No first day of school in Germany would be complete without a Schultüte or school cone. For dinosaur lovers who are about to start school, it of course has to be a dinosaur Schultüte. But if you can’t buy one, how do you make one?
Trixie’s crafts to try
Title: Dinosaur Schultüte (German dinosaur school cone)
Craft: A German school cone with dinosaurs for the first day of school
Dinosaur: Whatever you wish. Ours was a Sauropod.
Best for: The first day of school
Ease: Schultüten are reasonably easy to make, but can get a little fiddly, depending on how detailed you wish to be.
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What is a Schultüte?
The Schultüte or school cone is perhaps the most important part of every German child’s first day of school.
This large – often as large as the child – cone looks like a full piping bag and is filled with candy, school supplies and other presents to sweeten the first day of school. For this reason, they are also called Zuckertüten, or sugar cones. The tradition dates back to the early 19th century and is practiced in Germany, Austria and border regions of the Czech Republic and Poland and the German-speaking enclaves in Switzerland and Belgium.
Originally, the Schultüten were marked with the child’s name and smuggled into school on the first day. All the Schultüten were hung on a metal Schultüten-Baum or school cone tree. If the fruit of the tree (the Schultüten) were ripe, it was time to pick them and go to school. Each child then had to find their Schultüte and pick it without breaking it.
The Schultüte tradition is not really about getting children started on good footing for the next 12 or 13 years of schooling. Instead, it’s about making clear that the child’s status is changing. In Germany, the focus is more on the first day of school, rather than the graduation, and the changes for the child and the family.
The cones are either homemade or purchased. It is not uncommon for children to be given more than one. In our area, for example, children can take a Schultüte to the supermarket to have it filled. Children do not open their Schultüte until they get home, so it does not matter what is in it.
If you are making one, avoid overfilling it. It will make it more difficult for the child to carry and risk the Schultüte breaking from the weight.
Choosing your dinosaur Schultüte design
There are a number of DIY dinosaur Schultüten sets available here in Germany, including many with dinosaurs. However, none of them was what I was looking for.
You can buy finished Dinosaurier Schultüten from sites such as etsy. Many of these are sewn or felted, not made out of paper and look really cute. However, most of them were not in the colours I know our LDA wanted (she is a pink and glitter girl, even when it comes to dinosaurs…).
So I went looking for more inspiration. A simple google search found just one in pink. It was not at all what I had in mind.
Instead, I took inspiration from a t-shirt – two actually, from Boden (both are sold out). Our LDA has one, so I scanned it to make it easier to use.
Boden is currently one of our favourite brands. They produce bright, beautiful kids clothes, a number of which have dinosaur motives. We’ve just ordered a dress with a pattern about future occupations – which includes a pink dinosaur with fossils and an image of Mary Anning. While some things might be designed more for boys, the colours make them easy for girls to wear too.
How to make the cone
To start, you need a cone to use as your base. I cheated and bought one that was already made. However, if you don’t live in Germany, this might night be an option for you, especially if you want a large one (smaller cones like this are available).
To make a cone:
- Take a large piece of cardstock – 70 x 100 cm (or as large as you can find): thicker card will give a stronger basis for your dinosaur Zuckertüte.
- Take a piece of string and a pencil and make a basic compass. Tie one end of the string to the pencil. Hold the other end of the string at the corner of your card stock. Place the pencil on the opposite (shorter side) corner and make sure the string is taut. Holding the string in place, draw a quarter circle.
- Cut out the quarter circle (actually, for the right cone proportions, you only need a little less than the quarter).
- To make it easier to bend thick card into a cone: Brush the “point” of the card with a little water.
- (Here’s where another hand can be really useful) Carefully bend the card around to form your cone, adjusting it to get the proportions right. Using a hot glue gun or strong double-sided tape, fix the card in position to secure your cone. Hold it in place with a couple of clothes pegs until it dries.
Small dinosaur school cones would need a radius (string length) of about 15 cm (so it fits on a regular A4 size card). Traditionally, a sibling cone (for younger or older siblings, who are not starting school but should still get something to celebrate the day), is about 35 cm long. Of course, you can use any size you wish.
How to attach the “Frill”
Whether it is a dinosaur school cone or your Schultüte has a different theme, it traditionally has a collar or frill. That’s the bit at the top that makes it look a little like a party cracker.
I made mine out of tissue paper in the colours of the rainbow because that Is what I had on hand.
