Harvest Workshop

English Class kindergarten children joined English Class first and second graders in an environmental studies workshop this week. They have been learning about harvest time herbs and vegetables.

Working in small mixed-age groups the children identified particular herbs and vegetables like leek, radish, dill, parsnip, swede, cabbage and beetroot. Some veggies posed a challenge to identify, but luckily there was also more standard fare, like potatoes!

Enlightening Pedal Power

English Class fifth graders visited Nature Centre Ark/Luontotalo Arkki this week to learn about sustainable choices. This education session is one small part of a five year long project aimed at improving and enhancing resource efficiency in the greater Pori area. A model railway set in a landscape, that is on loan from Turku’s Eco-support/Ekotuki, was the focus of this temporary exhibition.

The model train operated on power generated by pedaling a stationary exercise bike. The harder the bike was pedaled, the more electricity was generated. The fifth graders could generate 40-60 watts on average. (For reference, 5 watts can power a smartphone, 10 watts can power a tablet and 50 watts power a laptop.)

The landscape upon which the model railway was set up to include lots of details of a typical community.  It provided a platform for discussing how to use and create energy wisely, how to collect and manage waste and how to take into account the natural environment in its many forms, including fields, forest, a lake, areas of town and countryside.

Pupils were able to light up parts of the model railway community by pedaling harder and harder, thereby converting kinetic energy of revolutions to electricity. Renewable sources of energy in the model community were highlighted with a green light. Hydro power was featured by a mill where a lake joins a river. Wind power was depicted in the construction of a wind generator. Solar power panels on the roof of a house could be activated with a torch so that the lights in the second story of the house go on. The entire cycle of biodegradable waste was evident when bin wagon/garbage truck collected bio wastes and brought them to the biogas generating plant. The waste was converted to biogas which then fueled the bin wagon/garbage truck.

With every visit to Nature Centre Ark/Luontotalo Arkki English Class pupils delight in taking in the sights of the main exhibition. The Ark Nature Centre highlights local flora and fauna from Satakunta.  Big forest dwelling animals such as the wolf, fox and lynx never disappoint.

The museum also focuses heavily on the amazingly rich variety of life forms of the delta area of the Kokemäki River. Visiting this museum always leaves the visitor with a strong feeling of reverence for the great diversity of this area.

Learning about Finland

English Class second and third graders have paired up for shared reading. They are reading the delightful book, Tatun ja Patun Suomi/This is Finland, written and illustrated by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen. The reading partners take turns reading to one another. The book tells about the Oddville brothers, Tatu and Patu, who try to figure out exactly what makes Finland the unique place that it is by travelling from one end of the country to the other. Together the boys explore Finland’s quirky people, its culture,  its history and its wild natural landscape. 

After every shared reading session the reading partners fill in a worksheet together that is related to the selection that they have read. This helps them summarize what they have read and learned. This project is a perfect way of celebrating Finland’s first one hundred years of independence!

Math Stations in First Grade

English Class first graders are shown in the collage above working at various math station set up throughout their classroom. Some of the stations were designed to practice making patterns, to make number comparisons, and to learn basic number constructs and operations. Each station encourages differentiated instruction and fosters the engagement of the pupils in the classroom.

Learning stations offer multiple ways to learn and understand math concepts. They expose pupils to a variety of strategies and choices that address many learners’ needs. While pupils are engaged in purposeful learning activities, their teacher, Ms. Tellervo, has an opportunity to work individually or with small, flexible groups to better meet the individual needs of her pupils.

Bike Safety at the Traffic Park

On Thursday of this week English Class third graders enjoyed a special bicycle safety theme day. The day began when teachers, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg, inspected the third graders’ bikes and their riders. The teachers checked the air pressure in the bike tires, bike reflectors and made sure that each bike had a functioning bell. They also checked that the helmets that pupils wore were suitably snug. Finally, following good traffic safety rules, the class and their teachers rode through town single file and across the bridge that connects to the island of Kirjurinluoto.

Once at the traffic park on the island, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg acted as traffic police to make sure that traffic safety laws were being followed by the children as they pedaled freely around the area.

