Unforgetable Fifth Grade Class Trip to the Island of Säppi


Some school days are simply better than others. Last Thursday English Class fifth graders undoubtedly experienced one of the all time best school days of their lives when they visited the exotic island of Säppi which has been declared part of the Bay of Bothnia National Park. The fifth graders and two teachers, Ms. Katri and Ms. Sylvia, rode to the island in two separate groups on a fishing boat called the Merina. Fish scales and a pretty intense fishy smell added to the excitement and special atmosphere.


Once on the island we knew right away that we were in a unique place. At the end of a wooden planked path the first group spotted highland cattle grazing not far from the lighthouse. The cattle quickly headed for the woods to continue their grazing in relative peace.


Climbing to the top of the lighthouse was first on the agenda. The view was stunning. There were differences of opinion as to how many steps there were, but the consensus was that there were between 130 and 140 steps in all. The lighthouse was originally built of bricks. However, when the brick tower began swaying, about 30 cm of concrete were added to the outside to keep it all together in one piece.


Grilling sausage and eating our packed lunches was next on the agenda. Ms. Katri showed off her extremely masterful fire-building skills and the sausages were cooked to perfection.


We didn’t see any of the elusive moufflon that live on the island, but we did find a set of horns (upper right in the photo collage above) in the rafters of the open air kitchen. We were privileged to have Heikki Helle tell us about the history of the lighthouse and island. Heikki started spending his summers on Säppi back in the 1950’s when he was 8 years old. Heikki told us that the lighthouse beacon was originally fueled by rapeseed oil, then in the early 1900’s that fuel source was changed to petrol. A lighthouse keeper lived on the island with his family, taking 12 hour shifts with a couple of other men living on the island. Their work also included taking weather related measurements such as wind speed, wave height, the sea level height, and temperature. This information was called in to the mainland for use in national radio weather reports. In the 1960’s the lighthouse beacon became automated and was then fueled by acetylene gas. Wind generators provided power for the lighthouse for a a few years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, after which the beacon was outfitted to work solely on solar energy.


After hearing the history of the lighthouse, we set off  to explore Alfred’s Nature Trail, a one and a half kilometre path through alder copses, meadows and salt marsh areas. At this time of year the groves looked almost enchanted and it would be no stretch of the imagination to see a gnome or fairy pop out from a mossy hillock somewhere.


We wandered off the nature trail to follow the coastline for a while. A brisk north wind brought waves to dash and crash along the rocky shoals. The sound was powerful and energizing.


Not only were our fifth graders swept up in the wonder and grandeur of it all, Ms. Katri and Ms. Sylvia both basked in the sunshine and soaked up the sights, smells and sounds of this glorious place.


Because the waters surrounding Säppi are so full of submerged rocks there have been many shipwrecks over the years. Just a few of the shipwrecks are marked on the map. Imagine the joy of some of the fifth grade boys when they found the knee from a ship.  (Knees , according to Wikipedia, are natural or cut, curved pieces of wood. and are a common form of bracing in boat/ship building.) säppimapMax decided to use the piece of rope he had also found along the shore to take the 5 kg+ knee back to the dock so he could take it home as a souvenir of Säppi. So, with a little help from Jakub and John, the boys lugged, dragged and carried their ship’s knee over a rock studded meadow, a cattle poop plop mined meadow, a path strewn with roots, a mud mired bog and finally across glacier smoothed bedrock. (Click the map to enlarge it.)


The picture above looks quite serene, but actually there was a brisk wind blowing and as the afternoon progressed, the wind picked up to 11 metres/sec. directly from the north.


Heikki, our guide on Säppi, kindly provided us with a tarp to sit on and hold over our heads as we headed back to the mainland. Waves were 1,7 m. high on average with occasional waves being well over 2 m. high! Our fifth graders were a happy crew who looked upon the rocking and rolling wet return journey as wonderful lark. “This is lots better than any amusement park ride!” laughed one red cheeked pupil.


