When I first stumbled upon this idea of having a morning menu within a morning basket, I thought it was superfluous. My naive self thought time wasn’t well spent in a basket when you have core curriculum to get to. Luckily, when I was knee deep in homeschool research, I started to journal and truly crystalize in my mind what my ideal home education environment looked and felt like for our family.
I started to ask myself things like:
Eventually, all the answers to these question brought me back around to why this once "superfluous basket" was exactly what I needed to start our days with.
I would be amiss if I don't mention where this idea of the morning basket originally came from and that is the wonderful Pam Barnhill of Your Morning Basket.
She and her site are truly a wealth of knowledge in everything a morning routine using a morning basket can be. This ritual truly depends on you, your family, your learning styles and what you want to prioritize first thing in the morning.
Personally, I was first introduced to this thanks to Gentle + Classical Preschool and how she sets up her own morning basket with Meaningful Menus.
The artist in me who dabbles in graphic design from time to time dove in to this idea of incorporating a "Menu" in our basket and I set out to create a list of everything we should keep in this basket and within this menu in our own home. This is what I came up with:
Anatomy of our Morning Basket
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We are a Catholic family and we would normally begin religious education in first grade all in preparation for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion that is typically received in the second grade year if a child were enrolled in a parochial school.
Since we're homeschooling, I've elected to start our own preparations from home (we're still waiting to hear from the Archdiocese on what religious education will look like this year while our world is still dealing with this terrible Pandemic.) The basics are a must so we're starting with the following line-up and all in English & Spanish, as we are bi-lingual:
2. & 3. Religious Hymns & Folksongs
We are following the Ambleside Online schedule for both Religious Hymns and Folksongs. I printed out all of the hymns & songs and have them tucked inside the menu behind each other for easy change between months and terms.
You can find the AO Hymn Schedule here, the AO Folksong Schedule here and I also have playlists made up for the 2020-2021 school year already done through YouTube:
Ambleside Online Hymn Playlist
Ambleside Online Folksong Playlist
(Please note, I put together these playlists according to our tastes and I might change them as the year progresses. There are sooooo many beautiful versions of these hymns and folk songs out there, if you have any suggestions on other versions worth looking at, I'd love to hear about them. Leave them in the comment section below!)
4. Skip Count Chart
We take a moment in the morning to get our math brains turned on with a skip count chart. My preschooler or Year 0 student is learning how to count from 1-100 perfectly and uses the chart for numbers he forgets (the elusive "15" still gets him). And my first grader practices counting by 2's. Next we'll start working on counting by 3.
5. Poetry Time
Many homeschool's use poetry for memorization and recitation. Since we're still in the young stages. I haven't elected just one poem to recite per term. Instead, I've chosen to include the poetry book we're reading from per term in the basket and allow her to choose which poem she would like to read out loud to us. My preschooler listens in and has the opportunity to learn how to be a receptive audience member. I've observed that by doing it in this manner, my daughter tends to gravitate to certain poems she has already read and familiarized herself with thus she is nearly done memorizing it all on her own, she feels so accomplished when she's done reciting it and her brother, who has seen her working on it, cheers her on by repeating her words and then saying things like, "How do you know that already? That was fast!" I love seeing them bond in these quick but very special moments in the morning.
The poetry books we will cycle through in our morning basket this year are:
6. Music Time
Music is very important in our home and if there is one thing I regret from my childhood it's relying on my ear to play music instead of learning the notes on the page like a second language. Because of this, I'm definitely prioritizing learning music notes from an early age with my own children. The same way we take a few minutes every day to learn new vocabulary words and phrases in Spanish, we also take the time to learn music notes with flashcards and do scales on the piano. This time in the morning is very quick and usually ends with my daughter wanting to spend more time practicing on the piano after we've finished our morning basket.
I was able to find music note flash cards online here and all I did was print them, cut them and laminate them to make them more durable. Thank you so much to Beth Gorden for this awesome resource!
7. Our Family Affirmation
This page in our morning menu is very personal to us as it's a positive affirmation my husband and I created for our daughter when she started going to day care several years ago. We had toyed with the idea of homeschool, but didn't follow that calling then. We did feel the deep need to instill in her positive thoughts and words to give her a feeling of inner strength, peace and empowerment. You can see me recite it in the YouTube Video I have posted below! It is my favorite part of the basket!
