Hundredth Day in the English Classes

Yes, today we reached the hundredth day of the school year. At assembly this morning Ms. Sylvia explained to the pupils in the English Classes that this tradition of celebrating the 100th day of school is a little more than forty years old. The tradition began as a way of making the concept of 100 more concrete to entry level pupils. It has developed into a tradition that has gradually crept up through primary school grade levels. From kindergarten pupils to sixth graders, the English Classes at Cygnaeus School celebrated in a myriad of ways. After their Finnish lesson this morning, our first graders quickly made the dazzling 100-eyeglasses shown in the photo collage above.

Together with their fifth grade peer pals, the first graders created a list of one hundred adjectives. With their peer pals, the first graders searched their classroom to find 100 numbered stars that had been hidden. Once no more stars could be found, each first grader arranged the stars that s/he had found in ascending numerical order. The fifth graders checked their work. Then the first grade pupils sorted their numbered stars into even and odd numbered stars. The next challenge was to create a long line of all 100 stars in numerical order.  That was when we discovered that there are still three stars that have not been found!

The last challenge using the numbered stars was to lay them out on a table in rows of tens.  With a little trial and error, this task was mastered, too. The session with the fifth grade peer pals concluded with 100 seconds of silence. During the last lesson of the day Ms. Sylvia read the book, Fluffy’s 100th Day of School by Kate McMullen to the first grade class.

The fourth graders, together with the English Class kindergarten, started their Hundredth Day workshop with a rousing workout to Jack Hartmann’s Let’s Get Fit: Count to 100 Song. Then the pupils practiced estimating numbers of unifix cubes up to one hundred and then actually counting them.

Other activities included filling in the missing numbers on a hundred chart and drawing pictures of how they imagine they will look one hundred years into the future.

The second and third grade classes, along with some sixth graders, had 100th day booklets that offered lots of fun activities. These included estimating how many dice rolls it would take to reach a total of 100, estimating how many times someone’s name could be written in 100 seconds, doing fitness activities for 100 seconds and lots, lots more.

Finally some sixth graders were challenged with the task of writing poems celebrating the 100th day of school by using exactly 100 words under the guidance of Ms. Sandra. Incidentally, while thinking about what to write, a realization was made that our sixth graders have passed their 1000th day of school. The Finnish school system has 190 school days in a year. That means that the thousandth day in total for sixth graders occurred just before the autumn break. The Hundredth Day poems will appear in this blog within the next couple of days.


Sharks and Coconuts in P.E.

Last week the ice skating rink in our schoolyard still was not ready for use, so p.e. classes were held indoors. English Class first and second graders played the time-honoured game that is so beloved by English Class pupils, Sharks and Coconuts.

To an outside observer who is unfamiliar with the rules, the game appears to be fast-paced chaos.  That being said, it is really a wonderful lively non-competitive game that children ask to play again and again. A very bare bone description of the game, called Shark Island in this case, is available here.  (Note: we use two benches rather than a mat for our “safe island”.)

Learning About Emotions

Since the beginning of this new school term English Class second graders have been learning about different types of emotions. In the photo collage above pupils are doing an activity where they are trying to make their own facial expressions match the emotion shown on a card that they were given. They are using a mirror to check and compare their own facial expressions to that on the card they have.

Yet another activity involved sorting and matching faces to specific vocabulary words describing the faces. Research shows that social and emotion learning not only improves social and communicative skills, but it also significantly increases pro-social behaviors such as kindness, sharing, and empathy.


Spring Term Begins

The spring term started this week on Thursday, the 4th of January for English Class first graders and all of the other pupils at Cygnaeus School. To celebrate the new year the first graders created some outstanding scratch art that showed colourful firework displays in the sky over town.

One of the activities at their Friday math stations was creating number expressions. The first graders used sea creature manipulatives to enhance the experience.

Design and Craft Textile Studies

In accordance with Finland’s newest curriculum all primary school pupils learn design and craft. Half of the English Class sixth grade class have been learning textile studies skills while the other half have been learning woodworking skills . Now, after Christmas, the groups will change over. The sixth graders shown in the photo collages in this post sewed mittens from fleece material. Then they learned basic knitting so they could knit cuffs for their mittens using the garter stitch.

It didn’t take very long for the pupils to master the new skill of knitting. They sewed the cuffs to the mittens by hand and voilá, the mittens were ready for use.

Since today was the last lesson for these sixth graders in the textile studies room, pupils purposefully finished up projects that needed to be completed. The new year will begin with learning brand new skills.

Researching Domesticated Farm Animals

In their environmental studies lessons English Class fourth graders have been researching various domesticated animals found on farms. Working in small groups the pupils used their Chromebooks to find out about the life cycles and young of these farm animals, their unique features and the many ways these animals benefit humans.

The groups of pupils worked diligently and learned much about these useful animals.

Today pupils presented what they had learned so that the rest of the class could learn about  specific farm animals. Just learning the vocabulary of common farm animals is a feat: sow, hog, piglet, ewe, ram, lamb, billy, nanny, kid, hen, cockerel/rooster, chick, mare, stallion, colt, filly, heifer, calf, bull, cow, etc.



December Star Talent

English Class first, second and third graders are brimming with all sorts of talents and skills! On Friday of last week they showed off their abilities to the English Class kindergarten children and one another. We heard a rap performance by three third grade boys, watched a taekwondo demonstration, enjoyed a video clip of a first grade ice hockey player making a goal, were amazed by a talented magician performing magic tricks and laughed as a clown lost her nose and scarf again and again.

We were thoroughly entertained by a cheerleading routine choreographed by a group of third grade girls.

We were mesmerized by the lip-syncing skills of a second grader who also had choreographed delightful hand motions to the song, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. One second grader showed an animation he had created all by himself.  Two second grade boys demonstrated their footballing skills using a balloon. We heard pupils singing and playing instruments, including flutes, piano and a violin. Watch the video below to see some of what we enjoyed!