Woman reading a book from morning basket on blanket on grass on a sunny day with cup of tea

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What is a morning basket?

A morning basket is a collection of books, hands on activities, and other items used for group learning within a homeschool family. Baskets can consist of items like books (particularly living books), hands on activities, and the like. It’s a place to hold all of your family’s study materials but also so much more!

The term was popularized by British educator Charlotte Mason in the late 1800’s. She believed that education was “an atmosphere, a discipline, a life”. This is also how we view our homeschool because learning is happening all of the time whether we label it as so or not. Think of a morning basket as not only a place for your physical items for your family study to live but also the environment and attitude you want to foster around this special time together.

No two families are alike, no two homeschools are alike, and no two morning baskets should be alike.

Does my morning basket need to be in a basket?

Absolutely not! The idea is to have the items you are wanting to use with family studies consistently on hand in a convenient place. This could easily be a shelf, cubby, bag, basket, or anywhere else that is convenient to store them. Early on in our homeschool we used a basket but have since switched to a table in our living room that has a large storage area. There are pluses and minuses to where you choose to store your supplies. Baskets are easier to grab and go if you decide you want to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors. You decide how to make an ideal morning basket for your own family-including how you store it!

When should I use the morning basket?

You can choose to do this whenever suits your family the best. Most people choose to do morning basket first thing in the morning. Usually the reasons for this are setting the tone for the rest of the day since many families pray and do Bible study during this time. Another reason is to have the feeling of accomplishing at minimum some group work for the day. Nothing is hard and fast though. Knowing the season your family is in can help with deciding when this should be done. We typically sit down to our group work after lunch in the afternoons. We have an atypical schedule compared to most families and it just works best for us most days to do it then.

How long should morning basket time take?

This answer is going to vary depending on your kid’s attention spans, family dynamics, interest in materials, how much time is spent on each item in your basket, and many other factors. I occasionally let our youngest daughter go play or do something other than sit in on group time after about 10-20 minutes if she is getting antsy. I don’t expect her to sit for the amount of time our middle schoolers and high schooler does. Remember to account for your child’s age and stage when choosing what should go in your basket. Normal attentions span by age: 

  • Preschool: 4-12 minutes
  • Early Elementary: 12-24 minutes
  • Late Elementary: 20-35 minutes
  • Middle Grades: 25-40 minutes
  • High School: 30-50+ minutes

Tips for how to make the ideal morning basket

Include things that you have decided are at the top of your family’s educational priorities and can be learned in a group setting. For our family this usually involves Bible study or family devotions.

Also, include things that provide comfort during morning basket time. This could include goodies like a throw blanket or candles. Remember the goal is to provide a pleasant environment and learning experience.

You are going to have days when someone is not “feeling it”. Expect it. It’s going to happen. With that said-

Be flexible and know that what works for this season and what works for the next may look totally different and that’s ok! If things feel off or you are hitting a lot of resistance it is ok to change up your routine, change your materials, change the timing, change the scenery, or even take a break. Life is too short to read books or do activities that aren’t enjoyable. There is always an alternative way to learn. If you or your kids are going through drudgery no one is going to remember it anyhow. Keep this time enjoyable!

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  1. Never heard of this idea before, a morning basket, I love it! I think I’ll put one together for myself! ☺️

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