Make Morning Time More Beautiful

What is the beauty loop? It sounds kind of like a skincare regimen if I really think about it. While I do not take credit for the term, I know I have used the term now for about two years.

For those of you familiar with Charlotte Mason’s idea of education, you might recall this quotation from Towards A Philosophy of Education: “We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can” (Vol. 6, p. 183).

The feast is dispersed throughout the school day, even the school week. For a detailed blog post describing scheduling, you might want to read over “A Weekly Homeschool Schedule: Simple as 1-2-3” .

I think that spreading the feast out is a great way to alternate between various subjects of different sorts, as well as expose children to the “abundant and delicate feast” Charlotte Mason describes.

For my family this year, we have found that spreading out the feast occurs best at the beginning of the school day, during what we call our “morning time”.

Morning time usually begins right at the breakfast table, once dishes have been brought over. We sing and pray. For a few morning time blog posts, peruse these.

A beauty loop is the component of morning time that occurs right after our doxology, hymn and prayer, after the kitchen is fully cleaned. The beauty loop is a rotation of four days of subjects, each occurring on a different day of the week. I label them Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4, so they do not have to be relegated to a specific day of the week (too much pressure!).

Follow this link for more:

  1. information on the beauty loop
  2. a FREE resource that I made to show you how you can plan your beauty loop
  3. PLUS an editable template

Without morning time, our days would lack a little luster. Let me know if you have any morning time stories, and I’d love to incorporate them in some way over here!

History Lessons, Book Lists, and Morning Time

I wanted to share the page I recently updated: Story of the World. If you are looking for an engaging, classical curriculum for history, The Story of the World is a good option. We use this in our morning time. Read more to find out if it is the right fit for you and your family!

the 2 resources we use

In addition to The Story of the World, I have made my book list to align with ancient times because Classical Conversations Cycle 1 covers ancient history. Skim each week to see if you could snag a few titles to go with your study of ancient history, whether or not you end up using The Story of the World.

What’s covered in The Story of the World? Here is a table of contents found inside:

(by chapter)

  1. The Earliest People
  2. Egyptians Lived on the Nile River
  3. The First Writing
  4. The Old Kingdom of Egypt
  5. The First Sumerian Dictator
  6. The Jewish People
  7. Hammurabi and the Babylonians
  8. The Assyrians
  9. The First Cities of India
  10. The Far East: Ancient China
  11. Ancient Africa
  12. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt
  13. The New Kingdom of Egypt
  14. The Israelites Leave Egypt
  15. The Phoenicians
  16. The Return of Assyria
  17. Babylon Takes Over Again!
  18. Life in Early Crete
  19. The Early Greeks
  20. Greece Gets Civilized Again
  21. The Medes and the Persians
  22. Sparta and Athens
  23. The Greek Gods
  24. The Wars of the Greeks
  25. Alexander the Great
  26. The People of the Americas
  27. The Rise of Rome
  28. The Roman Empire
  29. Rome’s War With Carthage
  30. The Aryans of India
  31. The Mauryan Empire of India
  32. China: Writing and the Qin
  33. Confucius
  34. The Rise of Julius Caesar
  35. Caesar the Hero
  36. The First Roman Prince
  37. The Beginning of Christianity
  38. The End of the Ancient Jewish Nation
  39. Rome and the Christians
  40. Rome Begins to Weaken
  41. The Attacking Barbarians
  42. The End of Rome

December 2021 Morning Time

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may collect a small portion from the purchase of some of these morning time resources, at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

What IS Morning Time, Again?

Morning time has been a staple of our day.  I like to call it the “coffee” of the day, because not only does it warm us and sustain us, it seems vital to getting the day going, if you know what I mean.  Cindy Rollins, author of Morning Time: A Liturgy of Love , defines morning time with a beautiful quote: “What is morning time?  It is capturing the hours of your day before they flit away.  It is making sure the most beautiful things happen first.  It is impossible to regret that.”

How can I disagree with Rollins here? She has hit the nail on the head, for our family.  If we did not dedicate about half an hour to an hour of our day to this sacred time…school would definitely be more about checking things off a list. What’s so bad about checking things off a list?,  you might be thinking.  If that’s you, well you can decide if there is something missing from your home life.  Are you missing out on connection?  Morning time is for you, friend!  These are referred to as “mornings without measure”, yet small habits lead to profound outcomes.  Ask someone who has done morning time for FORTY years!  Cindy Rollins is your gal.  She will speak to the profound impact morning time has had on her family in her appearance on the Thinking Love podcast (episode: “The Art of Morning Time”).  She raised and homeschooled nine children.  NINE.  How many morning times do you think they had all together over the years?  Although every one of her children are grown and out of the house, she still has her own morning time.  This liturgy of love, as she calls it, gets deeply engrained.  It becomes a way of worshipping our Lord.  It becomes a way of noticing the true, good and the beautiful. 

