Even though the last time we had a vacation was only a month ago, a break from school life feels once again deserved. To celebrate the last day before the Easter holidays and my comeback from a week-long sick leave, I planned Toimintatorstai (not Maundy Thursday this time but Thursday full of action) for the pupils. The idea was to forget the books for one day. Here are two of my ideas for functional education I introduced on Toimintatorstai.

Action reporting

Like in sports reports, the idea of action reporting is to tell the others what is happening in the video you are watching together. I gathered the pupils to sit in front of the screen so that they could reach each other. There is a microphone (we used a whiteboard eraser) going from pupil to pupil to show whose turn it is to report.

First, we talked about reporting, what it means and how it is like in sports news. We have been practising verbs and substantives in Finnish so I gave them two basic examples: something happens or someone does something. As a teacher, I encourage everybody to say at least one thing that happens or name one thing they see in the video. The video I used was only 7 minutes long. Therefore, we also counted how many seconds can one speak so that everyone gets a turn. This exercise is suitable for both L1 and L2 learners since every student defines his/her own level. My favourite videos for this exercise are Shaun the Sheep episodes which are short enough but full of action to report about.

Shaun the Sheep – Chase

Project Easter Grass

It is a tradition in the schools in Finland to practise planting every Easter with rairuoho, ryegrass. I didn’t know how difficult it would be to find ryegrass in Sweden but since I had already decided I wanted to do this project, I ended up asking a friend to bring some ryegrass seeds all the way from Finland. We planted them already two weeks ago so that they had a good time to grow before Easter. This project combines Finnish (or any other language), Arts, Biology and little bit of Maths as well. It is suitable for all grades.

1. Comics. We started by drawing comics with four square-shaped panels. I had drawn and copied the grids of the right size for them. The topic of the comics was obviously Easter so first, we thought about different characters and events related to Easter. Then the pupils drew one sketch version with pencils and one final version with colourful markers.

2. Puzzle. As planting pots we used milk cartons I had collected from the school’s kitchen. I asked the pupils to measure and cut the cartons so that every side had the same length as the comic panels. We cut the panels separately and glued them in the right order on the milk cartons.

3. Plant. Planting ryegrass is very easy and there are many simple instructions – at least in Finnish – you can find online. For our grass it took one week to sprout and grow. We watered the grass every day with a spray bottle and trim it after one week.

4. Share. On Thursday before taking the Easter grass home the kids were, for once, allowed to use their cellphones in the classroom. The task was to take a photo of each comic panel (4 in total) and send them to me via Snapchat. I had, of course, created a separate teacher account for this task. Another option was to send it from home via email with the help of parents. It worked pretty well and the students liked it! At the same time we also practised (social) media skills when testing different perspectives for the photos and learning how to share pictures privately on Snapchat.

The example I made for the class.

April Fool’s Day

Since the April Fool’s Day is officially today, I tested the students’ sense of humour on Thursday with a little prank. I told them that the principal had decided to test all the 4th-grade students with a concentration test because it has been “so restless and bad behaviour lately”. I had actually printed out a test with ridiculous tasks like “go and knock the door” and “make a hole in the test paper with your pencil”. The point was only to read the first sentence that kindly asked the student to read carefully through the whole text. At the end of the test, it said: “Now that you have read the tasks, turn the paper over and raise your hand.” It was very hard to keep the poker face for those 3 minutes until the first one understood the joke. Fortunately, everyone laughed when I started to recite the Finnish April Fool’s poem.

Aprillia, aprillia, syö silliä, juo kuravettä päälle!

Anyway, now it’s time to enjoy the Easter vacation, which in Sweden means not only the holidays but the whole week off! I cannot complain. It’s a perfect time to relax, travel and reload new energy.

Happy Easter! Glad Påsk! Hyvää pääsiäistä!