Dandelion Day 2015

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On Wednesday of this week all of the Cygnaeus School English Class pupils, along with the English kindergarten children, celebrated our third annual Dandelion Day. This year the sun was shining and the dandelions were open and waiting for us. (Last year the dandelions were closed because of rainy weather so last year we celebrated Dandelion Day with art workshops at school all day.) This common flower deserves to be celebrated in as many ways as possible!

Dandelion Day stations were set up in a section of the Kirjurinluoto Island park area. Pupils were divided into K – 6 mixed age groups and given starting stations. There was a teacher and a task or two for the group to complete at every station. (PDF files of the tasks can be downloaded at the end of this post.) Click a picture to enlarge it for better viewing.

dandelion day6At the station shown in the photos above children learned how to make spiral curls from dandelion stems. They also learned how to play nonsensical children’s games. (See the task cards for more details.)

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At another station children gathered dandelions and learned to make dandelion chains and crowns. Although the pictures show only girls wearing dandelion crowns, the boys were very handy at making crowns, too, with Julius being the most skillful of them all. Some opted to make rings and bracelets as well.

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The science of dandelion seed dispersal was explored at another station. Pupils made paper tubes about the thickness of a thumb and dropped them to see how far the tube travelled from the dropping point. Then, using scissors, they cut narrow strips two thirds of the way down the tube and dropped it again. Observations were made as to which system carried the paper tube further from the dropping point.dandelion day5

Groups participated in a 15 minute scavenger hunt where they were challenged to find the longest dandelion leaf, the dandelion head with the greatest diameter and the dandelion with the longest stem. (As a matter of interest the tallest dandelion, the one with longest stem ever found measured 177.8 cm (70 in) and was found by Jo Riding and Joey Fusco in Ontario, Canada in 2011 according to Guiness World Records.)  Bouquets of dandelions were gathered to use as batons in dandelion relay races, but sadly we ran out of time before we could organize the races. Two other games the groups played were tic tac toe using dandelion stems and flower heads, and flicking dandelion flower heads into a ring by winding the stem around the flower head and creating a “shooter”.

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Children used dandelions to create butterflies, trees and flowers at one station. At yet another station they used the latex sap of the dandelion to draw spring pictures in “invisible ink”. Water colour wash was painted over the pictures back at school to create a kind of resist.

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Ms. Anu told the lovely Legend of the Dandelion to groups as they visited her station. Another teacher shared fascinating facts about dandelions to groups. There was lots more to do than there was time for, but that is always a good thing. In years to come we will cook and make food with dandelions, write poems about dandelions, act out plays about dandelions and perhaps even create a collective sculpture around the theme of dandelions. We will read stories about dandelions, sing and compose songs about dandelions and do research about dandelions because this common flower is uncommonly interesting and hardy. It is a survivor and can by its resilience and adaptability teach us humans an awful lot!

You may download our Dandelion Day Task Cards below. We would appreciate a comment from you if you decide to download one or more of the cards telling us where in the world you are and how you plan to make use of them.

Dandelion Day Task Cards_A 

Dandelion Day Task Cards_B

Dandelion Day Task Cards_C

Dandelion Day Task Cards_D

A Memorable Marathon School Day

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Last Thursday was the coolest Thursday ever for the English Class fourth graders -and the longest day! After carefully reviewing bicycle safety rules with their teacher, Ms. Kati, the fourth grade pupils pedalled 15 kilometers to the home of one of their classmates. This home happens to be right on the seashore so the beautiful setting matched the day’s fine weather.class trip2_4en

The fourth graders participated in preparations for lunch and soon had a nice fire going on the beach where they roasted sausages. It was a delightful surprise to the class when the hostess of the event appeared with some marshmallows to toast.class trip3_4en

The day sped by with all kinds of things to do and see. A swan swimming in the bay attracted the attention of some pupils. There was time to chill out and time to play games as well. In the photo above the children are playing “Minefield”. One pupil is blindfolded and the game’s challenge is to give verbal instructions to help the player pass safely through the minefield.