Most commonly it is made with crepe paper as it is more durable and comes in bright colours. I have also seen them made out of material, tuille or wrapping paper. I used iridescent celophane for another school cone (it was mermaid themed).
To make your frill:
- Tape a line of double-sided tape around the inside of the cone.
- Take your crepe paper (or other paper/fabric), and concertina fold it a like a fan or otherwise gather it like elastic gathers the waist of a pair of pants.
- Press the gathered paper/fabric to the double-sided tape to hold it in place.
Depending on your choice of fabric or card, the double-sided tape may not hold too well. If needed, use your hot glue gun to fix it in place.
Alternatively, you can fix the paper/fabric to the outside of the cone:
- Concertina fold or gather your paper/fabric.
- Place your collar paper around your cone, with the pattern that you want to have on the outside of your frill facing towards the cone and the frill over the cone rather than where you want the frill to be – basically upside down and inside out.
- Staple the frill to the top of your school cone. Try and place the staples all the same distance from the to edge of the school cone.
- Flip the frill so that it now points to the top the way you want it and covers your staples.
If you like, add a line of washi tape to the top of your frill for contrast or just to give it a more finished look. This looks great especially if you are using just one colour of crepe paper for your frill.
Tie your frill together with some coordinating ribbon, string or whatever suits the look of your dinosaur Zuckertüte, so that it looks a bit like a candy bonbon.
How to turn it into a dinosaur school cone
Originally, I planned to recreate the T-shirt image on the school cone, cutting each layer and element out of cardstock and attaching using craft glue/a hot glue gun. Using the sleeve of the second top as inspiration, I was planning on attaching some dinosaur spikes made of foam sheets to part of the side of the cone. Somehow, the spikes would be glued under the background layers and stick out, as they do on the sleeve.
It sounds good in theory, but it was going to be a lot of fiddly work. It would be a great project for a Cricut, but I don’t have one.
Instead, I decided to paint the background and the rainbow to save time – but how then to attach the spikes?
Time and simplicity won and I decided just to do one large dinosaur, with its tail hanging over the edge, and spikes along its back and tail.
How did I work out how big to make the dinosaur and its tail? I drew one freehand on some baking paper (parchment paper) and cut it out to work out the best placement and size. Fortunately, I got it pretty much right on the first go and only had to fiddle around a little with the tail. This was easier once the body of the dinosaur was attached as the tail was separate (it would not all fit on one foam sheet).
The part of the tail that extends out from the cone is double layered for strength and to hide the spikes.
I found it easiest to use some of my double-sided tape to temporarily stick my baking paper shape to the foam sheet(s), then cut out my dinosaur using a good pair of scissors. If you carefully peel off the baking paper layer so that double-sided take remains stuck to the foam dinosaur, you can use it to help position the dinosaur, too.
Attach your dinosaur and spikes to the cone, preferably using a low-temperature glue gun.
Draw on your dinosaur’s face and add any other embellishments (e.g. spots, rocks, wrinkles) using a pearl pen or even a paint pen.
If you can’t get a large sheet of foam (I used 2), you could use thick card instead.
Making a dinosaur Schultüte for a girl
As I mentioned above, I found almost no inspiration online for how to make a dinosaur Schultüte for a girl – and I know our LDA is not the only one. I was also looking in both English and German.
To play up the girly nature (and our LDA is pink and glitter lover), I focused more on the colours of the first of our inspiration shirts, brightening the pink and adding the rainbow spikes. The frill of course had to be rainbow too.
You can get glitter foam sheets – and that would have been the pinnacle of dinosaur Schultüten as far as our LDA is concerned – but I could not get the colours I wanted (and was making it at the last minute).
How do you make a dinosaur Zuckertüte if you are not that creative?
There are four easy ways to create a dinosaur school cone if you are not that creative:
- Copy an image, such a favourite t-shirt. You can paint it on or use cardstock or foam sheets to create the different elements, or a combination of both.
- Use stencils, such as dinosaur cookie cutters. You can even turn the dinosaurs into dinosaur biscuits if you like.
- Use dinosaur footprint and bone shapes, attached decoratively. They are much more forgiving…
- Use stickers or images to decorate your dinosaur Schultüte freestyle.
Don’t forget to add this to your dinosaur Schultüte
The child’s name!
It does not really matter how you do it, but it should be big enough to read easily from a few metres away.
