Mandalas from Natural Materials

After learning what mandalas are, all of the English Class pupils from grades 1 – 6 went to the park on the island of Kirjurinluoto to put what they had learned into action.

Pupils worked together in small mixed-age groups. Because we were in a park, pupils brought colourful flowers and other materials with them from their own fields and home gardens. They could use materials they found lying on the ground at the park, but nothing could be picked.

Some groups made very meticulous mandalas. One group put together a nice, colourful mandala, but then a few crows came and picked off the berries and in doing so, disturbed the pattern of the leaves set out, which caused a bit of frustration.

That group set to creating another mandala without berries this time to tempt more crows.

The natural materials used by the children included chestnuts, acorns, rowan berries, flowers and petals, cones, mushrooms, pebbles, a great variety of leaves, feathers, reeds and reed tufts, lichen, moss, twigs and  rose hips.

Below are some of the mandalas completed by our English Class pupils.

School lunches always taste better outside picnic style. Today’s lunch was no exception! Many pupils went back for second helpings.

After lunch pupils used leftover materials to fill in a map form of Finland that Ms. Virpi drew on the ground. It was close to being completed when ominous clouds moved overhead. After quickly tidying up, pupils and their teachers started back toward school.

A sudden rain shower could not dampen anyone’s spirits! It was a great day for everyone involved!

Getting Excited about the Library

How can one single field trip help you to experience forests, rain forests, deserts, mountains, oceans and even outer space? Easy! Visit a library! That is what English Class first graders and their teacher, Ms. Tellervo, did on Friday when they visited the Pori Town Library.

It was easy to see that the first graders were no strangers to books. While there, they were charged with the task of finding Finnish books that had a forest theme.

They were soon absorbed by the text and illustrations of the books they were exploring.

Mr. Gregg read them a story and then the first graders returned to school with a fine collection of books for their Finnish classes about life in the forest.

Behind the Scenes at the Theatre

On Wednesday of this week English Class first graders had a wonderful opportunity to experience Pori’s newly renovated theatre from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Pori’s beautiful theatre has been undergoing renovations for the past three years and finally, last month, the renovations were complete. New technology has been added to both stages. The seats have been refurbished. The amazing frescoes on the ceiling in the main theatre have been restored to their original beauty. On their tour the children got to see where costumes are made and altered, the work space where stage sets are created and where props are stored. Indeed, they even saw the ghost who lives in the Pori Theatre!

The first graders also got to actually go on the smaller stage where the production of Mr. Clutterbuck and His Adventures (Herra Hakkarainen seikkailee) was set up. The children could interact with the actors and actresses in their costumes, try out different props and experience the stage set scenery first-hand.  All in all, it was a field trip that will greatly enrich future experiences of visiting the theatre.


An Action-packed Night School and Field Trip for Third Graders

Although it was not quite 24 hours long, the English Class third graders and their teacher, Ms. Anu, managed to cram an awful lot of amazing experiences into one night and one day. Beginning on Thursday evening of last week, the third graders gathered in their classroom for a sleepover at school. After breakfast the next they headed to the island of Reposaari to explore the defense fortress park that dates from the 1930’s and the rocky shoreline. Back at school on Monday, working in four groups, the pupils wrote about their experiences. The text accompanying the photo collages below is the result of their efforts.

On Thursday at 18:00 most of us came to night school. Some of us came later to night school. When we came inside, we dropped our bags and went outside to play. Outside the girls were practicing cheerleading and boys were playing football. When we came inside most took out their phones and started eating candy. After we had played with our phones enough we voted for the movie that we would watch. The movie, “Mulan” won the voting. We started watching the movie and in the middle of the movie one of our classmates came to night school.

When the movie stopped most of us were crazy and some took their shirts off. Most of our classmates were arm wrestling. Some were doing push-ups and running circles in the hallway. After that we came to the class and had our evening snacks. Then we brushed our teeth. Even though we were told not to, we started telling horror stories. One of the stories was the licking dog. After a long time of fidgeting, we finally fell asleep. (by Maxi, Ayyoub, Benjamin, Oska, Antti, Thomas)

After we woke up we got ready for breakfast. Our breakfast was in the cafeteria and we ate yogurt and sandwiches. We drank Trip juice.

After the breakfast we walked to the bus station. The bus took us to Reposaari and we were allowed to play with our phones. When we got to Reposaari we walked to the forest. (by Siiri, Santi, Thomas, Otto and Sophie)

We were at the Linnakepuisto. It was a sunny day. Some boys were playing war and some were recording a video. Some of the girls were playing war nurses.

There was a trench, rooms and a bird (lookout) tower. There were bunkers as well. And then we started to walk to a beach. We took pictures of the waves. Anu took pictures of us. We had fun. (by Lilian, Iiris, Karl and Onni)

From the beach we started walking to a restaurant called Merry Monk. At the Merry Monk we first washed our hands. Then we went to our seats and the server came to ask what we want to drink. After we got our drinks we waited for the food.

