s do that,” Kate replied. “Hmm. I think I might have seen crossdressers here in Berlin before.”

“Yes, you might have,” John said, “Actually, the city community has always been known for its tolerance.”

A little doll child with short brown hair, wearing a shirt with stripes and a purple skirt with blue socks.
Figure 3. Paperdoll wearing a skirt, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

Interactive Task Prompt

Do you know what the word tolerance means? If so, can you give an example? If not, what do you think it might mean?

“This means that they have been accepting and welcoming towards all people, no matter how they dressed and expressed themselves. This is why the city was very popular with artists in the 1920s and still is today. You could say that its tolerant attitude was central to Berlin during the Weimar Republic. And this still seems to carry on today,” Ben’s Dad explained.

“I’m not sure I really understand that. What’s the Weimar Republic?” Ben asked.

“That’s a name for the time around the 1920s in Germany, dear,” John said.

“Alright. So, at that time, in the Weimar Republic, everyone could wear what they wanted?” Kate concluded. “That’s just like now, isn’t it?”

“You’re right. It is a bit like now,” John said. “In fact, that was what was special about the city of Berlin, because that wasn’t possible in other countries at the time. People enjoyed coming to Berlin because of this.”

“And what did they do here?” Ben asked, still a bit puzzled.

“I think they came to live like anybody else and do things like hanging out in a café during the day and going out at night,” his Dad suggested.

DING-DONG! – That was the doorbell. Kate’s mum had arrived to pick her up because it was already late in the afternoon. While tidying everything away and saying goodbye to Kate, Ben was still thinking about what he had learned. Suddenly, he felt really tired – that was a lot to take in. He snuggled in on the sofa, yawned and closed his eyes, and started to dream:

Interactive Task Prompt

What makes Berlin a special place for you? And what are your favourite places in the city? Is there a particular playground or park you like to go to? Or maybe even a café that you and your parents like to go to for food? If so, what do you like to eat there?

Berlin in the 1920s

Title page of a daily newspaper from 1925.
Figure 4. Zeitung, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

Chirp, chirp. “Where do the birds come from?” Ben thought slightly confused. When he opened his eyes he was sitting on a bench in the park next to his friend Kate. “This must be Tiergarten,” he thought, trying to figure out how he got here. “But where is the playground we usually go to?”

Kate smiled at him and interrupted his thoughts: “Are you ready to play, sleepyhead?”, she asked while giggling.

“Sure,” Ben said, still rubbing his eyes. “What are we going to do? Do you know where we are, by the way? Is this Tiergarten?”

“Yes, it is. I had a look around earlier. I was wondering why the playground wasn’t there. But I had a look at a newspaper and it said ‘Berlin, 24th May 1925’. Well, I thought we could wander around the city and have a look around. We may find a nice spot to play or get a piece of cake and a cup of hot chocolate in a café,” Kate suggested.

“That sounds great! Let’s go then,” Ben replied.

As they walked through the park, they saw many different people. They quickly noticed how they were dressed differently – none of them were wearing jeans or trainers. They even saw some cross-dressers. “I think they look very pretty,” Kate whispered. Ben nodded affirmatively while enjoying the jolly atmosphere around him – people seemed to be very happy and were enjoying their afternoon walk in the park.

Interactive Task Prompt

What do you think the people in the 1920s looked like? What kind of clothes did they wear?

When they got on to Kurfürstendamm, Ben and Kate became very excited. On this rather big and buzzing street, they walked past various shops, cafés, and small theatres which back then were called Kabaretts.

Stopping in front of a café which was called Rundfunk Konditorei Schilling, the two children couldn’t believe their eyes. Through the shop window, they could see a range of different pastries and cakes which were served with whipped cream and hot chocolate.

“This looks amazing!” Ben said. He enjoyed baking a lot.

“Yummy,” Kate agreed.

As they entered, they noticed the warmth and the smell of freshly baked cake. They could hear some classical music playing on the radio. They sat down at a table by the window and had a look around: People were chatting along, laughing, reading the newspaper or a book, or simply listening to the music. This was a very lively place. Kate couldn’t stop looking around, she was fascinated by the decoration, the looks of the people, the snippets of conversation that she could hear. Ben, on the other hand, was concentrating on the different scents all around him while studying the menu: Chocolate Tart, Fruit Cakes, Croissants – Delicious!

