WHAT IS MORNING TIME?
“Morning Time is very much like a big group hug at the beginning of our school day. It sets the tone and atmosphere for learning. It gives us something to contemplate and mentally gnaw on for the rest of the day. And most importantly, it puts us in a right relationship with each other and with God.” -Pam Barnhill
Here’s the short version of what Morning Time means to me:
- Knowledge of God
- Formation of Character
- Living Book Read Alouds
- Appreciation of Beauty
There are a wide variety of Morning Baskets out there and everyone approaches this a bit differently. What is most important to me is that our Morning Time be anchored in God. And anchored in simplicity. I do not want our Morning Time to be bogged down with lacing cards and copywork and “activities” or curriculum (though those things have their place). I want our hearts quiet, ready, and willing to receive. I want us to focus on God and each other and enter in to the liturgy of those precious 30 minutes.
By the way, regarding time — I see this lasting between 20-45 minutes for us. I think as kids get older this time can be built upon for more family learning like nature studies composer studies, history & geography, etc. It could last 2 hours or more! Right now, keep it short and rich is my goal. While “enjoyment” is not my highest priority, I do want the kids to value it and want to show up again the next morning.
The other thing important to me is that this should not require a ton of prep. It’s all just there and ready in the basket so I do not have to scramble. Bookmarks are kept in every book we are going through so I do not have remember where we were. The Morning Menu (more detail below) contains all the sheets of paper in an easy way and does not require me to change it more than once a week.
MORNING TIME BREAKDOWN
I’m using these FREE floral calendar printable pages because (1) they are pretty and (2) they are free. The kids just circle or highlight the day. I will say doing this consistently helps ALL of us keep track of the date. Such a simple thing.
This sheet goes in the front of our Morning Menu — more details on that below.
Everyday Learn + Play has these traceable calendar pages that would be great option as well!
I also included the following page you can download for free in our Morning Menu:
In this file I included 3 pages: one for 2019, one for 2020, and one where the year box is left blank.
The kids circle or highlight the Month and Day of the Week, then we work on writing the date in the boxes above.
We also talk about the weather using the following:
Our wood clock is from Treasures From Jennifer
Update 8/16/2019 — These printables from Treehouse Schoolhouse are also fantastic options for calendar & weather work in a Morning Menu:
We are currently doing the St. Francis Prayer. I recently came across this Litany of Thanksgiving and think we’ll do that next. The kids already know The Lord’s Prayer but that might be a good one to do if you are just starting out!
We also pray more personally for our day and also for others. For me, I really love Prayers rooted in church history and want to share those with my kids, BUT I also value personal prayer and want my kids to feel comfortable being conversational with God. I think how you approach this time will vary — just wanted to share what we do.
If you aren’t sure where to start with what verses to choose this list is helpful (from Simply Charlotte Mason). I also think it’s great to use verses that are personally meaningful to you!
I mostly use Happy Hymnody as a source for hymns because I love the printouts, but I do not always follow that same order.
Note: I’m not a super musically-inclined person but I do not feel it matters. I do love singing hymns with my kids and we keep it simple. Usually the first time I introduce a new hymn we use the Happy Hymnody YouTube Channel to watch videos or listen. Sometimes I rope my husband in to singing with the kids with his guitar (he, unlike me, IS musically inclined!)
“Their Bible lessons should help them to realize in early days that the knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and therefore, that their Bible lessons are their chief lessons.” (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 251)
Right now we are using The Jesus Storybook Bible. I will read one story during a Morning Time. Probably 2-3 times a week.
I recently tried to crowd-source ideas for Bibles on my Instagram that have (1) a storybook style, (2) correct brown skin tones in any illustrations, and (3) relatively thorough. I say thorough because I do feel like there are a lot of great stories not covered in The Jesus Storybook Bible. Though, by far this is still my favorite children’s Bible, especially for ages 4-7. I designed my Bible character peg doll set to match!
Other Bible options to consider are below.
I do think the Catherine Vos one runs older than where my kids are right now.
Right now we will be going through Leading Little Ones to God. I’ve heard mixed things about this but still think it will be a a helpful starting point for some bigger-picture ideas beyond just learning stories from the Bible. I plan to do this in order once a week.
Other options to use:
This might be a Habit we are working on or just a more generalized character lesson. Lisa includes a weekly character trait with her A Year of Tales curriculum so I’m excited that will already be planned out for me.
I love this resource: Habits for the Early Years from Leah Martin at My Little Robins.
If you want to dive deeper, Laying Down the Rails from Simply Charlotte Mason is a thorough and excellent resource. I have this an do not go through it page by page with my kids, but I definitely use it as a resource.
Another great book we have for this is The Children’s Treasury of Virtues by William J. Bennett. This book is just wonderful and I have only had it for a month! I like the idea of learning character through story. Which basically happens every day whether we pre-plan it or not.
We will be using A Year of Tales and there is a poem included for each week with that.
