Charlotte Mason Flavored Morning Time at Our Home
Morning Time, or rather Circle Time, as it was originally called in our home, has been my favorite part of homeschooling. We have been practicing it since the beginning of this journey. It is a time set aside in our morning to gather the troops around the dining room table and learn together over a plate full of fig newtons, apples, or other treats. Food and good books are a wonderful combination.
It’s a great time to fit in all the beautiful little “extras” that we can enjoy in homeschooling but often get pushed aside, from studying great works of art, to listening to classical music, to a pile of picture books (which never seem to grow old even as big kids get older), and engaging literature selections.
Learning together is a special gift of homeschooling. It’s bonding for us as a family. It centers us around some of the most important things, singing, memorizing Scripture, and listening to great books.
Over the years, this time as morphed and changed, depending upon the attention span of my littles or if we had a baby in our midst. Currently, we enjoy about 1 hour of time together, during my baby’s morning nap-time. Each child has their own memory binders that include a hymn selection, a list of Scripture memory verses (we are on Set 2 of the Fighter Verses collections and the accompanying audio songs), poetry for memorization (IEW Poetry Memorization), and a miscellaneous section that has skip counting charts, New City Catechism, and family mottos.
For December and January, under our “Daily” tab, we were singing Amazing Grace, and In The Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rosetti (which is a beautiful song for Christmas and winter time). Followed by Psalms 103, and The Spider and the Fly, and a few Shakespeare lines from Midsummer Night’s Dream. Then we move to our “Review" tabs, and pick the next two verse to review from Fighter Verses Set 1, and two or three older poems that we have previously memorized. See my video below for more close up view of our binders. (I apologize that I recorded it sideways! Ahh!)
After recitation and singing, we pull out our Nature Notebooks (just basic spiral notebooks with thick watercolor paper), and draw with colored pencils or paint with watercolors from various how-to draw animals guides and field guides, while we listen to an audiobook or I read aloud. It’s not always “nature” focused either, but whatever they want to practice drawing from the guide books. We rotate our read-aloud titles depending upon the current time period in history we are studying, or a science selection. We are currently in Ancient History, so we just finished The Golden Goblet (on Ancient Egypt), and are continuing slowly through The Storybook of Science (listening to for free on librivox) and beginning The Bronze Bow (for Ancient Rome). We listen to a chapter or two while we draw. It’s a sweet and refreshing time. I have begun my own nature journal this year, which has also been a sweet delight.
We also include some Composer Study during this time once a week and listen to a piece of music from that composer while we do copywork. On Mondays, the kids love watching Mystery Doug’s short science videos, as a new video is released every Monday.
During the fall and spring, we do more nature walks on Fridays and draw samples of what we collected from our nature findings in our journals. For the winter months, Fridays are for Shakespeare this year. We are currently using Music in Our Homeschool’s 10 Weeks of Shakespeare Course, adapting it for my lower grade levels, which has been so much fun. Yesterday, we were enthralled in two additional picture books on Shakespeare: Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way We Talk and A Midsummer Night’s Dream adapted by William Coville.
One day a week, on Tuesdays, Morning Time becomes Poetry Tea Time. We drink tea and eat a treat, and read a variety of children’s poetry books. We also have paired Picture Study during this time, where I read a short biography about the current artist we are studying and we study one of their paintings, the kids narrate or describe the picture back to us without looking, and we talk about it.
In January, we were memorizing The Spider and the Fly in the IEW Poetry memorization collection. It is a fabulous poem on flattery. We came across a picture book version at the library to accompany it. That really brought the poem to life for the kids and it has been read numerous times since.
My favorite find I stumbled upon recently are the Homeschool Garden Morning Time plans, that we have started to incorporate into our Morning Time. These are Charlotte Mason inspired morning time plans with links, audio files, biographies of artists and composers, art prints, poetry, poetry tea time themes and ideas, beautiful copywork for all levels, handicrafts, art projects, and much much more into one place, so its fabulously easy to open, click, and go with her organized schedule. I have adapted a bit for our schedule, since we already had a basic structure to our days, but I love all the resources! I simply login and open the links and documents from my ipad, and we listen and study together at the table. I think the subscription option is well worth it if you need a little help and want it all mapped out for you in one spot. February’s theme is all about birds, and we are studying Audubon, Chopin, reading Seabird by Holling, and painting birds.
Need help starting your own Morning Time?
Pam Barnhill’s Better Together - This is a my favorite resource for inspiration with lots of resources recommendations for what to include in your morning time and how to get started.
Pam Barnhill’s Your Morning Basket podcast & blog - Inspiration and ideas all over this blog and podcast! She has many episodes about the benefits of memorizing poetry and such as well.
Our Favorite Resources for Morning Time:
Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization - A fun list of the best poems out there for memorizing. We highly recommend this resource! Easy to make copies for memory binders.
New City Catechism - An excellent catechism for memorizing. 52 questions match up nicely for each week of the year.
Picture Study Portfolios - Simply Charlotte Mason produces these fabulous 8x10 reprints of famous works of art. Great for enjoying, putting on the wall, and studying together.
Homeschool Garden Morning Time Plans - Artist, composer, poetry tea time ideas, hymn study, art project, copywork, and handiwork ideas, all in one place for each month of the year. Subscription based or individual units are also available for purchase.
Mystie Winkler’s Shakespeare for Kids: Five Easy Steps to Teach Any Shakespeare Play - These free resources and printables are fabulous! We have used many of these resources over the years. I love her printables for easy memorizing of Shakespeare lines.
Morning Time Supplies We Use:
Free Printables for Your Use:
Over the years, I’ve compiled documents of the resources we use to put in our memory binders, because they weren’t available online in any usable format for this purpose. Here are PDF versions for your use, if desired.