Ben and Kate joyfully looking into a shop window filled with delicious cakes and pastries from outside the street.
Figure 5. Sweets from the 1920s, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

Interactive Task Prompt

What do you think the interior of a café in the 1920s looked like? What kinds of people spent their free time there? What were Ben and Kate able to see when they looked out of the window into the streets?

Suddenly, Ben could hear his stomach rumbling. While the noise of his stomach seemed to get louder, the music and the chatter of the café faded away. Yet, he could still feel the smell of cake.

“Ben, dear, wake up. Dinner is ready,” Ben could hear his Dad saying in a soft voice. When he opened his eyes, he could see his Dad smiling at him.

“Wow, I have been sleeping on the sofa all along. I really thought I was back in the 1920s!” he thought. Now, he was fully awake.

Again, he could hear his stomach rumbling. He was hungry. That’s what his Dad thought too: “Well, I think we’d better go and have some food now. That was a long and exciting day, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was,” Ben agreed. “But I really enjoyed it. I even dreamed about exploring Berlin together with Kate in the 1920s. We even saw people who looked a bit like our paper dolls.”

“Really?” his Dad said, “You have to tell me all about it at dinner. What do you think? I even made some muffins for dessert…”

Activity

… That might explain the smell of cake then! If you would like to try out the muffin recipe of Ben’s Dad, take a look at the ingredients and instructions provided below.

Ingredients:
200g flour
100g sugar
5 free-range eggs
50 ml milk
3 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of vanilla sugar
150 ml vegetable oil
Muffin cases

For the icing:
2 tbsp lemon juice or water
125 g icing sugar
Sprinkles, smarties, gummi bears – whatever you want 😊

Instructions:
Sift the flour into the mixing bowl and add all other ingredients – in any order!
Mix everything together with a handheld electric mixer for about 3 Whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the muffin cases. You can use either paper muffin cases or they can be made from silicon, which are reusable.
Put the muffins on the middle shelf of the oven and cook them for about 20 minutes at 180°C. You may want to check them every now and again. You can do this by having a look into the oven to see whether they have risen and have turned slightly golden, and inserting a skewer into the middle of one of the muffins to see whether it comes out clean and dry. If it does, the muffins are probably ready.
Turn off the oven, take the muffins out and leave them to cool for a few minutes. Later, you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
When they are cool enough, you can start to prepare the icing: mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice or water and use a whisk to make a smooth, slightly liquid icing.
Spread the icing on the top of your muffins and, if you like, add sprinkles and other toppings. Don’t worry, if it gets messy – that’s the fun of baking. When you are finished, let the icing dry for a few minutes.
Until the muffins are ready to eat, you can help your parents to tidy up the kitchen and lay the table. And don’t forget to enjoy them together afterwards – bon appétit!1

Ingredients:
280 g flour
100g sugar
3 tsp of baking powder
2 tablespoons apple purée
100 ml vegetable oil
150 ml sparkling water
1 tsp vanilla sugar
A pinch of salt

For the icing:
2 tbsp lemon juice or water
125 g icing sugar
Sprinkles, smarties, gummi bears – whatever you want 😊

Instructions:
Add the flour, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl and use a spoon to mix them. Add the apple purée and use a handheld electric mixer to whisk everything together.
Add the oil and sparkling water and whisk for 3-4 minutes until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the muffin cases. You can use either paper muffin cases or they can be made from silicon, which are reusable.
Put the muffins on the middle shelf of the oven and cook them for about 25 minutes at 180°C. You may want to check them every now and again. You can do this by having a look into the oven and see whether they rise and turn slightly golden, and inserting a skewer into the middle of one of the muffins to see whether it comes out clean and dry. If it does, the muffins are probably ready.
Turn off the oven, take the muffins out and leave them to cool for a few minutes. Later, you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
When they are cool enough, you can start to prepare the icing: mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice or water and use a whisk to make a smooth, slightly liquid icing.
Spread the icing on the top of your muffins and, if you like, add sprinkles and other toppings. Don’t worry, if it gets messy – that’s the fun of baking. When you are finished, let the icing dry for a few minutes.
Until the muffins are ready to eat, you can help your parents to tidy up the kitchen and lay the table. And don’t forget to enjoy them together afterwards – bon appétit!2

