Once you decide to create a Morning Basket in your homeschool, you may feel overwhelmed with the plethora of wonderful materials out there to choose from. Find out how to set up the best homeschool morning basket for your family.
A handful of materials, a pinch of planning, and a dash of laziness.
That’s the recipe I used years ago to create a morning basket in our homeschool.
When we first started homeschooling, my kids were in 4th and 1st grades with a preschool tag-a-long. I was wondering how I could possibly fit every subject for every child into our day, especially with 2/3 of my students needing a lot of help from me. And I didn’t want our school day to last all day.
So what did I do? I combined the kids for as many subjects as I could. I took the art, music, and geography, which followed our morning rosary, and combined them into a group time. A time that would develop into our Morning Basket.
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Have you heard about gathering your kids together to teach them from a morning basket? If you haven’t, you may want to learn about morning baskets first. Then come back here to get ideas of great items to include in yours. Morning baskets are a great way to simplify your homeschool day!
I love using morning baskets and find they are key to a simplified homeschool day. Learn how with this morning basket series. You can find everything you need to know about morning baskets here:
- Enrich Your Homeschool Day with Morning Baskets
- How to Create the Perfect Morning Basket (this post)
- How to Ease Into a Daily Morning Time Routine
- You Need to Do This for Peaceful Read Alouds
- How to Make Morning Baskets Work for Your Family
How Do You Decide What to Include in Your Morning Basket?
Once you decide to incorporate a morning basket into your homeschool day, you may wonder what you should put into it. You aren’t alone; this question is asked quite often! What makes a morning basket perfect for your homeschool is that you can include whatever you’d like in it.
What does that look like realistically? Grab a notebook or scrap of paper and jot down any subject that your kids can all do together. For example, depending on ages, that might be art, music, poetry, Shakespeare, memory work, nature study, and read alouds. Next, think of subjects that you never seem to get around to when your days are busy. Write those down on your list as well. That list? It’s your morning basket!
Would you like ideas to help you create your morning basket? When you join the Homeschooling in Progress email community, you’ll receive weekly-ish email tips on simplifying your homeschool day. You can also download Morning Basket Quick Tips and Monthly Ideas cheatsheets to make creating your morning basket simple.
How Do You Schedule Your Homeschool Morning Basket?
You may be looking at your list, wondering how you can possibly fit all of those subjects into your day. Especially when some of them already get pushed aside when you are busy. Fear not because you don’t need to try to squeeze them into an already packed day. Remember that a dash of laziness is an ingredient in my morning time (a very important ingredient you don’t want to skip!). I’m not going to stand for subjects packed like sardines into my homeschool day!
Your homeschool morning basket is designed to simplify your homeschool day. To do that, you will choose which subjects will be done daily and which ones will be done on a less frequent schedule.
For example, you may want to include prayer/bible, memory work, and read alouds daily. But art, music, and poetry only need covered one day a week. Finally, nature study is nice to enjoy three days a week. Once you decide how often to include each subject in your morning basket, you can schedule them to a certain day.
How to Decide Which Days/How Much Time to Schedule Each Subject
When deciding which days to schedule your morning basket subjects, think about how busy each day currently is. Consider days that you are not home as much so that you don’t schedule too much then. Alternatively, days that you are home all day would be perfect to enjoy a longer morning basket time.
Additionally, consider how much time each subject will take. Poetry may only require 15 minutes to cover, whereas art needs 45 minutes. So make sure you take into consideration the length of time needed for each subject. Depending on your kids’ ages, your morning basket time may be as short as 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
You may need to test out how long your kids can last during morning time before you finalize any plans. How do you do that? Try out the morning basket you’ve planned. When your kids’ eyes start glazing over like an Easter ham or you have to stop your read aloud to put a stop to the WWE match that developed, that’s when you know you’ve hit your kids’ limit of attention. By the way, if you always have a wrestling match during read alouds, you may want to try this secret.
What We Include in Our Morning Basket
As you plan your morning basket, you may wonder what materials are good to use for each subject. Below I’ll share what we use (or have used) in our homeschool morning baskets through the years. Hopefully you’ll get ideas on great additions for your own basket!
Remember the dash of laziness in my recipe. Do not include all of these ideas! The below examples are what we’ve enjoyed through many years of homeschooling.
Daily Morning Basket
Bible devotions or stories or prayers are a great way to begin your morning basket. For the last couple of years, we’ve begun our morning time by praying the Rosary.
Ideas for memory work include poetry, math facts (like skip counting), significant dates or people in history, science concepts, or states and capitals. Basically, anything you would like your children to know by heart can be included in their memory work. During a recent school year, my children memorized 20 Catholic prayers for memory work.
I place our memory work in binders: the children each have their own and I have one for myself. I have copies of everything they are memorizing for the year in their binders, along with a sheet at the front with a list of the items as well as a space to write the date they had it memorized.
They have around 5 minutes to practice the piece, and if they think they have it memorized, then they can say it to me. If they have it memorized, then I’ll write down the date on their progress sheet; otherwise, they continue to practice that piece again the following day.
