Designing and Crafting in Third Grade

English Class third graders put their skills at using a sewing machine to the test when they created unique parrots in their design and craft class. Initially each pupil had to design his or her own colorful parrot on paper. Then they cut out pieces of felt to correspond with their design. These pieces were laid out carefully on a rectangular piece of tarlatan.

Once the parrot was laid out carefully on the tarlatan, another rectangular piece of tarlatan was laid over the top. On a sewing machine each pupil sewed the bars of the parrot’s cage, beginning with the center bar. After sewing all of the bars of the cage, the pupils finally cut out the outline of the cage. The final step was to create a loop from which to hang the cage. This was accomplished by twisting cotton thread and knotting it. The pupils sewed the loops onto the cages by hand.

The new Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education 2014 defines craft education as follows: “Doing crafts is an exploratory, inventive and experimental activity in which different visual and technical solutions, as well different materials and production methods are used creatively.” (Finnish National Board of Education, 2014). This craft project fits that description to a T. It goes without saying that the third graders are proud of themselves and their handiwork!


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!

Enterprise and Euros in Third Grade

English Class third graders, under the direction of their teacher, Ms. Riina, have been learning about enterprise for one lesson per day for a couple of weeks.  In class they discussed how commodities ultimately end up on the shelves of shops and stores. Then the third graders gathered materials and empty packaging for the purpose of establishing shops. Once the materials had been amassed, some time and effort went into pricing the items and setting the classroom up to function as a shopping centre.

In planning the project the class worked in small groups where they shared ideas and discussed goals. In addition to a grocery store, the third graders decided to have a florist or flower shop, bookstore, a store selling phones and a shop selling pharmacy and toiletry items.

Once the shopping centre was up and running, scheduled classes of visiting pupils were given 30 to 50 euros of play money which they could spend as they wished.  The third graders practiced calculating the totals of purchases and  making change. The shop personnel learnt how to talk to customers and how to help them to find whatever they might be looking for.

The third graders also set up two venues that sold lottery tickets, as well as an art gallery. It was possible to actually win prizes on the scratch lottery tickets.

For younger pupils in other classes who came to shop, it was excellent practice in learning to keep track of spending money using euros. When older pupils came to shop,  price tags were changed to include cents as well, thereby making the activity more challenging.

The third graders calculated how much they had actually earned after all the visiting shoppers left. The shopkeepers learned that enterprises are not always successful. For example, one of the lottery venues had too many “win” papers and they hardly made any money at all. The other lottery venue had to shut down because they ran out of lottery tickets. Together pupils needed to think of ways that might have helped to make them more profitable. Suggested solutions were, for example, to introduce more non-winning lottery tickets.  The bookstore, which was assembled rather quickly, was also not that successful. They learnt that it takes lots of effort for a shopkeeper to select books and games that interest people and actually sell well. Pupils also learned the importance of displaying items nicely.  The artist who ran the art gallery chose to give away the artwork.

Lots of satisfied customers left the shopping area during the course of this project. Even more important is the fact that necessary life skills were practiced in very real and meaningful ways. Educational experiences like this foster a progressive development of skills which can be utilised in everyday life.



Learning about Finland

English Class second and third graders have paired up for shared reading. They are reading the delightful book, Tatun ja Patun Suomi/This is Finland, written and illustrated by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen. The reading partners take turns reading to one another. The book tells about the Oddville brothers, Tatu and Patu, who try to figure out exactly what makes Finland the unique place that it is by travelling from one end of the country to the other. Together the boys explore Finland’s quirky people, its culture,  its history and its wild natural landscape. 

After every shared reading session the reading partners fill in a worksheet together that is related to the selection that they have read. This helps them summarize what they have read and learned. This project is a perfect way of celebrating Finland’s first one hundred years of independence!

Bike Safety at the Traffic Park

On Thursday of this week English Class third graders enjoyed a special bicycle safety theme day. The day began when teachers, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg, inspected the third graders’ bikes and their riders. The teachers checked the air pressure in the bike tires, bike reflectors and made sure that each bike had a functioning bell. They also checked that the helmets that pupils wore were suitably snug. Finally, following good traffic safety rules, the class and their teachers rode through town single file and across the bridge that connects to the island of Kirjurinluoto.

Once at the traffic park on the island, Ms. Riina and Mr. Gregg acted as traffic police to make sure that traffic safety laws were being followed by the children as they pedaled freely around the area.

Some children played the roles of pedestrians to make sure that the cyclists were paying attention.

Several pupils were overheard saying that it was the best school day ever, and Ms. Riina was in agreement because she was definitely feeling the same way. The day was a great success!

Watch the video below to see the third graders in action.



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!

Touch Typing in Third Grade

English Class third graders found great satisfaction in devloping their keyboarding skills this week. Using a touch typing programme in a game format developed by Sanoma Pro, the pupils began typing by using only four fingers. Then they moved on to using eight fingers to type. The pupils were genuinely gratified to observe their own concrete progress. These keyboarding skills will serve them well as they move on to use digital devices more and more.