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.

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.

 

 

 

Sandcastles

Walk in the rain,
smell flowers,
stop along the way,
build sandcastles,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
tell stories,
say the magic words,
trust the universe.
~Bruce Williamson

Wednesday of this week was neither warm nor sunny, even though May is almost at its end, but that did not matter to the English Class first and second graders and their teachers when they went to Yyteri Beach for their class trip.  Dressed in weather-appropriate clothing, the children brought along their imaginations, as well as pails and shovels, to create sandcastles along the shoreline.

The sandcastles had proper moats and turrets and were decorated with small shells and reeds found along the beach. The children worked in small groups with intensity and interest. There is something almost intoxicating about the joyous experience of making sandcastles!

 

Shadow Drawing

On a sunny Monday English Class first and second graders paired up to create drawings of shadows that they each cast. The poses were quite expressive, but throughout the playground admonishments of, “Stay still!” could be heard. (Our first and second graders seem to have lots of energy when it is warm and sunny!)

Some of the children coloured in the clothing on the shadow figures. Others added sticks, stones and plant material to add details like hair and facial features.

A few pairs bonded to create a disco of dancing shadow figures. The disco had walls, a floor and even a disco ball drawn above the dancers! (See the photo in the upper left of the photo collage above.) The figure in the photo in the lower right of the collage is wearing a sturdy necklace made of wood!

By far the best part of the experience was listening to the first grade and second grade shadow artists as they participated in the process of creating their shadow folk! All sorts of descriptions and stories unfolded as they worked!

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!

The English Class Spring Fest

This year’s English Classes’ annual Spring Fest began with an adorable number by the English Class kindergarten (aka. preschool). As always, the programme was very diversified with everything from cheerleading, tumbling and acrobatics to singing and dancing. This year there were so many reading certificate recipients that it was not possible to get them to all fit into one photograph! Heartfelt congratulations to each and every pupil who earned a reading certificate!

Below are video clips showing the fun assortment of entertainment that friends and family enjoyed on Tuesday evening. There were some acts that are not included here as well, but hints of what took place can be seen in the photo collages above.

A Concert for First and Second Graders

On Wednesday morning English Class first and second graders joined other first and second grade classes from Cygnaeus School in the gym to listen to a concert performed by Apan Anders. Apan Anders has been performing children’s music for over 20 years. He has done children’s theater and been involved in children’s culture in many other ways as well. He has over 3500 concerts and performances to his credit! Apen Anders performed songs in both Finnish and Swedish so our English speaking pupils were able to enjoy a little global music.