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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Back to School – Supplies

Today I am going to share one of my deepest secrets…shhhh….

Despite the heat and the bugs, this might be my favorite time of the year. Back to school. More specifically I really love the school supplies. Love. Love. Love. Newly sharpened pencils, fresh markers, crisp white paper, unblemished composition notebooks, and naturally a pen or twenty.

We have ten children at home, but only eight of them are in need of school supplies. Want to do the math on that one? If we aren’t careful, school supplies could be a problem. While I try to stock up on composition notebooks and pencils, the other supplies are kept at a minimum. Budget and space are great boundary setters when it comes to going crazy down the school supply aisles.

I typically do not buy the supplies all at once. I, not so patiently, wait for the school supplies to hit the shelves and buy a little bit on each grocery shopping trip. As of today, I think I have all the basic must have items. I am pondering if I want to splurge on one or two fun, colorful items or not. Really, guys, I need more post-it-notes! Yes, I do!

Here are my Top Five Must Have Back to School items:

1 Ticonderoga Wood Pencils – I do not enjoy mechanical pencils. There is nothing like a nice, sharp point on a wood pencil. Ticonderoga is by far the best I have ever used. I love them so much that I received some on Mother’s Day. I do not share. I do hide them if necessary. Stay away from my pencils!

2 Composition Notebooks – They are a bit pricier than the spiral bound notebooks, but it is a small splurge I am willing to indulge in. I grow weary of the spiral unwinding and catching on clothing. Also, the composition notebooks are firmer and sit up nicely on our bookshelves. This year we found fun designs at the store. We do carefully look and find the college-ruled composition books. My children do not like the wide-ruled books. I do still buy a few spiral notebooks for the youngest ones to use for different needs.

3 Pentel White Erasers – For years I bought the pink erasers or the small pencil top erasers. I grabbed a few of the white erasers one year and found that I prefer them. For us they seem to provide  cleaner erasure and hold up longer. I have only grabbed one pack of three so far as they are not on sale. Ack! We are out of erasers so I need to replenish our stash.

4 Index Cards – White, colored, plain, or ruled, I love them all. Flashcards, notes, bookmarks, and so much more. I buy a few packs every year. This year I am going to have the younger children make up a few bookmarks for their various readings; personalized to the subject/story being studied/read. I definitely need a few bookmarks. We need a few math facts cards remade and my son needs sight words for his reading. I may need to grab another pack!

5 – Coloring Pencils – If you are around my children any length of time you will learn a few things: they all love books, they all love to draw, and they are all a little bit crazy. That means that I have to keep books, paper, and pencils on hand at all times or life can get ugly. For birthday days and Christmas, we invest in something nicer such as Prismacolor pencils. However, I just can’t pass up paying $.97 for coloring pencils to have on hand. If one gets misplaced or broken, no worries! I only have four of these currently? I definitely need to grab a few more!

And a bonus must have back to school supply: hand-held pencil sharpener! I have an amazing manual pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. Not only does it sharpen my pencils amazingly well, it is fabulously red. However!!! Coloring pencils will not be sharpened with that shiny, red sharpener. No way. I have found it is better to invest in a well made metal hand-held sharpener than those cheaper plastic ones. My children us them for their coloring pencils daily.

With these supplies on hand, we have everything we need to get our work done. Do I have other supplies on hand? Sure, but these are my basic and favorite supplies. What are your must have items?

 

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Just Keep Trying

Just keep trying…I’m not saying this to only you. It is on repeat in my mind almost constantly. Just keep trying…just keep trying…

For several years we have made the choice to have our children, of all ages, be with us during the worship service. I am often asked how I teach my children to behave so well during this time. When I am asked it always gives me a moment of pause and I hesitate to share my wisdom. I’m not sure it is what other parents want to hear.

Let us not get ahead of ourselves here. Join me for a moment. Sunday morning we arrive at church and find our seats. We take up a whole row with a few on the row in front of us. During the service I will glance down the row to gaze upon my well-behaved children. Oh, wait. The five year old is making a paper telescope out of a sermon notes sheet and using it to keep a close eye on the pastor. The seven year old has no paper and is trying to barter a piece from a sibling. The nine year old decided to bring her box of coloring pencils and share with the two year old. Yes. Coloring pencils that will likely at some point hit the floor. And naturally the child who was absolutely positive that they did not need to use the restroom had to go right now in the middle of the sermon. Just for kicks…let’s toss in a baby who has discovered his voice and the high pitch he can reach with it.

Perfectly well-behaved children? Nope. But they are children. And the paper telescope? The five year old knew to keep it low and not to wave in the air and disturb those around her. The bartering seven-year old? He settled in and listened to the sermon even without paper. The coloring pencils? My daughter realized that it wasn’t the best idea to have that many options out during the worship service. No one around us was disrupted. They were all quiet and relatively still. (And as an adult that can’t sit still, I don’t require perfection in my children here. They just have to learn how to focus that energy.)

This post is not about whether you should have your children in worship or not. That is a personal decision. You can clearly see what our decision has been. The point of this post is about how I get my children to behave during a worship service. Or at a restaurant. Or to use the bathroom. Or to learn to read.Or to conquer long division. Insert a wide range of possibilities here. Now for the key to success: Just Keep Trying.

Life changing? Nope. But really that is what we have done. We just keep trying. One of my children screamed the first year of life. Not a pained scream. Not a fearful scream. Just screamed because she liked screaming apparently. Guess what? At nine, when she goes outside to play guess what she does? Screams. She no longer screams in the middle of the worship service or when I’m reading aloud. She knows the appropriate time and place. Why? Because we kept trying.

Sometimes you don’t have to try, teach, guide, direct for long. Other times you wonder if your child will ever “get it”. They will. It may feel like an uphill battle. Just keep trying. It may seem like no progress is being made. Just keep trying. You may take your child out of the service every. single. Sunday. for a year but just keep trying. Show your child what is important for your family. Find ways to help them. Correct when needed. Praise when they make progress. Remind yourself of the end goal. I am blessed each Sunday to see my older children singing, participating, enjoying the worship service. I am so thankful that we just kept trying.