Facilitating Learning with iPads

The Ice Age ended in Finland roughly ten thousand years ago. English Class third graders are learning about how the massive glacier ice sheet shaped the country we live in. In this unit of their environmental studies there are many challenging new words and concepts for the third graders to learn.  To reinforce the new things discussed during lessons, the third graders used their iPads  to find pictures of a 1) boulder, 2) a glacial boulder and 3) smooth-worn rocks with grooves. The children needed to explain the three different types of rock formations in their own words. They used the Pages-app and attached the photos they found on the Internet to the explanations that they wrote.

This kind of reinforcement activity helps strengthen cognitive information and  helps better organize categories of information. (It also helps master use of technological tools!) Win-win.

Design & Craft in First and Second Grades

Using their iPads with which to find inspiration, English Class first graders each drew a plan of an Angry Bird character. They used these plans then to create felt cushions of the given Angry Bird character using the blanket stitch.  Above you can see how well the drawings match the completed cushions of Red Bird the cardinal and Chuck the canary!

Second graders have been perfecting the art of crochet in their craft classes. They coiled long strands of chain stitched fabric tube strips to cover Kalevala birds and to create the legs. In the lower right hand corner first graders are making a surprise in woodcraft.

Searching for Short i Words in First Grade

It is always gratifying to watch how quickly English Class first graders grasp reading in English! Now that they can already read in Finnish (or German or Slovak), this year’s first graders are advancing nicely reading English. We have been practicing CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words. Last week the emphasis was on the vowel “i”. The first graders needed to find twelve pictures matching the pictures on their worksheet. These pictures were placed somewhere in the classroom or corridor. After locating a picture the first graders had to write the beginning sound , the middle sound and the ending sound for each word on their handout. In other words, they wrote the letters of the word.

As can be seen from the photos above, the first graders worked with great focus and concentration. They are off to a great start!

Parkour in P.E.

Imagine how cool it would be to learn how to parkour in physical education class! Well, that is what happened yesterday when Linda Luodemäki taught English Class pupils how to practice some basic parkour moves. Parkour is a sport where you can move through the environment by jumping, climbing, swinging and vaulting over obstacles. In the picture collage above third and fourth graders are learning how to do a roll.

Ms. Linda, who has occasionally been substituting for some English Class teachers this spring, also taught English Class pupils to do step vaults, lazy vaults, monkey vaults and diving rolls on a circuit set up in the gym. When everything had been sufficiently learned and practiced, pupils could freerun the circuit at their own pace. It was a super fun way to practice control over body movement!

Rya Knot Snowmen in Craft Class

This week both the English Class first graders and the second graders completed their snowmen created using rya knots. It was just in time for 20 centimeters of snowfall, which is already melting in the strong spring sunlight. In their craft lessons the pupils used burlap/hessian cloth as the backing for their snowmen and used rya rug knots to create the snowmen. Pupils needed to symmetrically increase and decrease the knots to create the snowmen shapes, which was no easy feat. Scraps of felt were glued on to create hats, faces and buttons to complete these unique, personable snowmen.

Mixed Age Group Dining on Tuesdays

With the goals of strengthening a sense of friendship and community within the English Classes, English Class pupils enjoyed their school lunches today sitting with members of other English Classes. Every Tuesday from now on pupils will blindly select a coloured shape before leaving for the school cafeteria. That coloured shape will determine the table at which s/he sits in the cafeteria. The sixth graders will take turns at being leaders at the tables by modelling and guiding good behaviour.

Today worked like a charm. The sixth graders happily guided  younger pupils and engaged in polite small talk with them during the meal. The English Classes have used this mixed age grouping in earlier years at lunchtime, and it feels good that it is once again being practiced.

Promoting Reading with Dr. Seuss Workshops


Thursday, March 2nd all of the English Classes celebrated books by children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, with workshops. Three books were featured this year. English Class fourth graders planned and prepared a workshop for the first graders based on the book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Fifth graders used the timely classic, The Sneetches, to plan and prepare a workshop for the second graders. Finally sixth graders used the evergreen classic, The Lorax, upon which to prepare their workshop. These three books are fifty years old, give or take a few years, but their stories and messages are still very relevant in today’s world.


The upper grade classes used time at the beginning of the week to plan activities in small groups. On Thursday small groups of fourth graders offered math activities and rhyming activities to small groups of first graders at various stations.


At one station first graders made Dr. Seuss bookmarks under the guidance of fourth graders. This was a very appropriate workshop activity because our first graders are learning to read in Finnish and English (and also German for some), The first and fourth graders also drew Seuss characters from models.


The fifth grade groups had all sorts of diverse activities on offer. One group designed a board-game with a theme of discrimination similar to that in the story of The Sneetches. The second graders loved playing it. (Perhaps the element of receiving a sweet candy occasionally was part of the attraction of playing the game as well!)


The second graders visited workshop stations where they could participate in Reader’s Theatre, colouring Sneetches, finding the best route in a maze, making five point stars and lots, lots more.


They made Sneetch masks.


They talked together about the meaning of the Sneetch story.


Second graders even got to dramatize the act of being a Star-Belly Sneetch and being a Plain-Belly Sneetch . Each second grader was given a certain amount of money. Using that money they could pay Sylvester McMonkey McBean to have a green star put on or removed. Each second grader had to enter McBean’s machine which meant crawling under a desk! It was pretty cool!


The third graders went upstairs to participate in workshop activities planned and executed by the sixth graders. The third graders got to paint the Lorax and a healthy Truffula tree forest. They drew and coloured Thneeds of their own.


Third graders were even able to test a model Whisper-ma-phone (see the pic at the top left in the photo collage above)! One group created a quiz on The Lorax for the third graders to take on iPads using Kahoot, which is an application for creating quizzes using technology.


There were vocabulary building activities, rhyming activities and lots, lots more. It was an enriching workshop experience for absolutely everyone involved!