Morning time is an ART to be practiced.

Morning time is NOT a rote system.  It is NOT something that has to be thematic or “matchy-matchy”.  Connections will be made, regardless of which hymns, Bible passages, poems, or other elements you select.  It is more of a chance for ALL present to marvel at God’s creation and truth.  It is less about the homeschool parent getting up to “teach her children something moral or good”.  It is more about taking this all in together.  The focus is on the content, the subjects, the works of art. 

Connection.  If we had no morning time, we’d be missing out on connection. Morning time lends itself to connection.  Connection in the sense of relationships, yes.  However, connection reaches beyond the necessary relational connection with children.

Charlotte Mason holds to the idea that “education is the science of relations”.  It is a principle of her famous “twenty”.  Miss Mason called this the guiding principal of education.  Why “science” of relations, you might ask?  I am reading In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education by Karen Glass.  Glass purports that the term “science”, when used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (the industrial era), was simply a buzzword.  So, maybe Charlotte Mason could have used a different word, but “science” spoke to so many of her contemporaries at the time.  It was THE word. 

We can look at the next part of the statement, “Education is the science of relations”.  We see the word “relations”.  Miss Mason divided knowledge into three categories – knowledge of God, knowledge of man, and knowledge of the universe. All realms of knowledge are bound together, whether we perceive it or not.  Finding the relationship between the realms of knowledge is the key to education.  This is the science of relations. All knowledge, of that which is observed and abstract alike, is bound together. Doesn’t this sound a lot like classical education?  I digress.

My point is that morning time is something I plan to carry out with my students for as long as I homeschool.  Hey, even if I didn’t homeschool, I would still find a way to have “morning” time with my kids.  It would just not take place in the morning. There are just too many connections to be made to give it up!

What Does Morning Time Look Like Now?

Morning Time Part I in the kitchen

Breakfast

Sing the Doxology

Sing a hymn together:  Singing the Great Hymns

Pray together

Clean up together: my seven-year-old boy sweeps, I hold the dust pan for him, my little girl washes dishes, and I help her.

Come back together for Morning Time Part II in the living room.

Beauty Loop (4-day rotation): joke book (Highlights), picture study (The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient Egypt), composer study (Bach), poetry (various)

Math Mini Lesson: As of late, this exists to gather all kids to practice our Classical Conversations skip counting.  They listen to the song, and place the numbers on laminated grid paper using wet erase markers.  Prior to this, I was practicing different skills by the month with the kids.  In October, we learned how to round whole numbers to the nearest ten, so I taught a short (5 minutes maximum) lesson on “the rounding hill” and made it fun with a car and math word problems about our ancient history.

Ancient Times Study Loop (3-day rotation): read aloud and students narrate- read aloud the remaining portion and students narrate –coloring page and map work

We are using The Story of the World: Ancient Times.

Advent Morning Time

The basic rhythm of our morning time has stayed the same, except we are now just focusing on our Advent resource for Part II of morning time.  We have paused everything else, to date.  Whether I layer in the beauty loop, math mini-lesson, and ancient times study will depend on our day.  However, I think whenever you introduce something new to morning time, it is good to start small, then slowly add on. 

Right now, we are enjoying reading the devotions and singing the songs from The Advent Jesse Tree .  We are going to begin our Christmas School the week before Christmas, and it will pair well with The Advent Jesse Tree. Our Christmas School resource has scripture readings included already, so we can just focus on our Joyful Feast and drop The Advent Jesse Tree, if it’s too much scripture reading during morning time. We can move the Advent readings to the evening, right at the dinner table, since Daddy will be home then. 

I will keep you updated regarding the flow of morning time in months to come! 

Looking Ahead to January

I cannot wait to begin our Picture Study Portfolio: Michelangelo for our new picture study in 2022!

One thing I have learned from this morning time journey is to not add too much at once!  Once we start Michelangelo picture study, we will be shelving our Ancient Egypt picture study. 

Another thing I’d like to incorporate somehow in the spring months is nature study and nature notebooking.  Although our Charlotte Mason co-op has a built-in nature study time, it would be lovely to step outside in the early spring air around 10:00 am each morning to just sit and observe God’s glory displayed in a North Carolina springtime.  Even taking a walk down the block as part of morning time would be a refreshing way to start the day. 

Morning time takes on different forms as the seasons change.

You are never too far along to begin a morning time with your older kids.  Pam Barnhill has some great wisdom and tips regarding this topic, morning time with multiple ages. 

Likewise, you are never too young to begin morning time with your babies.  A song, a prayer and a short nursery rhyme, repeated as often as possible throughout the week, can begin a lifelong habit.

I wish you well on your journey! If you have made morning time a practice, what has worked well for your family?