I found this Vocabulary Cartoons book a year or so ago, and we have enjoyed it since. My kids are constantly noticing the words we’ve studied in it throughout literature we read, or words they hear others say.
Each day, I write the word, part of speech, and the link that will help them recall the word on our whiteboard. I read the caption under the picture and then show the cartoon to each child with the definition covered. The boys each guess the meaning and then I write the correct definition on the board.
The book has a quiz after every 10 words, so I have the words since the last quiz on the board. Before we learn the day’s new word, the children recall the definitions of the previous words since the last quiz. I believe this really helps with retention.
Saint of the Day
If you are Catholic, learning about the saints is a good way to teach your children about the faith. These Saint of the Day flashcards are perfect for morning time. The pack comes with flashcards for 100 different saints. Each card has a picture of the saint on the front, and then fun facts, saint’s name, feast day, what they are a patron of, and a short paragraph about the saint’s life on the back.
My favorite way to end our morning time is with a read aloud. I find a lot of ideas for good read alouds through Read Aloud Revival. Historical fiction or nonfiction would also make good choices at this time.
Weekly Morning Basket
Many wonderful morning basket additions work well just once a week. You could assign these subjects to a certain day, like we do. Or you could put them on a loop, starting with a certain subject and continuing each day with a new one until you come back to the first one again. Looping works well if your school days change or you just don’t want to be tied down to a certain day.
Life of Fred
Life of Fred is a wonderful math book series about a 5-year-old college professor and his doll, Kingie, and follows him through the day. It’s a book that reads like a story, while adding in math and sometimes even science and English.
I’ll be honest and say that I bought the Apples book years ago with the intent to use it, but shelved it because I never seemed to get around to starting it. But once I decided to give it a try, I was so glad I did! The boys and I love Fred! The elementary series contains 10 books. There is an intermediate level of 4 more books, and even continues on into high school. Because the series builds on itself, you’ll want to start with Apples no matter what grade your children are in.
Beautiful art deserves attention in your morning basket. We accomplish this in many ways. We’ve enjoyed Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason. They come with a booklet that has information about the artist’s life, as well as information on each picture included to share with your children during the study.
We’ve also used the above shown series to learn about various artists. The Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artist series tells about the artist’s life and includes some pictures of the artist’s works.
One of our favorite ways to study art history is through a monthly membership program called The Studio from Art History Kids. In The Studio, each month a different artist or art topic is covered. For example, one December we studied snow landscapes from three different artists. But a month later in January, we studied just the works of Roy Lichtenstein.
Each week, we receive an email with a link to a PDF of the lesson, which includes observation, learning about the artist, integrating the art with other subjects, and creating our own art. The art projects are very open-ended and use only materials easily found at home. My boys and I love it! As one of my readers, you can even try out a free sample lesson. Check out this post for an Art History Kids review, which also includes more ideas for adding art into your homeschool day.
My kids and I all enjoy art. So when I came upon the Drawing Textbook, I knew it was the perfect addition to our morning basket. Each week, we will do a lesson together. We use copy paper that we’ve divided into six sections. I also have the kids write the date on the top so that we can see our progress over the year. Then I hang my paper on the whiteboard and draw the object while explaining to my kids how to draw it. We can usually get through all 6 pictures on our drawing day, but if they are extra challenging, then we’ll sometimes split them up into two weeks.
If your children are younger, you may also enjoy the Draw Write Now or Draw and Write Through History series of drawing books. The books show pictures of items to draw and also contain copywork for the children. My kids enjoyed using these for several years when they were younger, and I still see them get them out to draw during their afternoon enrichment time.
Chalk Pastel Lessons
Trying out fun art mediums is a great way to include art in your homeschool. We all like sitting together at a table and watching videos with Nana teaching us how to use chalk pastels in drawings. This is something all ages can do, which is great when you are homeschooling multiples ages and have younger siblings tagging along. Through the many choices of lessons offered, you can even find the perfect ones to complement your other curriculum, like history and science. You’ll find so many ways to include chalk pastels in your homeschool day.
Composer studies can be done in a similar way as artist studies. Just like the similar artist series, the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers series is an effective way to introduce your children to wonderful composers. I like to read a few pages, and then play a piece of the composer’s work that is mentioned on the pages I read. Sometimes I’ll also play the composer’s work while the kids work quietly.
Another idea for composer study is using the Meet the Composers set. It includes flashcards for 30 composers, along with online resource pages that allows you to listen to samples of the composers’ works. Many other wonderful ideas for music study can be found at SQUILT music.
Music Appreciation for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners
The little ones in your homeschool will love the interactive classical music classes from Clap for Classics! You can choose from many different online courses to watch at your convenience. Plus, when you join the All Access Membership, you’ll also get to enjoy a live Zoom class each Tuesday morning in addition to all of the courses. My preschooler loves that addition to the morning basket! You can find out more in my Clap for Classics! review.
If you’re looking to create a morning basket for your younger kids, you will love The Four Seasons: Music and More curriculum from Clap for Classics! Not only will your little ones love the video music lessons for each season, but you’ll enjoy the STEM, poetry, and art video lessons that are also included. It’s a program that is all done for you and perfect for preschool and kindergarten.
