What IS a Morning Basket?
I’ve referred to our Morning Basket routine in our homeschool in previous posts. For those who have not yet heard of Morning Basket (or Morning Routine, or Morning Circle, Morning Meeting, etc) – it’s essentially just as it sounds: a basket of books and resources that you sit and read through with your children. At its simplest, that’s basically it. However, if you go searching for ideas and plans for Morning Basket ideas you’ll be inundated – if you’ve seen one Morning Basket layout, you’ve seen ONE Morning Basket layout. Everyone I know does it a little differently, which is essentially the best part of any aspect of homeschooling: doing things exactly as you want to do them, and really crafting your plans to meet the needs of you and your children. And aside from what is IN your Morning Basket, how you PLAN is also really up to you. You can just grab from the basket and read, or you can plan to do certain things on certain days, or you can loop schedule your morning basket. But as unique as all of the various Morning Basket plans are, one thing tends to be commonly throughout them all: this is the time when we can add in those subjects and resources that don’t always fit neatly into the rest of our day’s plans – the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Things like Shakespeare, and art study, and composer study. Poetry, history, and geography can all be added in too – the sky’s the limit really!
Why add a Morning Basket to your day?
For me, the draw to adding a morning routine like this was that it gets the day off to a relaxed start. We gather together at the start of the homeschool day, we read and we discuss and it really helps me to feel connected to the kids as the day starts. It can be really easy to get up and get caught up in the busy-ness of the day – everyone off to their work and getting things done and before you know it the day is over and you feel like you’ve hardly had a moment alone with your kids. Well, for me, having a morning routine that starts with us being together has helped a lot and deepened my relationship with each of my kids. In times when homeschooling wasn’t going so perfectly, we still tried to get in our Morning Basket work each day. I’ve talked about the difficult year we’ve had, and that our Morning Basket work was often the only ‘schoolish’ thing that got done in a day – it’s really been an anchor in our homeschool this year, something that has kept us connected even in times when we have been struggling to keep our heads above water. Morning Basket didn’t even always happen in the morning! Some days, the readings are spread out over the day, or if we’re out and about running errands or out at activities in the morning then we can sit on the couch at the end of the day and wind down by reading and talking about our Morning Basket work.
I also find that Morning Basket lends itself naturally to a Charlotte Mason homeschooling method – reading good books, letting the kids make some connections, and letting that fire up their imagination and knowledge-base they draw from when they are playing or doing their independent work later in the day.
What do I put into our Morning Basket?
Something I struggled with in the beginning when I was looking into the idea of a morning basket routine was that nearly all of the blogs and forum posts I read on the subject all seemed to have their Morning Basket time revolving around their religious/spiritual beliefs and practices. So at the start of this, I spent some time thinking that this wasn’t for those of us who are homeschooling secularly. It took me some time to find my OWN resources and ideas for books we could read together that fit our family culture, but that would still start our day off with that “good, true, and beautiful” that I loved so much in other Morning Basket plans.
Our Morning Basket gets a regular overhaul from me – I’ll go through and see if all the resources are still relevant to us, or if there might be things we could swap out for something else. I look to see if something keeps getting “put off” a lot, maybe we need to prioritize it more, or maybe it’s just something we can drop for now. If we’re in a season (like we are right now) of having to try to rescue the year, or we’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by other aspects of life and homeschooling – then we can pare down the work we do in Morning Basket to a more minimal amount. As we move into next school year, I will likely add in all of our “all together” subjects into our Morning Basket routine, then we will do the solo subjects, or work that needs one on one from Mom, in the afternoons. But – generally, our Morning Basket contains:
- A read-aloud chapter book that we’re reading together. This may or may not be linked in any way to our school subjects – but often it’s a book we’re NOT reading from for school. Currently, we’re working through “Wildwood” which is an amazing book! It’s taking us some time to get through because it does tend to the item that gets put off if we’re running late that day, or if we have to get going somewhere out of the house. Lovely, engaging, and FULL of adventure and fantastical things – it’s a great fun book!
- History reading: we have recently dropped Story of the World from our repertoire and are kind of “going rogue” with history for the remainder of this school year. We’re learning about Medieval History and currently we are paging through Usborne’s Medieval World, reading aloud from Castle Diary: The Journal Of Tobias Burgess, and have a few other resources we’ll page through if we’re getting into it and want to keep going.
- Character/Values: THIS has been an area where I have really struggled to find materials that are appropriate for my family and our beliefs. So when I discovered “The Adventures of Mali and Keela”, I was OVER THE MOON excited! A collection of nicely written stories about a boy and his best friend (who happens to be a princess) – each story focuses on four character traits, and at the end of each story there are some guiding questions that you can use as discussion starters. This is a wonderfully secular resources that anyone of any faith (or no faith) can use equally. No tweaking or “editing-on-the-fly” needed with this one. My kids have LOVED using this book – we read through it completely once, and are currently working through it for a second time. I read one story per week, and each day we talk about a different trait or value that is in that week’s story. If we go too many days without this one getting pulled out, my kids start to ask for it. It’s our favourite resource and is a main piece of our Morning Basket work.
- Beautiful picture books: this is also when I will add in great picture books that we can talk about and just enjoy together. This is especially nice for my youngest who is still a big fan of a good picture book even though she can read fluently. Sometimes I get books that are connected to our history or our character story, but like our read aloud it often is just a book that one of the kids pick out, or that I just want to read.
There are other things that come and go from our Morning Basket – geography, art, science reading…but since we’re salvaging the remainder of this year that has been a bit tough, we’re keeping it to our minimum subjects. Things that make us laugh, inspire our imaginations, and spark interests and rabbit trails that we can go down together. Whatever else comes and goes from our homeschool curriculum, whatever methods or philosophies I’ve been “testing out” – – our Morning Basket has been an anchor and a life preserver and one of our favourite activities.
Do you use a Morning Basket routine? Comment and let me know what you use in YOURS – I’m always on the hunt for beautiful things to add to our basket.