Then we got our food which was French fries and meatballs. After we ate we got to choose if we would take vanilla ice cream or strawberry ice cream. But most of us took the vanilla one. 

We went to Reposaari School and we took a couple of pictures of our cheerleading. After that we walked to the bus station and we danced at the bus station to warm us up. The bus came and we went to the bus. The bus ride was normal and it took 1 hour. We got to go to school already 20 minutes early. And then we rode home. It was lots of fun! (Ida, Amelia and Amelie)



Bird-watching in the Park

The third week of May was National Bird Week for children, which is organized by Finland’s Nature League and Bird-Life Finland. With a few sets of binoculars and their camera phones, English Class second graders set off to do some bird-watching in a nearby park.

The children quickly found several nests. Some nests were abandoned and some were very much occupied.  One fieldfare (räkettirastas) in particular, set up quite an alarm when a couple of children and Ms. Sylvia approached its nest to take photographs. Ms. Sylvia used a special lens on her camera to get some of the pictures included in these photo collages.

Among the birds that we saw were a black crow, chaffinches, common wood pigeons, wrens, pigeons, fieldfares, a European magpie and a couple of wagtails. The second graders were very enthusiastic about their bird-watching experiences. They found a total of four active bird nests and two inactive nests. Although some birds were already hatching their eggs, other species of birds were still in the stages of building or repairing their nests.

All in all the children were surprised by how much bird activity there was in a local park. Another surprise was how much fun it was to stand still and quietly observe!

First Graders and the Kindergarten Go on a Nature Walk

Spring has spring in Pori at long last! English Class first graders and kindergarten children, together with Ms. Leena and Ms. Eevaliisa, went to experience spring first hand at Polsanpolku on Kirjurinluoto. After completing their spring diaries, the first graders knew what signs of spring to look for. While Ms. Leena was pointing out wood anemones that were growing a bit offside the path to the two classes, a chaffinch alighted on a nearby branch close to the children and began to singing its song lustily. (You can hear a chaffinch singing here.) The pull-rope ferry wasn’t in operation yet, but that didn’t make very much difference to anyone because there was so much to see and hear anyway.

Back at school Ms. Leena used picture cards to review things that the children had seen and heard on their nature walk. It was a perfect spring field trip!

Plastic Poses Problems for Mother Earth

Week 16 was national thrift week in Finland culminating in Earth Day on Saturday, the 22nd of April. In the spirit of Earth Day, English Class sixth graders visited the Ark/Luontotalo Arkki on Thursday to learn about plastic as a pollutant on Earth. The programme was organized by Pori’s Waste Advisory Centre (Porin seudeun jäteneuvonta). The sixth graders learned that plastic will be with us pretty much forever, although plastic has only been around since the 1950’s. Through their guide, Merika, the pupils learned about dumps or landfills and how easily plastic eventually finds its way into waterways from seepage and helped by the wind.

What makes plastics so harmful to humans, animal and plant life and our environment is that they’re non-biodegradable. It only starts degrading in 700 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet. 

Even when it degrades, it doesn’t turn into some other form that gets absorbed by nature. It photo-degrades, which means it only breaks down into smaller toxic bits of itself. It’s forever there. Pollution from plastic affects the air, land and oceans.              ~Source:

The sixth graders also learned that by washing clothes made of synthetic fibres, such as fleece and polyester, hundreds of thousands of microplastic particles are released into the environment through waste water. Although our waster water is processed at a water treatment plant, there is no existing filtration system that catches microplastic. That means that animals and humans are ingesting microplastic to some extent.

By taking proactive measures, we can lessen the harmful impact plastic has on the environment. We need to remember the 6 R’s:

  1. We can reduce our use of plastic.
  2. We can redesign products made with plastic to be made into better, new plastic products.
  3. We can remove plastic from products and substitute other materials.
  4. We can re-use products made with plastic.
  5. We can recycle items made of plastic.
  6. We can also recover objects made from plastic.

The bright green shopping bag in the photo collages above is a good example of recycling, recovering and redesigning. The shopping bag is made of plastic bottles that have been recovered and then redesigned to become a shopping carrier bag.

Before leaving to return to school, English Class sixth graders toured the natural history museum and spotted litter here and there throughout the exhibition. Our guide, Janne, pointed out that a common chocolate Easter egg is not at all environmentally friendly to Earth. The outer covering is aluminum foil which needs to be disposed of with metal waste. Chocolate, or the cocoa from which it is made, is not always ethically grown or grown in a way that sustains the environment. Furthermore, there is plastic inside the hollow egg! On their way back to school pupils were encouraged to look for examples of plastic that were harmful  to the environment and aesthetically. It was an enlightening field trip!