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.


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!

Christmas Card Workshop

On Wednesday of this week English Class kindergarten pupils joined with English Class first and second graders for a Christmas card workshop.

Some model cards were put on view and pupils made cards on their own following the models.

Although a lot of time had not been allotted for the workshop, even the youngest pupils were able to complete at least one card, if not more. A sampling of the completed cards is shown above.

Celebrating 100 Years of Finland’s Independence

The theme of the Suomi Finland centenary celebration was being and doing Together. That theme of togetherness was very evident in the celebration at Cygnaeus School on Thursday, November 30th. The English Class pupils and teachers, together with all of the other pupils and teachers at Cygnaeus School, outdid themselves with decorations and programmes that included music, art and dance for invited guests. The main speaker at the celebration was Juhani Ruohonen, the head of  Satakunta County Museum. He spoke about how the town of Pori and 105 year old Cygnaeus School have changed and developed in the last hundred years. The music classes’ choir, Synkooppi, sang a beautiful rendition of Finlandia.

Fourth grader Oska played the part of a grandson who sent a letter to his grandfather wondering how Finland’s flag and national anthem came to be. The role of the grandfather was played by retired teacher Antt Ilén from Cygnaeus School. His grandfather replied with a great deal of enlightening information in his letter to his grandson. The rest of the celebration was divided into decades where a programme number always highlighted something special in that decade. Essentially all of the pupils in the school had some role in the programme. There was folk dancing that represented the exuberant 1920’s. The 1930’s featured The Seven Brothers, which is a very famous book by Finland’s national author, Aleksis Kivi. We also heard a song about the brothers sung by third and fourth grade boys.

The 1940’s were a tumultuous time of wars. We were honoured to have war veteran Olavi Sandberg, who is 90+ years old, talk to us about his life. He also told how he had helped lay many veterans to rest in their final resting places in years past.  When he sang Veteraanin Iltahuuto, (The Veteran’s Evening Call) together with the sweet voices from the third and fourth grade music classes, it was deeply moving. Roy K. translated the song into English as follows:

The Veteran’s Evening Call
(1). Over the darkening shore of the bay the sun has set.
Evening call is already sounding.
The burden has been laid down.
Remember your father then, his step has grown weary.
Children and your children’s children,
now it’s your turn.
[Refrain]: Take care, for soon the brothers will be gone,
Remember that for them this land was dear.
Tell your children’s children in song,
the memories must never be tarnished!
(2). The hymn sounds in the vault softly,
darkly the yearning sounds.
Time has reaped its harvest, the field has been picked clean.
Long ago we marched side-by-side.
Fire lit up sky and earth.
On the shore of Lake Onega’s bay,
to whom can this now be told ?
[Refrain]: Take care…
(3). In the waves of Lake Ladoga’s might,
we can no longer dip our shoes.
Brothers who guarded its shores,
when the dawn arises.
Proudly the Karelian folk has borne its suffering.
Mother Earth embraces them protectively.
The sentry is now gone.
[Refrain]: Take care…
In the 1950’s Paavo Nurmi’s success as a great athlete was celebrated. The 1960’s featured Marimekko and a dance known as Letkajenkka. The 1970’s decade was brought to mind by 4 times gold medal winner Lasse Virén. The 1980’s brought Muumi to the world’s attention. In the video below English Class first and second graders join all the rest of the first and second graders at Cygnaeus School, and the English Class kindergarten pupils, in singing Hei Muumi.
The English translation to this Muumi song can be found here.
The 1990’s were renown for some colourful fashion. Fashion trends throughout the decade recycled styles from previous decades, notably the 1960s and 1970s so we watched a fashion show. In the 2000’s hip hop was popular. The fifth grade music class did a stellar job with their band and choir production of Eteen ja ylös. The 2010’s spotlighted a special slide presentation of the art classes’ extraordinary artwork to the background music of Lauri Tähkä’s Minun Suomeni (My Finland).
Toward the end of the programme Headmaster Arto Suni revealed two works of art that will be hung permanently in each wing of the main floor of the school. The works, both called Tuhansien järvien maa/Land of a Thousand Lakes are composed of  individual 3-dimensional white flowers on a royal blue background. Every pupil and staff member in the school made a flower using silk clay. These flowers were then permanently attached to the two painted blue backgrounds. After singing the national anthem, Maamme, and the closing flag ceremony, this amazing celebration of our country and the young people who live in it was over.
Because all of the English Class pupils put lots of time and effort into decorating our school for this special occasion, we would like to share some of their work with readers of our blog. Above is a village of buildings created by first, second, third and fourth graders. Fifth and sixth graders made the snowy trees for the village. The snowflakes on the right are water colour resist with a bit of glitter for pizzazz created by English Class third graders.
An earlier post showed English Class pupils practicing cursive. They used their cursive skills to each write a word that they themselves chose as being their most beautiful Finnish word. The words were either written on white or blue paper and then a Finnish flag was formed with all 117 cards.
Gel print workshops for all of the English Class pupils resulted in the amazing prints seen above. English Class second graders made glittery sweet angelica weeds and sewed snowflakes on paper plates. The first graders made snowy tree landscapes with shredded paper, glue and tissue paper. The entire school looks amazing with lantern jars pupils have made, drawings of presidents, paper stars and snowball lanterns and so much, much more. If talent and creativity are any indicators, Finland is in good hands for the future because we have a school of extraordinary teachers and children!

Christmas Pageants Herald the Beginning of Advent

English Class first graders and second graders visited the Pentecostal Church in Pori to take a journey back in time (Aikamatka) via a time machine. They went back in time via a time machine built by Professor Danger to visit the year that the baby Jesus was born. Taking photographs during the Christmas pageant re-enactment was not allowed, but the overall journey was rich with all sorts of sensory experiences. Our guide started by taking us to visit King Herod, who was in a state of anxiety and looking for the new king. We then traveled through the village of Nazareth where we found out that Mary and Joseph had already left to go pay their taxes in Bethlehem. We sat around a campfire with shepherds and could hear the sheep in the distance and other night sounds when suddenly angels appeared and told us that the new king had been born. We went on and finally arrived at a stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger in a stable. After paying our respects we continued our journey and encountered a wise man who offered to show us the star gazing place he and his two companions had used to follow the bright star over Bethlehem. Our time machine journey ended at the home of the Salonens who very generously served us juice and gingerbread snaps. It was a memorable experience for all!

On Tuesday English Class fourth graders enjoyed a different Christmas pageant re-enactment, The King is Coming (Kuningas tulee), produced at the parish centre of the Lutheran Evangelical Church.

At  the palace King Herod let the fourth graders know that he was desperate to find the new baby king that the prophets said would soon be born.

All of the elements of the Christmas story were carefully acted out, from Mary being visited by an angel to find out she would be the mother to the new king,  to Mary and Joseph leaving Nazareth to go pay their taxes in Bethlehem.

The peaceful scene in the stable will stay with the children for a long time to come.