Morning Baskets

imageIn Our Morning Basket…

     Many homeschoolers are discovering the joy of beginning their school days with a hand-picked selection of beautiful studies, and everyone is curious about what other people include. I learned about this idea just before beginning kindergarten with my daughters last year and absolutely loved it! I put together a special time for us to begin each day, and it was by far one of our favorite parts of the school year.

     We recently began our first grade adventure, and the morning basket is making its appearance once again! I struggled with deciding what to include only because there is SO MUCH that could add to the beauty of our day. But I remind myself that we have time. We don’t have to do every good thing every year. So for now, this is what we include during the first hour or so of our school day each morning:

Memory Binder
Charlotte Mason’s Scripture memory system is an effective, well-known method to use when memorizing new information (detailed here). However, I also want my children to memorize poetry, as well as the truth-rich hymns that they may not pick up in the more modern-style church services we attend. So following the lead of other homeschool moms I found, I kept the structure of her system but moved it to a binder. Now, instead of using index cards, I have page protectors behind each divider that hold a poem and Bible verse on one side and a hymn on the other. So every morning we practice our memory work in a systematic way that is very effective in keeping what we’ve learned at the forefront of our minds.

     The new addition to our memory binder this year is our ASL cards. One day a week, as part of our curriculum, the girls learn a new set of signs. In an effort to keep them well practiced in each new set of vocabulary that they’re learning, I have written down each set they will learn on index cards. After they’ve covered a new lesson, that index card is added to the front pocket of the memory binder and we review it each day that follows.

Critical Thinking
My daughters love riddles. Enter Can You Find Me? for grades K-1. This is hands down one of their favorite books! We read one problem every day, and every day they beg to read two! It has been right on target as far as their abilities go, and we really look forward to this part of our morning time.

Poetry
Another favorite at our house is poetry, so every day we read one new poem. This is something else that the girls beg for more of on a daily basis. At the moment we’re finishing up a small book published by Dover, Favorite Poems of Childhood.

History
This is another area where we lean heavily toward the Charlotte Mason style in that we use living books rather than textbooks. Because it’s a lot of reading and discussion, we’ve found that the most natural place for us to include this in our day is during our morning time. Later the girls create their own notebook pages with drawings and writings about what we learned during this time of reading together. It’s a very gentle approach to history, which I love for this young age.

The Loop
Everything listed above we do daily. But as there are so many things I’d love to include during morning time, I decided to put several other resources on a loop schedule. Right now, we’re reading these lovely books once weekly:

Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum – This is a really beautiful book on manners that includes short stories, poems, and excerpts revolving around various manners and character traits. Last year we lightly read through portions of the excellent Laying Down the Rails for our character training, but I decided to switch it up this year, and so far we love Everyday Graces just as much.

Life of Fred: Apples by Stanley F. Schmidt –I added this book to our loop in the hopes that it would add some fun to a subject that people seem to either love or despise. So far it’s doing the trick!

Stories from the Holy Writ by Helen Waddell – Just typing that title makes me smile. This is a gem of a book that my father bought for me during one of his frequent browsings through an antique book store. It is so, so lovely and gentle. My voice automatically softens when I begin to read each chapter to my little children.

     At the beginning of each month we read from The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen. We did this last year too, and instead of being tired of the book, the girls look forward to reading it on the first school day of each month. Benjamin enjoys it too.

     That’s it. That’s what’s in our morning basket right now. We love having such a gentle beginning to our days, and I’m so glad to have incorporated these beautiful works into our lives.

What about you? What’s in your morning basket?

-Katie

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