2017-2018 Morning Basket Curriculum Review

You can find the post of my plans here. This was my first year incorporating a morning basket into our homeschool routine. It was something I picked up from Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. And while we generally stick to The Well Trained Mind, morning basket sounded like something I wanted to adapt to our homeschool routine.

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This school year, I had a wide range of ages. And from here until people start graduating, the range will continue to expand. I really wanted something to keep them all together while they are all going their own ways. That makes no sense, but maybe you follow. I ended up not getting as much covered as I expected. I did not account for how much time would be spent either reading with a distracting toddler or while trying to nurse a new baby. I was pretty okay with relaxing my standards a bit. So, some books I planned to read didn’t get touched.

History

We are sticking with The Story of The World for history. Younger kids jump in wherever we happen to be in the history cycle. This year, we were on Year 3. I read a chapter once or twice a week during morning basket. We actually ended up finishing it in term 2, so term 3, we went back and read some supplemental materials we didn’t get around to in the first pass instead of proceeding on to Year 4.

I used The Activity Guide, The Well Trained Mind, and Ambleside to make up our supplemental reading list. I will get into the grade specific supplements in later posts. For this post, I’m just focusing on the ones we used in our Morning Basket.

The Landing of the Pilgrims was a bit dry, but it did give a good picture of what was going on with the pilgrims as they settled North America. Diving into this gave a better picture of how America was built with certain aspects of life in place. It gave a better understanding of what “religious freedom” would have meant to these people. The kids recalled the details of the book really well, despite only listening to me read it. It ended up taking up an entire term to read this because of the whole having a baby thing.

George Vs. George is a picture book with lots of information. We actually spread this out over a week of reading. My older kids were later found rereading it in their own time. Apparently they liked it.

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? is another info packed picture book. The kids really enjoyed it.

If You Can Keep It is not a book written for children. It is a very interesting read. It pretty much went over the heads of the younger crew, but the older three did seem to understand much of what we read and it lead to some very interesting dinner table discussions about liberty, freedom, and religion. It made a good read aloud supplement to the American Revolution for my logic aged kids. It would make a good independent reading book in the rhetoric stage. It deals with lofty topics, but it written in a very approachable way.

John Wesley: The World and His Parish was an excellent read. Anyone in the Wesleyan tradition should read this to their kids. It is a bit on the dry side, but it is really interesting. It doesn’t sugar coat the situation at all. You’ll better understand Wesley’s ideas and intentions through reading about his life. This probably falls more in line with character development than history, but we ended up having a good bit of cross over with John Wesley’s world our history studies.

Operation World was again a big part of our geography studies. We focused in on the Caribbean islands this year since The Pastor made his first trip down to Haiti to teach at a seminary there. We also read Under The Storyteller’s Spell, which is a collection of Caribbean folk tales. We found them pretty interesting and they sparked discussions of the culture of these people. It ended up overlapping into history as we were talking about the slave trade and the revolutions of South America and the Caribbean islands a bit.

Science

We started the year using the Berean Builder‘s curriculum.  But really, I couldn’t keep up with the experiments with a newborn, so we had to switch gears a little bit.

It Couldn’t Just Happen ended up taking most of the year to get through. It wasn’t the length or difficulty so much as I didn’t want to throw too much out at once. I felt like taking it slower gave them more time to process the information. This book is essentially answering the question, “Did the universe and all that is in it just happen or is their a Creator?” The book is not dogmatic about creationist issues (literal 7 days, young earth/old earth, etc.) It simply points out the evidence that supports that there is an intelligent design to our world. It is an argument against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It does allow for natural evolution, but not the Theory of Evolution. It is a very interesting look into the scientific process and about how we “know” something to be scientifically true, only to find out later it isn’t as true as we thought. Science exists in theories, so we have to have some flexible system of working through the evidence as it arises. My 10 year old said this was his favorite part of the school day.

We also read excerpts from The Handbook of Nature Study. We also grabbed up library books to explore topics as they came up. When talking about the gold rush in history, the topic of gold and geology arose, so we investigated it through library books.

Prayer

I had this plan of the prayers we would learn as a family. I picked too many. I picked 3 prayers per term, meaning we’d learn one prayer each month. At the end of the month, they were just getting to the place of memorization of the prayer. I felt like I was pulling the rug out from under them when we switched. So, for term 2 and 3, we went with one prayer per term. Getting much more familiar and comfortable with the prayer before moving to the next. That worked much better, even though we weren’t memorizing as much.

Truth

For Bible memorization, we simply chose a verse each week. The older kids would look it up and read it each morning. The little kids would repeat after me. By Friday every week, they had all memorized the verse. It was a very simple process. I did have the kids who could write keep a list in their binder of all there verses. So, the older kids did write the verse out once a week.

