Bike Safety at the Traffic Park

On Thursday of this week English Class third graders enjoyed a special bicycle safety theme day. The day began when teachers, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg, inspected the third graders’ bikes and their riders. The teachers checked the air pressure in the bike tires, bike reflectors and made sure that each bike had a functioning bell. They also checked that the helmets that pupils wore were suitably snug. Finally, following good traffic safety rules, the class and their teachers rode through town single file and across the bridge that connects to the island of Kirjurinluoto.

Once at the traffic park on the island, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg acted as traffic police to make sure that traffic safety laws were being followed by the children as they pedaled freely around the area.

Some children played the roles of pedestrians to make sure that the cyclists were paying attention.

Several pupils were overheard saying that it was the best school day ever, and Ms. Riina was in agreement because she was definitely feeling the same way. The day was a great success!

Watch the video below to see the third graders in action.



The English Classes Host Visitors from Their Sister School in China

Tanglible excitement was in the air last Sunday at noontime when English Class family hosts first met their Chinese guests in the schoolyard of Cygnaeus School. Nine pupils and two teachers arrived from Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School, (WQYFLS), a school with an enrollment of approximately 2000 pupils.  WQYFLS is located in the Wujin district in Changzhou in Jiangsu province of the People’s Republic of China.

The English Classes established a sister school relationship with WQYFLS in 2015. WQYFLS already had a prior sister school relationship with Rouse Hill Public School in Western Sydney, Australia and the success of that relationship encouraged them to look further abroad for friends. The main premise of a sister school programme is that it promotes intercultural awareness, broadens educational horizons by adding a global perspective and enhances understanding for all those involved with the programme.

A hand-texted poem written by a pupil at the Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School (WQYFLS) was presented on a scroll to Mr. Arto Suni, the headmaster of Cygnaeus School.

The rest of Sunday was spent with our guests getting to know their host families. Some families toured the town of Pori with their guests, some went to the lovely island park on Kirjurinluoto. Others simply spent quality time together having fun and getting acquainted.

On Monday our Chinese guests attended lessons in the English Classes. One 12-year old Chinese guest noted that there were many, many differences. She noted that there is no going outdoors at all at WQYFLS because there are no recesses in the course of a day. Class sizes are also much larger. In her class at WQYFLS there are 38 pupils. She also said that there are schools in Changzhou where there can be as many as 50 – 80 pupils in one class!

After a good, robust snack after school on Monday, pupils and their hosts went to Adventure Park Huikee, which is close to Yyteri Beach.

Once there, everyone got geared up with safety harnesses and helmets. At first some children felt a bit timid and uncertain, but little by little successful experiences encouraged them and others to try to push their own boundaries.

It was ultimately an experience that the children will not soon forget! All that exercise helped work up big appetites.

The pasta served in the restaurant where the hosts and guests ate went down a treat! (That probably should not come as a surprise because pasta originated in China, where noodles are a staple in  diets along with rice.)

On Tuesday everyone attended normal classes at school. In the afternoon the two teachers from WQYFLS participated in a tour of the town of Pori. Children were entertained by their host families in a myriad of ways as seen in the photo collages.

Although the sun was behind a thick layer of clouds during their whole visit, and it was very cool, that did nothing to spoil the visit. In fact, one guest said that it was nice having cool temperatures because it is often so warm in Wujin. She said that they almost never experience snow there. (That should not be  surprising because their school is located at about the same latitude as Jerusalem, Israel;  Madeira, Portugal or Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.)

All good things come to an end, and so it was with this visit. At 8 am on Wednesday morning,  WQYFLS pupils and teachers lined up carrying their new blue Pori tote bags ready to leave Pori. From here the group headed to Rovaniemi where they are going to visit Santa Claus. Then they will travel to Tartu, Estonia where they have established yet a third sister school relationship.

Visits like this require a lot of preparations and planning. Inevitably, it  pays off big dividends to all of the participants in the end and winds up being a rewarding, win-win situation. To the warm, gracious English Class families involved in hosting these guests, we want to say thank you!  You made this visit the success it was.




