I started implementing a “Morning Time” this spring. It is part of our day where I can expose the children (and myself) to things that are good and beautiful. It includes our calendar time, art, music, poems, and more. I don’t remember the first place I heard about morning time – it is used by many Charlotte Mason inspired homeschoolers – but I continue to be inspired by the blog Wildflowers and Marbles and “Your Morning Basket” podcast.
The following chart is what our morning time looked like the past spring and summer – we took a break in August so I could contemplate and plan, and it looks slightly different this fall (I will include our new morning time routine when I share our fall school routine). Since we inevitably miss some days for play dates, the library, and field trips, Friday is a day to do whatever we might have missed. Of course, sometimes we don’t get to everything in a week, and that is okay too.
|Artist Study||Religion||Composer Study||Geography||*Catch up from week or other|
|Poems & Songs||Poems & Songs||Poems & Songs||Poems & Songs||Poems & Songs|
|Read Aloud||Nature Book||Read Aloud||*Catch up from week or other|
|Children’s Choice||Children’s Choice||Children’s Choice||Children’s Choice||Children’s Choice|
Artist Study: Picture or Artist Study is a Charlotte Mason idea in which one artist is chosen each term, and the children study several pieces of art by that artist – one at a time. Starting in first grade a child would observe the artwork for several minutes, then it would be taken away or turned over and the child would describe the artwork in as much detail as he or she could. We just look at the artwork together and talk about what we see. Sometimes I point out elements of the painting, such as where the light is coming from or what is in the background.
This summer, we focused on Mary Cassatt. We read Suzette and the Puppy: A Story About Mary Cassatt (Young Readers) which is a story based on her painting ‘Girl in a Blue Chair,’ and looked at several of her paintings.
Religion: We attend a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. While emerging from a Judeo-Christian background, UUs embrace people with different belief systems, and are bound by a common set of core principles, many which can be found in religions all over the world. However, I think it is important for myself and the children to have at least a basic understanding of the major world religions both because it is so important for understanding history and current events, and also because there are so many cultural references that they would miss by not knowing the stories of the bible etc.
We started by reading What Is God? by Etan Boritzer and Robbie Marantz. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to God and religion. The only potential downside for some families is that it does assume that there is a God, and doesn’t acknowledge atheists. K was intrigued by the picture of the Buddha statute, so I followed her lead and we started learning about Buddhism. We read Buddha by Demi, parts of Buddha Stories, also by Demi, and now are reading a few of the stories from Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents (This Little Light of Mine) I also got some reference books on Buddhism that we look through often just finding pictures that interest us and reading the accompanying text.
Composer Study: Much like artist study, but instead of looking at a picture we listen to musical piece. We started with Bach. We read Sebastian: A Book about Bach and listened to a variety of his most famous pieces – I put together a youtube playlist, which worked perfectly! We also listened to the Classical Kids Mr. Bach Comes To Call on a summer road trip.
Geography: I have ideas of things I want to cover in geography over the next few years – mainly a focus on different continents and countries – but I wanted to start simple. So we have been reading books about maps, and about Maryland (our home state). This summer we read Me on the Map (Dragonfly Books), Mapping Penny’s World, Chadwick the Crab (which tied in perfectly with our visit to Baltimore Aquarium), and B is for Blue Crab: A Maryland Alphabet (Discover America State by State).
Poems & Songs: I tried to pick a new song and poem every 1-2 weeks. We repeat them every day for that time period. I also occasionally go back and review songs and poems we have already done. There are a few which K ended up memorizing – I did not require memorization, but it comes very naturally to many young children and is hearing her recite or sing them is delightful!
Our spring and summer poems were:
- May by Elsa Beskow (you will notice several of her month poems – I have a book of them and try to do the one for each month)
- Hurt No Living Thing by Christina Rossetti (K memorized this one)
- Bunch of Roses by John Bannister Tabb
- Trees by Philip Larkin
- A Friend in the Garden by Juliana Horatia Ewing
- June by Elsa Beskow
- The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson
- July by Elsa Beskow
- Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
We did fewer songs; taking our time with each one. Our spring and summer songs were:
- UU Principles Song (to the tune of do re mi)
- Mother Earth (K memorized)
- Peace Like a River
- Yankee Doodle (K memorized almost immediately!)
- Star Spangled Banner
- Skidamerink (K memorized)
- Favorite Things (K memorized)
Nature Book: We have been working through The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess one short chapter at a time. It is in story form, from the perspective of Peter Rabbit and friends and teaches about the appearance and habits of many different birds. K loves it!
Other Read Aloud: We read through most of our Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales (Peter Rabbit) this spring, but I needed a break. I ended up choosing great picture books for this slot, such as Miss Rumphius, and The Wolves Are Back.
Yoga: We use the Yoga Pretzels (Yoga Cards). K chooses 3 cards – one being purple (breath work) – and we do them together.
Music: We started using the program Preschool Prodigies. It is a series of fun, short videos on the basics of pitch, rhythm, etc. Even though T is younger than their target audience, both he and K enjoy watching it. It also comes with downloadable worksheets, most of which K is too young for. But I have printed a few that she has enjoyed.
Children’s Choice: If K still wanted to at this point (it depended on the day) she could then choose one or two books for me to read. T usually did not – he generally ran around and played most of the time anyway. We also read at other times in the day, so this was not their only time to choose books to read.