Our preschool morning time routine developed mostly organically earlier this year and became a rich part of our routine through the summer. I’m now convinced that morning time (also known as basket time, morning meeting, circle time…or whatever name you prefer 😉 ) is a perfect starting place for creating structure and facilitating at home learning in the preschool years. Now that school is back in session and we’ve started our preschool curriculum, we’re continuing with essentially the same morning time routine. However I am trying this year to more intentionally plan the content we’ll memorize and read. So here is our highly tentative morning time plan. For context, we’re starting the year with a 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old. Lord willing we’ll end the year in May with a 4 1/2 year old, 2 year old, and 5 month old.
Our Morning Time Routine:
We typically have morning time soon after breakfast is cleaned up and everyone is dressed for the day. We snuggle up on the couch with our stack of books and start with singing a hymn. Then we’ll work through the following elements, sometimes doing them all and other days only a few. How long we go depends on attention spans and what else is on our schedule for the day. I try to start with our hymn and Bible memory as those are, for me, the most important parts of morning time. If everything falls apart after that (as it sometimes does), we have at least heard from God’s word and sung praise together!
We work on one new hymn a month. I gleaned a lot of helpful tips on hymn memory from this podcast interview with Karri Bass, specifically the idea of focusing on one new hymn a month and teaching one new verse a week. We won’t always memorize every verse of a hymn, but I’m finding that a month is a good length of time to learn a hymn fairly well. At this stage I’m focusing more on exposure and less on word-for-word memorization (though obviously that’s the long-term goal).
Holy, Holy, Holy
Great is Thy Faithfulness
There is a Fountain
It is Well with My Soul
Come Thou Fount
On Our Memory List:
September: Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder
October: Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
November: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
December: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
January: On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand
February: O Love that Will not Let Me Go
March: Christ the Lord is Risen Today
April: In Christ Alone
May: Behold Our God
Similarly, I’ve selected one passage a month. Some are longer than others, so we may use extra time for review in months with a shorter passage and cut short some of the longer passages.
Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)
Galatians 5:22-23 (The Fruit of the Spirit)
On Our Memory List:
September: Psalm 100
October: 1 Corinthians 13
November: Psalm 23
December: Isaiah 9:6-7
January: Psalm 8
February: Proverbs 3:1-6
March: Proverbs 3:7-12
April: John 3:14-18
May: Matthew 5:2-12
Right now we’re slowly working our way through The Ology by Marty Machowski. It’s a simple but comprehensive introduction to theology. While it’s written for school age children I find most of it is simple enough for my preschooler to understand. We typically read about one page a day, which means some days we get through a whole chapter but longer chapters get broken into two or more days. At the pace we’re going this will probably take us most of the school year.
Once we finish The Ology, I’d like to work through the New City Catechism and The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden.
Right now we’re reading a Mother Goose collection illustrated by Scott Gustafson. While there are many gorgeous Mother Goose collections, I particularly love the large pages and intricate artwork in this book. We read about three rhymes a day and often include some very basic picture study. I’ll simply ask a few questions and allow the kids to point out what they notice in the picture as well. Can you find the mouse? What is the mouse wearing? Do you see the light coming into the picture?
My tentative plan for the year is to alternate between a book of rhymes and a book of poetry. Here are a few other collections I’ve either used or hope to use in the future.
If we have time at the end we usually read a few picture books. I sometimes pick a couple based on our preschool unit, but largely let the kids pick their favorites from our current basket of library books.
And that’s it! One of the things I’m loving about the morning time tradition is that it’s easy to adapt for various ages and life stages. We had to adapt when my one-year-old dropped his nap and I’m sure we’ll do the same again in a few months with a newborn in the mix. So if you’re hoping to add morning time to your routine, don’t think it needs to look just like this! Perhaps pick just one or two elements to start. Simply starting a tradition of gathering each day to feast on the good, true, and beautiful together is well worth it!
If you have morning time (or something similar) in your house, I’d love to hear how it works for you! Please share in the comments.