Morning Time Plans

Morning Time, Circle Time, Morning Basket…the names for this time of gathering everyone together for shared learning is as varied as the houses that practice it. Most often in our home is it, “Everyone Grab Your Bible and Come to the Living Room” Time. Catchy title, right? I can already see it on t-shirts and coffee mugs. It works for us and it seems silly to tell my high school students to get ready for Circle Time.

Before our unplanned summer break, I was almost completely winging this portion of our day. In different seasons the method of winging it works better than others. This season we all needed a bit more structure and planning. Planning and organizing are not my strengths and it took me longer than I wanted but I think we finally have a Morning Time Plan.

For our Morning Time, I will have eight children at home; ages 15 down to 10 months. For this term, we will read/discuss Bible, poetry, government, science, history, literature, etc at varying levels. We have already started and the discussions we have engaged in have been delightful!

Here is the Morning Time Plan:

Daily:

Bible Reading: Each day we will read Scripture. We are alternating between Joshua and Matthew for four days. On Fridays we will be reading a Psalm and from The Ology. ( I am loving this resource!) While it may seem that alternating text might be confusing for the younger ones, it has not been an issue at all. We practice oral narrations after our readings and there is almost always discussion. It works beautifully! Utilizing the New City Catechism (they also have an app) is a new addition for us this term. I am simply offering up one question per week. We shall see how that goes!

Poetry: This time can get a bit crazy. For now we are using Favorite Poems Old and New. Each child calls out a page number and I read from that page. It is quick and fun. And you know what? My children love poetry. We have stumbled across new favorites. My older children do read poetry from an assigned poet as well in their individual studies.

Recitation/Memory Work: As a family we work on a Scripture passage together. We are currently working on Matthew 5: 3 -16. There is other recitation/memory work required but it is handled individually.

Hymns: Our Morning Time always starts with a hymn. We have a few hymnals that we share. Our current hymns are Come Thou Fount, Brethren We Have Met to Worship, and My Father’s World.  My goal is to have a balance between songs we sing often in church and hymns we just enjoy as a family.

Weekly Rotations:

Read Alouds: Generally we have more than one read aloud for Morning Time underway. For this term we have a selection for History (I, Juan de Pareja), Science (Science Matters), and Literature (Haven’t quite decided on this one yet! Pondering a little something by Dickens.)

Government/Civics: In the past this has not been an area covered in our Morning Time. We are going to give it a go for a few weeks and see how it flows and decide from there. I will likely choose one topic/article from the week to discuss for Current Events or perhaps let one of my teens offer up a topic that has intrigued them in their individual studies. I will also be pulling a Civics’s Question of the Week from the Learn about the United States: Quick Civics Lessons from the Naturalization Test. There are so many facts and interesting points of history that we forget or have never learned. This is simple enough for my younger ones to join in and my older ones can always expand from this to deeper reading/discussion/study. It also fits well with our current time of history being studied.

Artist/Composer: Jan Vermeer is our chosen artist and Vivaldi is our composer. We will enjoy paintings and music throughout the week. However, once a week we will have a bit of discussion about a particular painting, an interesting fact about the artist/composer, or share a favorite piece of music. Simple but effective.

This time of everyone coming together is not always easy. However, it is an important part of our day, our life, our family. These sometimes chaotic moments are building connections and memories that will last a lifetime and longer.

Up next? I’ll try to share what else we have in store for the coming year!

 

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Summer Reading! – Five Picture Books We Have Enjoyed

While summer has officially arrived, we have been enjoying hot and humid days for weeks. One way to beat the summer heat is to enjoy a good book or two in the shade or with a lovely fan blowing your way. Perhaps you are looking for a book or two to add to the summer reading list? Here are several picture books that have been enjoyed here:

A Visitor for Bear – (author, Bonny Becker; illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton) – Bear has no interest in having a visitor. Why not? Well, there is a sign on his door that clearly states that “No Visitors are Allowed”. So. No visitors. All Bear wants to do is to enjoy a nice cup of tea and perhaps a slice of bread. Unfortunately his food preparations keep getting interrupted by Mouse!! Bear repeatedly asks (at varying levels of frustration) for Mouse to leave but Mouse just wants a small cup of tea, please. Bear relents and shares a cup of tea and conversation. Then Bear realizes that maybe he does enjoy visitors after all.
This book was delightful! It was great fun reading this aloud. The language and vocabulary make me smile. Vamoose, begone, intolerable and one of my favorites, “I am undone” are just a taste of  what this text has to offer. The illustrations worked perfectly to capture my children’s eyes and the essence of this cute, engaging story.  When the visitor happens to be a mouse, we can definitely support Bear’s desire to send him away. And it is oh so fun to see where Mouse will appear next!  We can all understand the moment that you realize a bit of quiet company in a friend is beautiful gift. A fun read that will likely have your little ones laughing and asking you to read it again. There are more Bear books to check out as well!

Bear & Hare Go Fishing – (Emily Gravett) – My younger ones really enjoyed Bear & Hare Where’s Bear? so I grabbed this one at my last visit to the library. The tale is a simple one; Bear and Hare go fishing but well, things don’t go exactly as planned. Bear succeeds in fishing out a hat and roller skates but the big catch of the day seems to elude him. Hare? He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the day of fishing. It was his hat, after all! But Hare might bring in the biggest catch of the day!

I think the beauty in the Bear & Hare books are the simplicity. Simple, short text paired with illustrations that keep Bear and Hare front and center make this a win for young listeners and early readers. No doubt you will find yourself smiling at the end.

I Am (Not) Scared – (author, Anna Kang; illustrator, Christopher Weyant) – My children love this series about two fuzzy animals. When I pulled out I Am (Not) Scared even a couple of my older children gathered around to hear me read it aloud. These two friends are facing something scary….a ride on a roller coaster!! But there are scarier things, right? Hairy spiders, fried ants, and snakes!!!! Can these two friends find the courage to face the Loop of Doom!?!!?!?! Perhaps they might even learn that scary things can sometime be fun, too.

I am not sure that my children gained deep understanding about facing scary things. They did however enjoy reading this over and over. Sometimes you just need a fun and silly book, right? And, well, we can all appreciate being scared of hairy spiders and snakes.

Now we shall leave our furry characters behind and move on to the creepy, crawly creatures.

Hank’s Big Day The Story of a Bug – (Evan Kuhlman and Chuck Groenink) – Hank is a pill bug (we call them Roly Polies here) and has quiet the adventure. He climbs a stick, eats a dead leaf, survives a close encounter with a skateboard, and meets his best friend, Amelia (Isn’t she a cutie?). An exciting day in the life of a bug!

We all enjoyed Hank’s adventure. The illustrations were detailed using natural colors and they served Hank’s story well. Not only do we get Hank’s view of the day but we see it from our perspective as well. It really gives us a glimpse into the life (joys and struggles) of being a bug. You might find that you watch your step a bit more closely just in case one of Hank’s friends is close by. This would be a fun way to introduce an afternoon of nature study on insects. I can see my children wanting to check Hank out again and again. Can you really go wrong with a bug named Hank? Also, Hank’s friend, Amelia, pretends to be Amelia Earhart. Subtle way to bring in a bit of history for those interested.

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs – (Carol Murray, author and Melissa Sweet, illustrator) I like to keep a poetry book or two available for my children to read and enjoy. Cricket in the Thicket is a perfect poetry selection for summer! When we first brought this book home, I planned to read just one or two poems. The poems were so engaging and fun that my kiddos kept asking me to read one more.

Poems about a cricket in the bedroom (Cricket’s Alarm), cicadas leaving behind shells (Cicada’s Surprise) and dragonflies gliding around (Dragons Fly the Sky) were enjoyable. Dung Beetles, Walking Sticks, Preying Mantis, and Grasshoppers all have delightful a place in the book. Never fear there are poetic words about Mosquitoes, Ticks, Flies and even Cockroaches including as well. Yes. A poem about cockroaches that enlightens us as to who loves them. At the bottom of the pages, there is information given on the highlighted bug and a couple of pages in the back give information as well. This is a great one to have available during summer to encourage reading, writing, and nature study. Any bug lover is sure to want to flip through this book.