School Year #2 In the Books… Hello, Summer!

Goodbye, school year number two.  Hello, summer!  The last two weeks of school have taken the shape of a lighter schedule, with a lot of play time interspersed between lessons.   We have made creative projects, written friendly letters to characters found in our stories, and appreciated good, living books.  We attended a graduation ceremony, and we have broken out the summer readers.  In this post, I will talk briefly about our last two weeks of school.  Next, I will look ahead to summer and our summer learning rhythm of morning time vignettes, layering, habit training, summer reading, and experiences we hope to check off our summer “bucket list”. 

Our Last Two Weeks of School

Projects and books.  Our last two weeks of school could be described as “language arts heavy”.  We still made time for math, using this time to preview the upcoming school year’s math program (Beast Academy, Level 2) and work on our Subtraction Facts That Stick  games and work pages.

Addition Facts That Stick

(We are using Subtraction Facts That Stick this summer… he finished his regular math curriculum for first grade back in March, so we are brushing up on some skills.)

Boxcar Children

After my son chose The Boxcar Children (book 1) as his favorite read aloud from the year, he made a diorama out of a cardboard shoebox and hosted his first video.  He liked explaining the ins and outs of making the swimming pool scene from scratch.  Poor kid is hard on himself, though.  The first thing he noticed while watching the video was that he needed to look at the camera more.  He is his own biggest critic.  It’s good that he notices those little things and has an eye for detail, though.

Working to complete the diorama.

Aesop

We enjoyed reading our favorite fables from  Aesop’s Stories for Little Children.  The assignment I had him complete was to write a friendly letter, including at least three of his spelling words for the week, addressing the main character from one of the fables.  In the letter, he was supposed to include the moral of the fable, along with some examples of how he understood the moral in his own life.  He was to write with proper spelling and punctuation.  Then, he was to decorate the letter stationary to reflect the theme of the fable.  He chose to write to Grasshopper, from The Ant and the Grasshopper.  Sure enough, the moral, “It is best to be prepared” is one that resonated with him and is one we are all continuously working on over here. 

Emerging Readers

I was a third and fourth grade teacher in my previous life for a reason.  Now, I know that reason: teaching kids how to read is not my favorite thing in the world (albeit a good thing, of course!).  Yes, my son is an emerging reader, and is making steady progress going into the second grade.  Right now, he is reading Frog and Toad All Year to me.  I am asking the questions found at the back of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory  the emerging readers questions.  We are taking a short break from the All About Reading Level 1 to focus on stamina and fluency. Reading for us has been an uphill climb, but I know we are not alone!  Remembering to stay positive no matter what has been a real challenge for me.  I am not going to lie, there have been times I have gotten more frustrated than he when he has been struggling to sound out a word.  Patience, people.  That’s what we all need. And when he hits a wall of frustration, it’s not a bad idea to assess whether you just need to close the book and come back to it later or give an encouraging word right then in the moment. 

Minn of the Mississippi

If you love a living book, then I can speak to Holling Clancy Holling’s illustrated stories.  They bring the science topics (animal kingdom, geography, ecosystems, earth science, etc.) to life.  The first time I heard of his Paddle to the Sea was on Audible, during a car trip we took to the mountains a few years ago.  It was captivating for both Andrew and me as well as for our 5-year-old son (not so much for the 3-year-old girl or baby).  One day, I want to Beautiful Feet Books’ Holling C. Holling collection, especially the Geography Through Literature Pack, when the kids get a little bit older. Right now, we are loving cheering on the baby turtle, Minn, as she finds her way along the Mississippi River.

Summer Learning

Morning Time

Pam Barnhill gave me permission, so I’m gonna do it.  I am going to incorporate morning time into our rhythms of summer.  BUT, we are going to do morning time VIGNETTES.  Snippets.  Brief snapshots of what’s to come next year.  SO, here goes the plan.

Morning Time: We will be layering in content each week.  So, the first week, morning time will only consist of catechism while eating breakfast.  Next, we add in a song the following week.  We continue adding in new elements until the last week before school begins.  That way, the hope is for everyone to have an idea of what to expect in the mornings when we begin our school year in August.  Plus, we need consistency in our summer days; we need some kind of structure.  This is how we will hope to achieve that.

JUNE
Week 1: Introduce catechism- Book II, unless we need to review Book I (5 min.)

Week 2: Add in a song- we’ll use anything from traditional hymns I have already printed out in our family worship binder to the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart Songs (Steve Green) we’ve been singing all year long. (5 min.) We will begin Singing the Great Hymns in the fall.

Week 3: ABC Bible Verses – read a story and focus on a verse per week (10 min.)

          JULY

Week 1:  Listen to Classical Conversations Timeline with hand motions (15 min.)

Week 2:  Bedtime Math– listen to the story and solve a word problem (5 to 10 min.)

