In this post, I will be sharing my easy homeschool morning basket or morning time routine, as well as helpful tips for starting your own homeschool morning time. Be sure to grab your copy of my free printable 6-week Morning Time habit tracker and customizable Morning Time planning page to get you started.
What is Morning Time?
Can I let you in on a little secret? If you’ve ever cozied up on the couch with your kids, fingers wrapped around steaming mugs or laps covered in a favourite blanket, and shared stories or read the Bible together, you’ve done Morning Time.
Morning time is a family liturgy: a simple practice of gathering together worship and to do things that promote the family culture you are trying to build. It’s kind of like the homeschool version of having a school assembly, but way more fun and no standing in lines.
How We Got Started With Morning Basket (Morning Time)
Morning Basket has been a staple of our homeschool since before the beginning. I started doing little circle times when my oldest was a preschooler. It was an easy way to give him a bit more structure and it felt normal since I was used to leading preschool story hour at the library (children’s library assistant was my main gig pre-stay-at-home-mom life!).
Since it is essentially how we started off our homeschool, I highly recommend it for any families just beginning to home educate. You may also want to check out my How to Homeschool Series, a short blog series full of the most common advice I give people who are seeking guidance on getting started.
How We Do Morning Basket
Our Morning Basket has evolved a lot over the past several years. It began as a simple circle time, not unlike what I did with the preschoolers at library story hour.
Our current routine includes:
- Morning offering & guardian angel prayer
- Hymn, Bible & catechism
- Nursery rhyme / poem
- Denser read aloud from a loop
- Folk song / movement activity
- Another dense read aloud from a loop
- Picture book on our theme
- Art / music appreciation
- Main read aloud
The general structure (prayer and Bible first, then back and forth between light and denser things, and then the main chapter book we are reading last) remains the same, but I change up what we do.
Adapting Morning Time for Multiple Ages
Morning Basket is meant for multiple ages so even if you have a wide spread of ages in your family, don’t be intimidated.
My kids are currently aged 10 down to almost 2, and we do morning basket at least 3 times most weeks. I can’t personally speak to the teen years, but I have heard of many mothers successfully doing morning time with teens!
Remember, the purpose of morning time is not only to learn, but also to help build your family culture. Keep your mission statement in mind (and if you don’t have one, I encourage you to visit my blog post on “finding your why” of homeschooling to help you establish clear goals for your homeschool.
Some Tips for Morning Time with Multiple Ages
- Do something fun to keep it lighthearted, like Mad libs, current events, or gameschooling.
- Have something for each age group: the littles learn from the older kid content, and the older kids benefit from mentoring younger ones as well as reviewing for themselves.
- Consider ‘releasing’ the little ones for the older content at the end, or vice versa.
- Use food or even teatime to sweeten the deal: high chairs keep littles contained and food makes older kids think less of what else they could be doing.
- Consider having a time limit: they have to show up on time and you also have to respect their commitments by ending on time.
Morning Time for Younger Children
Since I have toddlers and preschoolers, there are certain circle time type of things I want to review with them. It is easiest for me to tie those to a weekday, so usually on Mondays (our our first day of school for the week if it was a long weekend) I make sure to review preschool type things like ABC’s. That way, I know we hit that at least once in the week.
With very young children, you are also using Morning Time to gradually habit train them to attentiveness. One way I have done this from a very young age, is to teach them that they must sit on the quilt during Morning Time. I put a few soft toys or blocks in the middle, and we all sit on the quilt together for the 5-15 minutes that I am expecting from these little ones.
Don’t Assume Everything Has to Be For Their Age
Remember, according to Charlotte Mason we are spreading a feast of ideas from which our children’s minds and souls can be nourished. You know this yourself that children gobble up interesting ideas.
Most parents can tell you how quickly their younger children pick up on conversations, stories, rules and so on just by being in the room where their older siblings are learning and playing. In general, I find it to be helpful to aim most of the content at the older kids, and the younger kids will listen along on wander off to play.
Loop Schedule for Morning Time
Keeping things interesting is key for this age. Try a loop schedule so you aren’t doing the exact same thing every day. Try an arts loop, STEM loop, or fun stuff loop.
What is a loop schedule?
A loop schedule is a different way of thinking about scheduling, that focuses on the order in which you complete the tasks (task 1, task, 2, task 3, then back to task 1) instead of the exact time or day. Did your school ever switch to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 instead of Monday-Friday schedules? It’s a similar idea! This way, the next day you do school, you simply pick up where you left off in the loop.
Perks of loop scheduling for morning basket:
- You can have more subjects/materials
- Greater flexibility
- If you miss a day of the week, you haven’t missed any subjects
I love having my loop materials in a basket, so I can simply place the book we completed at the back and see the next one in the front. If you had a more complicated basket with multiple loops contained therein, you could use a large bookmark to indicate where you left off.
Here’s an example of how you can use a loop schedule in your morning basket if you were teaching older kids:
- Every day, you begin with the Lord’s Prayer.
- Then you sing your hymn you are learning.
- Next, you LOOP between hymns you already know, to review them!
- Moving on, you read your new poem.
- Then, you LOOP through old favourites from your memory work.
- You read a book from your NATURE STUDY LOOP that includes a book about survival skills, one on insects, and watching YouTube videos about one of the topics you’re studying.
- Then you go into your BEAUTY LOOP, where you do your composer study or your art study.
- Then you do your FUN LOOP, where you play logic games, do lateral thinking puzzles, or play a quick board game.
I just made all that up off the top of my head but I think it would be a fun Morning Time and it’s a way to illustrate how loops work.
Adding Music to Morning Time
You don’t have to sing in Morning Time, but I think it is a really special way of interacting as a group. Did you know that making music in a group gives you endorphins?
