Bullying in Real Life and the Book, “Wonder”


Recently there has been a lot of public discussion worldwide about the importance of experiencing empathy. English Class fifth graders have been reading the book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. Wonder is a book  that deals with the subject of bullying on multiple levels. It is also a book where the power of kindness, along with the values of friendship and tolerance, combine to allow readers to develop empathy for the characters in the book.

Before the winter break English Class fifth graders spent two days on the subject of bullying. On the first day pupils generated a list of things a bully might say or do. Unfortunately some of the things listed had been overheard in the classroom in the recent past.


The fifth graders wrote some of these negative bullying comments within the outline of a person. Then the class was instructed to crumple up the paper, stamp on it and get it as dirty as possible without tearing it. (Everyone appeared to enjoy this part.) Their teacher, Mr. Gregg,  requested them all to smooth out this same paper again and apologise out loud to the piece of paper for what had been done to it.  No matter how hard each pupil tried to smooth the paper out, the wrinkles and dirt still showed. Mr. Gregg pointed out that a real apology is not about saying, ‘I’m sorry’, but it’s more about taking responsibility for what was done or said.  It requires showing a willingness to not do or say such things again. The paper was permanently changed/damaged regardless of a verbal apology.

Following that exercise the fifth graders then wrote a poem from the perspective of August or his sister, Via, characters from the book, Wonder. August had experienced bullying at school. For example, the ‘plague game’ was a particularly cruel game that the other kids played on him. The poem was entitled ‘I Am’ and each line of the poem began with two predetermined words: I am, I feel, I try, I see etc…

On the second day the fifth graders carried on a more in-depth discussion of the characteristics of a bully and those of a victim. The class was then assigned to be a bully or a victim randomly, and rewrite the poem from the previous day from a totally different perspective. Below are a sampling of the poems they wrote.










Leisure Skating at “Kirjuri”


Although Friday, before beginning the week long winter break, was a dismal grey day, English Class pupils and their teachers made the very best of the day. Theywalked to the island of Kirjurinluoto where they then donned their ice skates and then set off touring the island on the paths iced over by the town’s recreational department.


The iced trails led the children past birch groves and along the Kokemäki River and back to the bridge at the start.


Sporting healthy red cheeks and hearty appetites, the English Class pupils enjoyed roasting sausages and eating sandwich lunches provided by school. It was a terrific way to begin the winter break!

“Penkkarit” 2017


Thursday was that day called “Penkkarit” when funny, weird costumed characters paraded throughout our school showering pupils with fists full of candy. The costumed characters were actually students from our neighbouring school, PSYL, who are celebrating the fact that they have completed their formal studies in upper secondary school.


The noise level was ear-splitting during the ten minutes or so that the secondary students made their way through the school, but the mutual delight of the older students and younger pupils was palpable.


Most teachers collected each classes’ collected sweets into a kitty which will be rationed out on various occasions where the teacher sees fit. The joy of “penkkarit” will last even longer that way.

Star Talent in First and Second Grades


On Valentine’s Day English class first and second graders borrowed a tried and true tradition from Ms. Anu and the third graders. Together they held their very first Star Talent Show. Assuredly it was not the last! The acts ranged from a composition played by first grader Eino on the contrabass to Alisa’s tranquil, self-composed piece on a harmonica/mouth organ. We even enjoyed Vladimir’s  “Look! No hands!” selection on an electric piano.


We watched Rubin’s demonstration of footballer skills, Amelia’s bunny puppet dance, and songs played on the violin and piano by Jenni, Eevi and Ella respectively. Marcela sang us a lullabye in Romanian. An amazing dance choreographed and performed by five second grade girls (Aisis, Alexia, Eevi, Mimi and Selena) impressed us all, to say the least. The dance and several other acts can be seen in the two video clips below. The range of talents of these first and second graders was extraordinary!

The first and second graders are already making plans for their next Star Talent Show!

DOKKINO Short Documentary Films by Finnish Kids


On Thursday of last week English class fifth and sixth graders went with their respective teachers, Mr. Gregg and Ms. Anneli, to the Promenade Cinema to watch short films made by Finnish pupils in honour of Finland’s centenary anniversary. Below are some thoughts put together by the fifth graders and their teacher on the films .

I enjoyed the experience of going to the cinema. There were about 20 different short films created by students from around Finland. Some were better than others, and it was clear that some had really made an effort to create something unique.

The video that I enjoyed the most was called ‘Oma Tila’ and it was about having your own space. I could very much relate to this short film because I always need my own space, especially after a long day at work. We have a rule in my house where when we, (the whole family), return home from our busy days, then we all need half an hour of our own time where we can mentally unwind and relax. I also remember when I was at school that I needed some time to myself when I got home.

