Morning time: a liturgy, a marathon, a habit, a joyful family memory. There are a lot of ways to accurately describe what morning time is for us, and what I hope it will become in years to come. But this post is going to give you the nitty-gritty details on how we do morning time.
The first thing I should mention is that my kids are currently ages 9, 4, 2, and 1, so I try to keep things short, and I certainly don’t expect the small ones to stick around for the whole thing.
Order of Events
- Items from our loop schedule, which could include: Poetry, Shakespeare, or Science
I’ll talk in detail about each subject we cover in morning time, but first a note on memorization.
My kids are still very young. The only one who has much of an attention span is my oldest at 9 years old, so my major effort for morning time right now is to capitalize on their uncanny ability to memorize things now during the grammar stage. At some point we’ll get into reading more aloud and chatting about what we read, but now is not yet the time for that.
But, and this is important: I want to avoid tedium at all costs. I want morning time to be cozy, joyful, and heartwarming. NOT drill-like. So, what this all actually looks like is usually kids bouncing or twirling around, playing with puzzles, coloring, or drinking hot cocoa while we do morning time. My aim always is to keep it enjoyable and instill an ambiance of home and hearth into our homeschool day.
Now for format: For all of our memory work subjects (catechism, scripture, poetry, Shakespeare, and science) our format is one old, one new. Take poetry, for example: we’ll recite one old poem once through. Then we’ll work on memorizing our new poem. We’ll usually recite new stuff three times, or practice particular sections we’re having trouble with. We have one new poem per 6-week term of school. Or if it’s a long chunk of memory work (or if we’re not very consistent with morning time) we’ll do it for two terms.
Some things I want better memorized than others. With catechism, scripture, and science I want familiarity. With poetry and Shakespeare I want more precision. I know they’re likely to encounter the catechism and scripture plenty more in their lives, so I don’t push it. With that all said, though, my oldest amazes me with how well and how quickly he can remember passages. Half the time he knows the passage better than me, which makes it super fun for him!
I play a little guitar, so I’ve taught the kids a few praise & worship songs. The sound of me starting on the guitar, in addition to hollering “Morning Time!!!” is a great cue for the two older kids to gather into the living room. It’s doesn’t always bring them running, but that’s what I’m going for, hehe. I try to stick to only 2 songs or so, but this is tough. They love to sing! We do probably 80% fun, campy, Sunday school songs, and 20% hymns I think they can learn. My goal here is fun and for my non readers to start to be able to sing along with hymns in church.
We have many catechisms around the house, but I’ve found it easiest to photocopy pages from them, so we’re not hunting down books. All we have to do to start Morning Time is grab our binders. For catechism, I try to have the 4 y.o. do the first recitation because that’s about how long her attention lasts in the memory work section of Morning Time. Right now, we’re working on the 10 Commandments, so we’ll have 1 old and 1 new. We may recite the new one about 3x, but try to stick to reciting the old only once. Again, I want to just refresh our memories, not make things tedious.
Much of our morning time is modeled off of Mystie’s format, and this section is definitely credited to her. (If you’re unsure of where to start with morning time, I wholeheartedly encourage you to find someone you respect and flat-out copy what they’re doing. You can always tweak your own MT later.) We’ll memorize a new passage of scripture and a new psalm during each of our 6-week terms of school. During a Morning Time session, we’ll work on our new passage for the term, and loop through our old passages we’ve already memorized. Then we’ll work on our new psalm, and loop through our old psalms. It looks something like this:
- Recite new passage 3x.
- Recite one old passage once. Move my post-it to the next “old” passage, so that’s the one we’ll review next Morning Time.
- Recite new psalm 3x.
- Recite one old psalm once. Move my post-it to the next “old” passage, so that’s the one we’ll review next Morning Time.
I will add that I’m thinking we may cut it down next year to only one new passage of Scripture–instead of passage and psalm. This is the section where I lose their attention most frequently. Either that, or I might switch up the order, we shall see.
Loop: Poetry, Shakespeare, Science
This is my favorite part of morning time. We’ve been through some Dickinson, Longfellow, Wordsworth, and others. I’m getting to explore poetry I never read when I was in school, and it’s been delightful.
My goal here is to instill beautiful language into my kids and build our family culture around common works of literary beauty. This is the culture I want them to remember for a lifetime, and it’s partly my way of fighting back against the the cartoons and other junky culture they might encounter throughout the day.
It seems to be working. Just yesterday something prompted a spontaneous recitation of I’m Nobody, Who Are You by Emily Dickinson. Made me giddy 🙂
The rhythm is the same: one old, one new. We rotate through poetry, Shakespeare, and science on a loop schedule, so we cover everything equally.
For poetry, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Poetry for Young People series. I love that the illustrations help us remember the poems, and sometimes they’ll have explanations for unusual or archaic words and concepts. Also, at the beginning of each book, there’s a detailed poet biography. Those have been illuminating.
For Shakespeare, we’re working our way through Ken Ludwig’s How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. I like his selections and the way he has you memorize the passages.
And for science, we’re dabbling in the science cards by Classical Conversations. I’ve been trying to find a way to incorporate these more into our homeschool because they’re a great resource. Morning time is a great place for them, as we can take as little or as much time as the day dictates and still get some benefit.
This is my other favorite part. Okay, so pretty much all of morning time is my favorite, but that’s the point, isn’t it?
We tend to do picture books, short stories, or one chapter in a book that’s readable for everyone. Some books we’ve enjoyed this year are:
- Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (All the kids love Frog and Toad.)
- Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
- Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel
- Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel
- Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges (This is one of my personal favorites.)
- Thy Friend, Obadiah by Brinton Turkle
- Obadiah the Bold by Brinton Turkle (Old-fashioned, but fun because of that.)
- Rachel and Obadiah by Brinton Turkle (A good sibling read)
- The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
- Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
- Henry the Castaway by Mark Taylor
- Blaze Finds the Trail by C.W. Anderson (9 y.o. Bubba especially likes the Blaze books)
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky
- Paddington by Michael Bond
- Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
- Mr. Putter & Tabby Toot the Horn by Cynthia Rylant
- Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant (Funny)
- The Library by Sarah Stewart (The bookish among you will enjoy this one.)
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (Hilarious!)
- The Wind in the Willows (Toad’s adventures are both funny and frustrating, but it ends well and there’s plenty of material for chatting about character. “What would you have done?” or “Should he have done that?” are great questions for this book.)
- Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (We’ve made it through Plum Creek so far, and we all want to homestead now, hehe.)
- The Burgess Book of Birds by Thornton W. Burgess (Follow along with Peter Rabbit as he meets the birds in the orchard. Great read for springtime & will cover your nature study base. I use this with a black-line coloring page of whatever bird the day’s chapter is about–a great way to keep the toddler and preschooler listening and still.)