Category Archives: morning time

3 Weeks (or so) to Morning Time Magic…

3 Weeks (or so) to Morning Time Magic

I really like baby steps.Not because I want to take baby steps- If I had my way, I’d go “whole hog” on everything all the time and plow through till I achieved perfection.[Most who know me would find that shocking, but its true.]

However…when raising and educating young people, its tough impossible to find the time and undivided attention needed to do all that plowing through and perfection attaining!

Morning Time {which I happily found because a dear friend, Annie, invited me to read Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest with some of my Tribe members} has transformed our days…and I’m only months in (with a long summer of car travel in between)

I am desperate to share the joy of it with all the people I can.

First, I’d like to direct you to the ladies I’ve begun to glean the most from in this realm:Sarah Mackenzie, Pam Barnhill and Cindy Rollins, I’m pretty sure they have all the answers, and in a lovelier and more easily read way.

…But in case you don’t feel inspired to click on those priceless links,  I want to help you start your Morning Time Magic one week at a time 🙂I think the hardest batch of folks to jump in with would be those with nursing babies and tiny toddlers -especially those of the twin and triplet variety 🙂Next might come those with the big kids.In any case- I think these easy 5 steps will make it do-able!

Morning time, as mentioned earlier can be your opportunity to embrace:

& Reading

Ritual- Something some of us live by and others run from! But in the end, our children WANT something predictable and regular. It’s comforting and assuring. Poet Miller Williams said: Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories.

Recitation- Something modern education has shunned at times. But in the end, it is what fills heads with things to consider. It paints pictures. It creates a library in our minds for reference over any variety of subjects! 

” before the 1950’s, students were tested on their core knowledge through recitations. They might recite a long poem like Longfellow’s Hiawatha…”–Leigh Bortins, The Core, p.24
I think we’ve lost that a little- but it’s easy to bring back.

Reading- Something we ALL know is beneficial and really necessary I recently read of the difference between ILLITERACY and ALITERACY. The illiterate are unable to read.; the aliterate are unwilling to read. We need to protect our children’s ability to get lost in a great story, and to daydream about its characters until they get back to the story again.  Reading stories together ties us together, and cultivates a desire to read. It helps form our thoughts about how the world should be and how it really is. It causes us to ask questions, and grapple with an imperfect world.


Morning Time Magic – Worship

When I began planning our morning time I did not expect our worship time to take on the importance it has. Not that I thought worship unimportant. I did however think of it more as an “add on” during this portion of our day. But as God often does, He wrapped my heart around a ritual I didn’t even know I was missing.
Our worship time began with us simply picking a couple of our favorite songs, pulling them up on youtube and going for it. And that was awesome. Then I remembered I bought Then Sings My Soul. 
I did not grow up in the church and do not have hymn lyrics rattling around in my head from days past. As I looked over some of the songs and found the richness they displayed I couldn’t wait to share them with my children.  There is a sense of privilege in singing a song that has been sung by christians for hundreds of years. A connection to those who came before.  
This book is great because it gives the back ground story for each hymn. To hear the stories of tragedy and faith these songs were penned from is something special. Learning with my children that Abide with Me was first heard at the funeral of the man who wrote it, Henry Francis Lyte, in 1847.  Reading about St. Patrick and how his fearless spreading of the gospel allowed the church in Ireland to endure and centuries after his work a poet wrote Be Though My Vision. This book is full of treasures.
I plan a little ahead and hunt down versions of the hymn I want us to learn. I download those so we have them going forward and I make copies of the song sheets for each of the kids. We take out time. We stuck with Be Thou my Vision for no less than a month before we moved on. I truly want this music to seep into their hearts. I want these words to be with them like a loyal friend in years to come when a dark or glorious hour requires worship.
Of course your worship time doesn’t need to look like ours. Pull up a Seeds Family Worship song and sing that with your little ones. Those are a great way to get scripture memorized. 
Here are a couple of our other favorites for worship time…

Setting some time aside each day specifically to worship Jesus with your children is time well spent. I believe with all my heart the Lord will bless it. And for me, nothing compares to the sound of those small (and not so small) voices singing,
“I fear no foe,
With Thee at hand to bless:
Ills have no weight,
And tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting?
Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still,
If Thou abide with me.”
-Henry Francis Lyte

Morning Time Magic WEEK 2- READING

Last week we began the Ritual of coming together for prayer.
I’ve heard the good advice to have a few components to prayer time:
1. Confession
2. Thanks
3. Prayer for the salvation of the lost
4. Prayer for missionaries and pastors and the persecuted.
5. Prayer for our own needs

Not rocket science and not original- I know 🙂 we sure don’t hit each area each time, but I try to be mindful, so that my children can form that habit that I never really did. 

