“Du bist hiiri und du bist kissa,” says Monika Koch in a mixture of Swiss German and Finnish. The children settle down apprehensively in their own places – one on the table, three underneath it and the rest looking on.
“It’s lovely when Monika shows us these games that Finnish kids don’t know,” the kindergarten staff enthuse.
When the children are ready, Monika starts with a special play song. Oliver, the kindergarten’s newest member, immediately tries to pronounce the strange foreign words.
In her native Switzerland, Monika teaches children at an international kindergarten. She came at Ylläs for the first time in 2012, and now spends nearly half the year here. Having her own cabin at Röhkömukka has made her trips longer and longer.
“When I’m here, I spend time with the children every so often,” explains Monika as they play.
Monika and the kids don’t exactly have a common language. She knows a little Finnish, some English, and has studied Finnish at evening classes in Kolari.
“For me this is a language school,” Monika laughs and says ‘Bon apetit’ in Finnish to three kids enjoying a snack.
Oona Laihola, owner of the ‘Lapin Taikaa’ (Magic Lapland) kindergarten is thrilled by Monika’s visit. Last spring Monika arranged a whole week-long theme for the kindergarten.
“We had different topics such as numbers, food, colours and animals,” Oona recalls.
“It was amazing, the children learned German words in a flash.”
Being a private kindergarten, Magic Lapland also looks after visitors’ children on an hourly basis.
“We have had French, British, German and last winter some Italian kids as well. Even without a common language, it’s never a problem to get them to play together.”