Organization and routines go a long way toward making homeschooling more enjoyable and effective.
Over the last ten years as a working homeschool mom, I’ve tried various schedules, tricks, and routines to make our days go more smoothly.
One of the things that worked the best was creating a morning basket for homeschool. Here are a few tips on how to create your own.
What is a Morning Basket?
A homeschool morning basket is simply a collection of materials that you and your children will use during your morning time. It doesn’t even really need to live in an actual basket.
The first time I learned about using this simple homeschool tool was when I read about Charlotte Mason, one of the “mothers” of the modern homeschool movement.
In one of our homes, we used a milk crate in the corner of the living room. Now, we do actually have a basket in our school room.
The basic idea of a morning basket for homeschool days is to help your children get off to a good start. It might include books, toys, games, art supplies, etc.
The key is to choose items that will help everyone get into a productive homeschooling mindset. If your family is anything like mine, it might include family members that don’t love this time of day.
When you create a morning basket that suits your family and homeschool, you’ll find that it really impacts your mindset as a homeschool mom – for the better!
Benefits of Using a Morning Basket
A morning basket routine has several benefits – both for you and your learners.
First, children learn to follow a routine.
The structure of doing the “morning basket” at the start of the day encourages children to complete certain tasks before moving on to something else.
And this helps them develop essential skills like time management and organization.
Save time by having everything in one place. Gathering all of the materials you need for your morning homeschooling time in one place means that you won’t waste time running around the house looking for things. And this helps you to stick to your homeschooling schedule.
Your children can work on morning basket activities independently, giving you time to tackle anything you need to focus on before moving on to the rest of your day.
What Goes in a Morning Basket?
You can put all kinds of items in a morning basket. Items that are educational, engaging, and easy to use independently are all great choices.
I used different things when I had young children than I do now that I homeschool older children.
The season of life, work, and health helped me determine what to put in our morning basket.
As many of you know, one of my daughters lives with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This is a life-altering auto-immune disease. She was diagnosed almost nine years ago.
She is currently in remission on medication. However, there have been long periods of time (as in multiple two-to-five-month periods) when she has been bedridden. Mornings are very difficult for her as her knees, ankles, fingers, jaw, etc., are very stiff.
On those days, we do her favorite things for morning basket time in bed.
Read alouds, social studies, and any specific subject she wants to cover during that time period.
The year she turned five, we did all of her Sonlight language arts during morning basket time – and we did it together rather than independently.
A few examples include:
- Books for read-aloud time, depending on your children’s ages, could include picture books, bible stories, or even a favorite chapter book
- Puzzles and games
- Pen and paper games
- Simple handicraft kits
- Pamphlets or printouts related to things you’re working on
- Coloring sheets
- Notes of encouragement or reminders
- Bible reading and memorization
- Bible studies with worksheets
- education card game
Morning Basket Ideas for Little Kids
Younger children will benefit from having a morning basket filled with things they can do independently.
Look for items that are both educational and entertaining. A few possibilities include the following:
- Alphabet books
- Days of the week learning
- Map work
- nature books
- Counting games
- Art supplies
- Simple toys
- Beads and string
- Nursery rhymes audiobooks
- beautiful art pictures or picture study activities
Morning Basket Ideas for Big Kids
Older kids and middle schoolers will need more challenging materials to keep them engaged. Look for items that are both educational and thought-provoking. A few possibilities include the following:
- Science experiment kits
- Books about history or current events
- Logic puzzles
- Nature study material
- Word games
- Art supplies
- Writing journal
- Memory work
- Tablet with educational apps and games
- Goal tracking planners
- fun poems
- art study
- Bible study
- music appreciation activities – my friend Gena Mayo over at Music in Our Homeschool has an AMAZING membership! (affiliate link)
Morning Basket Ideas for Teens
If your teens are using the morning basket, look for items that are both academic and generally interesting. A few possibilities include the following:
- Educational games
- Writing prompts
- music and composer study work
- foreign language practice
- Research materials
- Art supplies
- News clippings
- Stationery for letter writing letters
- artist study
- art appreciation books
- sharing good news from current events (this is a great activity to encourage family time discussion about world news)
How to Use a Morning Basket
Once you’ve gathered all the needed materials, it’s time to put your morning basket to use.