There was a Bonus challenge of adding a little reading.

This week that is the REAL FOCUS.

We are going to simply add Reading.



My kids like to write out the scripture we read, or just draw while I read to them… so I copied a friend of mine, and in my Morning Bin, I have drawing pads and utensils, silly putty, or something to fiddle with. It actually helps KEEP their attention sometimes. If it doesn’t- its out.
Here is a collection of the suggested readings from families with young and old (er)… but mostly 12 and under.

The mamas that are reading these are finding that for their very little ones, the Jesus Storybook Bible is GREAT, and some of the old devotion books are just the right length and variety to work for busy little bodies, roaming minds and shorter attention spans…but those are building, as the ritual continues.

These readings are aimed toward Loving what is Lovely and what is True. God is Love and He is Truth… and His Word-Life.

Stephanie, mother of 4, ages 10 months-7yrs

Jami, Mother of 4, ages 5-12 

 Sara Jane, Mother of 4, ages 1-9


Kristen, Mother of 4, ages 2-7

Alexia, Mother of 4, ages infant- 7

Jenny, mother of 5, ages infant- 10 (with twin 2-year olds)
They also read the Jesus Storybook Bible so the little twins can be involved.  That book’s great for age 2-102! We love. love. love it.

Kristin, mother of 4, ages 4-9 (with twin 9 year olds)
How many had this read to them as kids?! 🙂

Here’s the List so far:
So your morning looks like this maybe:
Cuddle on the couch with some fruit or muffins. [yay!]
Pray together. 
Pass out journals or notepads and colored pencils or something.
Read Scripture/ Devotional together. [older children may want to take this on]
Maybe read from one of the BONUS books from week 1 – Book of Virtues or Aesops- something easy. Something lovely.
Next week- we’ll plant another seed in our Morning Time Garden! BOOM. Easy again! [almost like magic]

Morning Time Magic WEEK 1- RITUAL

Well here we are!
First step to Morning time is HAVING IT!
But just a re-visit to the question of “why?”

The way I see it, a “coming together” first thing helps make the First and Best Things the First things in our hearts.

This is where we begin the Ritual aspect of Morning Time.
We do it each day.
It is a liturgy.
A virtue-building training.

My guess is that our desire is to feed our children a diet of virtue-building meals.

So, for us, the First thing is Jesus. It is only through Him we will develop this virtue.  It is His grace and that grace alone that changes us, but we can posture ourselves to be fertile ground for what He is planting into us.

I wish I were to recognize more regularly, that desperate need for communion with my Maker like Luther did.

There is no greater momentum-builder for mania than feeling the press to “get into the day” and check off the lists. I think we all know how those urges can steamroll us right into drudgery, impatience and general crabbiness, so for me, placing this time first, slows me down internally and physically.  It gets mama on the right track when I am so prone to running down the wrong one, full-speed ahead.

And I’ll tell ya- the days we miss this time we FEEL it. (even though its a relatively new practice in our lives- thank you Sara Mackenzie) 

Week One’s assignment is to come together for prayer.

Soren Kierkegaard said: the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

Last week, I showed my daughters the Samaritan’s Purse video of Middle Eastern refugees being received on a Greek island shore. It is heartbreaking. and inspiring. Babies in life jackets, shivering after what we mapped out to be potentially 300 miles’ journey on the Mediterranean ( at least by our maps’ scale ) with no certainty of landing anywhere. Overstuffed rafts with only a couple oars. Mothers and grandmothers. No obvious belongings.

It moved us to PRAY. and pray, we did.

This was one of those “serendipitous” (I call that Holy-Spirit led) moments where the “magic” happened.  It was that lucky organic moment that you know Jesus led you toward. I couldn’t have planned it. I’m not that good. But it did show me how easy it will be to open little eyes [and big old ones] to the plight of others on a regular basis.

Everywhere around us are people to pray for. We have much to confess, much to be thankful for, many burdens to share with a lost, hurt, dying world. This won’t be hard.

One area of virtue I think we all agree on is that we want to raise humans who care for others, defend the helpless and SEE those around them as precious. Prayer is a great catalyst for pretty much EVERY good thing.

Oswald Chambers noted:

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours. 

The bonus assignment is:

Read something.

Let’s go with a quick story from William Bennett’s Children’s Book of Virtues

or The Book of Virtues.

