Using Morning Baskets in your homeschool is an effective way to cultivate a love of learning and nurture sibling relationships while also simplifying your homeschool day.
One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling is the time available to develop relationships. Relationships between parent and child. Relationships between children and their siblings.
A daily group time is essential to fostering these relationships.
What you call that group time is up to you. You may have seen it called Morning Baskets or Morning Time. What you call it is not important. What’s important is that you include it in your homeschool day!
The Beginner’s Guide to Morning Baskets
By now you may be wondering, what is a Morning Basket exactly? Morning Basket is simply a name given to a time in the homeschool day, usually the morning, when everyone gathers together to appreciate truth, goodness and beauty through materials often housed in a basket.
A time to enjoy the subjects that so often get pushed to the side to make room for reading, writing, and arithmetic. A time to allow those sibling relationships to flourish. It’s also an ideal way to simplify your homeschool day by teaching all of the subjects that your whole family can do together at the same time. Combining your children as much as possible is vital when you want to avoid the overwhelm that can happen when you homeschool multiple ages.
What is a Morning Basket?
A Morning Basket (or Morning Time, Circle Time) is a way to include enrichment subjects that often get pushed out of your homeschool day. Many families use a basket to hold the collection of materials they use for this time.
Your Morning Basket is not a time to jam as much work as possible onto your children. It is a time to share that which is true, beautiful and good in the world. A lovely way to ease into each school day. A time to get your children truly engaged in their learning.
Why use a Morning Basket?
Morning Baskets help keep your homeschool simplified and organized. Starting the day with a Morning Basket gives your homeschool routine and order. It’s an effective way to cover group work before starting individual work for the day. When you combine your children for this work, you make your homeschool day more manageable. The time you would have spent teaching each child separately can now be spent completing household chores or other responsibilities.
Additionally, using a Morning Basket ensures that your enrichment studies get done everyday instead of pushed to the side to make room for math and grammar. In fact, just completing the work in your Morning Basket can be considered a homeschool day itself. When you end up having one of those crazy days when nothing goes right, or you aren’t feeling well and can’t even think about teaching math, your Morning Basket has you covered.
Most importantly, using a Morning Basket allows all of your children, from your toddler to your high school teen, to foster their relationships while learning of the beautiful things in this world. All of your children can partake in Morning Basket, coming to it at whatever level they are on and taking away what they can from it. Even my three-year-old will sit in and enjoy some of our morning time.
How to get started with Morning Baskets.
The first thing to do once you decide to incorporate a morning time into your homeschool is figure out what subjects to include. To do this, think about subjects in which all (or most) of your children can participate.
Many families include subjects such as:
- Bible and/or prayers, hymns
- Memory work
- Artist study
- Art lessons
- Composer study
- Nature study
- Read alouds
However, that is not a finite list of subjects that work in a morning time. You may also want to include subjects that all of your children do as a group, such as:
- Bible history
In our homeschool, I do separate our morning time subjects and group work. I do this so that we feast on the lovely enrichment work first, before delving into our more stringent curriculum.
Also, when my oldest was homeschooled, she did not do the same history and science curriculum as my middle boys, so it would not have worked to include that in our morning time.
Related posts you may enjoy: Why I Love Our Homeschool Curriculum and How to Plan for the Best Homeschool Year
Various Morning Basket Themes
Many families enjoy assigning various themes to their morning baskets. This can work especially well if you have only younger children, such as preschoolers, using them. Families who use themes will typically choose books about that theme to read aloud and add theme-related activities. Many of those activities can include sensory items like playdough and games.
Sample Themes to Include in Your Morning Baskets:
Bonus: When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll receive a Morning Basket Quick Start Guide as a free bonus. Create your morning basket today with 6 tips on getting started, plus ideas on what to include.
Wonderful Morning Time Resources to Help Get You Started:
- Pam Barnhill’s book, Better Together, and her website Your Morning Basket. Pam is a go-to source for all things Morning Time!
- Jessica at The Waldock Way is a great resource for setting up morning baskets. She also has a great morning basket Facebook group that I use for ideas.
- Mere Motherhood is a book about morning time by Cindy Rollins.
- Sarah MacKenzie’s site, Read Aloud Revival, has monthly read aloud ideas that work great during Morning Time.
Tips for Success using Morning Baskets.
Morning Baskets are such a wonderful tool for your homeschool. Use these tips to keep from getting overwhelmed and quitting before you even get started!
Tip 1: Start Small.
The easier something in life is to do, the more likely we will continue to do it. Morning Baskets are no different. Start small–just choosing even one book to add to your Morning Basket is a great place to start.
