Sandcastles

Walk in the rain,
smell flowers,
stop along the way,
build sandcastles,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
tell stories,
say the magic words,
trust the universe.
~Bruce Williamson

Wednesday of this week was neither warm nor sunny, even though May is almost at its end, but that did not matter to the English Class first and second graders and their teachers when they went to Yyteri Beach for their class trip.  Dressed in weather-appropriate clothing, the children brought along their imaginations, as well as pails and shovels, to create sandcastles along the shoreline.

The sandcastles had proper moats and turrets and were decorated with small shells and reeds found along the beach. The children worked in small groups with intensity and interest. There is something almost intoxicating about the joyous experience of making sandcastles!

 

Sixth Grade Class Trip to Särkäniemi in Tampere

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On Wednesday of this week the sixth graders, aaccompanied by  their teacher, Ms. Anneli, and Ms. Sylvia and Mr. James, set off by train for Tampere. Their destination was Särkäniemi Amusement Park.

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The sixth graders all visited the observation platform at the top of Näsineula Tower. (FYI: Näsineula Tower was inspired by the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington in the U.S.A.) Then they went off in two separate groups to explore the amusement park.

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Although there are no photos of it, the Log River was a real hit with the sixth graders. It might be because then they had an opportunity to be splashed. Temperatures went as high as 28 degrees Celsius which means that the splashing was refreshing!

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It wasn’t even necessary to be on a ride to have fun!

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The weather was perfect! There were at least 100 and one ways to have fun and the sixth graders made the most of every opportunity!

 

 

Unforgettable Fifth Grade Class Trip to the Island of Säppi

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Some school days are simply better than others. Last Thursday English Class fifth graders undoubtedly experienced one of the all time best school days of their lives when they visited the exotic island of Säppi which has been declared part of the Bay of Bothnia National Park. The fifth graders and two teachers, Ms. Katri and Ms. Sylvia, rode to the island in two separate groups on a fishing boat called the Merina. Fish scales and a pretty intense fishy smell added to the excitement and special atmosphere.

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Once on the island we knew right away that we were in a unique place. At the end of a wooden planked path the first group spotted highland cattle grazing not far from the lighthouse. The cattle quickly headed for the woods to continue their grazing in relative peace.

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Climbing to the top of the lighthouse was first on the agenda. The view was stunning. There were differences of opinion as to how many steps there were, but the consensus was that there were between 130 and 140 steps in all. The lighthouse was originally built of bricks. However, when the brick tower began swaying, about 30 cm of concrete were added to the outside to keep it all together in one piece.

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Grilling sausage and eating our packed lunches was next on the agenda. Ms. Katri showed off her extremely masterful fire-building skills and the sausages were cooked to perfection.

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We didn’t see any of the elusive moufflon that live on the island, but we did find a set of horns (upper right in the photo collage above) in the rafters of the open air kitchen. We were privileged to have Heikki Helle tell us about the history of the lighthouse and island. Heikki started spending his summers on Säppi back in the 1950’s when he was 8 years old. Heikki told us that the lighthouse beacon was originally fueled by rapeseed oil, then in the early 1900’s that fuel source was changed to petrol. A lighthouse keeper lived on the island with his family, taking 12 hour shifts with a couple of other men living on the island. Their work also included taking weather related measurements such as wind speed, wave height, the sea level height, and temperature. This information was called in to the mainland for use in national radio weather reports. In the 1960’s the lighthouse beacon became automated and was then fueled by acetylene gas. Wind generators provided power for the lighthouse for a a few years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, after which the beacon was outfitted to work solely on solar energy.

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After hearing the history of the lighthouse, we set off  to explore Alfred’s Nature Trail, a one and a half kilometre path through alder copses, meadows and salt marsh areas. At this time of year the groves looked almost enchanted and it would be no stretch of the imagination to see a gnome or fairy pop out from a mossy hillock somewhere.

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We wandered off the nature trail to follow the coastline for a while. A brisk north wind brought waves to dash and crash along the rocky shoals. The sound was powerful and energizing.

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Not only were our fifth graders swept up in the wonder and grandeur of it all, Ms. Katri and Ms. Sylvia both basked in the sunshine and soaked up the sights, smells and sounds of this glorious place.

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Because the waters surrounding Säppi are so full of submerged rocks there have been many shipwrecks over the years. Just a few of the shipwrecks are marked on the map. Imagine the joy of some of the fifth grade boys when they found the knee from a ship.  (Knees , according to Wikipedia, are natural or cut, curved pieces of wood. and are a common form of bracing in boat/ship building.) säppimapMax decided to use the piece of rope he had also found along the shore to take the 5 kg+ knee back to the dock so he could take it home as a souvenir of Säppi. So, with a little help from Jakub and John, the boys lugged, dragged and carried their ship’s knee over a rock studded meadow, a cattle poop plop mined meadow, a path strewn with roots, a mud mired bog and finally across glacier smoothed bedrock. (Click the map to enlarge it.)

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The picture above looks quite serene, but actually there was a brisk wind blowing and as the afternoon progressed, the wind picked up to 11 metres/sec. directly from the north.

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Heikki, our guide on Säppi, kindly provided us with a tarp to sit on and hold over our heads as we headed back to the mainland. Waves were 1,7 m. high on average with occasional waves being well over 2 m. high! Our fifth graders were a happy crew who looked upon the rocking and rolling wet return journey as wonderful lark. “This is lots better than any amusement park ride!” laughed one red cheeked pupil.

 

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!

Jumping in the Jungle!

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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!

Class Trip to an Indoor Jungle Playground

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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!

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Wild West Sale

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English Class fifth and sixth graders, together with small class 4-6, held their Wild West sale at school today. Lots of time and imagination went into creating the Wild West ambiance. There was a saloon replete with tables and chairs, a bison for a hunting ball–throwing activity, a wheel of fortune for gambling, bingo, face painting and lots of baked goods and popcorn to eat. Profits from the sale will be used by the respective classes for their own class trips in the spring.

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