The Morning Basket: A Place for the Good, True & Beautiful

morning basket (1)

How did the Morning Basket come to be?

As my children grew and I added younger children to the mix of older children it became clear to me that expectations might be changing, but our philosophy hadn’t changed just because a child reached a certain age. There was a need to anchor the day for all of us in our familiar, gentle way. I began to brainstorm a basket of inspiration that could be ageless in its offerings, that spanned abilities, that spoke to beauty and loveliness, and gave the day an inspiring start. My idea was to gather a collection of offerings that all the children would want to be a part of…a collection that could almost stand on its own for the day’s work if needed. And thus, the Morning Basket came to be! A collection of the good; living ideas that we would all start our day with and grow out of.


So, what’s in the morning basket?

This varies from season to season and from year to year, but I’ll give you an idea of what resides in our morning basket right now. It might give you a few ideas for setting up a basket or collection of common readings and ideas of your own if you feel so inclined.

I also want to mention that we don’t do EVERYTHING in the morning basket every day; some days are light, other days we may read more. Each day we try to encounter living ideas and I do my best to consider the good, true and beautiful that I can set before the children within this time!

I set aside a generous amount of time for the Morning Basket and the things we read and do vary somewhat from day to day. We spend just a few minutes on each collection which allows us time to pursue individual facets of a story. Some days we may do nothing more than Baltimore Catechism, poetry, and nature study reading while the rest of the time is spent sketching something from the nature study reading, or from a nature walk from the previous day. It is a time to be inspired, and there are times I need to just get out of the way!

A bouquet of offerings in the morning basket in the order I generally present them:

:: Saints: A Year in Faith and Art
:: Baltimore Catechism questions (we work on these for 5-10 minutes a day)
:: Read a chapter from Angel Food for Boys and Girls series by Father Brennan that corresponds with the Baltimore Catechism.
:: Read from one of the following options for the day:

Kindergarten Gems:
I’m borrowing this from the title of one of the books I have for Peanut, but this is a time for sweet stories or a picture book first thing in the morning. (You know how I love arranging his little spaces and setting out little groups of themed picture books!) I have a great variety of picture books I add in here…and sometimes I just read from Kindergarten Gems: Stories and Rhymes for Little Folks by Agnes Taylor Ketchum and Ida M. Jorgensen (1890). They’re sweet stories, often with tales of fairies and children, and many times there are poems that reflect a season or a theme. I wish this book was more visibly divided up seasonally as many stories reflect a season or a theme…but it isn’t. You know me, though! 😉 This is a spreadsheet in progress! I’ll share when I finish!

Each day begins with a song or two. My little Peanut loves this time, but so do the other children. We choose from a variety of sources that we love!

:: Our Musical Year – Level I and II
:: Wee Sing

Nature Studies:
:: Read one article a day from Nature Friend magazine
:: Read a seasonal selection from one of these selections:

  • Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner (there is another title by Carol Lerner you might be interested in – Backyard Birds of Winter)
  • A Forest Year also by Carol Lerner (has wonderful seasonal explanations and images!)
  • Countryside Rambles by William Furneaux (out of print – originally published 1920 – you can find sometimes find a used copy of this….Edited to add a link to this book which is now available for free online.  Thank you to Angi @ Peakmore Academy for letting me know!)

:: Sometimes I pull a unique lesson that might be applicable to an aspect of nature we’re observing out of Anna McGovern’s 1902 work, Nature Study and Related Literature. This book is very similar to Anna Comstock’s book, Handbook of Nature Study. I love all the poetry and works referenced in Anna McGovern’s book, and I also appreciate the seasonal divisions of the book. A very dear friend found it in a thrift shop and gifted it to me since she already had a copy! This book should probably be on my reference shelf, but I love seeing it in the morning basket, and seeing it sometimes reminds me to pull a pertinent lesson out of it.