Make sure you have an adult helping you with this.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, you may want to develop the story further: What may happen to Ben and Kate in the Rundfunk Konditorei Schilling? Will they get involved in a conversation with the waitress or waiter? What might they tell the children about the café and its guests? Maybe they come across an artist – who could that be? Be creative, you may come up with a bunch of different ideas!

If you like, you can share your story with us:

    Suggestions for a day trip:

    Cafés can be fascinating places when you explore them with all your senses and take in the scents and sounds of the place. You may want to visit your favourite café in Berlin when this is possible again after the pandemic. Alternatively, you can get some take-out foods and drinks which you can enjoy in the park.

    You might want to visit Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm for a shopping trip or just to have a look around at the various buildings, shops, and cafés.

    Ben’s Birthday

    “Mummy, where’s my magnifying glass?” Kate called from upstairs. It was Ben’s birthday and Kate was excited to have a wonderful adventure with him. The two kids planned to disguise themselves as spies, wandering through the city of Berlin.

    Knock-Knock!

    “Ben! Kate is here!” said his Mum while opening the door for Kate.

    “Wow, Ben! Your costume is so cool! And what is that?” She pointed at the wooden box on Ben’s bed.

    “Oh, that’s the birthday gift I got this year Kate. I asked my Daddy to buy me spy gear kits. Look at the sensor and the gloves! We can use these gadgets today when we go for a secret mission,” he explained to Kate packing up his stuff into the box.

    “And my Daddy also gave me a map where he circled some of the destinations for us to go,” said Ben. He unfolded the map and showed it to Kate.

    It was a map of Berlin. However, it looked a bit old with some red circles and numbers.

    “I think we should follow the numbers! Your Dad is hiding some secret messages in each place, Ben. Let’s go on the secret mission!” replied Kate joyfully.

    Dressing up like a secret agent, Ben and Kate started their adventure. They followed the map and arrived at the first stop – the Berlin Wall Memorial. They started to look around for the hidden secret messages.

    Ben and Kate in full disguise, excitedly pointing at the treasure map that Ben is holding in his hand.
    Figure 6. Birthday quest, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

    The note said:

    “Dear secret agents Ben and Kate,

    Well done on your first mission. As you read this note, you have arrived at the first stop of the adventure. This place is called the Berlin Wall Memorial. As you can see, the wall has been torn down. However, the wall once stretched for about 100 miles in the shape of a circle. You might ask, why is it in a circle? After World War II, Berlin was divided into East and West. West Berlin was occupied by the British, the Americans, and the French. On the other hand, the East part of Berlin was occupied by the Soviet Union. The people in charge wanted to keep these sides separate. This was happening during a time known as The Cold War. What’s even more heartbreaking is that the wall also divided families and friends. Many people tried to get over the Wall to the freedom of the West.

    This is the most intriguing memorial site to see today in Berlin.

    secret agent Ben and Kate, now you two understand a bit about the history of Cold War Berlin. The map will guide you to the second destination.”

    After they read the letter, Ben and Kate became silent.

    “Ben, this is the first time I’ve heard about the story of the past,” Kate said while touching the remaining parts of the wall.

    “Me too, Kate. I didn’t think a lot whenever I passed through this place. I thought it was just a wall. Now I understand it is a meaningful place with a lot of history.”

    Interactive Task Prompt

    Have you ever visited the Berlin Wall Memorial? If yes, what is your feeling when you see the wall and hear the story?

    Following up the map to the next stop, the two of them arrive at a Platz with a gigantic gate in front.

    “Wow, look at the carriage on the top!” said Ben when looking at the huge gate. The mere size of it was impressive.