I currently enjoy reading from Sing a Song of Seasons each day.
We do a separate Poetry Tea Time where I usually read several poems so I do not feel like Morning Time has to have a ton of poetry. My favorite books of poetry are listed below:
- Sing a Song of Seasons
- When Green Becomes Tomatoes
- A Child’s Book of Poems
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- Now We Are Six
- When We Were Very Young
- A Child’s Garden of Verses
- Around the Year
- Outside Your Window
- Song of the Wild
- Wild World
- The Complete Book of Flower Fairies
2. MUSIC APPRECIATION
I love using Rooted Childhood for this! Meghann includes several seasonal songs each month (and links to helpful videos) that are so fun to learn and sing.
This time could also include a composer study, though I do this kind of differently right now. I honestly do not see myself including this in our Morning Time right now. Those following Ambleside will likely include this.
3. ART STUDY
I’ve found that I just like to do this on a whim, whatever strikes me for the month. However — we will be doing A Year of Tales and Lisa included a Picture Study for each week so I plan to put those in to our Morning Menu (see below).
1. CHAPTER BOOK
Some all-time favorites of ours that are easy to revisit: Thornton Burgess, Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, and Elsa Beskow
2. PICTURE BOOKS
When we do A Year of Tales we will follow the suggested picture books used for each week to pair with the Beatrix Potter story.
You also know I’m a huge fan of any nature-inspired books.
3. FABLE OR FAIRYTALE OR FOLKLORE
We will one story from one of the following on a rotational basis:
- Aesop’s Fables
- Grimm (The Complete Book or this Favorite Collection with illustrations — I reference THIS LIST that breaks down age appropriateness of several stories, from the book Beyond the Rainbow Bridge)
- Rooted Childhood
- A World Full of Animal Stories
- Fables by Arnold Lobel
- The Children’s Treasury of Virtues
Cindy Rollins includes a simple benediction at the end of her Morning Time and I love this so much!
HOW MORNING TIME FITS IN TO THE REST OF OUR DAILY RHYTHM
Basically after breakfast and self-care and saying goodbye to Dad, the kids play. When I’m ready, I invite them to morning time (in our living room, on the couch, because I’m never comfortable sitting on the floor). I have seen a variety of ways others go about signaling the beginning of MORNING TIME: light a candle, play a song, ring a small bell, etc. Do what makes sense to you.
Immediately after morning time we do something physical like dance or do yoga or just play. Gotta get the energy flowing again after sitting and attentively listening.
For my Kindergartener: Math, Language Arts, and Handwriting are done separate from Morning Time. This means even on non-school days (maybe we have an outing planned), we can still do Morning Time! Lastly, any other life skills, projects, handcrafts, nature studies, etc. will widely vary from day to day as to when they occur!
HOW I PLAN OUT MORNING TIME
I created this blank template for a weekly plan. This allows me to see our Morning Times but also a breakdown of lessons for my Kindergartener and Preschooler together.
You are welcome to use it as well. Here is the free PDF version:
Remember I am NOT filling in every box for every Morning Time.
Also, for rotational readings I just write in the book but not what specific story we are on. That way I’m not having to keep track of too many details. So, for example, I’ll just write “JSB” for The Jesus Storybook Bible, and when we go to read I just find where our bookmark is.
I saw the idea of a morning menu several places on Instagram and thought it would be a great way to help organize our Morning Time and to have something for each of my kids to have ownership of.
What I’m Using:
A Restaurant Menu (one for each kid; there are 8 possible spots for printouts)
What Goes In the Menu:
- Monthly Calendar
- Date Worksheet (Month, Date, Day of the Week, Year)
- Memory Verse
- *Optional* Copywork Page (First & Last Name, Address, Mom & Dad’s phone numbers) — my kids are 5 and 4 currently so copywork is optional. I use the font KG Primary Dots
- Art Study printout page
- Music Appreciation – lyrics or composer info page
For older kids than mine you might include more copywork pages in the Morning Menu — for example, a copywork page of the Memory Verse you are working on. You might also have a vocabulary or spelling list from whatever book you are going through. A preschooler could have a letter-of-the-week page. Basically — you have lots of options to play around with what goes in your Morning Menu!
RESOURCES FOR MORNING TIME
- A Handbook for Morning Time (Circe Institute store)
- Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins (Circe Institute store)
- Cindy Rollins’ Blog on Morning Time
- Your Morning Basket podcast with Cindy Rollins
- Teaching From Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
- A Humble Place – Kindergarten Morning Time (Rebecca’s Blog)
- A Humble Place – First Grade Morning Time (Rebecca’s Blog)
- Morning Time and How It Can Change Your Homeschool (Article by Pam Barnhill)
- A Gentle Feast Summer Morning Time Packet by Julie Ross
- Morning Time For All Ages by Pam Barnhill
There are also lots of other examples of Morning Baskets out there on other blogs!