For Bible study, we started with Herein Is Love: Genesis. I really love this series. It does go through Genesis at a snail’s pace. For the younger kids, I would read whatever story we were on in one of our storybook Bibles. (Jesus, Jesus Calling, Character, Adventure, Friends)

Once we finished that, we moved into doing The Talk once a week. I’m not entirely sure what I think about that particular book. First, it is very small. 7 lessons total. They recommend them once a week, so that is what we did. They are very scientifically accurate, which I liked. Very straightforward, which I liked. I’m just not entirely sure about the order of the lessons and I am not entirely sure about the skimpiness of the lessons. There are recommended videos, which are free. I used my iPad to screen share through our Xbox Air Play app to show the videos. My kids had questions way beyond what were in the lessons. The first three lessons are learning the differences between male and female, sex, and fetal development. It then gets into the moral issues around sex and bodies. I think the order I would have liked to have seen would have been differences between male and female and then respecting other people’s bodies, good touch/bad touch sort of thing. Then move on to sex and the moral issues around adultery and sex outside marriage. Then fetal development and birth. That would have made more sense in how the conversations took my crew. I also have to note that my oldest daughter was very uncomfortable with the questions her younger brothers were asking. I think if I were to do this again, I would split up my boys and girl since they had entirely different questions and ways of looking at it.

We also read Indescribable during the days we weren’t reading The Talk. My kids really enjoyed it, but I think it is more devotional reading than a Bible study. I think it would be awesome for Family Devotion time. Just for a homeschool Bible class, there isn’t nearly enough meat. Though all my kids absolutely love it. It is really quick, under five minutes.

I included our character study in with Truth. First, we read 7 Men. This is not a kid’s book. This is a biography of seven different men written for adult readers. However, for a read aloud, it was quite appropriate for children. Now, there were some issues with Jackie Robinson, as there are some very harsh words to be reading aloud to kids. There were also issues in reading about Pope John Paul II in terms of sex. These items are easily glossed over or skipped if you choose, or you can have a conversation about them, which is what we chose to do. The kids really enjoyed 7 Men. They immediately asked me to read 7 Women.

We also really enjoyed Manners class once a week with Modern Manners. I did skip around a little bit, because my 8 year old has no interest in email etiquette at this point. But the kids really enjoyed it.

Beauty

This was a mixed bag. Turns out that my kids are not the biggest fans of poetry. I ended up only doing poetry for one term. I’ll introduce some more next year and see how it goes.

Art appreciation, they loved. 50 Artists You Should Know was a little on the dry side. It was also not conducive to be looking at tiny versions of the art in one book when you have 6 or 7 people gathered around. What I ended up doing was picking one artist. I’d read from the book and throw the art onto our TV from my iPad via the AirPlay app on our Xbox. This way the kids could all see the pictures we were talking about. Some weeks, I gave them the opportunity to recreate some of the art. They particularly enjoyed making a Chinese Bridge in watercolors and painting with scissors like Matisse.

We ended up stopping the hymns after one term. My kids were just too jacked up to do it. If I did the music at the beginning, it took me forever to calm them back down. If I did it at the end, it took forever to calm them down to move onto their independent work. They just lost their ever-loving minds with the simple move from around the coffee table to around the piano. I don’t know what happened, but for sanity, we removed it. It was a lovely idea. It just didn’t work out for us.

Goodness

I had planned to read so much. We didn’t make it beyond 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I ended up reading one chapter a week, spreading each chapter over two or three smaller readings. Which meant the book took the entire school year to read. The kids really enjoyed it. I didn’t think they were into it, but then they told me they loved it and wanted to reread it. So, I guess it went well. It just wasn’t the pace I had originally planned. But this is definitely a read aloud kind of book. Though brush up on your latin or you’ll be stumbling all over the Latin names for every sea animal and plant mentioned in the book. I’m kind of wishing we had done an audio book instead. But my kids listen to me reading aloud so much better than they listen to audio books. It is the weirdest thing. But I would have enjoyed the audio book more.

the crew

Overall, morning basket went really well for us this year and I definitely plan to incorporate it next year. I’m glad I had planned a lot, even if I didn’t get to use it all. It gave me something to choose from when we were finishing up in one area and moving to the next.

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Morning Basket 17/18

I got the idea for a Morning Basket from some Charlotte Mason homeschoolers I came across. We have used similar methods, but this is the first year we are giving it an official name and an actual basket. Morning Basket work is so ideal for large families. We do a lot of our work together. For the younger kids, it provides exposure to more complex ideas and themes. For the older kids, it can be a great jumping off place for their more individualized studies. We already try to do as much together as we can, a one room school house sort of vibe. But the Morning Basket really makes it official and gives it a more organized place in our home and our day.

Our Morning Basket consists of 7 categories. It is mostly reading and discussing. Some people call this “Couch Time” since you’re not sitting at a table pouring over workbooks.

