What We are Reading Wednesday: Classic Chapter Books for Young Children

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My kids have been so eager to listen to chapter books over the last few months.  They are currently 6.5 and 4.75 years old and both equally enjoy this read aloud time.  I read aloud from our current chapter book every day at lunch and I bring it with us if we are out and about and have any waiting time.  Thanks to NYC parking regulations from time to time we have to sit in our parked car and wait for the street sweeper to come by which is another opportunity to read aloud.  They have loved these books so much that they also ask me to read at other points of the day when we are home.

Here are the books we have read between January and May:

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

The Mouse in the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary

James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Now, some of these books were written in the 1930s and ’40s.  Obviously parenting practices have evolved since then.  I was concerned about some topics in these books such as spanking in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or the physical and verbal abuse endured by young James in James and The Giant Peach.

I even considered skipping over these parts or changing the words.  And, in full disclosure I did skip over a few words here and there (words like stupid, for example). We also talked about the words Indians and Native Americans and how in the past people used words we don’t use today.  

However, the books have opened up some interesting conversations and they have handled these topics beautifully.  They were not scared or traumatized.  

With that said, the kids and I highly recommend the books on this list!  

Here is a sneak peak at the next few classic children’s chapter books we plan to read:

The Littles by John Peterson

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin

Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

Update from the NYCDOE

I previously blogged about how I filed my first Letter of Intent with the NYC Department of Education for my son, Ethan, who has a 2012 birthday.  A few weeks after filing, I received a package in the mail from the NYCDOE.

Included in the package were:

  • the Regulations for Home Instruction in NY State (all 20 pages)
  • a letter with information specific to this 2018-2019 school year
  • a list of compliance items and due dates

The next compliance item for us is the Individualized Home Instruction Plan or IHIP and it is due on 8/15.  I’m currently working on ours and will post more when it’s complete.  Legally we have to submit 4 Quarterly Reports and an Annual Assessment.  That’s a lot of paperwork!

What are the homeschool regulations like where you live?  Do you have to submit a lot of paperwork?  I’ve read that New York has some of the strictest regulations for homeschooling .  For anyone who lives in NY, this is probably not surprising!  It is exciting to be inching our way towards becoming official NYC homeschoolers.

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Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels.com

4 Year Old Birthday Gift Ideas

Lillian will be four years old soon!  I normally think about what gifts to buy for birthdays or the holidays for months in advance.  I love to give gifts and I want to be sure my kids will not only love the gift but that it will inspire their creative play and be worth the space the present will take up in our tiny apartment!

I chose these gifts because we already have a Terra Barn from Target and lots of Schleich farm animals.  It is the most played with toy in our house.  Not only do I know she will love these horse sets to go along with the farm, we already have a designated spot in our house for the farm setup.  We don’t need to find a new storage/ organization system.  I love adding on to things I know the kids already enjoy.  I also love the brand Schleich.  The items are high quality and very lifelike!

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She is also getting two books, because I just can’t give my kids a gift that doesn’t include at least one book.  I chose the Wildflowers book because Lillian LOVES flowers and I chose the Story Orchestra book even though we already have one copy because my kids love this book SO much and have such a hard time sharing it!  Problem solved.

Here are the gifts we purchased for her.  I can’t wait for her to open them!

*all links are Amazon affiliate links*

Schleich Horse Club Mobile Vet – this is on sale right now on Amazon!

Schleich Foal with Blanket Playset

A Little Guide to Wildflowers by Charlotte Voak

The Story Orchestra:  Four Seasons in One Day by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

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Friday Finds

I was happy to find this post from Nicole at the Kavanaugh Report with ideas for Montessori materials and activities for a four year old.  Lillian is so close to turning 4!

Thinking even further ahead to the fall, I am considering these Autumn Guides from Whole Family Rhythms.  “The Guides are designed to help you plan, create and animate a gentle, balanced and holistic rhythm in your home, flowing between structured, adult-led activities and child-led, imaginative free play.”

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Check out this amazing new place for kids called The Muse Gowns that just opened in Brooklyn!  How fun!  Trapeze classes?  Sign me up, please!

