Getting Prepared for Halloween

On Monday of this week English Class first and second graders learned a little bit about the history of Halloween together with some Halloween vocabulary words. The children also learned that similar celebrations are held throughout the world. After watching a couple of short video clips, the children set to work crafting their own haunted houses.

The project involved tracing around a pattern and then cutting out the house from folded black paper. Windows, doors and decorations were added to taste after the folded house was glued together along one edge.

Once the houses were completed to their satisfaction the children made tall ghosts from lightweight cardboard. Each ghost was then inserted between the two parts of the folded haunted house so that it could be moved to pop up here and there, accompanied by spooky ghost sounds.

The haunted houses will reside on the windows of the first and second grade classrooms until Halloween. They look “spooktacularly” cool!

Seven Brothers for Aleksis Kivi Day

October 10th is the day that Finnish author Aleksis Kivi is honoured. English Class kindergarten pupils, together with English Class first and second graders worked together in small mixed age groups to craft the characters in Kivi’s most famous work, Seven Brothers.  The  seven Jukola brothers were: the stubborn oldest brother, Juhani,  twins Aapo and Tuomas, the fairly religious brother Simeoni, twins Lauri and Timo, as well as the clever young brother, Eero. Seven Brothers was the first Finnish novel to capture the hearts of  common people for the reason that it was written in Finnish and not in Swedish. The escapades of the roudy seven bumpkin brothers still entertains people today.

Mushroom Wall Hangings

English Class second graders completed an impressive array of mushrooms in their design and craft lessons. They began by studying the appearance of fly agaric and bolete mushrooms. This mushroom handcraft project compliments a forest theme that has been ongoing in this class since last year. The children cut pieces of felt to match the mushrooms they had seen and drawn. The pupils then glued the felt mushrooms onto a background of hessian (burlap) cloth. They used the rya knot technique and green yarn to create the effect of grass. Blueberry shrubs were added using a running stitch and blue wooden beads. To finish their projects, the second graders sewed a running stitch around the outside of their work and folded over the top to create a heading. The completed works hang outside the door of their second grade classroom, looking very fine indeed.

Designing and Crafting in Third Grade

English Class third graders put their skills at using a sewing machine to the test when they created unique parrots in their design and craft class. Initially each pupil had to design his or her own colorful parrot on paper. Then they cut out pieces of felt to correspond with their design. These pieces were laid out carefully on a rectangular piece of tarlatan.

Once the parrot was laid out carefully on the tarlatan, another rectangular piece of tarlatan was laid over the top. On a sewing machine each pupil sewed the bars of the parrot’s cage, beginning with the center bar. After sewing all of the bars of the cage, the pupils finally cut out the outline of the cage. The final step was to create a loop from which to hang the cage. This was accomplished by twisting cotton thread and knotting it. The pupils sewed the loops onto the cages by hand.

The new Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education 2014 defines craft education as follows: “Doing crafts is an exploratory, inventive and experimental activity in which different visual and technical solutions, as well different materials and production methods are used creatively.” (Finnish National Board of Education, 2014). This craft project fits that description to a T. It goes without saying that the third graders are proud of themselves and their handiwork!


Learning Library and Research Skills

Last week English Class sixth graders visited Pori’s Town Library. As part of their visit the sixth graders tested out special decoding materials that had been developed over the summer by library staff members. The idea was to use a decoding tool to determine the name of a specific  book, DVD or magazine in the library and then to locate it in its proper place in the library.

Another part of the field trip to the library for the sixth graders was learning how to research a pre-determined topic by locating information in books and periodicals, taking notes and marking down the sources of information for a bibliography.

Today English Class third graders visited the town library. They also participated in the decoding activity devised by library staff members. Working in small groups the pupils had to figure out the name of a book using the decoding wheel, and then locate the book in its place among the shelves.

Each group needed to find a total of five different books using cards that were coded. More clues for locating the books on shelves were offered on the backs of the coded cards. For example, a card clue might show the Dewey decimal number of 84.2 and the first three letters of the author’s surname, KAJ. This decoding game is a nifty way to motivate children to find specific books in the library. Both classes very clearly enjoyed the challenge!

Enterprise and Euros in Third Grade

English Class third graders, under the direction of their teacher, Ms. Riina, have been learning about enterprise for one lesson per day for a couple of weeks.  In class they discussed how commodities ultimately end up on the shelves of shops and stores. Then the third graders gathered materials and empty packaging for the purpose of establishing shops. Once the materials had been amassed, some time and effort went into pricing the items and setting the classroom up to function as a shopping centre.

In planning the project the class worked in small groups where they shared ideas and discussed goals. In addition to a grocery store, the third graders decided to have a florist or flower shop, bookstore, a store selling phones and a shop selling pharmacy and toiletry items.

Once the shopping centre was up and running, scheduled classes of visiting pupils were given 30 to 50 euros of play money which they could spend as they wished.  The third graders practiced calculating the totals of purchases and  making change. The shop personnel learnt how to talk to customers and how to help them to find whatever they might be looking for.

The third graders also set up two venues that sold lottery tickets, as well as an art gallery. It was possible to actually win prizes on the scratch lottery tickets.

For younger pupils in other classes who came to shop, it was excellent practice in learning to keep track of spending money using euros. When older pupils came to shop,  price tags were changed to include cents as well, thereby making the activity more challenging.

The third graders calculated how much they had actually earned after all the visiting shoppers left. The shopkeepers learned that enterprises are not always successful. For example, one of the lottery venues had too many “win” papers and they hardly made any money at all. The other lottery venue had to shut down because they ran out of lottery tickets. Together pupils needed to think of ways that might have helped to make them more profitable. Suggested solutions were, for example, to introduce more non-winning lottery tickets.  The bookstore, which was assembled rather quickly, was also not that successful. They learnt that it takes lots of effort for a shopkeeper to select books and games that interest people and actually sell well. Pupils also learned the importance of displaying items nicely.  The artist who ran the art gallery chose to give away the artwork.

Lots of satisfied customers left the shopping area during the course of this project. Even more important is the fact that necessary life skills were practiced in very real and meaningful ways. Educational experiences like this foster a progressive development of skills which can be utilised in everyday life.



Star Talent Galore

English Class first and second graders are brimming with all sorts of talent! On Friday of last week English Class kindergarten pupils joined the first and second graders to enjoy the first Star Talent Show of the school year.

The variety of performances was amazing! There were jokes, singing and poetry performances, reading in Polish, a performance with a stuffed animal, different types of dancing, from ballet to street dance, magic tricks, video presentations of rowing and go-kart racing and musical instrument presentations.

The audience, comprised of English Class kindergarten pupils along with English Class first and second graders, was both very attentive as well as supportive. The overall atmosphere was so warm and positive that it will surely provide impetus for these budding performers to continue developing their talents.