Our morning routine used to be a fairly unorganized affair. I would grab a prayer book for children , and lead the kids to prayer. Then we would dive in to our dedicated learning time.
Having organized our homeschool last year and transitioned to a Charlotte Mason education, I became aware of a richer morning routine. Some people call it Morning Time (and do it any time of the day!) and some call it Morning Basket, with an actual basket containing everything they need for it.
We started with an actual basket, when we used to do school around the dining table. But when we got our new table in our playroom/schoolroom, we just put everything on a shelf. Easy peasy!
I love this routine, as it prepares all of us – me, two school-aged kids, and one toddler – for a morning of focused learning. It’s fun, yet so rich.
What’s in our Morning Basket
Last school year, we started our learning time at 9:00 a.m. I would prepare our materials the night before, and we would start with our Morning Basket before tackling our lessons.
This school year, I plan to do it over breakfast. My son is joining his big sister in the Charlotte Mason method (he just turned six), so I’m planning to have a bit of a longer learning time.
Here’s what we usually do, and it takes about 20 to 30 minutes (okay, sometimes longer if we’re having too much fun). We don’t do it in any particular order, but we do try to do all of it every day.
1. Morning prayer
We start with a prayer from Fr. Lovasik’s “Catholic Book of Prayers for Children.” My poor memory can’t keep up with my kids’, so I’m usually the one who has a need for it!
What I do: I just choose one prayer to read for a month, before shifting to another one. Sometimes, we also say our own prayers.
2. Bible memory verses
Simply Charlotte Mason has a system for memorizing Bible verses. I couldn’t make sense of it at first, but I just followed the video, and I was able to set it up in no time. You just need index cards, tabbed index cards (you can make your own), and a box to put it in. Click here for the instructions.
What we do: We choose a Bible verse to memorize either from my children’s Little Flowers or Blue Knights books. Little Flowers and Blue Knights are Catholic clubs for girls and boys, respectively.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Andrew Pudewa of the Institute of Excellence in Writing last year. He was a keynote speaker at the Philippine Homeschool Conference (SAVE THE DATE: This year, the conference will be on October 7!), and the Educating for Life team had the honor of spending a day with him around Manila.
Our conversations inspired me to use his book “Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.” I got it at the Learning Plus bookstore. Our last term ended with a bang, as the kids were inspired to put up a “play of poems” (their term) for us. I didn’t require it of them, but it was an idea that naturally sprung from their enjoyment of the poetry that we were reading.
What we do: As suggested in the IEW book, we read a poem in the book everyday until we all memorize it. We move on to the next poem once we do, but still recite everything that we have memorized so far. Sometimes we do it together, oftentimes, the kids love to recite on their own.
This year, I’m adding Filipino poetry to our Morning Basket! “Buwan, Buwang Bulawan”, a collection of poetry for kids by National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario (Rio Alma), is a good start. (And it’s available at our shop. Click here.)
I love, love singing hymns with my children! It’s a chance for me to introduce to them the Catholic hymns of my childhood, as well as learn new ones too.
We learned a number of Marian hymns: Immaculate Mother, At The Cross Her Station Keeping (for Lent), and two versions of Our Lady of Fatima in honor of the 100th year of her appearance at Fatima.
It was such a pleasure to hear my children hum or sing the hymns by themselves as they quietly play. Even the one-year-old has memorized them; she often demands titles to be sung.
What we do: I research for hymns that I can actually sing and then look for it on Spotify. I have a Morning Basket playlist where I put the hymns and folksongs that we’re learning.
5. Folk songs
Frequent readers would know that we really aim to integrate Philippine history and culture in our homeschool. (Check out our chronological booklist of Philipine history.) Folk songs, which are part of a Charlotte Mason education, are a great hit around here too.
So far, we’ve learned all the verses of “Paru-Parung Bukid,” “Leron Leron Sinta,” and “Sitsiritsit.” We sing them everywhere, and especially enjoy them in car rides. And yes, even the toddler sings all these songs. Amazing!
What I do: My strategy for folksongs is to introduce to my kids the songs that I’m familiar with. Once my finite list has been exhausted, we will then move on to other lesser-known (to me) songs. I find the Mabuhay Singers’ folk song versions especially lively, so I search for their songs on Spotify for our playlist.
6. Faith stories
We have quite a good collection of books about saints and other stories of our faith. Those books supplement “Faith and Life”, the textbook that we are using for catechism.
What I do: I choose books that suit the liturgical period and other celebrations; Lent and Advent come to mind. Most recently, we enjoyed reading “Jacinta’s Story”, which is about the Fatima apparitions.
The Morning Basket time allows us to read one book together, much like our bedtime stories. The kids take turns narrating and the discussions that we have are interesting, to say the least.
What I do: Sometimes, there’s a book scheduled for a child that I think both kids would enjoy, so I include it in our Morning Basket. Most recently, we read together “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, which is part of my daughter’s scheduled literature readings.
In the run-up to our trip to Japan early this year, we read “Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories.” I suppose I would be including in our Morning Basket our beautiful books from “Five in a Row.”
We love our Morning Basket. When we’re running late (I aim to end learning time by lunch) and I’m tempted to skip it, the kids refuse to go along my plans. It’s as if our day is not complete without it. For sure, it opens our minds and makes us eager for what’s to come.
Sometimes, when life gets in the way, I find the Morning Basket more than enough for our school day. It has everything that’s good for our mind, heart, and soul!