Here are some ideas for adding music to Morning Time:
- sing a hymn
- sing a folk song
- chant the psalm
- listen to a piece of music together
- play music from your composer of study as background music
- have a morning time gathering song you sing or play each morning
- learn the national anthem or other culturally significant songs
- sing your memory work
- sing songs that come from the culture or time period your are studying or reading about
Morning Basket Timing
What Time Do We Do Morning Basket?
We typically do Morning Basket at 8:30 am, or whenever everyone is done their morning chores (which start at 8 am). It’s an anchor for our homeschool day and really help sets the tone of learning and togetherness.
How Long Does Morning Basket Time Take?
Our morning basket typically takes 45 mins to 2 hours depending on what else we have going on and how many items we get to.
If it’s not working at all (toddler meltdowns) then we either stop for the day, or do something to reset us, like play outside or have a snack. We can usually read more later, like at lunchtime.
Can you do Morning Basket at Any Time of Day?
The answer is YES!
You can absolutely use morning time at any time of day. I know some families who like to gather for this in the afternoons with a snack, or even in the evenings. Whatever time works best for your family is the best time to do it.
Does Morning Time Have to Be in the Morning? Different Ways to Use Morning Basket
Plenty of families use the structure of a Morning Time family liturgy in different ways, other than first thing in the morning. The sky is the limit!
Here are some times I have heard of using Morning Basket:
- Over breakfast
- To start off your school day
- To gather back after individual lessons
- Coming together after outdoor play
- With a snack
- At lunchtime
- During quiet time or naptime for the little ones
- To gather back in the afternoon
- For teatime
- At the supper table
- In the evenings as a family
- Before bedtime
I have also heard lots of alternate names for Morning Time, including:
- Morning meeting
- Circle time
- Calendar time
- Morning High Five (named for the 5 main components they used)
- Treasure Time
- Gather Time
Why Should You Try a Basket for Morning Time?
Lots of homeschool families that do a Morning Time but don’t specifically have a basket. I really LOVE to have a Morning Basket, and I will tell you why. I have FOUR main reasons that I find a basket (or box, crate, or bin) is very helpful for morning time.
- The Morning Basket is a Visual Cue: The Morning Basket sits in the living room. It serves as a visual reminder to me and the kids of what we are reading and learning! We can’t “forget” to do Morning Time because our basket is right there.
- The Morning Basket is Easy: The basket is always set up so I can just pull the next book.
- The Morning Basket is Portable: Some days we want to go to the park or the beach! We always do free play at those times, but I may still want to grab our morning basket so we can sit on a blanket and enjoy some books outdoors. We even do this with hot chocolate on sunny winter afternoons.
- The Morning Basket Gets Full! My morning basket serves as a helpful LIMIT to our Morning Time. If you have read anything from Dana K. White of A Slob Comes Clean, you will know of the container concept. A container holds your stuff, but it also limits how much stuff you can have. I can’t add ALL the books — once we hit the limit of the container I have to take some out. Perhaps because we are finished, or even if we need to set it aside for a while.
I’ll admit: I also just like baskets and like to find uses for all my thrift store finds! If baskets aren’t your thing, don’t feel you have to use one!
My Morning Basket also connotes to me that I am spreading … maybe not a feast every day, but at least a delicious picnic of choice goodies and ideas for my little tribe of children to delight in and munch upon. Hopefully these humble yet regular “picnics” will add up to a Feast of Learning.
How to Start Morning Basket in Your Family or Homeschool
You don’t HAVE to do Morning Time to be a homeschooler. Plenty of people don’t! However, especially with a bigger family I find Morning Time to be a really wonderful time of learning, connection, and culture-building. If you feel like you may want to try it, I encourage you to go right ahead.
If you want to try morning basket I would encourage you to not overthink it! Just start small.
Reading one passage from the Bible and saying a prayer together gather a few things and try it out. See how it evolves.
Here is a sample Morning Time plan for just starting out:
- Read an age appropriate Bible story
- Read a poem
- Teach them a folk song or hymn you already know
- Read a living book
- Add fun
Do It Often
Small daily habits work well for kids and add up to big wins! Aim to do Morning Time on most school days and you will get into the routine more quickly and easily. To help you out, I’ve made a 6-week Morning Time habit tracker where you can fill in your own goal and then mark which days you do Morning Time! Check out the printable at the end of this post.
It can take weeks to form a solid habit, so if you need to, print off a second copy of the habit tracker and use it again.
When in doubt, Take Morning Time Outside
Taking Morning Time outside can be a novel experience, can make everyone feel more relaxed, and everyone gets to benefit from time in nature, too.
Resources to Help You Get Started with Morning Time
Pam Barnhill has a podcast, blog, and morning time lesson plans.
For the Children’s Sake – This book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is amazing at setting the framework for family morning time.
I could do a whole post on books to stock your Morning Basket with, so I won’t get into that here! Subscribe if you want to see it in the future.
FREE Morning Time Habit Tracker and Planning Page
Need a little more hand-holding to get you started? I’ve made an easy habit tracker and a planning page for you!
This 6-week habit tracker lets you set your own goals for how many times in a 6-week period you want to do morning basket. You can also set weekly goals.
In the planning page, you can easily add your daily prayers and readings along with your loop schedules.
No time right now? Pin it for later!
If you liked this post, check out some of my recent posts!
- Free Catholic Advent and Christmastide Activities Printable Pack for Kids
- December Catholic Liturgical Living Calendar for Families
- Free Thanksgiving Homeschool Mom Sanity Saver Activity Sheets
- Advent and Christmas Traditions: Free Printable St Andrew Christmas Novena for Kids
- 20 Simple and Creative Fall Nature Walk Ideas