Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

Follow along with us as we explore World Cultures - subscribe by email


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Exploring Switzerland with Kids | Food, Activities & Art

Gruetzi! Hello! This year, I'll be taking my 7 year old niece, Kay, and 5 year old nephew, Nox, on afternoons "Around the World". In April, we made our way to Switzerland for another fun afternoon. We tried everyday snack foods Swiss kids enjoy, played a popular chocolate game, created a folk art inspired painting and learned a bit about Switzerland and its traditional culture. Here's what we did, with a few added resources for a quick, virtual jaunt you can take with your kids. 

I'm joining Crafty Mom's Share in exploring Switzerland - I hope you'll join us!
There's a link up at the bottom of this post where you'll find more resources to explore Switzerland - and add your own!

Geography & Fast Facts

As always, the first thing we did was find Switzerland on a map. It's a small country and borders Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. 

- Switzerland has a population of approximately 7.87 million

- The capital is Bern and the largest city is Zurich

- The Swiss flag, red with a white cross is one of only two square flags in the world.

- It's known for its mountains, not surprising since it's home to the Swiss Alps, which cover 65% of Switzerland's surface, making it one of the most alpine countries

Swiss Alps
Photo credit: Gigi Griffis (CC)

- There are 4 official languages: Swiss German which is spoken by over 2/3 of people in Switzerland, Italian, French and Romansh. Gruetzi is Hello in Swiss German

- Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, cheese, watches, banking system and mountains

- The Swiss eat the most chocolate per capita than anyone else in the world! Which might be why...

- ... Swiss cities Zurich, Geneva and Bern regularly rank in the top 10 most livable cities in the world.


The following are a few introductory books for kids to explore Switzerland, especially good if you'll be spending more than an afternoon learning about this country.

The following are affiliate links:

Switzerland (Blastoff! Readers: Exploring Countries) by Derek Zobel is an informative book about many aspects of Switzerland, filled with photographs, that show the urban as well as rural side of the country.

Switzerland (Country Explorers) by Lyn Larson is another good introductory book, those less heavy on text then the book above. 

Look What Came From Switzerland by Miles Harvey is a good book to learn about iconic and lesser known Swiss inventions, foods, sports etc. There's even a fun section of what doesn't come from Switzerland, despite being named "Swiss".


When my sister and the kids arrived, we started off by having a very typical food Swiss kids enjoy as breakfast, after school snack and as a drink: Ovaltine. This powdered malt based milk flavoring was developed in Switzerland and remains incredibly popular with families. Not only do kids drink it in either warm or cold milk, it's also regularly eaten sprinkled over a piece of bread and butter. And so as we prepared to find Switzerland on a map and watch some videos, we enjoyed a Swiss after school snack of Ovaltine on bread and also drank it in cold milk. Kay enjoyed it but Nox didn't care for it. The milk tasted similarly to "cereal milk", the milk left at the bottom of a cereal bowl. It won't be a staple snack, but we'll have the drink again.

Wednesday afternoons are a midweek break from school in Switzerland. They also have five weeks of summer vacation, and at least two weeks of vacation in every season: in October, for Christmas, in February (when people traditionally go away on skiing trips) and again over Easter.

Another common Swiss breakfast and snack is Muesli, also created in Switzerland. Loosely based on the traditional recipe, I put together a "muesli bar" for the kids to make their own mix to take home.

Mr. Bircher, a Swiss doctor and nutritionist developed this breakfast for his patients at his Zurich sanitarium as a way of getting more raw fruit into their diet. Traditionally, proper muesli is rolled oats that sit overnight in juice or milk to soften, combined for breakfast with grated apple and topped with yogurt and more fresh fruit (berries) and perhaps nuts. Because I felt overnight softened oats might be a bit too mushy for the kids, and knowing there would be little patience to wait, we used quick cooking oatmeal. We each got a bowl and spoon and 1 heaping cup of quick cooking oats. Then we could add as much or as little of the various add-ins available to personalize our own batches of muesli. I was pleasantly surprised at how much both kids enjoyed doing this! Options for add-ins were:

sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnut pieces, almond flakes, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, raisins, and coconut. 
oh, and a couple of chocolate covered goji berries :)

Once properly mixed, we each tried our mix, and the kids really liked it. This is how it was served for each snack size serving, with ingredients added to each bowl in the following order:

- 1/4 cup grated apple (not peeled)
- 2 heaping tbsp muesli mix
- apple juice to just cover the mixture
- 1 tbsp milk 
stir all these together, 
- then top with vanilla flavored yogurt
- add fresh berries if inclined.

The kids took their personalized muesli home in a ziplock bag.

Folk Art & Traditional Culture

We also learned more about traditional culture in Switzerland. We watched this short video that promotes the traditional Swiss culture for tourism. 

Traditional Swiss sports include Schwingen (wrestling), Hormussen (similar to golf) and Steinstossen (heavy stone throwing competitions).

