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!


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





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.”


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.


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


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!


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.


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




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.

Friday Finds

Here is a collection of interesting things I’ve found this week about alternative education and homeschooling:

This is a link to a short documentary about an incredible school in NYC called Pono.  This is a very special and unique place for kids age 2-12.


I guess this needs to be said…”In case you didn’t know, siblings can be friends!”

Sara from Happiness is Here says it well!



Lastly, I loved listening to The Simple Families podcast this week:


The host, Denaye Barahone, gives a refreshing reminder about the importance of play.  Living in NYC where school and academics are pushed at such an early age, I am so grateful for her voice on such an important topic.


What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Summer


Here is a list of books we have been reading to get ready for summer!

*all links are Amazon affiliate links*

Fourth of July Books

Red White and BOOM! by Lee Wardlaw

Independence Day by Trudi Strain Trueit

F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

The 4th of July Story by Alice Dagliesh

Summer Books

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse



Filing the Letter of Intent in NYC

As you might imagine, some of the heaviest regulations for homeschoolers are found right here in New York.  This week I took the first step to register my son as an official homeschooler.  Here in NYC, you do not have to register until the year your child turns 6 years old.  This is the year your child would be in 1st grade in public school.  The cut-off date for school is December 31st so if your child will be 6 this calendar year, he or she must be registered.

This is the first year you can file your “letter of intent” electronically.  I simply sent an email to letterofintent@schools.nyc.gov.  The letter must include:

  • your name
  • your child’s name
  • child’s date of birth
  • home address

The next step is to submit the Individualized Home Instruction Plan, otherwise known as IHIP.  It is due on August 15, so stay tuned for more information on that paperwork.

If you are looking for more information about homeschooling in NYC, check out this link:




Sorry for the hiatus

A Brooklyn homeschool is back!  I realized that when my kid’s forest school program ended for the year, I no longer had time to write on the blog.  I learned I cannot write on the computer at night after my kids are asleep or I have a very hard time falling asleep.  Nighttime screen time definitely does not work for me!  But, their forest school camp started, so I found my writing time.  Happy to be back and I hope you’ll enjoy the posts that go up this week.

I hope you are having a great summer!