One of my FAVORITE things we started when we chose to follow the Charlotte Mason method is our morning basket time. There are many reasons I love this daily routine. (Link for downloading planner at bottom of page).
A few reasons:
-It gently trains my toddlers in a habit of daily school, even before we have commenced with formal lessons. (We are following Charlotte Mason’s guidelines to not begin formal lessons until age 6. This does not mean my children aren’t learning academically! More on that later).
-Personally, I like not completely quitting school during summer and this is a wonderful way to do that (also more on that later, but it has to do with my personal experience being a second generation homeschooler. Shout out to my mama 😉 ).
-It brings us together for a peaceful start to the day and my kids and I love doing it.
-It is SO simple and easy to adjust and change according to children’s needs/seasons of life. It literally grows with your family.
-It’s something we can do throughout the years no matter the grade differences.
Our morning basket is simple. We don’t always do it every single day (with the exception of our Bible reading being daily). And, we don’t always complete every single item in it every day. Usually we do, because each section is brief and my children look forward to them. I use the following guideline for choosing what to put into it, and then we pretty much work through those materials for about a month. We base our books on Ambleside Online’s free curriculum (right now we are utilizing their Year 0 book list, and will transition to their Year 1 curriculum once they turn 6). and so I grow our choices from there. Again, flexibility is one of my favorite aspects of Charlotte Mason and so it is easy for me to adjust our basket according to how quickly we finish materials. Sometimes we wrap up before the month’s end, sometimes we go past.
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My Guideline for Choosing Materials for our Basket
Bible and Devotional
Right now we are reading The Jesus Storybook Bible and the One Year Devotions for Preschoolers. We also love the Laugh and Learn Bible. We have started working on memorizing scriptures, we do one a month and I have been choosing it from our Bible reading. Being a second generation homeschooler, I loved that my mom had my sisters and I sing our verses for memorization and so I am continuing that with my littles.
For our reading out loud right now, I choose a chapter book, a picture book, poetry, and a history/culture book. We use Ambleside Online’s free curriculum and I choose most of our morning basket books from the Year 0 list. I do supplement with living books I find through my own research and other wonderful Charlotte Mason teachers and mamas. We don’t necessarily read every single book every day. For our chapter book we have been reading Mother West Wind’s Animal Friends or Classic Tales of Pooh from A. A. Milne. (FYI, there is a truly fantastic audiobook of the Pooh Classics performed by Peter Dennis free through Hoopla. We have been LOVING listening to it in the car on the way to adventures. For our picture book we are reading a beautifully illustrated Aesop’s Fables, and Cinderella or Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. I will swap these out for others occasionally during the month (Little Engine that Could, Robert McCloskey stories, etc). For poetry we are reading through A Child’s Garden of Verse, Robert Louis Stevenson. For our history/culture we are reading the unabridged African Folk Tales by Hugh Vernon-Jackson.
Music and Composer Study
For our morning time, I choose a hymn, a folk/cultural song and a composer. Right now we are singing Amazing Grace and A Prayer for Africa out of the Usborne Round the World Songbook. (I found on Thriftbooks but it is also only $5 on Amazon so I am providing that link). Sometimes I coordinate our folk song to part of our reading (This month we are reading African Folk Tales for history/culture). Sometimes I do not coordinate. For our composer study this month we are doing Vivaldi. We listen to various works either in the car or throughout the day, sometimes as a dance party after bath. We are reading the living book list for Vivaldi composer study by Intentional Homeschooling. We love it! Having been a piano teacher for the majority of my adult life (I retired once we started homeschooling) music is really important to me, and so I also am using Preschool Prodigies and The Developing Musician (which is free on Amazon prime) for additional music training. I will share more on those soon in a dedicated music post.
I go a little off book with our art study so I will start with that. I purchased a deck of Usborne Famous Paintings cards. I pick one a week and we talk about what we each see and how it makes us feel. As they get older I will focus more on period/artist specific study but for now my goal is to teach them to see it, be able to describe what they see, and start to internalize that process. They were really into the Mona Lisa and so we did a porch painting session of their own versions using the color palette of the painting (or as close as I could manage). I do NOT present the whole deck at once. For handicrafts, we are doing simple things like stringing beads, and learning to make finger crochet chains. We also do DIY porcelain/salt dough “clay”, some soap whittling, beginning weaving, etc. They LOVE to cook and bake and I include them whenever possible in our home’s baking and cooking. We also are enjoying coordinating the Usborne Round The World Cookbook with our reading whenever it fits. For example, this month we are making the African Peanut Bread recipe.
I alternate these. We have a collection of educational board games my kiddos love (My absolute FAVORITE is Wildcraft! which teaches 25 medicinal herbs and problem solving skills AND it’s gorgeous!) We also have Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Snug as a Bug in a Rug and Let’s Feed the Very Hungry Caterpillar. And, we usually do our board game time with Daddy after dinner instead of in the morning. Sometimes we play during baby’s nap, sometimes we do both! We also have this hundred’s board I ordered from a wonderful little shop on Etsy. It was an investment but I love it. Right now, we mainly use it for games, sorting, patterns and dexterity work, but it will grow with us for years.
I purchased the utterly beautiful Nature Mega Bundle from a variety of incredible small shops and we will be working our way through that for years. Right now we are doing Bees. The pack is no longer available BUT you can purchase the individual bundles from each shop and find discount codes for them on this page. I also am following My Little Robin’s wisdom of learning about what interests my children in nature. We chose Bees because we have been finding so many on our hikes and my children are in love with them. I am also myself reading Charlotte Mason’s The Outdoor Life of Children and A Pocketful of Pinecones.
This is a very important thing for us and also one that took me a while to actually do. Life got in the way, and I let it. I’ll leave it at that! If, like me, you are struggling, I HIGHLY recommend reading Adventuring Together: How to Create Connections and make Lasting Memories with Your Kids by Greta Eskridge. It is life changing. And now, we go. We just do it. I try to do at least one weekly adventure (hike, nature walk, etc). It doesn’t have to be big, but I make it a point to do SOMETHING at least once a week. We usually go on Mondays, and my kiddos have learned to expect it. At the beginning of Monday morning basket they are always so excited to hear where we are headed that day! (And, if you check out my post on our daily routine, you’ll see most adventures days we head right out the door before basket and do it in the afternoon. On these days we usually just do Bible and devotional during breakfast and get ready quickly). At the beginning of the month I find four different ideas and write them into my planner. Sometimes we do all four, sometimes we do one multiple times! Being flexible is key! They each have their own nature journal and set of erasable colored pencils and this is when we do our nature journaling.
What do you have in your morning basket? I would love to learn from you! Please share in the comments!