Typically they are short, they address character and are beautifully written.
Even Shorter- Aesop’s Fables.
Good lessons, bite sized dose, animal characters usually – so for little munchkins- it’ll hold their attention. This edition has rich language and weaves the tale beautifully without “updated” language that loses the punch.

So… are you ready to give it a try?

Next week- we’ll plant another seed. BOOM. easy.

Morning Time: Flooding Affections with Beauty

Flooding affections with beautysounds dreamy, huh!

I stole  borrowed it from Pam Barnhill.  
[She has a great blog and beautiful offerings on the whole concept of morning time. She and Sarah Mackenzie and all the Schole Sisters, have rocked my newbie-classical world- but that’s a whole different story]

Morning Time has been this non- routiney mama’s way to execute that lovely ideal with some plan and structure, and still a whole lot of flexibility.Remember how we are here because we want to find all the early simple ways we can bring our children to encounters with Truth, Goodness and Beauty?CUE: MORNING TIME.

We started it in my home last spring after reading Sarah’s book, Teaching From Rest. Brilliant.

…and PS: I have 3 daughters, aged, 10, 8 & 6. So keep that in mind- 
I don’t have a nursing infant, or twins, or toddlers 🙂 so think of how you would make this time YOURS-ALL-YOURS.

We just eased in with a few hymns and contemporary songs to or about Jesus, Prayer, and scripture, followed by reading Number The Stars.

The hymnal was new to the girls, and a gift from my grandmother, so they were very enamored and wanted to sing for a loooong time.

We read a scripture passage in Proverbs and Psalms, then talked about what that would look like if we lived it.

We prayed for the person to our right.

And as I read, they were free to draw. They chose to make the scripture we read a pretty entry in their journals.

Now. To make sure I’m telling it right, I have a few things to point  out. There was squabbling amongst the children during scripture reading and the mother was disturbed highly and pointed out how rude they were. It was lovely. They were all so happy. Then there was some arguing over the markers because 142 markers isn’t quite enough to share 3 ways. and the then 5-year old had a question to ask for nearly every line of the first chapter of the book. What kind of name is Lise, she wants to know…

But, at the end – said squabbling children said “that was nice”, and said grouchy mother thought so too.

FAST FORWARD TO the “New School Year”:

I’m just going to say it: I’m probably pretty lazy.
We found a sweet groove in our morning time, and I thought I’d add more stuff to it. Kill more proverbial birds with the same stone…

So- now we added our Classical Conversations Memory work, a poem to memorize (alternating monthly with a passage of Shakespeare), We read from The Book of Virtues one or several entries, depending on length, will have some time for narration of those stories, and close in the Doxology.  After that, my oldest begins her work and I continue to read a chapter of Life of Fred with the younger two, practice skip counting forward and backwards, and phonics rules.

Now, all of this can take 1.5 – 2 hours. We eat breakfast during this time, there is movement with our Classical Conversations Memory Work, we sing, hear great stories, recite, etc. It’s not all sitting with hands folded at all.

It works for us, and some days it gets shortened because it isn’t working- but so far- it’s a nice flow. By the time we are done, we have accomplished a LOT!!!!


My favorite part of all is that we begin with the most important thing first- JESUS. 
You just CAN’T beat that. [and if I’m just going to continue to be embarrassingly honest, we haven’t been great at establishing a ritual of going to Him together- first, or even consistently. ugh. but hallelujah! now we do!]

Morning Time, according to Sarah Mackenzie, is based on 3 main things:

  1. Reading
  2. Recitation
  3. Ritual
These 3 things in particular, pull us together into unity, and we find ourselves engaged in a common endeavor. I love that. 

We add to that common ground with great stories and rich facts, ideas, and words to deposit in our minds all together. 

We get a little flooding of beauty that fills our affections.

We all like, maybe even love, the things we know.  

And while they say familiarity breeds contempt, in a learning mind it seems to be the contrary…familiarity forms connections. Connections grow enthusiasm, and enthusiasm grows a hunger for more things with which to become acquainted.


So- Morning Time has truly revolutionized our day. learning.  life.

…and I stole borrowed something else from another mom: we call our Morning Time  “Convocation” – Latin for ‘calling together’.
I love it.

Morning Time: Where Have You Been All My Life?

Really though. Morning time has changed everything in our homeschool. It is a little piece of our day carved out for the beautiful. The things that weave our hearts together in a way I’m convinced nothing else can.
I first heard of “morning time” while reading Sarah Mackenzie’s blog. I have to admit I read, re-read, and then read her post again. It took a little while to wrap my brain around how I would implement it but I knew it was a ritual I wanted to incorporate into our day somehow.

