Our Homeschool Morning Basket Resources

I’ve heard about the idea a homeschool morning basket or circle time for several years. It always seemed like a cool idea, but I struggled with how to implement it in our homeschool. I tend to focus on the core subjects first, which doesn’t always leave room for “optional” learning like reading stories aloud during our homeschool time. This fall, a local homeschool mom and teacher organized a mini retreat for moms. We watched a video by Pam Barnhill about her morning basket time and I was inspired to start doing it in our homeschool. And the girls have loved it!

Sometimes we start our homeschool morning with “circle time.” Sometimes my older girls have started their schoolwork while I’m running Sunshine to high school, and then I wait until there’s a break when we can all sit down together. Sometimes circle time happens over lunch, while they are eating and I can read to them. Sometimes I call them together from their activities and sometimes one of them reminds me that we need to do circle time.

If you’re considering starting a morning basket time in your homeschool, here’s what’s worked for us. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

Our Homeschool Morning Basket Resources

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What Our Circle Time Looks Like

We usually have circle time or morning basket time at our dining room table. I bring up the stack of books I’m going to read. Lily (Grade 7) usually does some sketching while Jade (Grade 3) and Pearl (Grade 2) colour in their colouring books. Sometimes there’s a cutting out project involved with one of our books, so then I’ll give them scissors and the pages to cut out. Joey (preschool) will sometimes colour too, and other times he’ll play with small toys like playdough or linking cubes.

The Liturgical Year

A few years ago, I fell in love with the idea of celebrating the liturgical year at home. I’ve used Kendra Tierney’s Catholic All Year and Maria von Trapp’s Around the Year with the von Trapp Family for specific liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent. This year, I wanted to do more during the in-between time—or ordinary time. When I was ordering our homeschool books, I saw Saints & Seasons of the Liturgical Year: a Hands-on Religion ResourceI ordered it, as well as two copies of the accompanying Colouring with the Saints.

During the first week, we created a giant liturgical calendar poster. As we go through the year, we’re adding saints to the poster each month. Jade and Lily usually colour their saint of the day (or week) while I’m reading. There are also monthly themes; September was the Month of the Holy Cross, so we listened to “Lift High the Cross” when starting our circle time.

Our liturgical wall calendar, with saints for each month.

If there is a specific saint’s feast day, then I’ll find the story in one of our saint anthologies or online. A few of my favourite saint books include:

Bible Reading

After we’ve looked at the feast day or liturgical season, we turn to the Bible. On Monday, I start with the weekly Gospel reading from Through the Year with JesusSometimes we take a couple days to read and discuss the Gospel passage. On the later days of the week, I read a chapter from one of our children’s Bibles. I have several from my childhood that are kid-friendly and have lots of pictures for the younger ones to look at.

The books we are currently using in our morning basket time, including William Bennet's Book of Virtues, a children's bible, saint anthology, etc.

Virtue Stories

From Bible stories, we turn to virtue stories in William Bennet’s Book of Virtues. I remember my mom reading this aloud to me and my brothers during our homeschool morning time when I was a kid. Some of the stories are a bit old-fashioned and dated and make us laugh, but they still make a good point about manners and other virtues. The first story in the book was about a little boy who didn’t say please very often. The girls now call the Book of Virtues “the please please book” and ask for it soon after I’ve finished the other stories.

We’re also working through the mindset training stories and scripts from This Is Me, the Me I Choose to BeOne of my girls has a tendency to give up easily when something is hard. She often won’t even try if she thinks it’s going to be hard. On Monday, I read the story from This Is Me. The script that goes with the story then becomes our “motto” for the week. For example, one script was “I can do anything I put my mind to.” I’ve heard the girls repeating these scripts at times when something feels hard, and sometimes I remind them.

First Nations Stories

Canadian teachers are now encouraged to incorporate First Nations content in their lessons. I’ve always struggled with how to do this, as most of our content is from the States. It’s easy to add First Nations legends and history when we’re studying Canadian history, as Lily is this year, but I’m unsure how to include it in our other learning. Circle time gave me the perfect time to read some First Nations stories and legends to the girls.

Grizzly's Home: and Other Northwest Coast Children's StoriesWhile we were in Wells Grey this summer, I picked up a children’s picture book called Grizzly’s Home and Other Northwest Coast Children’s Stories.  This paperback has 18 one- or two-page stories about various creatures, such as Grizzly, Octopus, Raven. Each story is accompanied by a black, white and red illustration. The stories are short and fun, but also usually have a moral or virtue lesson in them. I’ve really enjoyed reading them with the kids and want to pick up the rest of Robert James Challenger’s books once we finish this one.

Music and Art

We haven’t done a lot with music or art yet, but this is another aspect I’d like to add to our morning basket time. As I mentioned, we listened to various renditions of “Lift High the Cross” in September. For October, we could listen to Marian hymns—there are quite a few to choose from. I’d also like to incorporate some classical music pieces, as I enjoy classical music. Another idea is to add pieces that feature a specific instrument; this year, Jade started guitar, so I’d like to find some good guitar music for her to listen to.

I’ve used a couple different art curriculum sporadically in the past and may add them into our circle time in the coming months. Last year, Jade and I were using Art Masterpieces: Rhyme Time Collection Art Cards to look at and discuss art. Each week focuses on a different piece of classical artwork, with discussion questions, artist biography, and then a fun kids’ rhyme that goes with the artwork. Jade really enjoyed it and I’d like to add this to our circle time too.

The books we are currently using in our morning basket time, including William Bennet's Book of Virtues, a children's bible, saint anthology, etc.

Final Thoughts on Morning Basket

This is our first month using our morning basket, so I’m still tweaking what we do each day. On mornings when we have more time, I may read longer selections or more resources to the girls. On mornings when we are a bit more rushed, then I’ll cut back on what we do. And I may change or add resources as we move through the year, to suit the seasons or the girls’ interests.

Morning basket time has let me add some resources to our homeschool that don’t seem to fit into the usual “core” subjects. It also lets me gather the girls together to do some learning with all of them at the same time, creating a shared experience in our homeschool. (In fact, I think Sunshine felt a bit left out when her younger sisters talked about something we did during circle time or mentioned the “please please” story. On one of her pro-D days, she was able to join us for circle time and find out what we did each morning while she was at high school.)

Have you tried a morning basket or circle time in your homeschool? What topics do you cover or resources do you use?

Useful resources:

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