Spring Fest 2016


On Tuesday evening of this week English Class families and friends were treated to a potpourri of programme numbers that included chants, book percussion, songs and dances presented by the English Class pupils. One selection from each grade is presented here, along with a couple of joint presentations. (It should be noted, too, that some videos were filmed during the dress rehearsal during the day, rather than in the evening.)

The first graders are rightly proud of their new reading and writing skills. This show number features some first graders reading their own compositions and then the whole class performing percussion with their Finnish primers.

Since the beginning of the school year second graders have learned one chant every couple of weeks to get themselves ready to go out into the corridor. This video clip features only a portion of the chants they have learned throughout the school year.

Each and every third grader got to plan and execute his or her own performance slot in this dance song version of Stompa.

First, second and third graders combined forces to sing “I Like School!” One second grader said, after singing the song one day, “I don’t want school to end. I want to go to school ALL the time!”

The fourth graders choreographed this pirate number all by themselves. Unfortunately part of the beginning of this number didn’t get filmed, but most of it is here.

Thanks to the technical craft teacher, Mika, the fifth graders had a sturdy frame upon which to create a stage for the mini-dancers. Fifth grader Nicola was responsible for the choreography of the wing dancers.

The sixth graders shouldered all of the responsibility for the drama, costumes and choreography of this old favourite. We think they did a splendid job!

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The pupils above, Deivid Kozakin from grade 6, Tekla-Maria Heiniluoma from grade 5, Ananya Mariaraj from grade 4, Ilari Fält from grade 3, Ella Harell from grade 2 and Saga Miesmaa from grade 1, received award stipends from their respective teachers. Criteria for receiving a reward were that the pupil be positive, helpful, well mannered and an overall good classmate.

Reading diplomas (for reading in Finnish) were awarded to the following second graders: Siiri Oksa, Otto Kierkkinen, Onni Vuorenoja, Iiris Huhta, Amelie Rouvali, Oska Plapp, Antti, Tymkky, Benjamin Aapa, Ella Harell, and Ida Kovalainen.

A reading diploma for reading in English was awarded to fourth grader Isabel Smith.

Reading diplomas for reading in English were awarded to fifth graders  Jakub Budzisiak, John Garbulinski and Alisa Kuusman. Finnish reading diplomas were awarded to fifth graders Kasper Antila, Stella Manninen, Tekla-Maria Heiniluoma and Ava Puonti.

Finnish reading diplomas were awarded to sixth graders Siiri Hakala, Benjamin Salahub, Jenni Einola and Venny Vuorenoja.

We congratulate them all! Keep reading!

We’re so Proud of Our School was sung with heartfelt verve by English Class children at the evening performance. This version, filmed in the afternoon, was a shadow of the evening performance. Even so, we believe that the children stand firmly behind every word. We are so proud of out school -and most of all we are proud of the children who make up our school!

‘Gone Fishing’ on National Fishing Day!

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Today, May 18th, is Finnish National Fishing Day. The English Class second, third and fourth grades participated in all sorts of activities related to fish and fishing at an event arranged just for school children. This year the event was arranged by our regional chapter of Finland’s Recreational Fishing Association in cooperation with the Satakunta Agency for the Economic Development of Fishing (Satakunnan Kalatalouskeskus) and other fish related organizations.

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Pupils learned about trolling using many rods and different types of fishing lures.

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They learned the names of many different types found in the area. They learned about the anatomy of  fish and what the difference between a female fish and a male fish is.

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Of course the pupils got to fish themselves as well, and several actually caught fish!

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Pupils were also given Baltic herring prepared in different ways. Everything always tastes better outdoors including a picnic lunch from school!

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Back at school the third and fourth graders practiced what they had learned and participated in some more hands-on activities. The fish that are shown above were fish that the pupils had caught and brought back to school. The two largest perch were of particular interest when they were dissected. The lower one proved to be a male with sacks full of milt and the one above it, the largest, turned out to be a female with its ovarian membrane full of a mass of eggs, called roe or spawn.

