This Winter Holiday, a group of children from Finland enjoyed their break from school training like future astronauts. They spent a fun filled week at the Astronaut Club in Järvenpää, Helsinki. It was organized by Fun Academy Trainer and Mission Commander, Olli Kamunen.
The Astronaut Club
The Astronaut Club was based on the Future Astronaut program developed by Fun Academy. First and foremost, Olli adapted the program to meet the time frame and the age group of children of the Astronaut Club. Then, he and the little astronauts took a week long Fun Learning journey bringing the wonders of space to snowy Helsinki. They played, did science experiments, baked, painted, watched movies, used Virtual Reality (VR) technology and played some more. Most importantly, they developed key life skills including teamwork, leadership and problem solving in an incredibly fun way.
Each day at the Astronaut Club included two learning sessions and plenty of free time for kids to explore, create and share together. They even took some activities outdoors not letting the notoriously cold Finnish weather keep them from having a blast. Furthermore, the Astronaut Club also emphasized the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in young children. Olli claims his first dream of becoming a chef trainer came in handy as he prepared the meals for the little astronauts, himself. All in all, the Astronaut Club empowered these future astronauts to ‘shoot for the moon’ both literally and metaphorically.
The Future Astronaut Program
Fun Academy developed the Future Astronaut Program together with Space Nation. It’s a 12-week program based on the Fun Learning approach, that adapts the real NASA training for astronauts. Each week carries four outcome-oriented Fun Learning lessons, designed for use during activity periods of a school day. It empowers teachers to promote scientific thinking, mindfulness, physical activity and teamwork within their classroom. Furthermore, the lessons and their activities guide the children to develop the core skill objectives. Moreover, they also improve motor skills, communication, collaboration, self-awareness and much more!
Most kids, as well as adults, dream about becoming an astronaut and travelling into space. The Future Astronaut Program helps little kids learn big subjects and develop life skills from the safety of space inspired learning environments. More importantly it inspires ‘future astronaut trainers’ like Olli to organize Astronaut Clubs. As a result children everywhere now have the opportunity to train like future astronauts from right here on Earth.
Kindergarten Teacher to Fun Academy Trainer
Olli first started his career as an early education teacher 10 years ago at a kindergarten in his hometown, Järvenpää. Thereafter, he went on to work as an education coordinator for the National Scouting and Guiding Association of Finland. As a result he got the opportunity to make connections all around the world and learn about different education practices. This is when he first developed an interest in working as an early childhood educator at a global level.
Eventually Olli returned to early childhood education as a director of kindergartens. He followed his passion of sharing the best of Finnish education with the world and consequently established his own company. He has extended his expertise to pedagogical experts from Thailand and South Korea keen on adapting the best practices of Finnish education. It was this drive that brought Olli to Fun Academy and become a Fun Academy Trainer.
Embracing Fun Learning
Olli attended the Fun Academy Trainer Training program organized last summer, learning in depth about the Fun Learning approach. Since then he has conducted Fun Learning training for early education teachers across the world. Olli claims his most memorable experience as a Fun Academy trainer was in Washington DC, United States. Together with Saara Viteli – Vice President of Education at Fun Academy, he introduced a group of kindergarten teachers to the Fun Learning approach. He recalls ‘learning’ to be shaped by a teacher-led approach in Washington, in contract to the student-led approach in Finland.
However, he was able to demonstrate the perks of the play-based, child-centric Fun Learning approach to the teachers. During his demonstration teachers observed how children learned much faster and better when you do it in a fun way. Furthermore, they understood that learning happens not only in classrooms, but also in the school yard, at home, Astronaut Camps and everywhere.
“As a teacher, when you embrace the idea that children should have fun while learning, it will also help you. Because Fun Learning becomes fun working as well. When you have fun at work you are motivated and want to develop yourself more. I think this is really important for teachers as well, and not only for children” – Olli Kamunen, Kindergarten Director and Fun Academy Trainer