The 13th Annual Spring Run

Weather was perfect for running this Friday when English Class pupils participated in their annual Sponsored Spring Run.

spring run -2018 c

Many parents and grandparents turned out to cheer and encourage the runners on as they ran around Cygnaeus School. Our English Class kindergarten formed a wonderful group of vocal cheerleaders!

The purpose of the Spring Run, running laps around the school, is for the kids to raise funds for their own class. Before the day of the actual run the pupils collected sponsors: neighbours, family and friends, who pledged to donate anything from 20 cents to a euro for each lap run around Cygnaeus School. Once all the pledges have been collected after the Spring Run, the class together decides how to use the collected funds. Some classes use the funds toward a class trip. Others purchase special supplies, or share a special experience like going to an adventure centre or the theatre.

It is always a joy to see the positive energy unleashed when the mass of English Class pupils begin running around the school. It is so heartening to hear them supporting one another, calling out encouragement and kind words. The Spring Run brings out more than the obvious benefits of class fundraising. It involves goal setting, pushing past physical limits,  camaraderie, team spirit, empathy, pride, and grit. It is a tradition of which we are very proud.

First Fractions with Liquorice

The introduction of fractions to English Class third graders got off to a sweet start! Ms. Kati, their teacher, distributed sticks of liquorice to the pupils. First the pupils figured out what half of twelve liquorice sticks would be. Then they moved on to what a quarter would be and then what a third would be. They practiced writing the fractions. Then they moved on to another way of doing fractions, parts of a whole. The pupils cut their liquorice sticks into halves, and then they cut those halves into halves and then once again those halves into halves. The pupils learned to name those fractions, or parts of a whole.

Active discussion on the fractions of liquorice by pupils lasted for the entire math lesson. In fact, the third grade pupils learned quite serendipitously that one half is the same as (equals) two fourths, and that  is less than . The only thing that made it better that that, was when Ms. Kati gave the pupils permission to eat their liquorice!!

The Role of Hand-washing in Health and Fitness

English Class third graders are learning about ways to keep themselves healthy and fit in their environmental studies lessons. They started their unit by working in groups to create mind maps of all that is necessary to stay healthy. They wrote their ideas on the chalkboard and in their notebooks. They then focused on one particular aspect of personal hygiene, which was hand washing.

Using a hand-washing kit that was borrowed from Ms. Leena, the children participated in a quiz about hand hygiene. The third graders answered “yes” by standing on their tiptoes and raising their hands above their heads and “no” by squatting. Next the pupils played a card game that depicted where all the germs and bacteria on your hands come from. The children pondered the meaning of the word bacteria and then, whether all bacteria is harmful. Finally the children applied UV-lotion, examined their hands under black light, and then washed their hands thoroughly and then used the black light to see if they had properly cleaned all the germs away.

The children immediately observed that there was still bacteria around cuticles, under fingernails and between their fingers after the first hand-washing. At that point half of the children washed their hands using only water and the other half used soap and water to see if that affected results. After comparing the results of this investigation the third graders begged their teacher, Ms. Kati, if they could test some of the sources of bacteria mentioned in the set of cards. With Ms. Kati’s blessing, the kids set out to rub door handles, table tops and stair railings and pretty much whatever they could find. Once again they used the black light to check for germs. The class observed that the school’s cleaning personnel had done a fine job of cleaning in the corridor because little or no germs were discovered on their hands. The hands that were covered in the most germs were the ones that touched the faucets at the back of their own classroom. Finally to round out the experience, the class once again went through the steps of washing one’s hands properly.

Later in the day the class discussed another very important part of being fit and healthy, which is through physical activity and exercise. Because this class had once again earned enough stars due to being responsible and behaving well, they were entitled to vote for another treat for themselves. (Last time they chose to create different types of slime.) Now they voted to spend two hours at the sports hall. Indeed, Ms. Kati got so caught up in doing things with her class that her phone got left behind in the dressing room! It was a really great day of active learning!


Practice Subtracting Decimals

English Class sixth graders had a golden opportunity to work off some energy in their math lesson yesterday. Working with a partner, they timed how long it took for each of them to climb up and down two flights of stairs. Their teacher, Ms. Leena, helped them understand that the times were designated in tenths and hundredths of a second in addition to whole seconds. In order to compare their times, the pupils had to subtract their respective times to find which of the two was quicker.

Learning About Space at Entry Level

English Class first and second graders, together with the kindergarten class, got together  on Tuesday of this week to learn about space and the solar system to which we belong. They read excerpts from the wonderful book by Mauri Kunnas called Kaikkien aikojen avaruuskirjaThe Out-Of-This-World Space Book.  Then they watched a short video about the sizes of stars and the planets in our solar system. The second graders continued their space studies with some hand-on work. They covered balloons using a papier-mâché technique that uses potato flour. Once the balloons have dried, the second graders will paint them to resemble planets.

Music Class 9A’s Concert at PSYL

Every year the English Classes, along with all of the rest of the pupils at Cygnaeus School, are invited to a concert that is planned and presented by the ninth grade music class at PSYL, our neighbouring upper school. This year Music Class 9A outdid themselves with their programme, which told the love story of two high school sweethearts. The 9th graders wrote their script, chose their music, accompanied themselves on instruments and sang all the songs as part of their final project. Two particularly memorable songs that they performed were Ultra Bra’s Jäätelöauto and Ed Sheeran’s Perfect.  Cygnaeus School music teacher, Elina, was bursting with pride throughout the show put on by her former pupils, and other Cygnaeus School music teachers were duly impressed with the class’s skill and versatility at playing musical instruments. The consensus was that it was a lovely concert for pupils and teachers alike.

Our Class / “Meidän luokka” on TV!

Imagine what a surprise it was for English Class fourth graders one day a couple of weeks ago when their teacher, Ms. Anu, introduced the class to Daniel, a famous European fashion designer, who had come to their class to ask for their opinions on 3 different prototypes for school uniforms. The pupils were much too polite to mention that the uniforms were not to their taste. (One uniform prototype resembled a super hero costume!) Nor did they mention that matters were not being translated properly. In fact, it took a while for the pupils to catch on to the fact that they were actually being PRANKED! Only when the TV crew came into their classroom did they fully realize that they had been chosen to participate in a popular children’s programme called Meidän luokka which translates as “Our Class. The fourth graders became very excited  indeed when they finally understood that they would be traveling on the following Wednesday to Tampere to engage in all sorts of fun activities in the studio of Meidän luokka .

Fourth and fifth grade classes throughout Finland are selected to participate in Meidän luokka.  In every episode of Meidän luokka / “Our Class” a 4th or 5th grade class faces challenges that require good teamwork, communication skills and good group dynamics. Members of that class are also tested on how well they know one another. In the course of completing challenges, the class collects points that go toward collecting supplies that they can use for holding a class party.


Our fourth graders managed to win a large box of party supplies and treats for a class party. They had a fantastically fun-filled memorable time doing so. Readers of the blog can see the programme here.