This is our first year implementing the Morning Basket in our homeschool, after being introduced to the concept by a dear friend, and it has been such a delightful, useful tool in teaching multiple ages at once!
Morning Basket has taken so much stress out of juggling multiple grades, saved an immense amount of time, and has helped our whole family become engaged with the same ideas and stories, resulting in more meaningful conversations to which everyone can contribute.
Morning Basket has actually transformed the atmosphere of our homeschool so much, that my husband even commented the other day about how much more peaceful our school mornings are, and how much more the kids are getting out of the subjects at hand.
What is a ‘Morning Basket?’
Morning Basket is not really about mornings, or baskets, but about having a set time to read living books on a variety of topics to multiple children simultaneously.
In our family, that means five of our six kids (the toddler typically wanders around us, or plays Playmobil nearby) hear the same Bible lesson, hymn study, poem, world history, science, geography, and church history, and picture study at the same time.
Rather than reading a Grade-based textbook on each of these subjects for an individual child, they all gather around on the couch (some on the arm rests, some on the back of the couch, some riiiiiight beside me, snuggled in close with blankets and velvety pillows, or other things they find that make a good story even better!), and hunker down for a good hour of reading and discussing the same books together.
What’s in a Morning Basket?
You can put in your Morning Basket books on whatever topics you feel are a good fit for your own family to study together. That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
We like to use “living books” – books that are usually written in conversational or narrative form by an author that is so passionate and experienced about his or her subject, that it appeals to a wide age range of listeners.
You may wish to read “What Is A Living Book?” for 6 characteristics of great literature, fitting for Morning Basket Time.
Unlike the often dry and boring textbook, living books capture the imagination by making a subject come alive! Consequently, the ability to remember facts and dates surrounding historical events is much easier, and has a greater likelihood of staying in one’s mind than something memorized for the purpose of passing a test.
How To Gauge What They’re Learning DURING Morning Basket Time
Throughout the reading of our Morning Basket book stack, each of the children participates in an oral narration to help me gauge how well they are listening and assimilating the information. I do this by asking open-ended questions every few paragraphs about what has just been read.
There aren’t really any “wrong” answers with living books. Many times, one child will pick up on something entirely different than their sibling does, even though both facts are true. The importance a child gives to particular piece of information speaks to their individual, God-given gifts and interests.
I don’t look for identical answers; I’m curious to see what each child is pulling out from the same story. What they tell me about the story, in their own words, clues me in to what they perceive to be important.
Morning Basket – The most wonderful time of the day
One of the things I love most about Morning Basket Time is how it “forces” me to to sit down, enjoy the company of our kids, and immerses us all in good literature I felt I didn’t have time or energy for previously.
Maybe that sounds silly, since we’re together all the time, but pre-Morning Basket, I rarely took the time to sit and read because I was so busy running around from textbook to textbook, trying to keep track of who was learning what, which question they were on, and who needed help next! By the time we were through with our textbooks, I was done with school for the day! It exhausted me.
Now that great literature has replaced many of our textbooks, we are all enjoying the subjects that once drained me and learning so much more. Spending time in good books is invigorating and inspiring for all of us, and sets the tone for the rest of our day in the best of ways.
In fact, Morning Basket Time has been such a delight, that all of our kids say it’s their favorite part of the school day!
We usually do Morning Basket Time after Math, Phonics, Spelling, and Handwriting are out of the way (I still use textbooks for these subjects).
The girls bring out their fluffy blankets from off their beds to curl up in on the couch with, or sometimes, they will draw a picture while laying on the floor in front of the fireplace. (Drawing can also be an excellent form of narration!)
One of our boys likes to sit right next to me to order the books and see any pictures. I will often light a candle to add to the ambience the kids love so much. Depending on the book we’re reading, I will use different voices to help distinguish the characters. The kids love it when I do this, but I’m dreadful at impersonating any more than 3 characters at a time without mixing them up!
Inside our Morning Basket
Here’s an example of what can go in a Morning Basket. These are the books, song, poem, and picture study we are currently working through at the time of this writing. Categorized by topic, they are as follows:
- Daily Scripture Reading (Currently working through 1 Corinthians)
- Daily Scripture Memorization (Currently memorizing Psalm 63)
- God’s Promises by Sally Michael (one chapter a day)
- Trial & Triumph by Richard Hannula (I absolutely love this living Church History book! We read one chapter a day)
- Silent Night (sung daily until memorized)
- “Little By Little” Unknown Author (recited daily until memorized)
- Minn of The Mississippi by Hollings Clancy Hollings (one chapter a day)
- The Burgess Seashore Book by Thornton Burgess (one chapter a day)
- A Plot To Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Patricia McCormick (one chapter a day)
- Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre (twice a week, two lessons at a time)
- Atelier Art Prints, (one painting study each day for a week)
When one book is finished, we start another on the same subject. A new painting is introduced every week for Picture Study. New passages of Scripture, poems, and songs for memorization all begin when the last ones have been solidified in our minds.
Keeping Track Of What You’ve Studied
I am the world’s worst record keeper. I cannot even tell you how many planners I have started and given up on within a few weeks.
I have finally found a method that I’ve been able to keep up with though, and I’m thankful it’s working because the necessity of keeping good records these days is becoming more and more apparent as our world changes.
Ready for my fancy-schmancy record keeping plan?
A ruled notebook from the Dollar Store.
Instead of writing out what we plan to do for the day, I write down what got done. There’s less pressure that way, and sometimes we end up going off on a rabbit trail, learning additional things through other ways. I try to record the unplanned lessons we enjoy together as well.
That’s Morning Basket Time in a nutshell! If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask, and I will try my best to answer, though I’m still learning so much about this myself.
If you’re struggling with teaching multiple grades at once, I hope you will find Morning Basket Time to be a lifesaver and joy as much as I have!