Fitting with our coloured spikes and collar, I used foam sheets in the colours of the rainbow. I printed our LDA’s name out in a fun, bold font in the size that fit where it had to go. I cut out each of the letters and, using the double-sided tape trick, cut out the foam letters.
Tip: If you are using a craft knife (which is easier for any letters that have middles), make sure it is sharp. Mine was not and did not work well at all!
Alternatively, you can “paint” the name. For another school cone, I used pearl pens to write the name on a foam fish (it was a mermaid school cone).
What do you put in the dinosaur school cone?
Obviously, a dinosaur Schultüte or dinosaur Zuckertüte should contain things for school and things that are sweet.
Don’t go overboard on the sweets. These do not need to be dinosaur-shaped, but they might be. Perhaps some dinosaur gummies, Jurassic World Pez, dinosaur lollipop holder, a dinosaur surprise egg or even some homemade chocolates or cookies in dinosaur form. We have a Haribo factory in our town, so no prizes for guessing what was in our LDA’s dinosaur Schultüte.
Some of our favourite dinosaur school supplies found their way into our LDA’s dinosaur school cone. These included:
- An eraser
- A pencil sharpener, as well as
- An old-fashioned game,
- Some trumpf cards,
- A rainbow popping fidget dinosaur
- Some fun bandaids for school emergencies,
- Face masks – well, because,
- A writing set and
- A sparkly dinosaur diamonds painting kit, as well as
- A dinosaur suncatcher keyring,
- Some environmentally-friendly dinosaur lunch wraps (coming soon) and
- Some dinosaur fossil eggs to excavate.
Are you looking for a special way to mark the start of school?
This German first-day-of-school school tradition is definitely one you want to get behind, especially if you can dino-fy it! Whether you make a large dinosaur Schultüte with a large foam Diplodocus on it, or whether you opt for a smaller dinosaur Zuckertüte and apply some cute dinosaur stickers, it will definitely sweeten the start of school life for your little dinosaur fan!
Will it be a dinosaur Schultüte for your little dinosaur fan?
- Large cardboard cone (hollow)
- Acrylic paints
- 2 large phone sheets (green)
- Small foam sheets in rainbow colours
- Baking or parchment paper
- Tissue or crepe paper in rainbow colours
- Washi tape (optional)
- Template with name
- Craft scissors
- Craft knife and cutting board
- Hot glue gun (dual temperature)
- Double-sided tape
- Paint brush
- If you cannot find a cone in the size you would like (hollow), follow our instructions above to first make your cone.
- Decide on your basic design, the background and the size of your dinosaur.
- Paint your cone to make the background and rainbow.
- Run a line of double-sided tape around the inside of the top of your cone. Take a piece (or pieces) of crepe or tissue paper approximately twice the length of the circumference of your cone and at least 20 cm high. If desired, stick a line of washi tape along one side of your tissue or crepe paper. Gather your crepe or tissue paper or concertina fold it along then stick it to the double-sided tape on the inside of your cone to create the frill. Tie a ribbon around your frill so that it resembles a bonbon.
- Draw your dinosaur on a piece of baking or parchment paper and adjust until you have the right size for your cone. Cut out the image and attach it to a foam sheet using double-sided tape. Cut around the image so that you have your dinosaur in foam. Do the same for your dinosaur tail, cutting it out twice.
- Draw and cut out your dinosaur back and tail spikes from a foam sheet or sheets. Attach the spikes in place to the reverse side of your dinosaur and one side of tail, using your hot glue gun on the low setting.
- Use a pearl pen or pens to draw your dinosaur's face and other details you wish to add.
- Attach your dinosaur body to the school cone using your hot glue gun (cool setting). Attach one side of the tail, adjusting it as needed so that it lines up with the body and the bottom of your cone. Attach strategically using your hot glue gun.
- Place the other tail on the reverse side of the tail so that it covers the tail and hides where the spikes are attached, lining it up. Adjust the second side of the tail to remove any excess and make it look relatively natural from behind. Attach in place using your hot glue gun.
- Cut out the letters of the little dinosaur lover's name in your desired font. Using double-sided tape, attach the cut out letters to foam sheets in your chosen colour(s). Cut each letter out of the foam sheet using your craft knife. Attach to your school cone using your hot glue gun.
- Fill with candy and things to sweeten your little dinosaur fan's first day of school.
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