:: I keep a large selection of nature stories to read throughout the year that I rotate in and out of the basket….I’ll list them for you (note many of these classics are back in print now and published unabridged. They can be purchased at Yesterday’s Classics):

Each child works on a given poem for memorization. They spend a few minutes working on this poem every day. I choose poems to reflect the season, or subject matter being studied. Our copywork and studied dictation usually come from these pieces, from a nicely written nature story, or from one of our saints biographies. Current choices come from:
:: The Poetry of Lucy Maud Montgomery
:: Favorite Poems Old and New
but other favorite sources are:
:: The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist
:: Kindergarten Gems (which I mentioned above)
:: Nature Study and Related Literature by Anna McGovern (has a lovely selection of seasonal poetry!)

I reassess the morning basket each season, adding in new and refreshing books for the morning reading time. I like to place lovely Dover coloring books in here occasionally, as well as other seasonal investigations. The children love recording inclement weather for some reason – they are all geared up to chart the hurricanes as hurricane season is upon us. Enchanted Learning often offers some neat things to add to the basket.

After morning basket time, the children each move on to their individual work for the day. The big kids grab their lesson plan clipboards and work independently, and the little kids are ready for some one-on-one lesson time, but all of the kids are springing from the same common point of true, good and beautiful, and that is a very delightful way to begin a day!

I hope you find your mornings are lovely and refreshing!

More follow up posts to come!

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  1. Martha,
    I spend about 1 1/2 hours each day on our morning basket. It does vary depending on any projects the children might have been prompted to pursue. We start around 8 though and usually by 9:30 we've moved on to the children's individual work.

    If a “survival day” of homeschooling is required for some reason, we do our morning basket of work and I ask for a little math work along with some independent reading. It's a simple day for me, but still quite a good day for the children.

    I'd love to see what you come up with!!

  2. Jen, I'm honored to see my book has a place on your everyday shelf, merci beaucoup 🙂 We have had morning basket time for many years although we call it gathering time, and I love how yours is organized, it's such a great way to start the day together! Just beautiful! Thank you!

  3. Dear Jen,
    We also do Basket time but we call it Circle time at the moment. It has had different names over the years as the children involved have differed.
    I do enjoy your book lists and I know you love some of the same books we do.
    Have you seen the new Elsa beskow book? I put a picture on my blog about it and am waiting on it and some other lovely books to arrive,
    God Bless

  4. I like the way you have it set up – we also have a morning hour together, and most of my books are kept on one shelf together, but not nearly so extensively. I have not normally included nature reading in that – (we love the Among the.. series!), so I might have to try moving some of those things into the top priority spots too, since those are the things the kids love and the things most commonly left out when we are having a crazy day. Thanks for the beautiful inspirations.

    St. Theophan Academy

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your day. I've only just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, but I have already been greatly inspired by it. Thanks so much!

  6. Jennifer,
    This is such a wonderful post! I have copied this so that I can start our moring basket this school year! I had already planned on doing something simillar in the morning, but I never thought to add the nature aspect of it! Thank you so much for the inspiration you give you us all! Now I can't wait to see your post for your Fine Arts Friday basket!

  7. Usually I go through the bookshelves and pull out a stack that I then dump by the couch in a pile so the kid's can pick through what they want to read.

    The Morning Basket sounds so much more serene and beautiful to look at. The kids are still sleeping so I think I'll go set it up right now.

  8. Sounds so nice! I teach 3rd/4th at a small private school, and it seems like every day is a mad rush to get everything done. I wish I was allowed to teach in a way that was more down to earth and gave children time to discover. I can't wait to homeschool someday!

  9. Wow…just took the time to look through this site and I'm very impressed! You are so organized. My daughter will be kindergarten age this next school year and I'm looking for good guide to start using when we home school. I know I personally we always be adapting and changing our methods, but if you have a few sites for the beginner to get me started, I'd greatly appreciate it!

  10. Wild Oak Academy mentioned your morning basket and I had to dig up your morning basket post. What a lovely idea. I love your blog. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your wisdom with others.

  11. I just found your blog after doing a Google search for a certain Catholic Charlotte Mason blog I had seen a while back. I am so happy to have found yours! What a treat! This is the very first post of yours that I have read, but I will be sure to read more. You have a lovely place here – very inspiring! I hope to implement the morning basket idea soon. I love it! Many thanks!

