First up: the Morning Basket. Jen at Wildflowers and Marbles coined the term; she planned it as "basket of inspiration that could be ageless in its offerings, that spanned abilities, that spoke to beauty and loveliness, and gave the day an inspiring start." This is Circle Time, Charlotte Mason style. :) During or just after breakfast most mornings, we would pull out our basket that comprised the bulk of our kindergarten studies: our prayer books, current hymn and folk song, current read-aloud, saints' biographies, Italian picture dictionary, nursery rhyme books, religious read-aloud, poetry books, copywork, and any other printouts I wanted to be sure to go over with the children for that day.
Our morning lessons looked something like this:
:: Calendar (in English and Italian)
:: Hymns and morning prayers, led by the children
:: Saint-of-the-day reading
:: A page or two from our current read-aloud or religion read-aloud
:: The chosen poem for that month, read aloud by one of the children
:: Other songs
This part of our studies took less than a half hour altogether, provided no toddlers launched any major tantrums and no major breakfast spills occurred. ;) Then after clearing the breakfast dishes, all the children would color or build with blocks at the table while I read some Mother Goose, poetry, and a few picture books to my toddlers. The kindergarteners also did a few minutes of penmanship practice before or afterward. It really was a lovely start to our days, and we continue in much the same fashion this year.
And because no school-plans post would be complete without a booklist, here is a peek at what we ended up using last year during our Morning Basket time in particular. I would love hear additions and suggestions, as I still have several years of kindergarten upcoming! ;)
Saint biographies - Father Lovasik's Picture Book of Saints, and the two-volume Saints for Young People for Every Day of the Year. Because we attend the Latin Mass exclusively, we follow the traditional calendar in our home, so I am always on the hunt for daily resources that haven't been revised for the new calendar. That latter pair of books is a keeper! We are using it this year as well, and probably will throughout the elementary years.
Read-alouds - Kindergarten Gems, Winnie-the-Pooh, My Father's Dragon series, The Children's Book of Virtues, The Children's Book of Heroes, Amy Steedman's Nursery Tales Told to Children
Religion - Their Hearts are His Garden, A Child's Life of Christ, The Illustrated Catechism for Children, My See and Pray Missal, Leading Little Ones to Mary, Father Lovasik's New Catholic Picture Bible
Hymns - Ave Regina Caelorum, Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Regina Caeli, Immaculate Mary, Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above, O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo. These are sung at our chapel regularly, so they were the first hymns we started with.
Folk Songs - O Susanna, Yankee Doodle, This Land is Your Land, Over the River and Through the Wood, Skip to my Lou
Nursery Rhymes - Again, dozens of great titles, but our favorites last year were Lavender's Blue, the Provensens' Mother Goose, Cooper Edens' Glorious Mother Goose, and The Real Mother Goose. Illustrations are very important to me in nursery rhyme anthologies, and those are some of the most charming editions I know of.
Poems for free reading - We have a dozen or more anthologies, but the two I grab most are Helen Ferris' Favorite Poems Old and New and The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems.
Poems by month - Helen Hunt Jackson's "September," Emily Dickinson's "The Morns are Meeker," John Updike's "November," George Macdonald's "The Christmas Child," James Stephens' "White Fields," Sr. Mary Catherine's "Our Lady of the Candles," George Macdonald's "Sabbath Bells," Charles Kingsley's "Easter Week," Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing." These all ended up being memorized by my children just through a daily reading-aloud. No drilling--just exposure. At the end of each month, they illustrated their poems, and it will be going in their memory work binder for this year--when I get around to assembling it! ;)
Next I hope to cover nature study in our kindergarten!