    “Ben! Look up at the tree! There’s a bag tied on the branch,” Kate said. She was clearly excited. She pointed up to the bag and ran over to the tree which stood to the left of the gate.

    Inside the bag, there is a tape recorder. Pushing the bottom, a man’s voice shouts out.

    Ben and Kate in full disguise, passing the Brandenburger Tor.
    Figure 7. To the last destination, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

    “Dear secret agents Ben and Kate,

    Welcome to the second place of the adventure. As you can see, this place is called the Brandenburg Gate.

    This iconic gate has stood here since 1791 and survived through World War II and the Cold War. On the night the Berlin Wall fell, thousands of people gathered at Brandenburg Gate to celebrate.

    Secret agents, you two have done a great job, your next step is the last destination. There, you will find a big surprise for both of you. Good luck and enjoy!”

    As the tape stopped, Ben and Kate walked through the gate.

    “Can you imagine, Ben? Now we can walk through the gate freely. But before, it was forbidden for people to do that. The Wall used to be here,” Kate said.

    “You’re right, Kate. We’re all living in history. It’s great that these places are still here so that we can think about history and the country,” replied Ben.

    Interactive Task Prompt

    What does the word “freedom” represent to you? Can you relate yourself to history?

    “Let’s go to the last destination, it seems to be a park close by,” Ben pointed on the map.

    Just when they turned a corner, there was a beautiful park

    “Secret agents Ben and Kate!” shouted someone from far away.

    Under a tree, Ben and Kate’s parents were sitting down, waving their hands to the two kids.

    “Mum? Dad? Why are you here?” asked Ben in surprise.

    “Oh son, Wait, Agent Ben. You did a great job on the mission. We are honouring you two with a medal for BEST SECRET AGENT,” Ben’s Dad said.

    “Ben and Kate, the secret agents. This mission was to help you two understand more about the history of Cold War Berlin. You did a wonderful job, and completed the mission,” said Kate’s Mum while taking out a big cake from the box.

    “This is the best birthday ever, thanks, Mum and Dad. And also thanks to Kate, my best friend. Thank you for accompanying me through the mission!” hugged Kate with a big smile on his face.

    After a long journey, the two kids not only visited some iconic places which represent the Cold War in Berlin but also understood more about the history.

    It was a birthday that Ben would never forget, a day full of adventures.

    A Secret message from Ben and Kate

    Hi guys, it’s us, Ben and Kate.

    We would like to invite you to be a secret agent too! As both of us had a wonderful day visiting the places in Berlin, we would like to recommend you to go and have a look. For instance, the Berlin Wall Memorial and the East Side Gallery are both related to the History of the Cold War in Berlin. On the other hand, Check Point Charlie and the Mauermuseum tell the stories of people attempting to escape from East Germany.

    P.S: Don’t forget to wear a mask to protect yourselves. Make sure to wash your hands and take hand sanitiser with you when you go out.

    Activity

    After reading the journey of Ben and Kate, do you want to be a secret agent?

    How did the Cold War happen?

    Interested in spy stories? Here are some recommendations of books and videos for you to have a look at.

    The Berlin Wall for kids

    The rise and the fall of Berlin Wall

    Books: Recommended for children aged 8-12

    Goebel, Daniel. 2019. Great Escapes Over the Berlin Wall: True Stories of Cold War, geopolitical struggles, and the people who overcame them…FOR KIDS!. Independently Published.
    Roman, Carole P. 2020. Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids. Rockridge Press.
    Nielsen, Jennifer A. 2018. A Night Divided. New York: Scholastic Inc.
    Schwarz, Simon. 2015. The Other Side of the Wall. New York: Graphic Universe.

    In Search of Inspiration

    Ben was standing in his room in front of the easel surrounded by pieces of paper and coloured pencils.

    Knock-knock.

    “Ben, your friend is here”, said his mum standing at the door.

    “Come in, Kate”, replied Ben.

    “Hi, how are you doing?” Kate seemed to be in a good mood.

    “Um, I’m fine”, Ben, on the other hand, sounded quite unexcited. “And you?”

    “Hey, why are you so gloomy?”, asked the girl.

