Learning Library and Research Skills

Last week English Class sixth graders visited Pori’s Town Library. As part of their visit the sixth graders tested out special decoding materials that had been developed over the summer by library staff members. The idea was to use a decoding tool to determine the name of a specific  book, DVD or magazine in the library and then to locate it in its proper place in the library.

Another part of the field trip to the library for the sixth graders was learning how to research a pre-determined topic by locating information in books and periodicals, taking notes and marking down the sources of information for a bibliography.

Today English Class third graders visited the town library. They also participated in the decoding activity devised by library staff members. Working in small groups the pupils had to figure out the name of a book using the decoding wheel, and then locate the book in its place among the shelves.

Each group needed to find a total of five different books using cards that were coded. More clues for locating the books on shelves were offered on the backs of the coded cards. For example, a card clue might show the Dewey decimal number of 84.2 and the first three letters of the author’s surname, KAJ. This decoding game is a nifty way to motivate children to find specific books in the library. Both classes very clearly enjoyed the challenge!

Shared Reading with a Reading Partner

“Reading buddies”, “reading pals”, “reading partners”, “shared reading”… There are many names for when older pupils and younger pupils read together at school.  Yesterday afternoon English Class sixth graders paired up with second graders to spend a lesson of shared reading together. This time English Class second graders read to their sixth grade peer pals.

The benefits of this kind of reading are numerous.  Every single younger pupil gets positive reinforcement and attention while reading in the 1:1 situation. The children are reading aloud without the stress of having to read in front of the whole class. Comprehension problems can be dealt with immediately. Shy and more reluctant readers feel more confident when reading with an older pupil. Fluency improves and friendships develop with the older pupils. The benefits of older pupils reading to the younger ones include improvements in fluency, responsibility and confidence as well.

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!

First Aid Skills in Sixth Grade

English Class sixth graders learned an important life saving skill today when they participated in a Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course organized by the Finnish Red Cross and LahiTapiola. The training session is part of the Be a Hero/Sankarikoulutus which is a programme designed to train fifth and sixth graders throughout Finland to be prepared for emergencies.

In addition to getting valuable, timely information, the sixth graders were given the CPR training mats for their class to keep. That means that they can continue practising their new CPR skills. Better yet, they can take a CPR training mat home and teach family members what they have learned. This training was very effective and well meets the aims of our new curriculum.


Spring Promotion 2017

Everything went according to plan at the annual Spring Promotion at Cygnaeus School. The gymnasium was packed with parents of sixth graders as well as pupils and teachers. All of the sixth graders made their entrance by participating in a stately Polonaise procession.

English Class sixth graders Tekla and Jakub narrated the programme which included singing the Satakunta song, the traditional summer hymn, Suvivirsi, and the farewell song, Jäähyväislaulu. Sixth graders from classes 6B and 6C gave memorable speeches. Headmaster Arto Suni spoke and announced award recipients. The sixth grade music class sang a beautiful rendition of Climb Every Mountain in Finnish and English. The promotion ended with sixth graders receiving roses from their class teachers and walking an honour aisle composed of the school’s second graders. Below is a video clip showing English Class sixth graders receiving roses from their class teacher, Ms. Anneli.

Para School Day at Cygnaeus

Tuesday, May 23rd was Para School Day at Cygnaeus School. English Classes 3 – 6 were able to  participate in several para sport activities during the course of the day. The para sports activities were an extension of  Finnish Schools on the Move (Liikuva koulu) in which we have been participating all year long.

Rules for playing para games, as well as special equipment required to play the games, such as blindfolds, special jingle balls and a hot air ball, had been sent to our school specifically for using on Para School Day. Mr. Juho coordinated the time schedule of activities.

The photo collage above and below show a game called Goal Ball. There are three blindfolded players on each team. Each player has a designated area in which to play. Players kneel on their knees and may fall onto their sides, either to the left or the right, to prevent a goal.

A throw toward the goal is made from a kneeling position or by standing up and bowling the jingle ball. The judge or referee can only call “Play”, Out” and “Change” while the ball is in play.

Hot Air Ball is a game that is played by keeping their backsides on the floor. There is no scoring or point system. The goal is to simply keep the hot air ball afloat, and moving back and forth over the net from one court to another.

It was interesting to note what an atmosphere of bonhomie these para sports activities generated among the English Class pupils. In second grade great discussions took place spontaneously about how everyone can be physically active, as well as the importance of being physically active. It seems that our pupils were very familiar with several Paralympic events and even could name the athlete from Pori,  Leo Pekka Tähti, who has won five gold medals in the Paralympics.

English Class first and second graders will have an opportunity to try these para sports according to their own schedules next week or even next fall.




Finnish National Fishing Day 2017

Wednesday, May 17th was National Fishing Day in Finland. This year English Class first graders, third graders,  fifth and sixth graders, visited the banks of the Kokemäki River to learn about the different types of common fish and their anatomy. Each group had their own time slot. Pupils also had a chance to learn about fishing and then could actually fish with worms. Pupils were also able to taste some Baltic herring that was on offer.

The annual Fishing Day event is organized by the regional chapter of Finland’s Recreational Fishing Association in cooperation with the (Satakunnan Kalatalouskeskus) and other fish-related organizations. In addition to on-site activities, pupils and teachers were given lots of information in the form of booklets and brochures to explore back at school.  There was information on different types of bait, lures, fly fishing and ice fishing. There were directions for scaling and cleaning a fish, too. There was even a brochure that explained how to skin a burbot!

Cold temperatures and a brisk wind combined to make a wind chill factor that felt more like January than May this year but the interesting activities made almost everyone forget how cold it was.

Pupils were able to taste Baltic herring fillets that had been breaded lightly and then baked. For some pupils it was a bit of a concern to eat the herring bones and all, but actually , the herring bones are very soft and pliable so there is no choking hazard.

Below is a video of English Class fifth and sixth graders tasting herring, learning about fish anatomy and actually fishing.