Morning baskets are something that have been taking the homeschool world by storm. Everywhere you look there they are. So you might be wondering what is this morning basket thing and do I want to do one?
So what is a Morning Basket?
A Morning Basket is a time in the day when everyone in the family can come together and learn together about specific subjects. All ages can homeschool together doing activities like reading aloud, studying the arts, or even efficiently combining students for subjects like history and science.
Other names that you might hear it called are Morning Time, circle time, and some people even get a little fancy with their names. They call it things like symposium, or power hour.
It doesn’t matter what you call it, the practice is still the same. Everybody’s coming together, everybody’s learning together all at the same time.
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Do I really need a morning basket?
One of the first things that people want to know is do I really need a basket in order to do this?
And the answer to that is no. Of all of the things that go into this, the basket is really one of the least important parts of it.
One of the most helpful things about having a basket, though, is having one location to put all of your materials and all of your supplies.
You could do this in a plastic bin. You could do this by putting things on a shelf. You could do this by putting things in a tote bag.
So the basket is really not that important, but you do want to keep everything together because once you get a larger family together and even a smaller family like my three kids and you get started with your school day, you don’t want to have to break to run after books and resources.
It is really handy to have it all together in one location. Whether or not that’s a basket is totally up to you.
What is the point of a morning basket for your homeschool?
There are a number of reasons you might want to do this in your homeschool. The first one is the fact that it can be a really efficient use of your school time.
Think back to the one-room schoolhouse model. This is a time when you can have kids who are fairly close in age and even some with a little bit of a spread come together to learn about particular topics.
We’ve done things in our Morning Time like learn grammar together, learn a foreign language together and even learn history and science together. There’s a good four years difference between the ages of my kids, but it’s a really efficient way for us to do this kind of learning.
The other thing you might do in a morning basket is you might put those things in there that you would really love to do in your homeschool, but you wonder where else to put them in your day — things like reading some Shakespeare or poetry or doing art or even doing composer study, music appreciation or artists study.
Your Morning Basket Podcasts to Get You Started
- What is Morning Time? A Conversation with Cindy Rollins
- Teaching from Rest with Morning Time: A Conversation with Sarah Mackenzie
- A Considered Booklist with Jennifer Macintosh
- A Morning Time Mentor: A Conversation with Heather Tully
- Big Family Morning Time with Angela Boord
- Morning Time with Littles with Celeste Cruz
These are things you might want to do in your homeschool, but when you sit down to fill out your schedule, they kind of get lost in the middle of the math and the learning to read and the learning how to spell well.
Putting those all together in one time and naming it gives it a purpose and means that these things are much more likely to get done.
So what subjects do you exactly do during morning basket?
You could really do anything you want to do. Anything that seems to fit group learning with your family. But we like to break it down into four different kinds of subjects — we call them the four Rs.
They are reading, ritual, recitation, and relationship.
Reading aloud in morning basket
So morning basket is a perfect time to do reading our read-aloud time with your family. You can choose to read whatever it is that you want to read. We’ve read historical things, we’ve read nature study things, we read things just because they’re fun to read.
We might have a chapter book going at any given time and sometimes we even read picture books related to whatever the subjects are that we happen to be studying at the moment.
Recitation in your morning basket
Recitation is simply memorizing things. Memory work is great for active memory, building up your brain cells and making connections with many kinds of materials.
You can also write these words on your heart, some of these beautiful words whether that’s Bible verses or poetry, and then you’ll never be alone if you need strength or encouragement.
We start with fun poems like “Ooey Gooey” about a little worm that gets caught on a railroad track or “The Yak,” which is a poem by Hilaire Belloc. He has a lot of great funny poems about animals. Starting with that kind of poetry and that kind of recitation is something that kids really enjoy.
Ritual in your morning basket
The next thing that we do in our Morning Time is ritual. We are a Christian family, so we really enjoy bringing in some of those ritual elements from our church into our home worship.
We light a candle during Morning Time. We take the time to pray for other people. Whatever elements are going on in your church, you could bring them into your Morning Time as well.
Relationship in your morning basket
Relationship is the final R and this one is perhaps my absolute favorite.
So often our school days can be disjointed and fragmented because kids are going off to work on different subjects by themselves, but by all sitting together and learning some portion of our schoolwork together, we have this shared family culture that we’re always going to be able to harken back to and draw from.
This creates some of the best memories that our kids are going to have from our homeschool.
FAQs about homeschool morning basket
How long should it be?
How much of my school day should I be giving over to this whole family learning? And the answer is going to vary from family to family.
If you have kids who are close together in age and you’re able to use this as a really efficient way to teach multiple ages together, this might actually be a large part of your school day. It might get stretched to an hour or an hour and a half.
But if you’re dealing with a wide variety of ages or even just have other circumstances going on like maybe a teen or even a toddler, then your Morning Time is probably going to be a lot shorter.
The younger your children are the shorter it’s going to be because their attention span is only going to be able to take so much.
What age do I gear my homeschool morning basket for?
With a large age range of kids, most moms tend to aim for the upper end of the age range.
Heather Tully has 10 kids from teenager all the way down to toddler, and she always gears her Morning Time towards the older kids and her family.
The younger kids are in the room, they’re playing sometimes quietly and sometimes not, but she’s not quite as worried about aiming everything towards them.
They’re going to pick up what they can from the Morning Time and they’re going to cycle back through and be exposed to those things again in the future. So she always gears the Morning Time towards the upper age range.
