Our Morning Time Essentials
What is Morning Time?
Morning time can look different for every family, but in short, it is a time to come together as a family (not necessarily in the morning) to share stories, poetry, and whatever else you may find difficult to otherwise fit into your daily rhythm. Some families include artist or composer study, nature study, learning a foreign language, simple handicrafts, even religious practice.
For us, it has become the bedrock of our home education provision; a gentle, comforting and magical way to come together during or after our breakfast, before we start our morning project work.
Our Morning Time Essentials
The books and resources that I am sharing here are obviously not an exhaustive list. We tend to add in one or two others that are relevant to our current project, so at the moment we have 100 Things to Know About Science and Women in Science in our morning basket. It works well for us to read from these books at the end of our morning time session, as it makes for a smooth transition to our project work. Each month I share any new additions to our morning basket in my monthly newsletter. You can sign up for an email notification on my blog.
The links that I have shared below are affiliate links for Amazon. If you would prefer to purchase your books from an Independent book seller then you will find all of these, and more, linked in the 'morning time essentials' section of my Bookshop here.
I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree: A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year by Fiona Waters
This is an absolute beast of a book and, although on the pricey side, I think it is excellent value for the sheer volume of content included. 365 poems; one for each day of the year. The poems vary greatly, but are all themed around nature, plants, animals, the seasons etc. and are beautifully illustrated. It's a lovely one to dip in and out of, creating the familiarity that we associate with morning time.
This book is often on sale (in fact, the price is slightly reduced right now) so it's worth holding out for a discount.
Around the Year by Elsa Beskow
This is one of two books that we read at the beginning of each new month, and it has become such a lovely way to mark the occasion, along with physically turning over a page on our calendars. Elsa Beskow books are typical of the style found in Waldorf Kindergartens, so feature whimsical illustrations and gentle text. Around the Year is a small collection of poems about the months of the year. Lovely for little ones.
A Child's Calendar by John Updike
This is our favourite book for a monthly poem, despite having many American references (sidewalk, chickadees, candy etc.) Like Shirley Hughes' poetry, the content has plenty that young children will be able to relate to. We're especially fond of the illustrations in this one. They're more true to life than the previous book, and so evocative of the changing season.
A Year Full of Stories: 52 Folk Tales and Legends From Around the World by Angela McAllister
This book is another that is great for dipping in and out of on the relevant day. There isn't a story for every day of the year, as the collection covers cultural events and international festivals, as well as the changing seasons. February's stories, for example, commemorate Candlemas, Valentine's Day and Shrove Tuesday. We have taken to marking our calendar with the stories at the beginning of each month so that we don't forget to read them.
The stories are not too long. No longer than two, double-page spreads, with generous illustrations (many are just one double-page spread). I do recommend pre-reading them before you share them with your children though. The story of Gelert the Hound, for example (a familiar story to me, growing up in Wales) is one that I personally wouldn't read to the very young or sensitive at heart.
If, like me, you can't possibly keep track of all the special days in the year, then almanacs are great for a seasonal reference. These are the two that we would recommend.
The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2021 by Lia Leendertz
This one has not been designed with young children in mind, but may be suitable for a young teen/confident reader. I have this one for myself. I enjoy reading the relevant section at the beginning of each month and planning in any suggestions that take my fancy. It includes a list of special festivals, moon phases and astrology, sun rise and set times, tide times, songs, jobs for the garden, seasonal produce, recipes, stories and so much more.
I was gifted this 2021 edition this Christmas, but these Almanacs are not necessarily something that you need to replace each year. Prior to this we had been using the 2018 edition quite happily, carefully checking the relevant dates elsewhere.
2021 Nature Month-by-Month: A Children's Almanac by Anna Wilson
This almanac has been designed specifically for children. As you can see we still have and use the 2019 edition (the affiliate link above, and in my bookshop, is for the 2021 edition). Similarly to the almanac reviewed above, it includes a list of special festivals (fewer than in the adult version, as they're described in more detail), plus things to look for in nature, recipes and activity suggestions. It's a really handy book to have for reference and ideas.
Big Ideas For Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy by The School of Life
This book was recommended by Eloise @mightymother and it has not disappointed. We are working our way through it very slowly and gently, as each 'big idea' presented offers much scope for reflection and discussion. I like the way that some quite complex ideas are explained in a way that makes them very accessible for young children (for example, what is normal isn't normal) and, to be honest, I've found the concepts thought provoking myself. The book introduces a wide range of philosophers too. Highly recommended.
Crazy Sexy Love Notes by Kris Carr
Do not be put off by the title of these cards, as they are in no way 'sexy' in the literal sense. They are 100% suitable for young children. Each morning (or when we feel like it) I offer the deck to Bean to pick a card. We admire the beautiful illustration and read the message on the card. They offer a wonderful opportunity for reflection, with powerful reminders for self-care. We display our card at our dining table so that we can appreciate it until we pick the next. They're really, very beautiful.
Yoga and Mindfulness Cards
These sets of cards have been well used and loved here over the years, both by my daughter and our visiting mindees. As with the cards above, they're great to dip in and out of during a morning time session.
Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Yoga Activities For Kids and Grownups
I bought these cards when Bean was a toddler because I wanted to introduce yoga into our daily rhythm but I didn't know much about yoga myself. These are perfect for absolute beginners, with clear written and pictorial instructions. They cover breathing techniques, standing and balancing exercises, bending and stretching, even partner work and games.
Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm
These have been a later addition, bought when Bean was around 6 years old. I suffer with anxiety, and am acutely aware of the rise in mental health issues among my generation and the next. I desperately want to prepare my daughter for a future in which she can manage her mental health, and these are part of my provision. The cards support the user in finding moments of calm, rest and relaxation, focus, reflection and positive mindset.
I'm not suggesting that you need to head out and purchase all of these books and resources in order to have a successful morning time practice. Your morning time will be about what YOUR family enjoy and are interested in. Please remember that we have been gathering our morning time essentials over the past 8 years or so, gradually and with intention. I hope you find some inspiration here, but if you find more than you can afford, please know that you can create a magical morning time with whatever you have already at home.
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.
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