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Our September Morning Basket

Books have always filled up our mornings, but this school year I wanted to add a bit more structure. So I created a reading morning basket. In the past we would usually read chapter books or whatever picture book caught our fancy.  It was great but we weren't learning as much about composers, artists, poets, nature, etc as I would of liked. We would randomly study them once in awhile but I wanted a dedicate time to exploring these "non-core' subjects. As I've learned more about education; I've discovered that these "non-essentials" actually lay a great foundation for learning to be built upon. They give children a taste for the exceptional - thus, they are essential!

While I am very thankful for the public education I received; (I think Iowa has some of the best public schools in the country!) my knowledge in these areas is lacking. Honestly, I'm really learning right along with my kiddos so finding quality books/materials has been a huge blessing to me. 
I call it our morning basket and we do dig into it everyday during breakfast but that's not the only time I pull it out. Usually we also pull it out again in the afternoon or sometimes when we just need a break. Reading aloud is a great way for my family to de-stress and recharge. While I read the kiddos will frequently draw or sometimes play with blocks. 

We start our morning time by each of the kiddos reading a poem twice. For breakfast we always have sometimes savory (like eggs) and sometime sweet (like a dutch baby); they read after they finish their savory and before they move on to the sweet. They also choose one poem to memorize.

This month our poet was Robert Louis Stevenson. We've owned A Child's Garden of Verses for awhile so the kids were already familiar with these poems. Homeschooling or not, I think this book belongs on every child's bookshelf. There are a couple different versions; we like the ones illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa  or the Provensens the best. We love biographical books at our house and I hope to find one for every poet we study. This Young Storyteller book was a perfect find. While it is some what fictionalized it's very well written and shared a lot about Stevenson's childhood. Big Buddy is a huge audio book listener so in his free-time he also listened to Treasure Island on Hoopla.

Our artist for the month was Botticelli. In the summer I ordered several artists' print packs from Simple Charlotte Mason. She also sells portfolio kits that come with a biography and steps to do a picture study. I went with just the prints because our local library is pretty impressive and I was sure we'd be able to find books for each artist. If you are are studying renaissance art I highly recommend The Renaissance Art Book which covers the work of five different artists. 
Our composer of the month was Bach. For each composer we will study this year I ordered a Music Masters Introduction the Classics CD. We listened to the biographical story while we were in the car and then would listen to the music as we cleaned up or did individual work. I also highly recommended the Great Musicians Series. It's a biographical series written especially for children and focuses a lot on the childhood of each composer. 

We also read about different instrument in Those Amazing Musical Instruments! It comes with a cd-rom which was a nice touch because we were able to listen to each instrument play classical pieces. 

The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano was a happy find at the library. The boys just started taking piano lessons; so I was excited to find a book describing it's birth and it's inventor. 

Our recent read-aloud chapter book was Swallow and Amazons. I always like to supplement our chapter books with a few picture books. Cory the Cormoranttaught us a lot more about cormorants which is one of the things that struck the kiddos interests in the story. I'm also a bit of feminist and am hoping to raise some more; so Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud was exactly the book we needed to add to our discussion on sailing. 
Below is some other random books that made it into our morning basket. The watercolor pictures in Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn were so captivating that we spent awhile examining them. The children are taking an earth science and American history class at a co-op so we read a few books to expand on what they are learning. 

Our whole family loves being outdoors and examining nature but I want us to become more knowledge about the things we are seeing. In order to do this I'm hoping to find local nature books we can read through each month. Last month we read about a different birds each day in Backyard Birds of Illinois
I am hoping to also add some Shakespeare in to the mix. I'm think I will hold off for a couple months though. I'm learning it's best not to try to add all the new things at once...baby steps my friends, baby steps. 

Do you have a morning basket? If so I'd love to hear about what your favorite resources are?

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