THE MORNING BASKET CONTENTS
Armed with the above pages of our Morning Menu, I went on to organize the rest of the contents. Along with our poetry books and music note flash cards, there were other things I really wanted to do in the morning with the kids.
Our Bible Verse Memory Box
A billion years ago, I went to a Christian summer camp for a week with my cousin and before we could do any of the activities, we had to learn the bible verse of the day by memory and recite it to our camp counselors. Not having every been made to memorize bible scripture, this seemed so foreign to me even though I had gone to parochial school all my life. Growing up, I noticed how many people had key bible verses committed to memory that always seemed to calm and give a sense to peace to them when faced with a hard situation. I connected those two memories at that moment and decided I would start learning bible scripture and that one day I would teach my kids the same.
This part of our morning basket is just as much for me as it is for my kids. Learn an incredible method to achieve a solid bible verse memory routine from Simply Charlotte Mason's method. They have a very thorough and easy way to do this in less than 5 minutes a day!
Here some simple items you need to set this up in your home today!
We treat learning Nursery Rhymes as the precursor to learning to love Poetry. It's the portion of the morning that my preschooler seems to be the most engaged with and is probably the most fun of all! We have a beautiful book of rhymes we follow and always make some sort of silly face or silly noise that goes along with the rhyme to help commit them to memory. Reciting nursery rhymes here nearly always ends with the kids rolling around on the floor in laughter!
Spanish as our Foreign Language
As previously stated, we are a bilingual home. Both my husband's and my parents are Cuban and are of Spanish descent. Sadly, my husband and I don't speak Spanish as well as we do English and we code-switch quite a bit within our sentences often. (That's very common in South Florida! An example of what I'm speaking of is saying things like, "Gaby, donde esta el dinosaurio? Go get it from the drawer." (Gaby, where is the dinosaur? Go get it from the drawer.) Now why not just say the whole sentence in one language or the other? I have absolutely no idea, it just comes out that way, lol. It probably begins with our good intentions of speaking spanish more in the home and then ends with us trying to get our point across as quickly as possible.
Enter our Spanish Curriculum, Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason & Francois by Cherrydale Press. So far, I really love it. They're quick lessons that put an entire sequence of events in English on one side of the page and Spanish on the other. The best thing to do is to encourage your child to physically act out the sentences as they say them and that truly helps to commit those phrases and new spanish vocabulary words to memory.
Artist & Composer Study
Last but certainly not least, we include our artist and composer study to the basket. We don't do these studies everyday. Usually each of the studies is done on a separate day:
Monday - Artist Study
Tuesday - Folk Song Study
Wednesday - Composer Study
Thursday - Religious Hymn Study
We use the Ambleside Online rotation or schedule for Artist Study and Composer Study as well. In order to make artist study a little more accessible in our homeschool, I opted to print and bind all the prints we'll be learning about and studying so that the kids can see them up close. It also satisfies the need in me to be as organized as possible about so many moving parts.
Many family and friends have asked me how I introduce such big topics such as Artist and Composers in my home and I tell them that I try to find the fun in it. For Composer Study, I play the selection for the week and I dance with them using scarves or blankets and throws - anything we have on hand. Then I ask them things like, "What does this music make you feel? What do you think the music is talking about?"
I created a free Artist Study cover for the binded compilation of artists and their works. You can download it below! The artist rotation this year is Titian, Da Vinci & Rembrandt.
I recently made a YouTube video showing you our morning basket in lots of detail. If I don't cover a question you might have, please leave a comment below so I can help you out! Hope you enjoy!
I didn't expect this post to be so long! I hope I made it comprehensive enough to help you along on your own journey to creating the perfect morning basket for your homeschool. If you already have a morning basket, what do you do differently? I love hearing about other's routines, since they really inspire me to grow and add to our own.
I'm constantly putting little glimpses of our mornings and other times within our homeschool days on Instagram and Facebook. I hope to see you on those platforms soon!
See ya soon!
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Mom of three beautiful kids, married to my best friend, finding daily ways to bring joy!