Even if you’re going to do that, there are a few things you can do to kind of bring the little kids into it. You could always have something in your basket for every age child. At some point during your Morning Time, you can kind of close it out and let your teens go and then draw the little kids’ close and read some picture books or something very specifically just for them like nursery rhymes.
But even if you don’t, they’re sitting there and they’re listening to the memory work, they’re listening to you read the other things, they’re paying attention to the beautiful art. Even if they’re kind of in and out, you are going to be amazed at how much they pick up and how much they learn.
How do I deal with toddlers during my morning basket?
Speaking of toddlers, there is nothing that can wreak havoc on a Morning Time like a two-year-old or a three-year-old and a lot of times moms wonder how am I even going to get this done when they’re loud and they’re crazy?
The best tip I have for this is enduring. You just have to outlast on it and it’s going to get better as they get older. But there are a couple of other things that you could do.
First of all, don’t expect it to be perfect to begin with. You’re going to have to teach this two-year-old or three-year-old that this is a time when we’re all learning together and my expectation for you is that you’re going to behave and be quiet.
It’s going to take a number of starts and stops to get them to understand that. It might take even a couple of months for them to kind of get on board and realize that this is the expectation. Until then, you’re just going to have to constantly be correcting them over and over again.
At first, that’s completely normal and the more they learn that this is how it’s going to be, the more they’re going to get on board with it.
The other thing you could do is have a special box of toys that only comes out during Morning Time and that’s their special time to get to play with these things they really want to play with as long as they do it quietly.
Other moms start Morning Time over breakfast or they do Morning Time during snack time. So strap a toddler into a toddler chair and having a bunch of Cheerio’s or little treats there in front of them that they can eat during Morning Time. This is one of the things that’s really going to help bring a little more peace.
As they get into the three and four-year-old age range, they can learn to sit there for a little while and then if you have safe places like a playroom or a fenced-in backyard where they can kind of wander in and out, they can do that too while you continue Morning Time with your older students.
It just takes a lot of practice and habit building to make this work.
If you have any other questions at all about Morning Time, I would love for you to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them for you there.
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What about a moody preteen that complains whatever I do? Forget the toddler, he’s the hard one.
Yes! I get it. We addressed those preteens here: https://pambarnhill.com/morning-time-older-kids/
Hi, Pam! Are all the suggested resources (books, pictures, art, music, etc) available online for free or for a fee? Thanks!
I have one child left at home and she is 11. She is on the spectrum and I have been homeschooling for a year. How do I make this work with just one child?
Here are a couple of podcast episodes with moms of onlys who do Morning Time: https://pambarnhill.com/ymb47/
Maybe one of them will help 🙂
Hi Pam! Do you have a Morning Basket planning template available for download? Thanks for all you do!
Hi Amy, you can find those in the shop 🙂 https://plus.pambarnhill.com/product/morning-time-planning-forms/
Do you have plans already planned out ? I have one son who will be 14 in the fall.
Love this! Do you remember where you got those art cards? I can’t find any online anywhere!
I got them from another homeschooler but I think they were Dover Art Cards. They came on a sheet and you detached them yourself.
I have completed week 1 of the free month-long sample plans and I am blown away by its impact on our family and school time. My kids are pre-K through 4th grade and they have blossomed before my eyes with this “curriculum.” My oldest got so excited about Bach and wants to play a real organ now. My middle child asks to recite the prayer every night. My youngest was so excited to do a nature walk with her new nature journal that we joined a hiking group. I am learning new things as well and everything is presented in such fun and engaging ways! The conversations the material has generated as we sit around our learning table has created an atmosphere of complete excitement and curiosity!! I can’t praise these resources for your morning basket enough!
I LOVE it. So glad you are enjoying this!
Thank you so much for this! I stay at home with my toddler. My husband and I are blessed to be able to work from home. She is special needs (a little behind on her speech and following directions) so I’m always looking for activities that will help her. I find that most activities can be modified if need be. I just love being home with her!
I’m a seasoned homeschooler, but need some help with something. I love the idea of Morning Baskets, but I tend to start thinking in them and then struggle to separate what ISN’T a Morning Basket activity. I have a wide age range so I tend to think in “family morning basket” which has our whole family activities (memory work and the period of history we are studying along with read alouds and read alones.) Then for my littles I’d like to rotate through the literature based plans you have. And for my very littles, the preschool plans. That seems like way too much though. Is it? How can I use the plans/plan for the plans without bogging myself down? I still have to fit it math for everyone, reading/phonics for youngers, and 1:1 time. (I have 7 kids ages 1-16.)
Hi! Should we have already read that Hobbit to use the plans? Or can we read as we go?
Hi Jenny! The Literature plans are designed to go along with the “atmosphere” of the book. They can be done before, during, or after having read the book(s) in question. We hope they enhance your enjoyment of, in this case, The Hobbit.
I find that I get carried away and want to fit lots of beautiful things into Morning Time, but get frustrated when it doesn’t work as planned. We are currently trying to read the Bible, memorize a verse, sing a hymn/folk song, do either composer/artist/poet/recitation/nature study, learn some simple Spanish, and read aloud for history. We also have picture book time before or after or during Morning Time to help my 1 year old and 6 year old engage. Do I just cut things out?
Try a loop schedule! https://pambarnhill.com/loop-schedule-for-morning-time/
I must be missing something … I bought the Lent morning basket but the QR code doesn’t work for me to go to the resource page. Is it active or do I need to pay separately for the resource page? Thanks