    “I can’t even draw anything. All of my pictures look so boring and plain,” Ben looked through his works and sighed.

    “I don’t find your drawings dull!” Kate replied. “But if you want to create something new, maybe you can have a look outside the window.” The girl pointed at the big window with beautiful flowers standing on the window sill. “It’s almost summer. See how gorgeous the cherry blossom tree is.”

    Kate walking through the door and waving her hand with a big smile on her face.
    Figure 8. Hi, how are you doing?, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Ben with a dissatisfied expression on his face, standing in front of a canvas in search of inspiration.
    Figure 9. No idea what to draw, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

    “I know, but I’ve drawn nature and flowers a million times. I need something else,” Ben was still in his thoughts.

    “I can’t believe you have any struggles with the ideas, because we’re in Berlin – one of the most inspiring places for artists for many years!” Kate said in great excitement. “Let’s go and check it out!”

    “Ok, let’s see what we can find,” Ben seemed to be interested in Kate’s idea.

    The kids decided to walk down the streets of central Berlin and find inspiration there.

    “Look there!” Kate noticed dozens of pictures placed on the street. “I think it’s an exhibition, let’s get a closer look.”

    Ben and Kate approached the spot and started looking at the drawings. They were created in different styles, some realistic, others rather abstract which means that their motif was a little harder to identify. Maybe these pictures were inspired by Picasso who had been known for this kind of art. There were pictures containing photos that clearly stood out to every other piece of art they had seen so far.

    “Wow, they are amazing!“ Kate smiled with delight. “It says they were drawn by Christopher Winter,” she read the information from a small tablet.

    “Actually, I know this artist, I have a postcard with a watercolour picture on it. His art is great. The pictures always seem to be different and each one is special in itself,” said Ben. “By the way, I’m pretty sure he is from the UK but studied in Germany.”

    “You know Winter quite well,” Kate said in surprise.

    “I know everything!” Ben said and laughed.

    Interactive Task Prompt

    Do you like drawing? If yes, think of things and places that inspire you. How do you understand the word “inspiration”?

    Interactive Task Prompt

    What about you? Do you know any artists? Maybe you have your own favourite paintings? What features of these works attract you? Share your opinion with us!

    Ben and Kate enthusiastically looking at a painted image of the sunrise.
    Figure 10. At the exhibition, Evgeniia Balko, 2021

    After visiting the exhibition, the children decided to have some snacks in a quiet place called Der Fischladen.

    “What did you order?” asked Kate.

    “Fish and Chips,” smiled Ben.

    “It is a British meal, isn’t it?” the girl looked at her friend’s meal.

    “Yeah, I decided that today is dedicated to all kinds of British culture!”, Ben took a bite of the fish. “Tasty! Try it.”

    “No thanks! I don’t eat meat, I’m vegetarian. But I’ll have some chips!” “So, what do you think? Did we manage to find your inspiration?”

    “I think we did!” Ben looked happy. “After seeing all of Winter’s works, I realised that I can try different styles as well. This artist taught me that I don’t have to stick to only a realistic style. I should develop my own.”

    “I’m sure that painting ordinary things in various styles might help you to become a cool artist!” nodded Kate.

    “What would I do without you? Thanks a lot!” smiled the boy.

    “Anytime!” Kate smiled back.

    Activity

    Have you ever tried fish and chips? If yes, think of your impression and describe it: If not, what do you think this dish looks like? Make a sketch using a pen and colour it.
    Follow this link to colour in pictures of Ben and Kate online. Alternatively, you can ask your parents to print out the pictures of Ben and Kate and colour them. You can find the link here.

    Here is a link to your very own diploma. Insert your name and save it on your computer or print it. Thank you for having taken part in our children’s corner!

    Figure 1. Kate and Ben, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 2. Kate and Ben playing paper dolls, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 3. Paperdoll wearing a skirt, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 4. Zeitung, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 5. Sweets from the 1920s, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 6. Birthday quest, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 7. To the last destination, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 8. Hi, how are you doing?, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 9. No idea what to draw, Evgeniia Balko, 2021
    Figure 10. At the exhibition, Evgeniia Balko, 2021