What have you been reading this summer?

 

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Read Alouds – January 2017

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A couple of days  ago, I shared what I had been reading. Naturally, I have been sharing wonderful books with my kiddos, too! Although not as much as I would like.

We have three “groupings” of read alouds currently: Picture Books for my young ones, Chapter Read Aloud for the Younger Half, and Family Read Aloud. Trust me; my big kiddos still gather round for the picture books or snatch them later.

Picture Books

Bear Counts – Several months ago I read Bear Colors. My two year old loved it.  Loved it. So when I saw Bear Counts at the library I grabbed it for him. Yes, he loved this one, too.. I’m not sure if it is the colorful illustrations, the cuddly bear, or the rhyming text but he enjoys it. Fun, colorful, and cute.

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep (Caroline Nastro) – Bear just can’t get to sleep! He decides to take a walk and enjoys the sights of the big city. Will bear ever be ready to snuggle up for the winter? Hibernation and New York City are clearly focal points here. It was not a favorite selection. We read it once and that seemed enough for the kiddos.

A Greyhound, A  Groundhog (Emily Jenkins) – This is a tongue twister book and I have a kiddo who loves them so I just had to request it. Well, I also like groundhogs so this had to be a win, right? Simple text partnered with simple illustrations made for a fun read. The animals are just cute! When I read it aloud my children were eager to see me get a bit tongue tied. While I didn’t get tongue tied we did enjoy this. As my nine year old pointed out “it would be a better tongue twister if you didn’t have pages to turn”. She is correct. Having to turn the pages after just a few words made this an easy one to read. However, you could easily use the book to memorize the tongue twister and then practice saying it quickly. Perfect!  Fun memory work!

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event (Rebecca Bond)-  This book made it home based purely on its cover. A hotel on the edge of a lake was a temporary home to a variety of personalities in the year 1914. The author’s grandfather was five and enjoyed the excitement such an assortment of people brought through the doors. Bond paints a vivid picture with her words of what life was like for Antonio at his hotel. That picture is enhanced with detailed pen and ink illustrations. A fire begins in the woods and those in the hotel head to the lake for safety. They soon are joined by the various animals of the woods that are seeking safety as well. This was an excellent book and my children found it very engaging. Highly recommend!

Younger Kid Read Aloud

We are currently reading the The Railway Children ( E Nesbit). We started it some time ago but with holidays and sickness we have made slow progress.  I don’t want my younger ones to miss out on the favorites I read to my older kiddos years ago. So I try to read books such as this during the morning or at lunch. Often my older ones will join us. Makes me heart smile.

Family Read Alouds

We finished up Ember Falls (S. D. Smith) a couple of weeks ago. My family thoroughly enjoyed The Green Ember and were eager for Book Two to be available. It was great to be back with Heather, Picket, Smalls, and my seven year old’s favorite, Helmer. The feel of Ember Falls was a bit heavier but that reflects well the trouble and hardship that is facing  our rabbit friends. As always, I recommend Smith’s books; they are exciting, adventurous stories with great characters. And I do hope that Smith is working on Book Three.

Our current family read aloud is The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau). This is the story of two children, Lina and Doon, who live in the city of Ember. Ember is an underground city built 200 years before by the Builders. Things are not going well in Ember as supplies are running out and no ones seems to care. Lina and Doon work together using  pieces of instructions left by the Builders to find a way to save the people of Ember. We are over halfway through this book and the children are eager to see how this all ends. When we began reading it, I was reminded a bit of The Giver (Lois Lowry). The purpose behind the two communities was different but  there are similarities in the people and their mindset. I am looking forward to a bit of discussion with my older people.

As we head into February, I want to do better are reading to my little ones. I have to purpose to take a moment, slow down from the busyness, and just enjoy a few good book with my young ones. And I need to start looking for the next family read aloud?

Thanks to Amy at Hope is the Word for  letting us join her in the Read Aloud Roundup!