Prayer

Each morning we will begin with prayer. We have time throughout the day for spontaneous prayer, so during this morning prayer time, I wanted to focus on memorizing prayers. We will pray through each prayer daily for four weeks, then change to the next prayer. The prayers we are learning this year are:

The Lord’s Prayer

For Joy in God’s Creation from The Book of Common Prayer

For the Human Family from The Book of Common Prayer

John Wesley’s Prayer

St. Augustine’s Prayer

St. Patrick’s Prayer

St. John Vianney’s Prayer

St. Francis Prayer

John Wesley Covenant Prayer

Truth

This category includes our Bible Study, character reading, and manners study. Our older kids also do their own personal Bible study. And as a family, we also do family devotions. This morning basket Bible study is separate from both of those. During Term 1 and the beginning of Term 2, we are finishing our Herein Is Love: Genesis study. In Term 2, we are also doing The Talk. Term 3, we will be doing Herein Is Love: Exodus.

For our character study, we will be reading through 7 Men. Once we finish that in Term 3, we’ll be reading Fierce Convictions.

For manners, we’ll be reading through the book Modern Manners once a week.

Beauty

Beauty includes art and music. During Term 1 and 2, we will be doing a different hymn each week. Term 3, we will be using a more contemporary worship song each week. For Art, we are reading about one artist each week from 50 Artists You Should Know. Here is our list of hymns and worship songs for the main three terms (Advent has its own unique schedule.):

All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

This Is My Father’s World

Amazing Grace

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty

Lead On, O King Eternal

Jesus Paid It All

I Am Thine, O Lord, I Have Heard Thy Voice

For The Beauty of The Earth

Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Trust and Obey

This So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Be Thou My Vision

He Leadeth Me

How Firm A Foundation

I Must Tell Jesus

It Is Well With My Soul

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross

Jesus Lover of My Soul

My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Called Me Higher

Come Alive

Oh How I Need You

But For You Who Fear My Name

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner

The Cost

Up On A Mountain

Burn Like A Fire

In Christ Alone

Old Church Choir

I’ll Always Love You

I Heard the Sound of Voices

Goodness

Our literature selections that we are reading aloud together fall into this category, as well as our once a week poetry readings. For poetry, we’ll be reading a few poems from a Treasury of Selected Poems (Barnes and Noble Bargain Book) one day each week. We are also adding in Mad Libs Mondays just for fun. Our literature selections for the year:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

At The Back of The North Wind

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Minn of the Mississippi

The Swiss Family Robinson

Memory Work

I like challenging my kids to memorize things. But I don’t want them memorizing useless things. This year, we’re focusing just on Bible verses. For the first two terms, I selected random verses, one verse each week, that I felt were worth memorizing. For the third term, we’ll focus on memorizing a verse from Proverbs each week.

History

This isn’t usually in a Morning Basket, but since it is something we do together, I added it here. The older kids have additional work to add to this, this is simply the portion we read aloud together.

I decided to redo Story of the World Volume 3 this year. We used it last year, but we did a really poor job of it. I was tempted to just move on, but there are so many interesting parts of this particular time period, including the American Revolution, that I felt deserved more time. Once a week, we will read one chapter of Story of the World 3. I do have a few weeks with 2 chapters in order to get all the book done this school year. In addition to that, we’ll also be reading the following our loud together:

The Landing of The Pilgrims

The Three Musketeers

The Jungle Book

George Vs. George

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?

If You Can Keep It

Little Things Make Big Differences

John Wesley: The World and His Parish (I would seriously love the entire collection of these Christian Heros books. I’m building a library of them.)

Frankenstein

The Mexican-American War

What Was the Gold Rush? (I would also love a collections of these “What Was” and “Who Was” books. They make it so easy for kids to read and understand.)

In addition to these, we’ll also continue our Godbold Academy Geography. The older ones have their own geography specific assignments, but we enjoyed learning about the spiritual needs of various countries and having the opportunity to pray for them. So we will continue choosing a country each week from Operation World.

Science

Again, not a usual Morning Basket inclusion. However, it is something we do together. The little ones have their own science stuff, but they loved watching the experiments last year, so we’ll continue with that. We are continuing with Berean Builder’s: Science in the Scientific Revolution. We’re doing about a lesson per week of that and then some additional Science reading out loud. The Berean Builders series is science chronologically by discoveries made. We chose this particular year because it goes along with our history timeline. It does include experiments, which my kids love. All the ones we have done have used simple household items and haven’t needed anything complex or weird.

It Couldn’t Just Happen

Always Inventing

Madam How and Lady Why

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*** Amazon usually has the cheapest price on classics. However, I love the look and feel of the Barnes and Noble hardback classics. If you go the Barnes and Noble route, be sure to take you declaration of intent or homeschool ID to the store and pick up an Educator’s Discount Card that will save you 20%! Though I also really like the look and feel of Puffin Classics. Even Puffin paperbacks just have a better font and page feel than some of the other publishers.***

**** You can get a lot of the classics in e-book format for very cheaply or even free in some cases. I’m just a book lover than prefers reading an actual book.****