Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

New School Routine: Morning Basket

A few weeks ago, Julie Bogart shared, “Five tips for a sane morning” on periscope and described her family’s morning routine during the homeschooling years. Julie’s family often spent up to an hour reading to kick off the day.  It sounded blissful, as well as educational.

I could immediately feel the wheels turning in my mind!

I used the extra brain space available during our holiday break to brainstorm what I might keep in my morning basket. As soon as the holiday break ended, I was ready to kick off our new Morning Basket.

Our Morning Basket

So what is in my morning bin?

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Non-Fiction Books

Several have been in my library basket and I never seem to find the time to read them with the kids.  Two were perfect for the morning bin because I can read one selection in each book each day.

The first book is: If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche.  I am not sure where I came across this title, but it is perfect for our morning bin!  Each page displays a type of house through history and describes where you would find it, when you would find it and who you would find in it.  The first house described was the log cabin (dogtrot log house) and we learned which of the US Presidents lived in one!

Our second non-fiction title: Lives of the Scientists: Experiments, Explosions (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull.  I requested this title months ago with the goal to read a few of the selections on specific scientists.  Instead, it is now in the morning bin so that we can read one each day.  The details include a few fun facts as well as a general history, but each selection is short enough to read in about 10 minutes.


image2On the advice of a friend, I purchased Marie’s Words SAT Vocabulary Flash Cards to use this year.  I had a few ideas about how to incorporate them, but nothing has been practical yet.  It occurred to me that they might be perfect as a short activity in our morning bin.

I immediately grabbed a few out of the box and put them on a ring.  We began this morning with two words:  Abduct and Fractious.  All four kids knew what it meant to be abducted, but no one, including mom, could define fractious without help!  It appears that I will be learning new words this year as well. We’ll review our words each day and add new ones as we are ready for it.

The set came with some game ideas as well, so once we have enough words to play some games, I am sure we will!

UPDATE:  We are still using these cards this year, but a little differently.  It is my favorite method so far!

Our current Brave Writer Arrow Title.

This month we are reading, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.  This entire book is written as journal entries in free verse poetry.  It is delightful and the Arrow guide has been particularly helpful as it lists all of the poems referred to in the book!  Julie always picks a variety of engaging titles for her

This entire book is written as journal entries in free verse poetry.  It is delightful and the Arrow guide has been particularly helpful as it lists all of the poems referred to in the book!  Julie always picks a variety of engaging titles for her year long Arrow guide, but you can also purchase back issues individually.

A Fairy Tale TV Show

Yesterday on Facebook someone mentioned Draw Me a Story, which is free on Amazon Prime.  The storyteller partially illustrates the story while telling it.  The stories are 7-8 minute long fairy tales and childhood favorites.  We watched The Three Little Pigs today and will view Cinderella tomorrow.  I decided that we would kick off our morning time with these short shows UNLESS my oldest daughter wants to get going on her independent work, then we can end with these and she is free to move on.


I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted various methods of teaching Geography to the kids.  I never find a method that works that I can keep up with, so we are going to give it a try in the morning bin.  My goal is a basic familiarity with physical geography as well as a sense of the culture and people of countries around the world.

My National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas is perfect for my younger kids to use.  But for more substantial reading, we’ll use The National Geographic Kids World Atlas.  (pictured left)

We decided to study South America this month, so I read the introduction to S. America on our first day.  I gave each of the children a map to color during our entire morning reading time, which I printed from this site.

IMG_1508On our second day, I read about the Northwest countries in S. America and then we went to the table to label these countries on my very large map, also printed from this site, and their own individual maps.

My plan on our third day is to let them color in the rest of the large map during morning time.  We’ll read slowly through the S. America in the atlas this month.

I also own the Geo Puzzle for Latin America and I am certain that one day we will work on this puzzle during our morning time.  Maybe I’ll let them put it together while I read.

Stories, Tales, and Information Book on South America

One of my goals beyond the physical geography of a continent is the human geography.  I want the kids to have a greater understanding of the people and the culture of the various areas we study.  In that vein, I have been requesting books about S. American artists.

I have also found a lot of good fiction picture books to add to our morning bin.  I am trying to keep 1-2 in there each morning.  Today we read Love and Roast Chicken: A trickster tale from the Andes Mountains by Barbara Knutson.

Quality Picture Books

I often feel like my poor little first grader has been slighted when it comes to picture book reading.  I am so focused on so many things during our school day that I neglect the precious reading of picture books.  Our morning basket will provide a time to focus on some quality picture books for everyone, but mostly my 6-year-old. And all four of my kids tend to snuggle up when I break out picture books.

I am not sure how many of these categories I will get to read from each day, but my goal is to keep up with the routine of the morning bin. I am sure it will look a little different each day. Somedays the kids might cuddle up to listen. Other days they might play in their kinetic sand. And on other days, we might have things to color in or create while I read. I am good with going with the flow.

I also shared our routine on periscope, which has been uploaded to my YouTube account:


Your Morning Basket GuideI have discovered some great resources at Pam Barnhill’s site.  If you want some fantastic ideas for your Morning Basket then Pam is your lady!

She has products dedicated to helping you create a Morning Basket full of resources that will work for your family.

The Big Basket collection includes a copy of, “My Morning Basket”, access to a private FB community, free printables, and much more.

Head over and check out her amazing resources.

WANT MORE IDEAS?  You can follow my Pinterest Morning Basket ideas board.  My Pinterest Literature Board.  Or follow all of my Pinterest Boards for homeschooling and parenting ideas.


Check out what was in our Homeschool Morning Basket for literature this October.Click here for 100 Modern Picture Book titles from NotBefore7. Read some new, fun and updated titles!


Mary Wilson

Mary is a writer and mother to four kids ranging from elementary to high school.

She believes that creativity, laughter, and fun are the backbone for engaging and inspiring homeschools. You can find her encouragement and tips on this blog, Mary Hanna Wilson.

She is an enneagram 7 and an extrovert. She enjoys traveling, tea (iced or hot), good conversations, and books. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
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  • Reply Lise January 9, 2016 at

    Thanks for this! Got some great ideas. I love the giant maps! Printed out Africa right away.

    • Reply January 9, 2016 at

      You’re welcome! We have the Africa one as well – I laminated it when we were done 🙂

  • Reply Ellen October 11, 2016 at

    You might be interested in the Seterra maps app for iPad. I am using that during our Morning Time to help the boys learn their states. I select a section of the United States to quiz them on. Seth has loved improving his times, and I’ve even got Evan trying it.

    • Reply October 12, 2016 at

      Thanks Ellen! I’ll have to look into that. I have not heard of it before.

  • Reply Amanda - Raising da Vinci October 18, 2016 at

    This is great Mary!

    You are always so inspirational! 🙂

    • Reply October 18, 2016 at

      Thanks Amanda! I am glad there were some good ideas in it for you!

  • Reply Lynna @ Homeschooling without Training Wheels October 19, 2016 at

    Lovely collection. It’s always so fun to get to peek into what other folks are doing!

  • Reply Tamara June 28, 2017 at

    Thanks for these great ideas, I feel very
    inspired. Just a quick correction Salvador Dali is actually an artist born in Spain 😉

    • Reply June 28, 2017 at

      Thanks! Post is updated!

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