Thursday, January 27, 2011

School kids

Baz and Ayla, as you know, have a unique schooling situation. They are in the Totem school, which right now numbers 6 kids, ages 6-15. None of the kids are in the same grade, and my two are the youngest - Ayla is a 1st-grader, and Baz is a 2nd-grader. They are taught in two classrooms, by two wonderful teachers, and rotate throughout the day in a schedule that includes English, French, Math, Science, Social Studies, Phys Ed, ECR (ethics/civics/religion), and Arts. They are in school Tuesday-Saturday, working around the show performance schedule; the school hours here in London are 12noon-6:00pm.

I enjoy hearing them talk about their classes and projects. Most of them are the same; though they are officially on two different grade-level curriculums, in many subjects they are taught the same lessons and given similar assignments. Baz's spelling words and math problems are slightly harder than Ayla's.

This evening at dinner I asked them to tell me some of the things they do regularly in their classes. Here are a few of their most-memorable activities:

Social studies – tracking the Cirque du Soleil big-top touring shows on a map, learning about the flags and countries.

Describing the parts of a sentence using three plates: green, blue, and red. Green = where or when, Blue = action, Red = subject

French – making little books about animals, describing them.
Ayla’s animals so far: 1. Cat 2. Dog 3. Butterfly
Baz’s animals so far: 1. Tiger 2. Bald eagle 3. Platypus 4. Poison dart frog 5. Dracorex (dinosaur)

Teacher around the world (their teacher David tells stories about his extraordinary travel adventures)

Rainforest studies (an ongoing project)

English class: 5-minute writeup - this is the one they've been most excited about today, as they brought home some of their work to show me. Apparently David gives them a first sentence, or sometimes a handful of words, and they have to write a short story with that starting point. Baz got so into his story this evening that he pored over it till bedtime, adding and tweaking things. To show you how my kids are writing these days, I'll copy both of their stories here, spelling errors and all.


(excerpt of Ayla Kennedy’s story)
Birds were singing today while I was working on my homework. They were bothering me so much I just had to go outside then I saw a very amazing site they were not birds, can you guess what they were? there was a big group of dogs out side and it was like they were chiping. I was very suprised then I heard a woof woof I looked at the dogs again then I saw that it was the dogs that were barking I looked up at the sky and saw lots of birds they were all chriping then I walked back inside and thought the birds might have chiped so loudley I could not hear the dogs and then the birds were so quit and the dogs were so loud….

Baz Kennedy
Birds were singing today while I sat on the porch. It was afternoon and my sisters were playing in the yard. I love atum I thout to myself. The trees are ripe and birds are singing sundedley a cool autum breeze swept through the air it seemed to lift me off my feet. It blew me over to the porch railing and there I saw a wonderful sight I could not have described. It was amazing ferocis and breathtaking all at the same time. It was a dinosaur. I had longed to see a dinosaur but now it was scary. At first I couldn’t tell which type of dinosaur it was. But then I renemberd. In my dinosaur book the ultimate dinopedia it said it was a dracorex the dragon king. I stared at him for a moment then started to back away “plese don’t go” dracorex said.

I was very surprised. I took a step nearer. “come with me and meet my friends” dracorex said. I got off the porch close up dracorex was two times as big as me. “touch me and we’ll go to dinosaur world” dracorex said. I hestated. “won’t there be meat eaters?” I asked. “yes there will he answered But their all my friends.” “OK” I touched his tail. A few moments later we were spinning through the air. “One quick question” I said. “sure” said dracorex. “How did you get to the humane world?” “Oh a friend bumped in to me and I fell in a pool of magic water.” He looked around. “we should be almost there.” so I got to dinosaur world and I met all his friends like allosaurus then I went home. and here I am writing this book.


I have a lot of fond memories of story-writing as a little kid, so I love reading these. I also love that they have a really personal education taking place. Their teachers sometimes get frustrated with them, and sometimes adore them, but no matter what, they are like a small family.

Tomorrow is Phys Ed day, they're heading back to the rock-climbing gym and they're excited!


  1. Don't you love an internal world that can conceive of talking dinosaurs and dogs that chirp like birds?

  2. Love the stories - I save things like that from my kids as well. Great idea to give them the first sentence. They look so tall in the photo! Nice to see about your family visit as well. Keep on blogging!