Swiss Alphorn Players
Photo Credit: Kosala Bandara (CC)

We took a moment to admire the Swiss alphorn and listen to its music. It was traditionally used by mountain dwellers and Swiss farmers who used it to signal each other across alpine valleys.

We also learned about the Poya tradition, festival and folk art. It's a tradition of honoring the ascent of the herds to the mountain pastures. We put on this playlist of Swiss folk music and the four of us got to work on a Poya folk art inspired painting.

Fun & Games & Chocolate

To end our jaunt in Switzerland, we played a popular Swiss children's game called The Chocolate Game. It's a game often played at birthday parties that uses chocolate, because the Swiss love their chocolate, and so do the rest of us!
Switzerland has an international reputation for high quality chocolate with many famous brands like Nestle, Lindt and Sprungli. Their fame is also due to the innovations that came from Switzerland that's brought us the chocolate we know and love today: In 1819, a recipe was developed to turn gritty cocoa beans into smooth chocolate. Lindt perfected the process by adding cocoa butter. In 1875, someone else created milk chocolate by adding local milk to cocoa powder. The Swiss also were the first to add hazelnuts to chocolate and make filled chocolates. They also developed the process of tempering (very important to prevent crystals forming on the chocolate's surface). 
And so, as an ode to Swiss chocolate I picked up a Toblerone chocolate bar and set up this fun game. 

Toblerone, created in Switzerland over 100 years ago, has a patented triangular shape that's inspired by the mountain Matterhorn.

This is a game of luck and "skill". The object of the game is to try and eat as much chocolate as possible, but the odds aren't in your favor :) 

You'll need: 

  • A chocolate bar (we used Toblerone)
  • A dice
  • A fork and knife (we used a butter knife and it worked fine)
  • A plate or cutting board (I prefer using a cutting board to avoid that awful screeching sound of knives on plates I assumed would happen with excited kids)
  • a hat, a scarf and a pair of gloves or mittens (mittens are more challenging)
To set up: the four of us sat around the table. In the middle was the Toblerone bar still in it's box and wrapping on a cutting board with the fork and knife. Next to that were the hat, scarf and mittens.

To play: Each player takes a turn rolling the dice. When a player rolls a six, he/she has to put on all the clothes before trying to eat a piece of chocolate with a fork and knife. But the dice continues to be rolled between the other players, and if someone else rolls a six, the first player has to stop and hand everything over to the next player (all the while, the dice continues to be rolled). The excitement during this game was palpable :) 

I'm not sure about in Switzerland, but here are our house rules:
- If a piece of chocolate makes its way onto a fork, then even if someone else gets a six, that first person still gets to eat the chocolate before handing over the goods. 
- The piece of chocolate in your mouth has to be fully swallowed before trying to cut another piece. 
It's important to eat the chocolate without having your lips touch the fork (and spread those germs). 

Working with the luck of the dice, sometimes you'd barely get the hat on before someone else takes over, other times you had a chance to bite into a second piece of chocolate. (The most frustrating, getting to the part when you finally cut the chocolate - and have to switch!) 

This game was a lot of fun. I mentioned it to Pea (16) and Elle (12), and we played as "dessert" after supper, this time using bulky mittens to make it more challenging. The girls had a blast, making this game fun for all ages.

And a great time was had exploring Switzerland. Bis spöter!

Find more posts exploring culture, geography and history with kids at

You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:

Will you be exploring Switzerland with your kids? Please link up any new or old posts related to learning about Switzerland with kids.


  1. We play the chocolate game in Germany too. To make it more difficult we even wrap the chocolate bar in a few layers of newspaper secured with cord.

    1. Oh now that would add quite the challenge - especially with mittens!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I misread the recipe as "2 healing tablespoons of Muesli," and was thinking how are they healing?

    1. I'm really enjoying hearing about your "misreads"!

  3. I love this fun study! I learned a lot from reading your post.

  4. Lucky Kay and Nox - what fun! (And lucky you to have a gorgeous niece and nephew to play with ;-))
    Fascinating stuff, as ever. Ovaltine was very popular here when I was a child - I had no idea it was Swiss. I found it a bit too malty but most of my friends loved it. I love the photos in this post and your art one. They remind me of reading Heidi aloud to my daughter a few years ago. She has drunk goats' milk instead of cows' ever since. She was lucky enough to visit Switzerland with the Scouts a few weeks ago. My husband and I were very envious!

    1. Oh I love that reading a story has influenced your daughter's eating habits! She is becoming quite the well traveled young lady - how wonderful to have so many opportunities!

  5. Oooh, I like the idea of spreading Ovaltine on bread and butter! Why does every really yummy idea contain sugar (which I am doing without at the moment!). I guess I could do it for the children and smell it rather than eat it?!


Thanks for stopping by to visit. Please feel free to leave a comment, it's lovely to hear from you!

Blog Design by Delicious Design Studio