Musical Hoops Cooperative Style in Second Grade

Second grade teacher Ms. Leena and their English teacher, Ms. Sandra, helped English Class second graders learn to shift classroom focus from competition to cooperation by having pupils play an interesting game of musical hoops. While music played pupils danced around hoops laid out on the floor throughout the classroom. When the music stopped, pupils were directed to step into a hoop. After each break in music,one of the teachers removed a hoop. Pupils, however, were not eliminated. This challenged the children because there was a greater need to coordinate the activities of each pupil. The children realized  “we are all in this together” and the game became an increasingly cooperative activity of squeezing everyone in.

They quickly understood the importance of working together, friendship, and trust. The skills they developed include communication, empathy, listening, problem-solving and trusting others. As they celebrated the final phase of the game the second graders realized the power of cooperation.  Active pupil-involved process-based learning as mandated by the new Finnish national curriculum requires good cooperative skills.

After this exercise the children listened to Julia Donaldson’s story, A Squash and a Squeeze, which is a delightful story about space (or a lack of space) and the fact that everything is relative.




Camping at Tammen in Kullaa


Along with their teachers English Classes grades 1 – 4 started this week by experiencing an overnight camp together at Tammen in Kullaa.  Parents transported small groups of pupils to the camp and back. (-for which we are very grateful)

The camp started by singing the traditional camp song, Fee Fi Fo Vista, lead by Ms. Kati. Pupils then divided up into four mixed age groups to participate in various challenges set up by class teachers Ms. Kati, Ms. Anu, Mr. Juho and Ms. Leena.


One of the challenges was to complete certain tasks within a four minute time limit. The tasks included transferring pieces of macaroni from one dish to another by using a straw and stacking and unstacking a bundle of paper cups.


Another challenge involved devising a strategy so that the entire team traversed a grid on the ground and  only one person could be in a square. Furthermore only one square could be touched by a person crossing the grid.


This grid challenge really required cooperation and teamwork in order to succeed.


The overall theme of the camp was Native American Indians so the following challenge was to solve Indian sign language messages for which teams were given a piece of a geometric puzzle. Once all the messages had been solved and pieces of puzzle gathered, a larger figure could be formed.


Yet another challenge was to blow up balloons and create as high a totem pole as possible using only balloons and tape. The time limit was 14 minutes.


Wet weather posed a few more problems than expected while making the balloon totems but the teams rose to the challenge very well! In fact, because English Class pupils are so accustomed to working in mixed age groups, and because they are so familiar to one another, the teams cheered and supported their members throughout the challenges.


Once the challenges were completed it was time for grilled sausages followed by free play. The area around Tammen Camp is so full of interesting nooks and crannies along with the lake, stream and forest, that the children had a fantastic time running, climbing, crossing the bridge, hiding, chasing one another and just being happy, healthy kids.


Three cabins were used for sleeping. Some children settled in quickly and fell asleep with no problem. Other children took a little longer to fall asleep, but everyone got there in the end. One of the children commented on the way back to school today, “It was the best day of my life!”