First Grade is Blooming with Good Manners

English Class first graders are blooming with good manners.  The first graders listened to their English teacher, Mr. Gregg, read them the classic story, The Berenstain Bears Forget their Manners,  where Mama Bear initiates a politeness plan for the Berenstein Bear family. They have been learning about being friendly and polite in their environmental studies and English lessons. During an art lesson the children worked in their table groups to prepare lovely flowers to remind them of basic good manners. They traced around their own hands and then painted the hands and cut them out to create colourful petals for their flowers.

The result is a lovely classroom display of blooms.

Shared Reading with a Reading Partner

“Reading buddies”, “reading pals”, “reading partners”, “shared reading”… There are many names for when older pupils and younger pupils read together at school.  Yesterday afternoon English Class sixth graders paired up with second graders to spend a lesson of shared reading together. This time English Class second graders read to their sixth grade peer pals.

The benefits of this kind of reading are numerous.  Every single younger pupil gets positive reinforcement and attention while reading in the 1:1 situation. The children are reading aloud without the stress of having to read in front of the whole class. Comprehension problems can be dealt with immediately. Shy and more reluctant readers feel more confident when reading with an older pupil. Fluency improves and friendships develop with the older pupils. The benefits of older pupils reading to the younger ones include improvements in fluency, responsibility and confidence as well.

Mandalas from Natural Materials

After learning what mandalas are, all of the English Class pupils from grades 1 – 6 went to the park on the island of Kirjurinluoto to put what they had learned into action.

Pupils worked together in small mixed-age groups. Because we were in a park, pupils brought colourful flowers and other materials with them from their own fields and home gardens. They could use materials they found lying on the ground at the park, but nothing could be picked.

Some groups made very meticulous mandalas. One group put together a nice, colourful mandala, but then a few crows came and picked off the berries and in doing so, disturbed the pattern of the leaves set out, which caused a bit of frustration.

That group set to creating another mandala without berries this time to tempt more crows.

The natural materials used by the children included chestnuts, acorns, rowan berries, flowers and petals, cones, mushrooms, pebbles, a great variety of leaves, feathers, reeds and reed tufts, lichen, moss, twigs and  rose hips.

Below are some of the mandalas completed by our English Class pupils.

School lunches always taste better outside picnic style. Today’s lunch was no exception! Many pupils went back for second helpings.

After lunch pupils used leftover materials to fill in a map form of Finland that Ms. Virpi drew on the ground. It was close to being completed when ominous clouds moved overhead. After quickly tidying up, pupils and their teachers started back toward school.

A sudden rain shower could not dampen anyone’s spirits! It was a great day for everyone involved!

First Aid Skills in Sixth Grade

English Class sixth graders learned an important life saving skill today when they participated in a Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course organized by the Finnish Red Cross and LahiTapiola. The training session is part of the Be a Hero/Sankarikoulutus which is a programme designed to train fifth and sixth graders throughout Finland to be prepared for emergencies.

In addition to getting valuable, timely information, the sixth graders were given the CPR training mats for their class to keep. That means that they can continue practising their new CPR skills. Better yet, they can take a CPR training mat home and teach family members what they have learned. This training was very effective and well meets the aims of our new curriculum.


“A Swim” Leads to Buoyancy Investigations

English Class second graders read “A Swim” with their English teacher, Ms. Sandra. “A Swim” is a touching, yet hilarious, story from the book Frog and Toad are Friends, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. As an extension of this story, the second graders investigated how the shape of an object affects whether it will sink or float. Pairs of pupils were given solid balls of plasticine modelling clay. They determined that the ball of modelling clay sunk when put in water. When they pinched off a bit of clay and dropped that into the water, it also sunk to the bottom.

It didn’t take long for the pupils to discover that  changing the shape of the clay ball, which is more dense than water, affects whether it will sink or float. The density of the clay does not change, but the volume of the object made from the clay increases and that is what makes it float. After getting their clay boats to float, the pupils loaded the boats with Unifix cubes to see how big a load each boat could carry.