With the boys graduating from preschool last night we are entering into full summer mode around here! We spent the first summer day with rain falling outside, the windows open, pajamas on and movies, cuddling, and naps. The first thing the boys asked when they woke was "can we stay in our pajamas all day?". It was fun to tell them yes and spend our day laying low. Glorious, I tell ya!
But, I also know that about two weeks into summer we'll be looking for things to do, getting into too much trouble and counting down the minutes until Daddy arrives home. So, I know we need a plan. Not anything strict and requiring lots of prep but simple tricks to make our days flow smoothly. I've done a couple of things to get the ball rolling like starting a summer calendar listing all the fun activities coming up for the summer. I even added the dates from the library calendar (they have lots more than just story times but I never realized how much was offered until now! For example, we're planning to go for a honeybee day where they'll have hives displayed and experts to teach kids all about them. Another activity is a scavenger hunt throughout downtown for little kids!) and I'm plugging in the local VBS dates. We won't attend everything but I want a place to corral all the fun info I hear about so we can pick and choose off the calendar on days we're looking for something to do! I also have started including my boys in more chore times around the house (think three little boys learning to fold clothes...surely I'll develop the patience of Mother Teresa by the end of the summer - PRAY FOR ME.), giving them extra odd jobs to raise money for the pool popsicle purchases (they'll each get a change purse in the pool bag this summer so they can decide when to purchase something from the snack bar. It will be an easy way to teach them more about money, the value of their work, and get some extra jobs done around here that are above and beyond their normal responsibilities).
But, the thing I'm most excited about is our Summer Morning Basket! As I've been researching all.the.things for starting homeschool in the Fall (did I mention that we'll be homeschooling the twins this Fall?) I came across the concept of a morning basket. There are lots of blog posts and examples floating around the interwebs but I thought it might be helpful to explain how we're going to implement it and share what's going in ours for the summer.
First off, I knew that I wanted to add some structure to our days but needed lots of flexibility and really I didn't want to jump the gun on starting homeschool but wanted to make sure to incorporate learning in our days. All that to say, this is not a homeschool specific idea, I think it really would serve any family well who is going to be spending some days at home this summer.
So, without further ado...our morning basket.
The morning basket is essentially a routine of things that we will do each day that will just get little brains moving and allow us to have a "start" to our day. The basket could be used at any point during the day and could last for any length of time...from 10 minutes to an hour. We plan to start ours at breakfast each morning that we're home and spend around 30 minutes doing it (give or take depending on our plan for the day). I've done a little test run of our basket over the last couple of weeks on the days the boys have been home and I'm telling you, it makes a significant difference in the trajectory of our day. Starting out on the right foot in the first thirty minutes of our day is a total jedi mind trick. I'm excited for the rest of the day and my boys know they can't run all over me because we started out with me being in charge (that sounds crazy but have you ever had your kids get ahead of you? Please tell me I'm not the only one...they get one step ahead and you spend half your day trying to regain control!).
So here's the list and the order-ish we do it in (the order will probably get switch up occasionally, just to keep it fresh!):
1. Prayer List: each week we'll make a prayer list of people the boys want to pray for and then spend that week praying over the list. I drew pictures beside each person (while the boys directed the drawing) so the boys can easily choose who they are going to pray for each morning. Each kid gets to choose one off the list and I pray for the others. There is nothing sweeter than hearing a kid specifically pray over someone important to them!
2. Devotion: You know all those kid devotional books that are floating around on your shelves? This is a perfect time to rotate through them. We're currently using "I Can Learn the Bible" which I really like! We read one devotion and at the end the boys get their gummy vitamin. They are always excited for the gummy at the end :)
3. Review a memorized verse: I've realized recently that the boys can memorize verses very quickly but if we don't review them periodically they can easily be forgotten. So we've made a list of the verses they have already memorized and we will review one for a few days before moving on to the next one. We typically will do it a handful of times: together, each person separately, in silly voices, etc. After going back through the review, we'll start incorporating new ones and still review one each day.
4. Motion Songs: We play 2-3 motion songs and we all dance around like crazy people. I searched for "kids motion songs" on Pandora and found a station full of songs that instruct them to do different things and then occasionally one will pop up that's just fun so we have a dance party. It's nice to break up our time with some action so their attention span is reset for the last half of our time.
5. Summer Poem: We'll choose a poem every few weeks for the boys to memorize. I thought we'd start super easy so I found a free printable with a summer poem. I printed them so we could take a couple of minutes to color each day and then we put it away and color more the next day. It's just an icecream cone but something about them getting to only work on it a few minutes at a time has been fun. They can't wait to pull it out the next day. We also made up motions. Again, we say it together, separately, silly, with motions, while coloring...pretty much any way just to keep them saying it and memorizing it.
6. Sight words: I printed off a couple sets of sight words from education.com (you can download a handful of printables for free each month) and we run through a some of these each day. As the boys get familiar with them we just add a few more to the pile. I have them do them together and separately a few times. They really enjoy it and I like that they're pretty :)
7. Counting: The boys learned to count by 10s in preschool so we've been doing that this week but next we'll add counting by 5s and then down to 2s. We're also working to make sure they can count to 100 by 1s so I'll just randomly choose how we're going to count each day or let them choose.
8. Spanish: Right now we're counting in Spanish and I'm hoping to also incorporate other things as we go like colors, vocab, singing our ABCs in Spanish, etc.
9. Picture Books: We read 2-3 picture books that I let the boys pick each morning. They are typically out of our insane assortment of library books (I'm thinking that over the course of my kids' childhoods I might "donate" enough money to build a new library from all of our late fees. I kid, I'm getting better...after I had to use my blow money for the week to pay my dues :) I can't keep up my coffee habit and my library late fees, one had to go...)
10. Read Aloud: Y'all. We've started spending time each night before bed reading a chapter book and it is making all my motherhood dreams come true. They beg to read before going to sleep, they hang on every word and it's just awesome to watch their little imaginations figuring out the story. So far we've read Charlotte's Web, Stewart Little, Paddington, The Night Fairy, The Twits and now we're on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We are also going to do a book in the morning and see how it goes. We're starting out by reading a chapter at a time of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. This is a great end to our Morning Basket because the boys are able to find something quiet to play with (magnaformers, coloring, blocks, etc) while I read a chapter.
And that's it! It really doesn't have to take much time at all because we can leave parts out on the days we need to go faster or we can spend more time on reading books if we still have extra time at the end and the boys are still interested. There's not any fighting to get them to participate because we are up and down and sitting at the bar and then dancing through the house and then laying in the living room floor and then coloring/playing in the playroom while I read. Because there's so much changing they remain very engaged and they have my full attention for this time so they are thrilled that I'm not trying to multitask!
I hope this helps some of you in case you are looking to add a little sumthin' sumthin' to your summer mornings! I'd love to help you brainstorm ideas for a morning basket that might work for you or if you have questions about how we've made something work let me know! I love touching base with readers...for you know, those blog posts I put up every six months or so...
Happy Thursday, friends!