~ The Morning Basket ~

I've had a request to write a bit about our morning basket of work. :)

First, I'll tell you a bit about how this idea came about for us, and then what it contains and how I use it.

Just behind my desk there is a shelf on which I keep everything I use on a daily basis, right at hand. Pictured above on the left is our morning basket. On the far right is my Fine Arts Friday basket (the subject of another post), and in the middle are the books I use most frequently. There are many other books used, and some live on the shelf above this one, but this is the daily collection pictured above.

How did the Morning Basket come to be?
As my children grew and I added younger children to the mix of older children it became clear to me that expectations might be changing, but our philosophy hadn't changed just because a child reached a certain age. There was a need to anchor the day for all of us in our familiar, gentle way. I began to brainstorm a basket of inspiration that could be ageless in its offerings, that spanned abilities, that spoke to beauty and loveliness, and gave the day an inspiring start. My idea was to gather a collection of offerings that all the children would want to be a part of...a collection that could almost stand on its own for the day's work if needed.

So, what's in the basket?
Well, this varies from season to season and from year to year, but I'll give you an idea of what resides in our morning basket right now. It might give you a few ideas for setting up a morning basket of your own if you feel so inclined.

I also want to mention that we don't do EVERYTHING in the morning basket every day. I set aside a full hour and a half for our morning basket time, and the things we read and do vary somewhat from day to day. We spend just a few minutes on each grouping which allows us time to pursue individual facets of a story. Some days we may do nothing more than Baltimore Catechism, poetry, and nature study reading while the rest of the time is spent sketching something from the nature study reading, or from a nature walk from the previous day. It is a time to be inspired, so it all works!

A bouquet of offerings in the morning basket in the order I generally present them:

:: Saints: A Year in Faith and Art
:: Baltimore Catechism questions (we work on these for 5-10 minutes a day)
:: Read a chapter from Angel Food for Boys and Girls series by Father Brennan that corresponds with the Baltimore Catechism.
:: Read from one of the following options for the day:
Kindergarten Gems:
I'm borrowing this from the title of one of the books I have for Peanut, but this is a time for sweet stories or a picture book first thing in the morning. (You know how I love arranging his little spaces and setting out little groups of themed picture books!) I have a great variety of picture books I add in here...and sometimes I just read from Kindergarten Gems: Stories and Rhymes for Little Folks by Agnes Taylor Ketchum and Ida M. Jorgensen (1890). They're sweet stories, often with tales of fairies and children, and many times there are poems that reflect a season or a theme. I wish this book was more visibly divided up seasonally as many stories reflect a season or a theme...but it isn't. You know me, though! ;) This is a spreadsheet in progress! I'll share when I finish!

Each day begins with a song or two. My little Peanut loves this time, but so do the other children. We choose from a variety of sources that we love!

:: Our Musical Year - Level I and II
:: Wee Sing

Nature Studies:
:: Read one article a day from Nature Friend magazine
:: Read a seasonal selection from one of these selections:
:: Sometimes I pull a unique lesson that might be applicable to an aspect of nature we're observing out of Anna McGovern's 1902 work, Nature Study and Related Literature. This book is very similar to Anna Comstock's book, Handbook of Nature Study. I love all the poetry and works referenced in Anna McGovern's book, and I also appreciate the seasonal divisions of the book. A very dear friend found it in a thrift shop and gifted it to me since she already had a copy! This book should probably be on my reference shelf, but I love seeing it in the morning basket, and seeing it sometimes reminds me to pull a pertinent lesson out of it.

:: I keep a large selection of nature stories to read throughout the year that I rotate in and out of the basket....I'll list them for you (**note** many of these classics are back in print now and published unabridged. They can be purchased at Yesterday's Classics):
Each child works on a given poem for memorization. They spend a few minutes working on this poem every day. I choose poems to reflect the season, or subject matter being studied. Our copywork and studied dictation usually come from these pieces, from a nicely written nature story, or from one of our saints biographies. Current choices come from:
:: The Poetry of Lucy Maud Montgomery
:: Favorite Poems Old and New
but other favorite sources are:
:: The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist
:: Kindergarten Gems (which I mentioned above)
:: Nature Study and Related Literature by Anna McGovern (has a lovely selection of seasonal poetry!)

I reassess the morning basket each season, adding in new and refreshing books for the morning reading time. I like to place lovely Dover coloring books in here occasionally, as well as other seasonal investigations. The children love recording inclement weather for some reason - they are all geared up to chart the hurricanes as hurricane season is upon us. Enchanted Learning often offers some neat things to add to the basket.

After the morning basket, the children each move on to their individual work for the day.

I hope you find your mornings are lovely and refreshing!

Follow up post:  Refreshing the Morning Basket :: March 7, 2012

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