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!

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Today English Class first and and second graders joined forces to participate in a nature scavenger hunt at a nearby park. Second graders paired up with first graders and then set off to look for the listed items.

Once the children had found the specified objects, their challenge was to create a face using some of the things they had found. Below are more personable characters that the children created.

In addition to learning new vocabulary, the children had an opportunity to socialize and work cooperatively to create something unique from their found materials. It was an engaging learning activity from start to finish.

Nature Day at Yyteri Beach

yyteri1All of the English Classes and their teachers participated in Nature Day at Yyteri Beach today. Each and every activity was carried out in small mixed-age groups where older pupils from grades 5 & 6 worked as team leaders.

yyteri_2The first task was an ABC-nature walk where pupils were supposed to find natural things that related to all of the letters of the alphabet. Some groups were really patient and put all of their their efforts into this task and they discovered something for all the letters. Whereas, for some of the groups this hunt seemed to be quite challenging, even though they were encouraged to use all of their senses.

Happy famished children enjoyed their warm school lunch outdoors picnic style and then they continued with new tasks. The following challenge was for all of the groups to write the name of our school, Cygnaeus, using natural materials gathered during their ABC-walk or brought along from their own yards and gardens at home. Results were creative and inspiring.







The last task for those who had time was to make their own portraits using material left over from former task.  Smiling and focused  faces, mirroring the artists themselves, appeared in the sand.


Learning outside of the school building, once again, afforded us wonderful opportunities to learn and practice essential life skills such as co-operation, working in a group, leadership, creativity, problem solving, etc. These are things that cannot be learnt  from books. A memorable day was had by one and all.

Family Calendar Planners for 2014


Our wonderfully unique family planners for 2014 arrived from the printer just in time to sell after the Christmas Carol Services at the beginning of the week. Each month features a calendar page to mark the activities of five family members, as well as two lovely postcards. Each postcard features a fantasy creature that an English Class pupil created out of natural materials. The creatures were created to inspire other English Class pupils to make nests and homes for them. (See our post on fairy nests and homes for gnomes.)

Each family planner costs 15 euros. They make great gifts for friends, relatives and neighbours. Proceeds benefit English Class pupils.If you wish to order a planner please contact one of the English Class teachers or send an email to Click on the picture to see a larger view of the picture. (The photo’s are grainy. The planner calendars are not.)



Fairy Nests and Gnome Homes in the Forest

Take one gorgeous crisp Autumn Day, add 80+ creative children ranging in ages from 6 to 12, five teachers and a school aide, gnomes and fairies made from natural materials and a lot of imagination. What do you get? The answer is an unforgettable experience for everyone involved, that will provide material for drama, poetry, and written compositions in weeks to come.

This fairy has a mossy green garden.

This fairy has a mossy green garden.

All of the English Class pupils together spent an unforgettable day in the woods building homes for the fairies and gnomes that they had made in school. Working in mixed age groups the children constructed amazing attractive dwellings for their creatures. One home was in a tree stump, two were in trees and many made use of the root systems and trunks of trees. We are sure that gnomes and fairies were enchanted with what they found when we left!

Beef stew in a clear broth tasted delicious outdoors.

Beef stew in a clear broth tasted delicious outdoors.

This fairy home has a leaf flap that can be lifted as one third grader demonstrated.

This fairy home has a leaf flap that can be lifted as one third grader demonstrated.

'Simple and stately' is probably what this gnome thinks of its home.

‘Simple and stately’ is probably what this gnome thinks of its home.

Gnomes and a fairy share this home.

Gnomes and a fairy share this home.