  12. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for good resources for applying CM learning to real life motherhood and homeschool. I am absolutely inspired. Thank you so much for your instructional posts and gentle guidance. I know I will be spending HOURS here in the future as I read your gems!

  13. I just want to thank you so much for sharing this post. We took your advice and created a reading basket in our homeschool classroom and started off each day reading together. What a wonderful tone it has set for our day. It segways so well into bookwork time. I only wish I had discovered this six years ago. Thanks again!

  14. We do a “Together Time” each day– usually around naptime. It’s ending up to be a good lead in for my youngest to her nap. We usually all gather on my bed (it’s crowded and there’s sometimes a bit of bickering), so it’s sort of cozy.
    My question is what your children do with their hands during the 1.5 hours of Basket time? My children bring handiwork or a clipboard and coloring pencils to draw while we’re singing and reviewing memory verses, reading a Bible story, poem, etc. But it seems that after about 30 minutes, they get restless.
    Just fyi, our Together Time includes the following every day: singing a hymn (or two); reviewing 4 Bible memory verses/passages; Bible story; History family read aloud. Sometimes I tack on our history or science or reading, but that really pushes their attention spans.
    My children are 9, 8, 6, 4.

    1. Great question, mom of four!

      Sometimes I give the kids something purposeful to do with their hands {painting, drawing, clay, puzzles}. BUT…I do see value in learning to bring attention without needing something in the hands, so I’m always trying to stretch them in that regard – especially my boys! Your kids are pretty young, so sitting still for a long Morning Time is going to be tough! Consider splitting up your Morning Time – and maybe do your read alouds while they eat lunch! Kids that are eating are remarkably still and engaged. 🙂

  15. Pingback: Book Baskets |
  16. Good morning, Jennifer! I found this on Pinterest. I’m thinking about starting a morning basket, too. It’s so hard to get started in a positive, gentle way in the mornings. We start full school days in September with our five year old and I’m looking for morning solutions, Thank you! I enjoyed the morning basket printables, too. Cheers.

  17. I Loved all of your ideas! Thank you! Btw, the book “The Fairyland of Science” by Arabella Buckley teaches evolution. The author herself was into spiritualism, and participated in seances, so there’s also that to look out for. I had read just the sample, and ordered it, and then upon doing further research, I found out all of this! Goodness gracious lol. Have you actually read the whole book? What did you think?



  18. I’m getting ready to use the book Kindergarten Gems and wondering if you have a one-sheet categorizing the the seasonal themes and stories of the book. It would be a wonderful resource so that I utilize the book to it’s fullest potential! Thank you and blessings…

  19. Hi Jen,

    I’m trying to figure out what you mean by the baskets: Sunflower, Ivy, Peony, and Rose. I’m trying to find it on the website but must be missing it.

    Thank you in advance for your reply and happy summer! 🙂


    Julie Hoffman

  20. Hello Jen
    Can you recommend a good saints book(s) for elementary to 9yo (possible even enjoyed later too) that tells stories about the saints rather than the one page bio reads. Presently, we have both Vols 1&2 Saints for Young Readers for everyday. These are ok to focus on the saint of the day but we like stories!
    I’m not sure as to whether we get the Mary Fabyan Windeatt Lives of the Saints series or the Br. Flavius, C.S.C. and Br. Ernest, C.S.C. series fro TAN Books. Is there another that you have preferred? Thank you.

    1. I love the Story Library of the Saints (3 volume set) by Joan Windham. They’re long out of print, but should be easy to find on eBay or Amazon used. I also really love the Dujarie Press series that has been recently republished. (Those might be the Bro Flavius books you’re referring to from TAN.) I also really love and regularly use the old, out of print, Crusade series by the Maryknoll sisters, copyright 1955. They’re worth hunting down on eBay if you can find the set. I have numbers 1 – 42. I think numbers 1 – 40 are usually easy to find.

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