Friday Math Stations

“Yippee! We have math!” Friday math stations are a favourite activity with English Class first graders. In the activity above the first graders are finding addends on the dominoes that total the sum shown on the card. Some pupils wanted to do this activity again and again.

After listening to Ms. Sylvia read Jan Brett’s retelling of the Ukranian folktale, The Mitten, during an English lesson, the first graders received a paper showing two mitten outlines. One mitten was labeled “Odd”; the other mitten was labeled “Even”. After learning about odd and even numbers and skip counting by odd and even numbers in math class, the first graders looked for numbers posted in the corridor. The objective was to write the found number either in the odd mitten or the even mitten.

In the qr-code math station pupils scanned a qr-code into their iPads. The code opened a picture of Unifix cubes. Depending upon the picture, pupils needed to construct a mathematical expression using the same amount of cubes to show either addition or subtraction. This was a very popular station!

Another popular station was a challenge to create unique snowflakes using wooden geometric puzzle pieces. The snowflakes were amazing!

Keyboarding Skills on Chromebooks

Making the best use of their Chromebooks is important for English Class fourth graders. It is clear that learning online and using educational technology make knowing keyboarding skills a necessity. Keyboarding is the updated term for what used to be typing on a typewriter. It means using the keyboard without looking at your hands, preferably using all ten fingers. With practice pupils gain finger strength, speed, and dexterity by doing keyboarding exercises. That facilitates their learning using technological devices.

Independence Day Dance Medley

Lots of lovely dances are sadly missing from this medley, but hopefully the clips together will give readers of the blog some idea of the fun we had yesterday as all (most) of Cygnaeus School celebrated 100 years of independence. Happy Independence Day, Finland!

Independence Day Gala

A year’s worth of Suomi Finland 100 activities commemorating the hundredth year of Finland’s independence culminated in a dance gala at Cygnaeus School today, on the eve of our centenary. The gala began with all of the pupils in the school dancing the Finnish folk dance, Seni, together in groups of four. It was amazing to watch more than 350 pupils merrily dancing this folk dance as the pace of the dance quickened. Our English Class first graders were quite simply masters of the dance!

A waltz had pupils pairing up to smoothly sway to the music. Headmaster Arto Suni and his wife, Ms. Jaana, together with Ms. Anu and Mr. Juho,  showed their waltz techniques among the pupils. That was followed by third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders dancing Jenkka, which is a fast paced  Finnish version of Schottische. The Macarena Dance was another very popular dance that we all participated in. Ms. Leena and the Dance Club performed the Koko Suomi tanssi katutanssi/All of Finland is Dancing -Street Dance. Then we all joined in dancing the street dance, too.

English Class kindergarten children, together with our fourth grade girls, introduced the Chicken Dance which we all enthusiastically danced. Another waltz and a finale of Letkis or Letkajenkka rounded out the programme. Hot, smiling people left the gymnasium at noon to leave for home to begin their Independence Day celebrations there. A video with excerpts of the dances mention above will be posted on the blog in the next day or so, so keep checking in on the blog. Meanwhile, please join us in hoping for peace, progress and prosperity for Finland in the next hundred years.


Celebrating 100 Years of Finland’s Independence

The theme of the Suomi Finland centenary celebration was being and doing Together. That theme of togetherness was very evident in the celebration at Cygnaeus School on Thursday, November 30th. The English Class pupils and teachers, together with all of the other pupils and teachers at Cygnaeus School, outdid themselves with decorations and programmes that included music, art and dance for invited guests. The main speaker at the celebration was Juhani Ruohonen, the head of  Satakunta County Museum. He spoke about how the town of Pori and 105 year old Cygnaeus School have changed and developed in the last hundred years. The music classes’ choir, Synkooppi, sang a beautiful rendition of Finlandia.

Fourth grader Oska played the part of a grandson who sent a letter to his grandfather wondering how Finland’s flag and national anthem came to be. The role of the grandfather was played by retired teacher Antt Ilén from Cygnaeus School. His grandfather replied with a great deal of enlightening information in his letter to his grandson. The rest of the celebration was divided into decades where a programme number always highlighted something special in that decade. Essentially all of the pupils in the school had some role in the programme. There was folk dancing that represented the exuberant 1920’s. The 1930’s featured The Seven Brothers, which is a very famous book by Finland’s national author, Aleksis Kivi. We also heard a song about the brothers sung by third and fourth grade boys.

