Inside: Learn how the morning basket can create a smooth transition into your homeschool day and get a big list of ideas for filling one.
Are your mornings crazy no matter what you try? Do you have one child that takes longer than the others to warm up to the idea of starting school? I get ya!
Here’s what it used to look like in my house.
It would be time for school to start. We’d just finish breakfast, and I’d try to corral the troops around the kitchen table. (It’s like herding cattle before they scatter everywhere and I can’t get them back. You need to act fast!)
I’d be trying to log one child into her online history course, because the computer didn’t want to wake up either, and the other needed some verbal motivation to go get her reading book. And right on cue, our mascots decided they need to go outside and guess who had to let them out?
I’d feel like I was spinning in circles and hated starting my day like that. It made me edgy and then it would rub off on the kids and they’d get cranky too.
Our day starts better when we ease into it. Do a few things together and get our brains primed for the more difficult material. That’s why the morning basket became one of the homeschool room ideas we use every day.
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What Is a Morning Basket?
Morning basket is a phrase that has stormed the homeschool community. While it might seem new, it’s been around for at least 30 years. You might be more familiar with the terms morning time or circle time, but whatever you call it, the concept is the same.
Morning basket is a time set aside each morning (although there’s no law saying you can’t do it any other time of day) when everyone huddles together to learn or review specific subjects you’ve chosen.
It’s a simple idea but has a huge payoff.
Should You Use a Morning Basket?
You might wonder if a morning basket is necessary. Nope, it’s not. However, you get a lot of bang for your buck if you use one. These are some benefits we’ve experienced:
- Signals the start of your day
- Gentler way to ease into your school day
- Get something accomplished before life takes over and the school day ends early
- Explore subjects you normally wouldn’t take the time to do
- Get some family time together before the day gets hectic and everyone goes about their business
- Brings older and younger siblings together when they would normally be off doing their own work independently
- Saves time by teaching subjects together instead of teaching every subject to each child individually
- Opportunity to have a family meeting and review the schedule, appointments, due dates, chores, and family announcements
Not bad for one little basket and a little time.
How to Set Up a Morning Basket
Setting up a morning basket is so easy. All you need is a basket. Hello Hobby Lobby! Now you have a legit reason to go there. You’re welcome!
Once you have your cute basket, all you need to do is fill it with the materials you’ll be using. It doesn’t even have to be a basket. Just a container that’s big enough to hold some books and supplies.
The next step is to find somewhere accessible to place it. Not under the bed where you hide the stuff when company is coming over. Like out on the school/kitchen table, or at least on a shelf nearby. If you have to go search for it each time, you won’t use it.
What to Put in a Morning Basket?
There are endless morning basket ideas, but I’ll share the most popular ones below. Choose what works for your family and remember, you don’t have to do them all at once. More on that later.
- Music appreciation- Squilt is great to use for this!
- Writing prompts
- Subscription boxes- Cratejoy has an amazing selection of educational boxes.
- Books- This is one of the easiest morning basket activities to throw in. Snuggle up on the couch and read an enjoyable chapter book together. You can cover some of your history, science, or literature for the day. Or just choose one for pleasure.
- Picture books are also great and even your older kids will learn a lot about a topic from them.
- You could also introduce Shakespeare. This isn’t one of my favorites, but many families enjoy it. Did you know they make Shakespeare books that are fun? I discovered these a few years ago, and they made it a little less painful for my son.
- The Who-Was Series is perfect for your morning basket. My girls pick up so many tidbits of information when I read them. The authors do a fantastic job and I have yet to find one they don’t enjoy listening to.
- Go to the library and find some great titles to change out each every few weeks.
- Art- My girls love You Are an Artist Video Art Lessons by Chalk Pastel. They follow along with Nana and have drawn some nice chalk pastel pictures.
- Character building activities
- Bible time
- Poems- There are so many great poems. Let your kids pick ones they like and then memorize them. Have a poetry and tea time and let them recite their poems to each other.
- Riddles- What kid doesn’t enjoy telling jokes? Use this to your advantage and have them increase their memorization skills by learning them to tell family and friends.
- Tongue Twisters- Kids love to say these and show off. Try memorizing some and the kids will love it.
- Flashcards- Target often has flashcards in their dollar section. We’ve picked up quite a few, and my girls have fun with them. Some of our favorites have been about national landmarks, space, U.S. Presidents, and anything with animals. Find some interesting flashcards to practice history, science, math, and more!
Trying to do too much in your morning basket is like letting your toddler have a triple-dip ice cream cone on a ninety-degree day and he’s not eating fast enough. Then you have to grab it and start licking furiously all around the bottom, turning the cone as fast as you can, trying to stop all the drips from going all over the place. The result- brain freeze.
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this video by Christy from Homeschooling in Progress.
Setting up a Schedule for Your Morning Time
A morning basket is meant to improve your day, not overwhelm you. If you try to do too much, it won’t be a positive experience.
You know when your toddler has a triple-dip ice cream cone on a ninety-degree day and he’s not eating fast enough? Then you have to grab it and start licking furiously all around the bottom, turning the cone as fast as you can trying to stop all the drips from going all over the place? That’s kind of what it feels like when you try to do all the things I listed above at one time. Don’t do it- You’ll get brain freeze
Instead, try a loop schedule. It’s so freeing and less painful. The purpose of a loop schedule is to rotate through your lessons instead of trying to do all of them each day. It also guarantees you don’t leave anything out.
Here’s how to set it up:
Step 1: Make a list of all the subjects/activities you’d like to rotate through for a month, nine weeks, or other set time. This does not include the things you’d like to do daily like read alouds.
Step 2: Put your list in a page protector or laminate it and store with a dry erase marker or Vis-a-Vis marker (my favorite because the marks don’t wipe off unless you have a wet paper towel).
Step 3: Start at the top and do one or two activities per day. Check them off when you’re finished. The next day look at your list to see where you left off and do the next one or two on the list. When you get to the bottom, erase all your check marks and start over again.
Another option is to assign certain activities to each day of the week for a set amount of time (such as 6 weeks) and then switch to new ones.
Wednesday– Read aloud
Thursday– Writing Prompts
Friday– Subscription boxes
If you’ve been scrambling to get started in the morning or you need to bring some calm to the chaos that’s going on, a morning basket just might be the answer.
I have one kid that’s harder than the others to get going (I won’t name any names 😉) and this allows her time to warm up to the idea of starting school. Plus, we’re building family bonds at the same time.
Maybe you require a little (or a lot) of coffee in the morning. This gives you a moment to get some caffeine in you before you have to function at full capacity.
And the biggest benefit is being able to cover topics you most likely wouldn’t get to otherwise. For years I wanted to do some art or music appreciation but never found the time to do it. The morning basket has solved that problem.
Touching on each of these subjects a little here and there adds up over the course of a year and it’s amazing what your kids learn.