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Late in the afternoon the fourth graders and their teacher pedalled back to school where they spent the evening and night at their very own night school. It didn’t take long for the kids to put on their pj’s and then more fun began. The fourth graders held “Class Olympics”. There were individual events as well as team events. In one event pupils had one minute to transfer as many pieces of macaroni as possible to another plate by sucking on a straw. A team event allowed five minutes in which to construct the tallest structure possible using only spaghetti and marshmallows. Another event required collecting paper bags by mouth while keeping one’s feet on the floor. There were many interesting styles of accomplishing this event.

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Pizza, which was paid for with class funds, was ordered and devoured. Watching a movie together and some free play time in the gym rounded out the evening. Some pupils fell asleep more easily than others, but everyone finally got to sleep.

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After having their breakfast in the morning the fourth graders watched another movie. Then they all went out together for lunch at a local fine restaurant as a special treat. In the space of twenty four hours the English Class fourth graders experienced cooking around an open fire, fast food pizza and fine dining. Throughout it all they demonstrated amazing class spirit -and that is most certainly what it is all about!

First Grade Math Revision Round-up

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English Class first graders reviewed a year’s worth of learning today when they participated in a round-up of mathematics that was comprised of various learning.stations. Working with a partner each pupil practiced solving word problems at one station. At other stations they also used flash cards to review subtraction and addition facts together, and then they worked to solve more complex math problems using counters and an egg carton with ten places.

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Their teacher, Ms. Anu, could really see how far the first graders had come. Their partner work was intense and focused. Their math skills were evident. The lesson ended with some self-evaluation: What was good about your partner? What was most challenging for you? Was it helpful to work with a partner and why or why not? The last question was answer with a resounding “yes!” Not only that, but the first graders were able to add wonderful insights as to why working with a peer is so beneficial! So much learned in such a short time!

Jumping in the Jungle!


In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight,” sang the English Class third graders at our Spring Fest. Yesterday the third graders and their teacher, Ms. Leena,  visited a local indoor jungle recreation area and made like veritable monkeys as they enjoyed the trampolines and other features of the jungle area. It was fun to let off steam and pent up energy at the end of an action-packed school year!

Reading Diplomas Awarded

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Special reading diplomas were awarded to English Class pupils who had completed all of the Finnish National Board of Education’s Kunnari: Luomoava lukudiploomi reading tasks for their own grade level. In a short ceremony at last Friday’s assembly Ms. Sylvia awarded reading diplomas to second graders Frans, Wilhelmiina, Tiira and Saffron who had completed the “Tapiiri”/Tapir tasks over the course of this school year by reading a selection of books from different genres. Two fifth graders, Ella and Benjamin, also earned reading diplomas by completing tasks from the “Matida” selection of books. Five sixth grade girls, Eeva, Helmi, Yasmin, Rilla and Viola, as well completed the “Matilda” selection of books from different genres and did the tasks related to the books to earn their reading certificates.

English Class pupils in grades one, three and four did not participate this year in the reading certificate programme, but will do so next year for sure. Pupils will also have an opportunity to read and complete tasks for a reading diploma by reading books in English next year.

We are all very proud of the pupils who worked so hard to achieve their goals! Well done!


National Bird Week for Children

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The 19th – the 25th of May are days that have been set aside as National Bird Week by Birdlife, Finland. English Class second graders have been learning about birds this spring so this fit into our curriculum perfectly. Recently we learned about the different types of nests that birds build, as well as learned to identify the birds that are commonly found in parks.

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Today the second graders went on a field trip to put their knowledge to good use at a nearby park. The task was to look for signs of nesting and fill in a Bird Week field trip form  on the subject. Signs of nesting were everywhere! Chirping, cheeping, warbling and the chatter of birds filled the air. The second graders were amazed, when they really stopped to look and listen, to find so many signs of nesting -and actual nests as well. We saw thrush nests brimming with babies that the parents were busy feeding, we saw sparrows’ nests in the process of being built and we even saw a jackdaw with a stick branch in its beak.  Although our field trip was not as long as it might have been, we all gathered lots of memorable experiences.


Class Trip to an Indoor Jungle Playground


English Class second graders enjoyed a class trip to a local indoor recreation area where they could climb, creep, jump, swing, hop, hide, build, pull, push, sway, glide, slide and lots, lots more in a jungle themed area! The photo collages tell their own story of how actively the second graders engaged in all that was on offer. It was a red letter day in our active school year!