Kalevala Day Celebrations


All of the work and effort put in this week by English Class pupils paid off on Friday when we celebrated Finland’s national day of culture, Kalevala Day. The fifth and sixth grade classes, together with the third graders, created a magnificent Viking long boat. Characters in the boat were painted by fifth and sixth grade English Class pupils and are based on Mauri Kunnas’ splendid book, The Canine Kalevala.


The text which was placed on the shields was dictated by third grade pupils and scribed by fifth and sixth grade pupils. This is called storycrafting. (Click the pictures to better be able to read the text.)



In the photos below fifth and sixth graders are carrying their spectacular Sampo down the stairs to the school library to join the collection of Sampos made by other classes in the school.


Just before lunch on Friday all of the English Class pupils paired off to learn about Kalevala using their iPads and a site maintained by the Kalevala Society called Kalevalan Kankahilla.



Teachers were very impressed with how quietly attentive and focused all of the pupils were during this lesson. Finnish pupils translated information on the site for English Class pupils who don’t yet know enough Finnish.

After lunch all of the pupils at Cygnaeus School gathered in the gymnasium for a Finnish folk song sing-along.


Cygnaeus School music class teachers played the accompaniments to the songs while our own Ms. Anu lead us in singing. Below is one song that we sang where boys sang one part and girls sang another.

It was a fantastic day of celebrating Finnish culture!

Board Game Friday


English Class fourth grade pupils, along with first and second graders, played board games for an hour on Friday. They were placed in groups of four with a fourth grader taking responsibility as the group leader. For some reason, it was always the younger ones who determined what game to play!


Intuitive Movement in the Classroom


English Class classrooms no longer look like they used to look at Cygnaeus School. Teachers know that there is a positive correlation between an active environment with natural stimulation and the ability to pay attention. In fact, the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health released a publication in 2013 where it said:

”Too little physical activity and exercise among the population causes significant and increasing challenges to Finnish society. […] Although people pursue fairly much physical activity during their leisure time, the rest of the day largely consists of sitting for long periods of time beginning from early childhood education and care, at school, work, institutions, means of transport and at home. Even in early childhood education and care children sit for 60 per cent of their time, and for adults the proportion is as much as 80 per cent. There is thus a great need for increasing physical activity and reducing sitting in Finnish society.”

Children in the third grade class are being offered choices of being able to work standing up, sitting on Pilates balls, using balance cushions or sitting on ”story pillows” on the floor or even sprawled out on the floor. The sixth graders have a sofa in their classroom and second graders have swatches of carpet for a cozy seating area in their classroom. Short brain break energizers are fairly routinely used by the English Class staff to help keep pupils focused and refreshed.


Preparing for Kalevala Day


This week pupils in the English Classes have been busy preparing for celebrating Kalevala Day tomorrow. Kalevala Day is Finland’s day dedicated to culture. It is named after the epic adventure poems of Väinämöinen collected by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century.

The second graders made Väinämöinen figures with long beards and birch bark shoes. Third graders and fifth graders are busy creating their own Sampos. Sampo is an important part of Kalevala.

Hands-on Fraction Activities


English Class third graders are learning about fractions. Today they played fraction dominoes in small groups. The goal was to connect the fraction pictured with the numerical value of the fraction.


Another fun activity was sorting m&m’s by colour and depicting the results as fractions. Doing activities like this are the most effective ways of learning because they engage the interest of the learners.

Logic Challenges


English Class teachers Ms. Anu and Ms. Kati, participated in a mathematics training workshop in Tampere recently. The workshop was so inspiring that shortly after the class Ms. Kati put what she learned to good use with her class of fourth graders.

The first task was one where Ms. Kati acted as the ticket collector at a rock concert. Pupils had to deduce what the secret attribute was to be able to get into the concert using the manipulatives provided to them. (Manipulatives are visual objects that help illustrate mathematical relationships and applications. They allow students to visually examine, explore and develop concepts.) Those who did not get in the first time had other opportunities to deduce what the secret attribute was.

In another exercise a partner would choose a shape. the other partner’s task was to figure out what shape, size and colour it was by asking questions that could be answered with only a yes or no answer. Then roles were reversed.


For one challenge Ms. Kati laid out a pattern and pupils needed to continue it.  Then the pupils began working on creating strings of shapes where one attribute would change as each piece was added.


Finally different sets of directions were handed out for pupils to follow. One set of directions might be, for example, to construct a robot using twelve pieces, 1/2 of which were red and 1/3 of which were yellow.  Pupils enjoyed the logic challenges immensely and are looking forward to more logic challenges.