Once you are comfortable and in the habit of reading that one book each day, then add in something else. Perhaps add in an artist study or quick math game. But just add one thing at a time, and only once you are in the habit of doing what you’ve previously added. A Morning Basket does no good if it just sits on a shelf and doesn’t get used. Creating an effective morning time routine is easier when you start small.
Tip 2: Make it Your Own.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you see the elaborate morning baskets of others in Facebook groups or on Pinterest. But you do not need to compare your homeschoool, including your Morning Baskets, to others. What you and your children find important to put in your morning baskets may not be the same things other homeschooling families choose.
Related posts you may enjoy: 7 Proven Strategies to be a More Relaxed Homeschooler and Discover How to Homeschool Multiple Ages with Ease
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.
FAQ about Morning Baskets
1. Do I have to use a basket?
No! I think most families use a basket because it’s a convenient way to store all morning time materials. However, you may have a shelf for your materials or some other way to contain them.
2. Are Morning Baskets only for the morning?
Absolutely not! Many families do start their day with Morning Baskets, but you don’t have to. We currently do start our day with one, but we’ve also done Morning Baskets right before lunch, after lunch or later in the afternoon. It has really just depended on the season of life we were in that year. You have to make morning baskets work for your family.
The time of day isn’t what’s important. Morning Baskets can be done at anytime and can be called by any name! Make it your own!
3. What should be included in a Morning Basket?
You can include whatever you and your children would enjoy doing. Your morning basket will look different than my morning basket.
For example, some families prefer to only put read alouds in their morning baskets. Others like to add games and puzzles. Some families use this time for artist and composer studies, while other families may like to assign monthly themes to their baskets.
We have really enjoyed adding a short, daily nature study to our morning basket by loosely following the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum. We try to do at least one nature walk during the week. I’ll also read a couple of books on our topic, and the boys will add information they learned to their nature journals. Adding a related art activity is always a fun bonus.
You may want to check out this related post: How to Create the Perfect Morning Basket.
4. How long should a Morning Basket last?
If you only have young children, your Morning Basket may be less than half an hour. Younger children do not have very long attention spans, so it makes sense to keep your Morning Basket brief. Read a book or two, sing a song, and maybe play a game and you’re done.
The older your children are, the longer your Morning Basket may take. Depending on the year, we’ve had our morning times last as long as a couple of hours. We covered several core subjects in our Morning Basket that year. Our average is probably about an hour, with a good chunk of that time consisting of our read aloud.
A good rule of thumb is to remember to keep each subject you include to around 15-20 minutes to hold your children’s attention.
5. Do I include every subject in my Morning Basket everyday?
You do not have to include every Morning Time subject everyday. Many homeschool families loop their subjects. They may do this by assigning subjects to certain days, like artist study on Mondays.
Others may have a certain number of subjects and each day they do one or two, then the next day the next one or two on the list, and so on until they cycle around to the first subject again. If your days are not consistent, you may not always get to subjects only held on certain days. This is a great example of how a looping Morning Basket works well and can ensure you cover all subjects each week.
6. How often should I switch items in our Morning Basket?
Some items in your morning baskets may stay the same all year. Other items may change out depending on the season or theme. Still others may change as you finish that item.
For example, you may continue to do an artist study throughout the year. But you may study 3 different artists, changing the materials after a certain number of weeks per artist. You may read aloud everyday, but choose a new book once you finish the previous one.
In addition, you may decide to do your composer study in the first term, your artist study in the second term, and a nature study in the third term. The flexibility that Morning Time allows in your homeschool means that you can set it up in the way that works best for your family’s needs or preferences.
Seasonal morning baskets can be a fun way to change things up every once in awhile. You can change your materials based on the seasons or for upcoming holidays.
7. How do I get my kids to pay attention during our Morning Time?
If your children are having difficulty paying attention while you read aloud, you may want to find quiet activities for them to do while you read. My boys absolutely love the Paint by Sticker books. Other options can include playdough, coloring, or building with Legos. I have many more ideas in this post on what kids can do during read alouds.
However, if your children are finding difficulty paying attention during other activities, you may want to consider shortening the time frame. You should try to keep the lessons to 15-20 minutes each.
Watch this video describing Morning Baskets and why you should use them.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Morning Baskets
Incorporating a Morning Basket into your homeschool day ensures that your children will be exposed to that which is beautiful, good, and true. It’s a time to cultivate close-knit sibling relationships and encourage livelong learning. Morning baskets are a great way to simplify your homeschool day by combining your kids as much as you can to save time.
Embrace your morning time, and make it the focal point of your day that this time deserves. You will never regret showing your children the importance of enrichment studies and time spent together.
Be sure to save this post on Pinterest to come back to when you have questions, and share on social media for those you know who want to start their own Morning Baskets.