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Ms. Sylvia did the dissecting while pupils identified the various organs and fins. The activity culminated in a worksheet where pupils identified and coloured the parts of the anatomy according to the directions.

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Lastly we used our new microscope to examine a fish scale and then projected it on the screen. It was fascinating to see the details of the scale. It shimmered and sparkled under the light. The top edge of the scale was scalloped in a lovely pattern. The part that is attached to the flesh of the fish somehow resemble icicles. It was a day that was jam-packed with great learning experiences enjoyed by one and all!


Camping at Tammen in Kullaa


Along with their teachers English Classes grades 1 – 4 started this week by experiencing an overnight camp together at Tammen in Kullaa.  Parents transported small groups of pupils to the camp and back. (-for which we are very grateful)

The camp started by singing the traditional camp song, Fee Fi Fo Vista, lead by Ms. Kati. Pupils then divided up into four mixed age groups to participate in various challenges set up by class teachers Ms. Kati, Ms. Anu, Mr. Juho and Ms. Leena.


One of the challenges was to complete certain tasks within a four minute time limit. The tasks included transferring pieces of macaroni from one dish to another by using a straw and stacking and unstacking a bundle of paper cups.


Another challenge involved devising a strategy so that the entire team traversed a grid on the ground and  only one person could be in a square. Furthermore only one square could be touched by a person crossing the grid.


This grid challenge really required cooperation and teamwork in order to succeed.


The overall theme of the camp was Native American Indians so the following challenge was to solve Indian sign language messages for which teams were given a piece of a geometric puzzle. Once all the messages had been solved and pieces of puzzle gathered, a larger figure could be formed.


Yet another challenge was to blow up balloons and create as high a totem pole as possible using only balloons and tape. The time limit was 14 minutes.


Wet weather posed a few more problems than expected while making the balloon totems but the teams rose to the challenge very well! In fact, because English Class pupils are so accustomed to working in mixed age groups, and because they are so familiar to one another, the teams cheered and supported their members throughout the challenges.


Once the challenges were completed it was time for grilled sausages followed by free play. The area around Tammen Camp is so full of interesting nooks and crannies along with the lake, stream and forest, that the children had a fantastic time running, climbing, crossing the bridge, hiding, chasing one another and just being happy, healthy kids.


Three cabins were used for sleeping. Some children settled in quickly and fell asleep with no problem. Other children took a little longer to fall asleep, but everyone got there in the end. One of the children commented on the way back to school today, “It was the best day of my life!”

Finnish Baseball Practice Session


Baseball is a great sport when it comes to improving focus, hand-eye-coordination and mental sharpness. Last week English Class first and second graders, together with the English School kindergarten children, practiced the skills of throwing, catching, pitching and batting the ball.


Swinging a bat at a pitch or catching a ball enhances hand-eye coordination. This has several benefits outside of sports because hand-eye coordination is crucial in many fine motor skills, including reading and writing. That being said, playing baseball can have a beneficial impact on other things at school.


The fine warm, sunny weather we experienced last week made this session a favourite with teachers and children alike!

Learning about Light at Satakunta Museum


English Class fourth graders learned first hand about the history of light from campfire light, to oil lamplight all the way through incandescent lights and LED lights.  The pupils learned about the properties of lights, how it bends when it is refracted and how it behaves when it is reflected and creates a mirror image.


The fourth graders learned about shadows as well. They learned  how a shadow changes when the properties (brightness, position, distance) of a light source are changed by using a shadow theatre for experimentation. The pupils also learned that lighting affects how we perceive colours in objects.


Under black light lots of things look very different!


The icing on the cake was when the fourth graders participated in a workshop where they made their very own reflecting disco balls. Pretty cool, or what?!!

Fifth Grade Studies in Literature


Reading is an adventure, full of discoveries: new places, new situations, new words, and new emotions. Reading is a creative process. Actually reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. The English Class fifth graders have worked this spring on  J.K. Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, or Harry Potter ja viisasten kivi as it is known in Finnish, to hone these skills in their Finnish classes.