Some children played the roles of pedestrians to make sure that the cyclists were paying attention.

Several pupils were overheard saying that it was the best school day ever, and Ms. Riina was in agreement because she was definitely feeling the same way. The day was a great success!

Watch the video below to see the third graders in action.



The English Classes Host Visitors from Their Sister School in China

Tanglible excitement was in the air last Sunday at noontime when English Class family hosts first met their Chinese guests in the schoolyard of Cygnaeus School. Nine pupils and two teachers arrived from Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School, (WQYFLS), a school with an enrollment of approximately 2000 pupils.  WQYFLS is located in the Wujin district in Changzhou in Jiangsu province of the People’s Republic of China.

The English Classes established a sister school relationship with WQYFLS in 2015. WQYFLS already had a prior sister school relationship with Rouse Hill Public School in Western Sydney, Australia and the success of that relationship encouraged them to look further abroad for friends. The main premise of a sister school programme is that it promotes intercultural awareness, broadens educational horizons by adding a global perspective and enhances understanding for all those involved with the programme.

A hand-texted poem written by a pupil at the Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School (WQYFLS) was presented on a scroll to Mr. Arto Suni, the headmaster of Cygnaeus School.

The rest of Sunday was spent with our guests getting to know their host families. Some families toured the town of Pori with their guests, some went to the lovely island park on Kirjurinluoto. Others simply spent quality time together having fun and getting acquainted.

On Monday our Chinese guests attended lessons in the English Classes. One 12-year old Chinese guest noted that there were many, many differences. She noted that there is no going outdoors at all at WQYFLS because there are no recesses in the course of a day. Class sizes are also much larger. In her class at WQYFLS there are 38 pupils. She also said that there are schools in Changzhou where there can be as many as 50 – 80 pupils in one class!

After a good, robust snack after school on Monday, pupils and their hosts went to Adventure Park Huikee, which is close to Yyteri Beach.

Once there, everyone got geared up with safety harnesses and helmets. At first some children felt a bit timid and uncertain, but little by little successful experiences encouraged them and others to try to push their own boundaries.

It was ultimately an experience that the children will not soon forget! All that exercise helped work up big appetites.

The pasta served in the restaurant where the hosts and guests ate went down a treat! (That probably should not come as a surprise because pasta originated in China, where noodles are a staple in  diets along with rice.)

On Tuesday everyone attended normal classes at school. In the afternoon the two teachers from WQYFLS participated in a tour of the town of Pori. Children were entertained by their host families in a myriad of ways as seen in the photo collages.

Although the sun was behind a thick layer of clouds during their whole visit, and it was very cool, that did nothing to spoil the visit. In fact, one guest said that it was nice having cool temperatures because it is often so warm in Wujin. She said that they almost never experience snow there. (That should not be  surprising because their school is located at about the same latitude as Jerusalem, Israel;  Madeira, Portugal or Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.)

All good things come to an end, and so it was with this visit. At 8 am on Wednesday morning,  WQYFLS pupils and teachers lined up carrying their new blue Pori tote bags ready to leave Pori. From here the group headed to Rovaniemi where they are going to visit Santa Claus. Then they will travel to Tartu, Estonia where they have established yet a third sister school relationship.

Visits like this require a lot of preparations and planning. Inevitably, it  pays off big dividends to all of the participants in the end and winds up being a rewarding, win-win situation. To the warm, gracious English Class families involved in hosting these guests, we want to say thank you!  You made this visit the success it was.




First Grade is Blooming with Good Manners

English Class first graders are blooming with good manners.  The first graders listened to their English teacher, Mr. Gregg, read them the classic story, The Berenstain Bears Forget their Manners,  where Mama Bear initiates a politeness plan for the Berenstein Bear family. They have been learning about being friendly and polite in their environmental studies and English lessons. During an art lesson the children worked in their table groups to prepare lovely flowers to remind them of basic good manners. They traced around their own hands and then painted the hands and cut them out to create colourful petals for their flowers.

The result is a lovely classroom display of blooms.