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.

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.

Sixth Graders Learn Hands-on Composting

On Tuesday of this week English Class sixth graders participated in a field trip to Pori’s Waste Advisory Centre (Porin sedun jäteneuvonta) on Kirjurinluoto to learn firsthand about the basics of composting. The sixth graders learned that composting is controlling the decomposition (breakdown) of natural waste and organic solid wastes.  Composting should done in a bin where natural and organic waste is allowed to mix together and decompose into a crumbly fertilized soil.

The pupils also learned that, by composting we can reduce the amount of natural and organic waste that we bin, and that the final result of composting is free nutrient-rich soil for gardening. Natural and organic materials that can be composted include vegetable and fruit peels and scraps, grass cuttings, leaves, flowers, leftover table scraps, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds as well as stale bread. Paper, cardboard, sawdust and animal manure can also be composted.

The microorganisms that work to decompose or break down composted material also need water and air in which to work. That is why it is essential to regularly toss and turn over the decomposing materials in the bin.

People generate tons and tons of waste which are causing great harm to Earth. We can all work together to reduce waste. We can all make an effort to return something back to the Earth which provides us with sustenance. We can compost.


Clay Workshop for Fifth and Sixth Graders

On Thursday of this week English Class fifth and sixth graders enjoyed a clay workshop conducted by Ms. Sylvia. First she taught them lots of new terms related to working with clay such as wedging the clay, kiln, loop tool, slip and lots more. Then she briefly described the 3 basic hand-building construction methods. Although clay is a substance that comes from the earth, the subject of the day was something that comes from water: fish.

Because the art room had been reserved for the day, both classes of 5th and 6th graders were packed like sardines into one classroom. There was barely enough elbow room, but the pupils nonetheless managed to mould fish with lots of character. Some pupils used the pinch-pot method of creating a hollow fish. Others sculpted a solid fish and used a loop tool to carve out the inside of the fish from the bottom. Ultimately some fish will be free standing. Others will be placed on a base with a wooden dowel that holds the fish up.

Even a whale or two managed to infiltrate our school of fish. The atmosphere during the workshop was focused, if not a bit loud from time to time.

The fish need to air dry for about ten days before they can be fired in the kiln. Check back on the art page in about three weeks to see how the pupils complete their fish!

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:  http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Pollution-from-Plastic

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!