If you’ve followed My Little Robins for a while, you might have noticed the transformation that our early years “preschool” went through last year. I started out the year wanting a strict schedule to structure our days- and the pendulum swung the opposite way a few months later. Not only did we not have a schedule, we pretty much just played outside or in all day long (which was AMAZING for us, and is just what we needed!) A Charlotte Mason early years “preschool” should be centered around being outdoors and learning through play, but reading books and having devotions became more of an afterthought than a priority. This fall, I’m hoping to find the middle ground. I plan on adding more intentional read-alouds to our day with morning time.
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What is Morning Time?
I just finished reading Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. Her book contains so many beautiful memories of the early years with her children. One thing she mentioned was morning time, and how it quickly became their favorite time of the day. During this time, she and her children read the Bible, practiced recitations, and read many worthy books, among other things. (You can see Cindy Rollins explanation of Morning Time here.) Rollins got the ball rolling on the morning time trend in the homeschool community. While it isn’t something mentioned in Charlotte Mason’s volumes, it aligns perfectly with her ideas of a living education, and a quiet growing time during the early years.
Our Early Years Morning Time Plan
Our morning time won’t be nearly as extensive (and, I imagine, long!) as the morning time Cindy Rollins described. But setting aside a regular time in the morning to read and relate to each other is something I’m really looking forward to! Last year I accumulated lots of beautiful living books. But books are really only helpful if you read them (even if they do look pretty on the shelf ). So I’ve made a list of the books that we’ll use in morning time. I’ll write the books that we plan to read in my planner (which is meant to be used more as a way to document our days rather than diligently plan them. I learned my lesson the last time the pendulum swung that way!)
I hope to plan out Bible readings for our more-intentional Bible time this year. Last year, we read through the The Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love. But this year, I hope to combine several of the beautiful Bible storybooks we have with actual Bible verses.
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Egermeier’s Bible Story Book– This is aimed at an older audience, but it hasn’t been too difficult for Miss H to understand. (That’s why it’s so important to practice reading quality literature from the start- a child’s ability to listen and comprehend becomes very strong!) The language very closely mimics that of the NIV version, but parts of it are a little more narrative.
- Jesus Calling Bible Storybook I know the Jesus Calling series is not for everyone! Sometimes I skip the short devotional, and if I don’t, I explain that this is what the author felt like Jesus was saying to her. I really like the way the stories are told in this Bible storybook, and it includes some different stories than the Jesus Storybook Bible.
- NIV Bible
- The Message Canvas Bible– This is my own journaling Bible that I’ll read from occasionally. It has some coloring and writing pages in it, so I might share them with Miss H, who I’m sure will be eager to join in 🙂
It takes us about two months to get through a good-sized chapter book (our most recent was Little House on the Prairie ) but I imagine that by being more intentional with reading every morning, we’ll get through books more quickly. With that in mind, we need six books for the year- our sixth book just arrived from Amazon, but I want to read it before telling you about it 🙂 A few of our morning time books are from Ambleside Online’s year zero list. Some appear in later years for Ambleside Online. This doesn’t bother me because I don’t mind reading them again two years from now. That’s the joy of a living book!
- The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus
- The Trumpet of the Swan
- The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
- Farmer Boy We skipped this, the second book in the Little House series, so that we could read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie together. I know this would drive some people crazy as they prefer to read books by their publication order! But this was right for us because Miss H was so invested in Mary and Laura’s lives!
- Nutcracker– I’m excited to read this to Miss H in December! Last year, she loved watching snippets of the Nutcracker Ballet online. Although it isn’t technically a chapter book, it has 120 and some complex language, so it will probably take us awhile to get through. I haven’t read this specific translation before, but I’m excited for the Maurice Sendak illustrations.
- Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill- I’m not linking this book because I haven’t seen it yet, but I think Miss H will enjoy it.
Poetry Books and Nursery Rhymes
Poetry books are not something Miss H often thinks to request for a read aloud! Using morning time to read a couple of poems a day will help her become more comfortable with poetry.
- A Child’s Garden of Verses
- When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh)
- The Real Mother Goose (we also use this book to talk about the alphabet when Miss H asks to!)
I like the idea of learning hymns in the morning because Miss H longs to sing and give praise, but without being able to read, it’s kind of tricky for her! I like this list from Simply Charlotte Mason that offers 12 years (years!) worth of hymn study ideas! Cindy Rollins (again, because she’s so wise!) said that she wrote the lyrics to hymns on note cards and they practiced these daily. I like this system! Although I might need a little spiral notecard book, because otherwise I WILL lose them 🙂
Miss H does Awanas, so we have memory verses that we’ll work on each week.
Picture Books and Character Books
I want this to be family time, and not just Miss H and Mom time, so I’m going to include some picture books for E. I know he’ll enjoy the nursery rhymes, but throwing in some books that are geared towards him will make him feel more included! He will be two in just a couple of months, so I’ll reread some of Miss H’s old favorites to him:
- Make Way for McCloskey: A Robert McCloskey Treasury
- The Children’s Book of Virtues
- The Children’s Book of Heroes
- A Beatrix Potter Treasury
- Fairy tales- My plan is to tell fairy tales aloud like Charlotte Mason recommended. (I talked about it a little bit here)
This still seems like a lot to cover, and I am sure we won’t get to it all every single day- and that’s okay!
Other Morning Time Resources
Pam Barnhill’s podcast, Your Morning Basket, has been an amazing resource for me! Here are several podcasts that I found especially helpful:
- What is a Morning Basket? A Conversation with Cindy Rollins
- Mere Motherhood: A Conversation with Cindy Rollins
- Hymns in Morning Time: A Conversation with Kari Bass