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!

Heureka! Look at this!

English Class fifth graders and their teacher, Mr. Gregg, visited Heureka Science Centre in Vantaa on Thursday. The all day field trip is an annual activity for fifth graders at Cygnaeus and is sponsored by Cygnaeus School’s Parents’ Association. Much of what the fifth graders saw and experienced ties in directly with the new curriculum for fifth graders.

Play is the highest form of research,” declared Albert Einstein, and indeed that is what is proclaimed on the home page of Heureka Science Centre’s website. The science centre is carefully designed to emphasize the joy of discovery. The main exhibition includes favourites like the tightrope bicycle, the Foucault pendulum and hands-on information about making coins. There are countless classic exhibits where phenomena of physics and the natural world can be explored: buoyancy, simple machines, laws of motion, viscosity, light, electricity and so much, much more.

The Body Worlds, Animals Inside Out exhibit exposes what lies under the feathers, fur, skin or hide of animals. The Intelligent City exhibit addresses communication, technology and the infrastructure of tomorrow’s cities. Under Cover is an exhibit that demonstrates how the various camouflaging techniques of animals can be applied to military technology and know-how. Wind in the Bowels is a popular fun approach to demonstrating aspects of the human digestive system. Pupils were also able to participate in a laboratory session where they investigated acids and bases.

Join the fifth graders as they explore Heureka Science Centre in the video below.

Photography Field Trip to the Forest


Scavenger Hunt and Outdoor Photography in Groups

On Wednesday of this past week all of the English Classes went to the Pori Forest for a day of outdoor activities. The first activity involved taking quality photographs of items listed on a nature photography scavenger hunt list. Before going on this field trip all of the English Class pupils watched a short slide presentation at school about how to take good nature photographs. The children learned how to use the sun for backlighting, how to take close-ups and all about the several different camera angles that can be used while taking photographs.


The children were placed in small mixed age groups with a fifth or sixth grader acting as the leader of the group. Each group had an iPad for taking photographs. Some of the older pupils used their smart phones as well. The idea was that all of the children in a group take turns being the photographer.


The children composed their photographs using what they had learned while watching the slide show about nature photography.


The children appeared to have a wonderful time taking photos. We all picnicked there in the woods and enjoyed warm pasta casserole that had been brought by car to where we were. Mm-mmm. Everything tasted so good outdoors!


Cows and Sheep from Pine Cones

After lunch among themselves each group decided how they wished to spend the rest of the time in the woods. The only requirement for an activity was that the children had to document what they chose to do with photos to share with others at a later date. For example, two groups created cows and sheep from pine cones and made little pastures for their farm animals.


Land Art

Some groups created land art using natural materials they found.


Cops and Robbers and other Chasing Games

By far the most popular activity of choice was playing cops and robbers in the woods. Several groups combined forces to make it all very exciting.


The collage above is a teeny tiny sample of photographs that the children took. The quality of the photos exceeded the expectations of all of the teachers! Visit the blog in the next couple of days to see video composites of the photos the children took.


Field Trip to a Wind Farm


As part of Environment Week English Class sixth graders visited the Hyötytuuli Information Centre which is located near the Meri-Pori wind farm along the Reposaari road (see the photo collage below) The class learned about wind turbines and the new offshore wind farm that will be already generating power in the autumn of 2017.


The Tahkoluoto Offshore Wind Farm will encompass ten new wind turbines. A pilot offshore wind turbine in Tahkoluoto was the first offshore wind turbine to be constructed in demanding ice conditions and it has been used as a test turbine for the entire offshore wind power industry in Finland. It is the prototype for the construction of these ten new wind turbines. The English Class sixth graders returned from their field trip with a whole lot of new knowledge about a valuable energy resource.