I also enjoyed the film about online gaming. The film showed that online gaming is a serious sport, and it also showed us that there is a somewhat negative perception of ‘gamers’ amongst some people. Gamers are often perceived as lazy, inactive people, but the truth is that one requires a great deal of skill and practice to become good at online games. Playing competitive video games activates parts of the brain that require quick reactions, planning and foresight. The short film also reminded us that just because someone plays video games, it does not necessarily mean that they don’t do other things like sports.  ~Mr. Gregg

I liked that we went to Dokkino. My favourite short film was probably  Own Space because I have a sister and you can’t always really have your own space because she can be really loud sometimes. And sometimes I just want to be alone or I just want space if I’m tired or I have come home from training or something like that. Last year the films were a bit better because the films were from all around the world but I still liked it this year. I think it’s important that sometimes you can have your own space. I didn’t really like the ones with the phones or the gaming stuff because I’m not really a gamer. But I think it was good that they made a film about that that kids are addicted to their phones and social media because I know that some people are always on their phones. ~ Isabel

The one that I could relate to was about the immigrants because I moved to Finland a the age of 7. I was living in Singapore before I moved to Finland. When I moved here I was learning Finnish like the immigrants. ~Ville

I related to the Own Space documentary because I live with 2 brothers and 1 sister. My brother and I  have the same room and I don’t have my own space in my house. ~Luca

I enjoyed the Dokkino. I think it was fun to go there and watch short films that other classes from Finland had done. I think my favourite short film was Own Space because sometimes I just want my own space. I think the short films were better last year, but I still enjoyed all of them. The one that I did not enjoy so much was the ESports game short film because I don’t like playing video games so much. ~ Roosa  

I liked the Esports one because I have always wanted to have all of that gaming stuff. And then I liked the one where was the girl that went to the sofa’s corner just to have alone time, because sometimes when I get home from school or from my swimming-practice because I just feel so tired and then I just get my phone out to relax.  ~ Nea

I liked the one with the immigrants and own space because I could relate to them since I’m an immigrant myself.  I need my own space sometimes, but I did enjoy all of them because they were all unique in their own way. ~Ananya

It was nice to go to the cinema and watch the Dokkino videos. This year I liked the Own Space video the most because sometimes I want to have my own space but I can’t. I think this year it was nice but last year it was better because there were videos from different countries and the quality of the video was better. ~ Adiza

I had much fun going to see the documentaries from around Finland. The one with the immigrants was my favourite Dokkino film because it relates to me the most since I moved to Finland like they did. I didn’t like the one with the smoking because it showed a bad habit of children smoking. But I did enjoy the one with the gaming (apart from the swear words) since gaming is a kind of “Lazy” sport (Car games, snowboarding games, etc.). ~ Matthew

I enjoyed going to Dokkino because I learned what is going on in the world and I want to come again. I enjoyed the one where the two boys were bullied because it happened to me in France. I didn’t like the smoking one because it bad for your health and the children had a bad attitude. ~ Matheo

I think that last year Dokkino was better. This year my favourite movie was when some person asked questions to different aged people. I liked it because one girl said that a beautiful person is a person who is themself.   ~ Arttu

I liked the gaming part because I do it also and it was interesting to look at how others do that. I did not like the one where they told about the own space because I don’t need my own space. I would like to go to Dokkino again. ~Viljami

The video that stayed in my mind was the one that told about space of your own because I have siblings and sometimes I just want to be alone in my own space. The one I didn’t so much was the ones that told about football because I don’t like football that much. Even though some of the videos were a bit short, I still enjoyed Dokkino. ~ Daniela

I liked the video game film the most because I play video games. I didn’t like that the speech was all in Finnish. I enjoyed going to Dokkino. ~Tomas

I enjoyed the Dokkino. I liked  Own Space because I sometimes want to be in my own space and I have siblings.  All the videos were good. I did not like very much the gaming one because I don’t play games so much.  ~Olivia


Valentine’s Day 2017


All of the English Class pupils, along with the rest of the pupils at Cygnaeus School, participated in a Valentine heart hunt during one recess yesterday. The school’s student council members had hidden paper hearts all over the school from the basement to the top floor. Some of the hearts were numbered. Those lucky enough to find a numbered heart could go to the school library to redeem the numbered heart for a small prize. There was a great flurry of activity as the school buzzed with eager heart hunters seeking hidden hearts.

The school library was decorated in the spirit of the day with hearts from classes signed by the class members.


Introduction to Downhill Skiing


English Class third graders spent last Friday morning learning the basics of downhill skiing at Ruosniemi Ski Centre.  This is one activity offered as part of the Finnish Schools on the Move programme in Pori.


Third grade teacher, Ms. Anu, and the pupils boarded a bus that took them to nearby Ruosniemi. There the children quickly put on borrowed ski equipment and then set off for the slopes where they all had a lesson in how to ski. Their ski instructor, Katariina Kivioja, showed the pupils how to place the weight of their bodies on the balls of their feet when skiing straight ahead, how to control their speed and stop by “snowplowing” or creating a wedge with their skis and also how to get up or recover from a fall.


The children were very attentive and as a result they had a wonderful time trying out their new-found skills on the slopes.