Have you ever heard of “Morning Basket” and wondered “What is that and how do I use it?” Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems.
“Morning Basket” is basically a pile, box or you guessed it, basket of books chosen for read aloud time. Usually people do these first (hence Morning part of Morning Basket). If you’re using CSH chances are you are teaching all your kids together as much as possible, which makes Morning Basket (or real aloud time, or “sit down and be quiet!” time) an integral part of homeschooling. Here are some ideas on organizing and using your own Morning Basket!
First things first. Grab your tour guide and a pencil and head to your bookshelves. If you don’t like to write in your tour guide, grab your planner, or lesson planner, or whatever you want to write on. Then go through each week and write down all the books you already have, that align with each week in the Tour Guide for history, science, music, art, math, even Language Arts (you’d be surprised how may baby books are full of onomatopoeias). I write these on the back of the previous week’s tour guide page, so I can see everything with the book open flat. Here’s what I mean:
Find a basket, box, milk crate, or just any space to designate as your “Morning Basket.” It doesn’t have to be a basket, but if you call it morning basket and don’t use a basket your 3 yr old will ask you WHY about a dozen times.
On Sunday night before you start each week of CSH, pull the books you wrote down, off your shelves and put them in the ‘basket.’ If you frequent your local library, borrow books that go with CSH topics and stick those in your basket too!
READ READ READ! Ok, now’s the fun part. At the beginning of school (or however you have your routine laid out) read from the books in your basket. This part is flexible and depends on age group how complicated the books are. If you have lots of younger students, choose picture books. If you have older students throw in a chapter book that you read one chapter of each day. Don’t choose books based on your youngest kid, pick something that everyone especially the oldest will learn from. Even if you have a 3 yr old and you’re reading from a 6th grade level book, that 3 yr old will gain something from your reading time even if they don’t understand it all.
If you have older students, have THEM read some of the books aloud.
Don’t feel you have to read entire books during Morning Time. Read one chapter of a chapter book. Or read half of a picture book today, and the other half tomorrow. Read from several books and about several subjects. Pause to ask probing questions periodically. Have discussions after some of the read alouds.
Give your littlest students something to keep their hands or bodies busy while they listen. Set the expectation that they may ‘work’ QUIETLY, while you are reading, but no making noise allowed. Some ideas are: legos, play doh ( personally hate this one), coloring pages (I personally like this one), sitting on an exercise ball, small toy cars, hole punching paper (I dunno why but this works for my 3 yr old), stamping etc.
If you have crazy kids, make ‘mats’ or ‘circles’ that your students must sit on during Morning Basket time. They do this in Kindergarten classrooms. For example Johnny always sits on the green circle, etc. You can leave these out all the time or just use them when you do morning basket. It could even just be a special blanket they sit on, or a placemat, whatever you have on hand.
Time spent on this varies. Younger children have shorter attention spans, so think like 15-30min, switching books and topics every 5-10min to keep interest. Families with older students will sometimes make this part of their homeschool last up to 1.5hrs.
Lastly, if you have more books in your basket than you could possibly read during 1 week of read aloud time, use that basket as your designated “quite time reading” selection. If you have students you require to read for X minutes a day, make them choose a book from your basket to read.