 

 

 

Local Spotlight: Teatown Lake Reservation

We recently visited Teatown as a family and had a wonderful time there.  Teatown is a little less than a 1.5 hour drive from Brooklyn.  We drove and parked in their parking lot for a $5 charge as non-members.

First, we visited their nature center which had some local animals on display:  turtles, snakes and a salamander.

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We tried one of their easier hikes first, the Twin Lakes Loop to the Waterfall Trail and arrived at a beautiful waterfall where we enjoyed our picnic lunch.  We hiked back via a different trail, the Hilltop Trail.  The first two trails were quite easy hikes, perfect for young children.  The hike back via the Hilltop Trail was more challenging but we made it!  All in all the hiking time was 3.5 hours.  Ethan, 5.5 years old was great on the trail and completed the full hike happily!  I carried, Lillian who will be 4 next month, in the toddler carrier for about 30-40 minutes along the Hilltop Trail.  Other than that she hiked along happily.  I’d definitely recommend this hike for families with young children!

 

Something that I think helped keep the crankies away on this long hike was this book…

Backpack Explorer:  On the Nature Trail

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The kids each had a copy and LOVED it!  I thought we’d pick one page to focus on such as “leaves” or “insects” but they seriously found every single nature item in the book.  This is probably why the hike took so long, since we stopped to check our book and identify mushrooms, leaves, insects, frogs and tracks.  But it was wonderful to watch them be such careful observers of nature.

Ethan’s favorite part was finding a frog and climbing near the waterfall area!

 

Lillian loved finding lily pads and lillies floating in the water!

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What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Land and Water

*all links are Amazon affiliate links*

I recently purchased this book, Water Land:  Land and Water Forms Around the World by Christy Hale, after seeing it on Instagram.  It’s a beautiful, simple book which very creatively makes comparisons between water and landforms.  It was an instant hit with Ethan who is 5.5.

Ethan is very interested in maps, different landforms and any kind of water so I thought this book would be a jumping off point for a more in-depth study.  I purchased the following books to help our study along:

The Pond by Jim LaMarche

The Raft by Jim LaMarche (I have yet to be able to read this beautiful book without crying.  What a great story!)

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown

As we move forward I plan to add kinetic sand and water with blue food coloring to our sensory table for him to explore.

I’ve also downloaded these 3 part cards from The Helpful Garden to help us learn the land and water form vocabulary.  There were many great 3 part cards available for free download on the site.

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If you follow us on Instagram, I plan to share more of our land and water study there.

 

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AERO

I recently attended the 2018 AERO Conference in New York.  AERO is the Alternative Education Resource Organization, headed by Jerry Mintz, “a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years.”

This was my second time attending AERO as a homeschooling mom.  Alternative school founders, leaders and teachers as well as homeschoolers and unschoolers from around the world gathered together on Long Island for a 4 day conference.  One of my homeschool mom friends and I attended for 2 of the 4 days.  It is always exciting and inspiring to be around so many like-minded people!

There were lots of wonderful workshops to choose from.  I attended:

Holistic Pedagogy as a Foundation of Democracy hosted by Peter Berg

Two Alternative Movements, A History and Memories Aplenty hosted by Pat Montgomery, founder of The Clonlara School

Developing Passions and Self-Direction for Learning hosted by Carol Nash

How to Talk about Alt Ed (So that Your Family and Friends Will Listen) hosted by Jill Keltner, Monica Cochran, Sarah Conklin, Teresa Draguiucevich and Sarah Brooks from The Home Learning Community at Innovations Academy in San Diego

Sir Ken Robinson keynoted and spoke to us via Skype to close the conference.  It was very exciting!

We sadly missed the other keynote by Henry Redhead, grandson of A.S. Neill, founder of Summerhill School.  Summerhill is considered to be “the pioneer in democratic, learner-centered education” which launched the free school and alternative school movement.

I would definitely recommend attending an AERO conference if you are interested and able.  I have learned so much and will be sure to attend in the future.  Many people who attend the conference have either started or are hoping to start a micro school in their area.  It is always exciting to hear about people’s visions for these different, special schools.  Homeschooling is just one alternative education option.  It makes me so happy to hear about others.