We began last Spring and I believe we are already reeping the benefits of these moments together. My Children are ages 12, 10, 7 and 5. We are part of a program called Classical Conversations where we meet with our community once a week. Because of their ages, and the work load of my Jr. Higher, morning time is treasured by each of us. It is our time to be and learn together before they scatter throughout the house to get their individual work done. If I could say one thing to a mom who isn’t sure how to make morning time work? I would say, just start. I know your kids are 5 and under and won’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. And I know you’re tired and can’t think of adding on one more thing.  Just pick ONE THING. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Read a bible story or a short poem. Listen to a hymn and begin memorizing the lyrics. And then stop. Let them all go run around out side for a bit. Your morning time doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It has to work for your family. I found a way that works for us and it has changed the culture of our home.

Here is a run down of our morning time routine along with links to many great resources. Some I have used, some I plan on using in the future. The possibilities are endless!

We spend one hour in morning time from 8am to 9am. We begin with prayer and singing the doxology. I pull up youtube and we sing 2-3 worship songs. We love Seeds Family Worship because it’s a great way to get more scripture memorized.  We follow that with a hymn and maybe a more contemporary worship song.

After worship we move to our bible study. We are currently working on a character study through Proverbs after which I will begin the children’s catechism. We started that one last year but I wasn’t consistent enough. Including it in morning time will change all of that.

Memory work comes next. There are an endless number of wonderful choices for memorization. Scripture is an obvious one of course. We have memorized the Nicene Creed and we just finished a poem titled “The Alamo”. My oldest son chose that selection from Words Aptly Spoken. We are moving to Shakespeare next and I cannot wait!

When memory work is complete we move on to read aloud time.  Again the options here are too many to name. Of course we love The Chronicles of Narnia, historical biographies, and collections of stories that tie into the historical period we are studying.  I try to think about the interests of my kids when choosing literature but I also try to stretch them a bit. I’m sure they’ll thank me for it later.

And of course during reading time it’s important to keep those little hands busy. The morning basket always has quiet activities for them to choose from. Putty, legos, colored pencils, and paper are working well for us.

So there it is in a rather large nutshell. Remember, make it work for you and your kids. It’s not about perfection. It’s about the ritual, the routine. You won’t regret setting aside a special time of day for your family to be immersed in beauty. I truly believe it will be one of their fondest memories.

Morning Time: The ‘WHY’ and ‘HOW’

Morning Time: The ‘WHY’ and ‘HOW’

What in the world can help our morning before homeschool? Why do most days start off rushed and irritating? Another day of forcing schoolwork? Kids arguing already? Is that even allowed before breakfast *coffee*?  In my book- NO.
Morning time is simply a way to start the day off right.  A way to all start on the same foot.  A way to focus on what is important first.  
This is what our Morning Time looks like right now:
We all gather around the table as we do Morning Time during breakfast.
  • We start with a family devotion.  Now, we each take a day to read out of Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland.  This was published back in the 70’s and is dear to my heart because I remember going through this book at night with my sister and dad.  It teaches an aspect about God and ends each day with a hymn and a prayer.
  • Fine art appreciation.  This is made so simple by Enrichment Studies.  Literally all the work except for choosing and printing is already done for you.  Our latest Artist study is titled “Women Artists of the Renaissance”.  I have printed the pages, which show a piece of art and give a little background about the artist and the piece itself.  Thats it.  Exposure.  done.
  • Next, we read aloud– and by we, I mean “I”.  Right now we are reading on a loop.  2 days, we are reading from Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and 2 days we read from Life of Fred.  Because we meet for Classical Conversations on Fridays, we only do our Morning Time Monday through Thursday.  While I am reading aloud, the kids each have a clipboard with blank paper that they can draw, doodle or whatever they want as long as they are listening and sitting quietly.
  • CC review- We take a couple minutes to review our Classical Conversations material that we
     learned that week and the weeks prior.  I get out a map, we sing songs, list etc.  The whole
     review takes about 15 minutes.  Done.

By the time we are done with our routine, everyone has finished breakfast and gathers their dishes and puts them in the sink (we will aim for the dishwasher soon).  All the kids gather their clipboards and pencils/colored pencils etc and puts them in our “Morning Time Basket”….

Its not a cure-all, but it sure helps us!  By the time we get down to the nitty-gritty, we have already learned a little about God together, sang/read a hymn together, prayed together, listened together, drawn together, and learned together.  Together is the best way to start the day.