I’ll be honest, poetry is not something I always enjoyed in school. I did not like having to try to decipher the poem and figure out the deeper meanings. So I decided to use a different approach to poetry with my children. We just read the poetry and enjoy it. I really like using the Poetry for Young People books for our poetry studies. They include information about the poet’s life at the beginning of the book, along with wonderful selections of the poet’s work.
I purposely save our poetry studies for Fridays. The main reason I do this is because sometimes instead of doing the poetry in the morning, we will save it for an afternoon poetry tea time. I make a pot of tea and a few snacks, we set out our beautiful thrift store tea set, and enjoy several poems. It’s quite lovely and a time we all look forward to!
Check out this video for a more in-depth look at our Morning Basket
Getting out in nature is a beautiful and calm way to begin your homeschool morning. We include nature study in our morning basket, though it can be done at any time. A nature walk is a lovely beginning or end of your morning time. Or if you’d rather, you could add an indoor nature study time to your morning basket.
An indoor nature study can easily be done with nature books on any topic you’d like to cover. You could choose a topic weekly or monthly and read books about that topic during your morning time. Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy is a great resource for choosing topics. Additionally, a nature basket of items found on nature walks can be placed on a nature or art table. Your children could draw and write about an item in their nature journals during morning time.
If you need help coming up with nature study topics, the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum is a great resource to check out. I loosely follow the schedule laid out in this program. We include nature study about 3 times a week for about 15-20 minutes each time in our morning basket. We usually include a nature walk towards the beginning of the week, then I read a related book the other days, usually followed by a small activity. It’s easily adaptable, which makes it perfect for families of various age levels.
Another great option for nature study is Homeschool Nature Study. You’ll find the Getting Started in Homeschool Nature Study Guide an easy way to transition to nature study with your family. The blog shares helpful ideas for gently working nature study into your school day as well as how to do nature study with preschoolers.
An additional way to include nature study is by letting someone else teach for you! My kids love the No Sweat Nature Study classes offered through Our Journey Westward. These live classes are perfect for 1st-8th grades, but even my preschooler likes sitting in on them. Plus the classes are recorded, so you can watch them whenever you’re free. And you also get access to past classes too. If you don’t want that much of a commitment, we’ve also used her single nature study guides that are perfect for a morning basket.
Mapwork, or other geography studies, is also easily done during a morning basket time. When my kids were younger, we used our morning time to learn the U.S. states and capitals. During that time, I would read about a particular state from a few different books about the United States. The kids would add pertinent information to their notebooks, as well as draw the state flag.
Another year, we studied world geography a continent at a time. I printed off a blank map of the continent, and each day the kids tried to write a few countries they knew. Then they looked on a map to learn 1 or 2 new ones. They learned the locations of a lot of countries doing that.
Another subject that can easily be done during morning time is foreign language. We’ve studied French using Speaking French with Miss Mason and Francois by Cherrydale Press. Another year we studied Spanish with Learn Spanish with Grace. We’ve also dabbled in Latin using the Prima Latina series by Memoria Press.
We’ve read Shakespeare using Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare. A couple of years ago we read through a couple of Shakespeare’s plays. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig is an excellent guide when beginning Shakespeare. Additionally, the Shakespeare Can Be Fun series is also a great resource for reading the plays with your children.
Logic games are a newer addition to our homeschool. I recently attended a Brain Training at Home video masterclass by Cindy West. In the video, she shares how logic games are a great way to start a homeschool day. All of my boys love them. I won’t do all of the following everyday. I’ll probably just choose one and rotate through the list each day.
We’ll do a mix of logic games, like Spot It! or games with other logic activities like the Mind Benders logic puzzles. In our basket, I’ll also include some additional ideas we received in the brain training class linked above. You’ll definitely want to check it out if you’re interested in including logic in your homeschool day.
Change Your Morning Basket Through the Seasons
Your morning basket is also a fun time to add in seasonal or holiday activities. For example, you could study turkeys for your morning time nature study. Books can be read about turkeys and Thanksgiving for your read alouds.
December is a great month for Advent or Christmas materials in your morning basket. Changing your artist and composer studies to seasonal items makes for a fun change. Lots of Christmas books can be read during your morning time read alouds.
You can get monthly ideas by checking out our monthly morning baskets. Some of the ideas are geared to the certain month or season, but many of the ideas and books mentioned can be enjoyed any month of the year. So be sure to check them all out.
Are you new to morning baskets or need some help setting them up? When you join the Homeschooling in Progress email community, you’ll receive homeschooling tips, ideas, and encouragement in your email inbox to help you simplify your homeschool day. PLUS you’ll get a FREE Morning Basket Quick Tips & Monthly Ideas quick start guide to set up your morning basket today.
As you can see, many terrific resources exist that are perfect additions to your morning basket. Choose items that will help you incorporate the subjects you want your kids to focus on during this lovely group time. But include only those that are exactly what your family needs at this time. Don’t try to add them all-a dash of laziness is a must have ingredient! Once you know how to create your family’s perfect morning basket, you will look forward to each simplified homeschool day. Sharing truth, goodness and beauty with your children has never been easier.