The 1940’s were a tumultuous time of wars. We were honoured to have war veteran Olavi Sandberg, who is 90+ years old, talk to us about his life. He also told how he had helped lay many veterans to rest in their final resting places in years past.  When he sang Veteraanin Iltahuuto, (The Veteran’s Evening Call) together with the sweet voices from the third and fourth grade music classes, it was deeply moving. Roy K. translated the song into English as follows:

The Veteran’s Evening Call
(1). Over the darkening shore of the bay the sun has set.
Evening call is already sounding.
The burden has been laid down.
Remember your father then, his step has grown weary.
Children and your children’s children,
now it’s your turn.
[Refrain]: Take care, for soon the brothers will be gone,
Remember that for them this land was dear.
Tell your children’s children in song,
the memories must never be tarnished!
(2). The hymn sounds in the vault softly,
darkly the yearning sounds.
Time has reaped its harvest, the field has been picked clean.
Long ago we marched side-by-side.
Fire lit up sky and earth.
On the shore of Lake Onega’s bay,
to whom can this now be told ?
[Refrain]: Take care…
(3). In the waves of Lake Ladoga’s might,
we can no longer dip our shoes.
Brothers who guarded its shores,
when the dawn arises.
Proudly the Karelian folk has borne its suffering.
Mother Earth embraces them protectively.
The sentry is now gone.
[Refrain]: Take care…
In the 1950’s Paavo Nurmi’s success as a great athlete was celebrated. The 1960’s featured Marimekko and a dance known as Letkajenkka. The 1970’s decade was brought to mind by 4 times gold medal winner Lasse Virén. The 1980’s brought Muumi to the world’s attention. In the video below English Class first and second graders join all the rest of the first and second graders at Cygnaeus School, and the English Class kindergarten pupils, in singing Hei Muumi.
The English translation to this Muumi song can be found here.
The 1990’s were renown for some colourful fashion. Fashion trends throughout the decade recycled styles from previous decades, notably the 1960s and 1970s so we watched a fashion show. In the 2000’s hip hop was popular. The fifth grade music class did a stellar job with their band and choir production of Eteen ja ylös. The 2010’s spotlighted a special slide presentation of the art classes’ extraordinary artwork to the background music of Lauri Tähkä’s Minun Suomeni (My Finland).
Toward the end of the programme Headmaster Arto Suni revealed two works of art that will be hung permanently in each wing of the main floor of the school. The works, both called Tuhansien järvien maa/Land of a Thousand Lakes are composed of  individual 3-dimensional white flowers on a royal blue background. Every pupil and staff member in the school made a flower using silk clay. These flowers were then permanently attached to the two painted blue backgrounds. After singing the national anthem, Maamme, and the closing flag ceremony, this amazing celebration of our country and the young people who live in it was over.
Because all of the English Class pupils put lots of time and effort into decorating our school for this special occasion, we would like to share some of their work with readers of our blog. Above is a village of buildings created by first, second, third and fourth graders. Fifth and sixth graders made the snowy trees for the village. The snowflakes on the right are water colour resist with a bit of glitter for pizzazz created by English Class third graders.
An earlier post showed English Class pupils practicing cursive. They used their cursive skills to each write a word that they themselves chose as being their most beautiful Finnish word. The words were either written on white or blue paper and then a Finnish flag was formed with all 117 cards.
Gel print workshops for all of the English Class pupils resulted in the amazing prints seen above. English Class second graders made glittery sweet angelica weeds and sewed snowflakes on paper plates. The first graders made snowy tree landscapes with shredded paper, glue and tissue paper. The entire school looks amazing with lantern jars pupils have made, drawings of presidents, paper stars and snowball lanterns and so much, much more. If talent and creativity are any indicators, Finland is in good hands for the future because we have a school of extraordinary teachers and children!

Christmas Pageants Herald the Beginning of Advent

English Class first graders and second graders visited the Pentecostal Church in Pori to take a journey back in time (Aikamatka) via a time machine. They went back in time via a time machine built by Professor Danger to visit the year that the baby Jesus was born. Taking photographs during the Christmas pageant re-enactment was not allowed, but the overall journey was rich with all sorts of sensory experiences. Our guide started by taking us to visit King Herod, who was in a state of anxiety and looking for the new king. We then traveled through the village of Nazareth where we found out that Mary and Joseph had already left to go pay their taxes in Bethlehem. We sat around a campfire with shepherds and could hear the sheep in the distance and other night sounds when suddenly angels appeared and told us that the new king had been born. We went on and finally arrived at a stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger in a stable. After paying our respects we continued our journey and encountered a wise man who offered to show us the star gazing place he and his two companions had used to follow the bright star over Bethlehem. Our time machine journey ended at the home of the Salonens who very generously served us juice and gingerbread snaps. It was a memorable experience for all!

On Tuesday English Class fourth graders enjoyed a different Christmas pageant re-enactment, The King is Coming (Kuningas tulee), produced at the parish centre of the Lutheran Evangelical Church.

At  the palace King Herod let the fourth graders know that he was desperate to find the new baby king that the prophets said would soon be born.

All of the elements of the Christmas story were carefully acted out, from Mary being visited by an angel to find out she would be the mother to the new king,  to Mary and Joseph leaving Nazareth to go pay their taxes in Bethlehem.

The peaceful scene in the stable will stay with the children for a long time to come.


Learning About Our Calendar

English Class first graders have been learning about our civil calendar. First we reviewed the four seasons and then we explored calendars from other parts of the world. We learned that in Australia, the United States and Canada, calendars are printed so that Sunday is the first day of the week. In the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, Monday is considered the first day of the week. We then learned a song with Sunday as the first day of the week.

After that we learned the twelve months of the year. When looking at calendars we also noticed that all of the months did not have the same number of days so we learned a short song to help us remember the months with 30 days and short February. We finished up by learning and practicing the cool knuckle method of  determining months with 31 days and shorter months.