The key is to start each day with a set amount of time devoted to working on items from the basket. This will help everyone get into a homeschooling mindset gently.
Since the morning baskets are filled with activities that are meant to be worked on independently, using them will give you time to get things done while your kids are occupied. You can use this time to prepare meals or do some work yourself.
At the end of the morning, everyone can come together and share what they’ve been working on. This is a great way to start the day, and it will help everyone feel more connected.
Tips for Using Morning Baskets
When using a morning basket, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- If your children are far apart in age, each child could have their own morning basket with items suited specifically for each of them.
- Prepare the morning baskets each evening, so they’re ready to go right away each morning.
- Set a timer for the morning basket activities so everyone knows when to move on.
- Be flexible and adjust the contents of the baskets as needed to cover the important things you may have missed previously.
- Include seasonal items to keep the baskets fresh and exciting.
- Use sturdy baskets that won’t topple over easily – and keep them in a spot for easy access.
- You don’t have to use morning baskets every single day. You can have them ready and choose to use them on days that make sense.
- Keep the morning baskets in an accessible spot so everyone can easily grab them when it’s time to start the day.
- Dollar stores are an easy way to find new items like an activity book or new children’s books to put in the morning baskets.
- Let your children place kind notes and drawings for each other in the baskets.
- You might even try creating a bedtime basket to encourage quiet time in the evening.
How We Use Morning Baskets
One of the questions I get the most is, “what’s in your family’s morning basket?” And honestly, it’s changed over the years as my children have grown.
Generally, we start with a joint Circle Time, then move on to our independent work or morning baskets.
During their preschool and kindergarten years, we usually started Circle Time with the Jesus Storybook Bible. We then sang the alphabet song, adding the days and months to our wall calendar.
These activities were better together, especially for the younger kids. In fact, I could homeschool kindergarten in minutes each day — about 10 minutes daily, to be exact. And it was a favorite way to ease into morning basket activities.
Now that the girls have reached grades eight and five, their morning baskets include Spanish lessons using Duolingo, piano lessons using Playground Sessions, Keyboarding using various free keyboarding practice sites, Bible verse or poetry memorization, and a quiet time reading book.
In addition, they also present one or two “interesting facts during our morning basket time. At the moment, my fifth-grader is fascinated by reptiles, particularly snakes.
She shares a “fun fact” from her 50 fun reptile facts for kids list each morning. Most days, she reshares this fact at dinner so her dad (terrified of snakes) can also enjoy!
The girls also have art activity books and sketchbooks in their baskets that they pull out when we do family read-aloud time.
FAQs from Homeschool Moms on Morning Basket Time
How much time should we spend on morning baskets?
This depends on your children’s ages and your family’s homeschool morning routine.
Generally, my children spend about 30 minutes on their baskets.
Is this the same as circle time?
In our home, Circle Time happens together, so no. We consider our morning homeschool baskets independent work time. We gather for Circle after baskets.
How can I cover different subjects in our morning baskets?
I switch up the basket contents every week to two weeks. It all depends on how the girls are using and enjoying the items. So when I switch the items, I try to cover different subjects. And I often choose them based on the seasons.
Can I do morning basket for homeschool at the kitchen table?
You sure can! As long as your kids work quietly, do morning homeschool basket time wherever works best in your home.
How would this work with my homeschool curriculum?
This could work well with the independent activity books or quiet reading books from your homeschool curriculum. For example, I’ve used Handwriting Without Tears and Wordly Wise Grammar books in the girls’ baskets for some years.
And since Sonlight includes so many great quiet reading books and picture books, I sometimes add these too.
Can I use this idea with a loop schedule?
Absolutely! Look at the subjects and activities in the loop schedule. Identify the ones that can get finished independently. Then add them to the basket.
I’m not a morning person. Will this work for me?
If you aren’t a morning person, a homeschool morning basket is EXACTLY what you need. Teach your kids to go right to their baskets in the mornings after breakfast. Take the 20-30 minutes while they’re occupied to organize the rest of your homeschool day.
Or just have a second cup of coffee and some quiet time yourself.
Creating a morning basket is a fun way to organize your homeschooling day and ensure that you get started off on the right foot. By including items like books, school materials, breakfast snacks and drinks, and calming activities, you can help your family stay focused and organized throughout the day – and the entire school year!
What will you put in your morning basket? Let me know in the comments!