Week 3: Picture Study – study a photo from The Stuff They Left Behind .  The hope is to help with the habit of attention, as well as broaden horizons and give children a feast of ideas.  (5 min.)

                AUGUST

Week 1: Joke book – who doesn’t love a good joke?  (5 min.)

Week 2:  Ancient Times Study – The Story of the World, Vol. 1 – We will rotate through map work, hearing the story, responding to the questions, and narration.  I am thinking we will start doing this ancient history study in loop format, but I might combine elements as the year progresses.  (15 min.)

Summer Reading, An Enchanted Journey

I have decided to plan out how I am going to layer the morning time elements.  We even have a summer learning planning page you can use, if that would help you plan your summer rhythm.  Will you incorporate the core subjects in small, quick doses over the summer?  Will summer reading be an adventure?  Pam Barnhill provides a free resource for this: Traveling Through the Pages, An Enchanted Journey will be our go-to “gameboard” for encouraging a wide variety of pleasure reading over our summer. Why, I might even print one out for myself to use!  That Ariel Lawhon book is just sitting by my bedside table.  Collecting dust.  Now, that is a travesty.   

Oh, and be sure to check out the video below (Your Morning Basket: Help! My Kids Wake Up When I Do). Because you know it will happen. And we need to reframe the issue, perhaps. Thoughts?

Math

To keep my 6-year-old’s skills sharp, I want to stick with Subtraction Facts That Stick the entire first six weeks of summer (except when we go on vacation).  Each week introduces a new strategy (i.e., subtracting 1 and 2), then teaches a game to play – just one per week – to be played daily. The next four days, after my son plays the game with me, he  completes a practice worksheet, and that’s week one.  It continues as such with new strategies for the next five weeks.

Reading

My son will be reading from the emergent readers list in the back of the Heart of Dakota, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  The titles include reading comprehension questions for each day.  We will aim for no more than 15 minutes of reading per day. Obviously, he is a six-year-old boy, and we will not be reading every single title.  He will just work through these titles this summer and into next year. 

The emergent readers are:

The Early Reader’s Bible   4 to 8 years

Frog and Toad All Year Lexile 480L

Frog and Toad Are Friends Lexile 470L

Wagon Wheels Lexile 500L

Amelia Bedelia 4 to 8 years

Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express  4 to 8 years

Prairie School Lexile 540L

First Flight Lexile 580L

Christian Liberty Nature Reader: Book One 6 to 8 years

The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad Lexile 560L

Tornado Lexile 610L

Animal Adventures Lexile 660L

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain Lexile 590L

The Courage of Sarah Noble Lexile 610L

Heart of Dakota (Beyond Little Hearts) has a suggested booklist of about 20 additional titles to read beyond the emerging readers, entitled “beginning chapter books”.  It can be found in the back of the guide, right after “Scheduled Books for Emerging Readers”.  These books should keep us plenty busy for at least a year!

Pathways were such sweet readers this first grade year.

Writing

We will not be doing any writing for the sake of composition this summer, as he is only six (almost seven).  We will, however, be writing for the sake of practicing fluency/speed/letter formation in the context of a friendly letter, which is composition after all. 😊 Composition is just not our main focus.

Ideas for writing friendly letters:

-local business (i.e., favorite restaurant)

-elected official/representative

-friends

-relatives

-fire dept.

-police dept.

-our church

-if we are desperate, we will write Disney characters, but I do not see that as a must (apparently, they do write back!)

Habit Training

For each summer month, my plan is to help my kids ease into a housekeeping routine.  I know it will take an enormous amount of dedication. 
How do you train the kids in a habit?  Simply Charlotte Mason has some helpful how-to blogs and podcast episodes about this here.  By “habit”, I am referring to a consistent, almost clockwork action that does not require constant nagging/reminding.

JUNE Habit: make the bed

JULY Habit: fold the laundry (washcloths, shirts, socks, shorts)

AUGUST Habit: Bless the Mess (cleaning up the house to help our home feel inviting for whoever should stop by for dinner… usually just Daddy)

Before we talk about ACTIONS, let’s remember the CHARACTER behind the habits.  What VIRTUES do you want to cultivate or teach this summer?  The two main focal points for our family are:

  1. The habit of attention
  2. The habit of self-starting

Experiences we hope to share this summer

REGULAR family game nights (like 2x per week)

Hosting friends in the heat of the day at our “waterpark” [picture/video of waterpark]

Camps

Vacationing at the beach

Vacationing at the river

Celebrating our 10th anniversary of marriage on the Maine coast! WOOHOO!

Charlotte Mason Together Retreat

What’s your bucket list for the summer with your family?

What habits do you want to begin or to nurture?

ALSO,

What BOOKS do you plan to read this summer?

Bye, for now!

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