Our Morning Meeting: The Anchor To Our Homeschool Day (part 2)
Have you read part one? Head over there now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Our Morning Meeting takes longer to describe than it actually takes to execute!! Part one breaks down the subjects that we do every day. In general, our daily subjects take about an hour and a half or s to get through, but that obviously varies depending on how many diapers I need to change, who spilled what on their books, and how many chapters of our read aloud they con me into reading! However, that’s the great part: flexibility. If your read aloud book is at the most suspenseful chapter, you may want to continue and read on to the end and nix poetry.
You’re allowed! You homeschool– the sky’s the limit and the curriculum serves you, not the other way around.
That being said, assuming that we’re plugging along on a “normal” school day, we cover the subjects that I mentioned in part one (Bible, memory work, hymn study, poetry, nature journals, grammar and our read aloud) at the beginning of our Morning Meeting, every day. Somewhere near the end of that list, we take a short break – usually right before our read aloud so we can grab snacks while I read.
Once we’ve gotten through our daily list, then we move on to our looped subjects, history, geography, Shakespeare, art and music.
Here’s how that works…
Loop One| History + Geography
I “loop” these subjects, meaning that we do one subject one day, and the following day we switch and loop to the next subject. This means that I don’t schedule history on Monday, Wednesday, Friday – it means that we do the next thing. For example, every other Wednesday, we have a homeschool co-op, and every Thursday, we are out of the house doing art lessons and running errands, so those days, we rarely get in a morning meeting. So, if we covered history on Wednesday, we skip Thursday for art lessons, and then Friday, we do geography. This has been SO helpful in not forgetting where we are or going a week without doing a particular subject if it’s been a busy time. I short, we just do the next thing.
I have gone round and round on what history curriculum I like best. In fact, I should devote an entire post to that (I think I will….) because there are so many options and things I like/dislike about each one I’ve used. I adore history and so do my kids, so I like to keep us together if possible. Unfortunately, that’s becoming more and more difficult, so we’re trying a few things to span the ages and learning gaps. Right now we are studying modern history so we are using Story of the World (I love their accompanying maps in the workbook and I use their outlines for my oldest, so she can get used to following a lecture and taking notes. I don’t do the projects in the workbook, as they’re too time consuming for us). However, I’ve also flipped back and forth and used Mystery of History (although their modern world book is over the heads of my youngest) and Beautiful Feet Books. See…I’m very undecided! One of my kids is advanced in her reading and comprehension, and one is dyslexic and so weighty lessons that are full of content are hard for her to focus on at this point, making it difficult to find something that fits. So….we roll with it and do the best we can. As long as we’re moving forward, I’m not worried.
Upon recommendation, I also recently grabbed A Little History of the World and it’s been SO enjoyable! It’s written in a conversational tone and covers a lot of material.
My oldest also supplements her history reading with historical literature. I use the reading lists from Beautiful Feet Books as double duty – extra history and literature studies. I choose books for her roughly based on the time period we’re studying and each day she reads 2-3 chapters in the books and then does a written narration.
We keep this nice and simple. There are some wonderful resources out there and I’ve used and enjoyed the packs from Simply Charlotte Mason as well as the literature based pack from Beautiful Feet. Both were wonderful but a little more time consuming than I wanted right now. We may go back to them eventually, but for this season, short and sweet is where it’s at.
Right now, we’re coloring and labeling the maps that come with the Story of the World lessons, and we’re also doing map drills – I give them printed blank sheets of a map and they fill in what they know. Then, they are given the answer key and they correct it themselves and fill in anything they forgot. That’s it when it comes to map work – it takes less than 5 minutes. After their drills, we read through Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason, we discuss it and the kids narrate back portions of it in turn.
Loop Two| Shakespeare, Art + Music
I know his name can strike fear into the heart of many a homeschooler, but I adore Shakespeare, and after reading Ken Ludwig’s amazing book, How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, you’ll grow to love it, find the value in it, and it truly won’t be scary anymore! Slow and steady is the key here, and there are so many great resources to supplement with.
Right now we are reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream (a great one to start with- it’s funny, there are fairies, over-the-top arguments, a man with the name “Bottom” and a queen who falls in love with a donkey. Crowd pleaser, I tell ya) using Birch’s retold version Shakespeare’s Stories: Comedies. Each time we read, I go through 1-2 pages of the story and stop after every few paragraphs to make sure that they all understand what’s happening and to give them a chance to narrate. We also keep a diagram of characters on our chalk board so that we can remember who’s who in the story (the kids also copy the character list into their notebooks).
I’ve also used or heard great things about:
Shakespeare’s Stories For Young Readers by Nesbit
Shakepeare. Classic for Kids. by Lamb
Great Scenes from Shakespeare’s Plays (Coloring Book)
Our “art” is basically an artist and picture study, and the kids take art lessons outside of the home each week. At home, we cover famous artists, their lives and works and my main goal is appreciation and recognition. It’s a slow process really, but that’s ok. We take our time and don’t rush through the artist or their works. We just finished with the picture study portfolio of Turner from Simply Charlotte Mason and I can’t recommend those enough! They are pricey if you rush through them, but I don’t plan on covering more than 2-3 in a school year. In general, we spend at least 2-3 weeks on one work of art. We get to our art studies once, sometimes twice a week, depending on where we are in the loop, so it’s not overwhelming and it’s spread out just enough that it’s not redundant. I’ll be sharing my printable Art study sheet soon and a more detailed look at how we study art, so make sure to check back!
I also use and love:
This entire series from Laurence Anholt– they’re a whimsical and narrative look at various artists and the illustrations are beautiful
This series from Mike Venezia – he pulls out the comedic and quirky facets of the artists’ (and musicians) lives and it’s part text book, part comic strip, and quite endearing
Lives of the Artists (Masterpieces, Messes and What the Neighbors Thought) – a wonderful collection of artists’ stories that could actually be used as a spine for art
The Who Was….series – is another great one with memorable illustrations and interesting Artists’ biographies
Famous Painting Cards – vibrant cards of famous works that make it easy to use for picture study or playing games
The Come Look With Me Series – these are a favorite in our home and I’ve used them with all of my kids. Each page has a painting and the opposite page has questions to ask them about what they see, what they suppose the painting is about, etc. It’s a wonderful gently introduction into art appreciation.
FREE Artist Study Aids from A Humble Place – these are very well done and bonus, they’re free. This is truly all you’d need!
I’ve also had wonderful luck with large coffee-table type books of famous artists. We have been known to rip out a page (gasp!) and hang it on our wall for frequent reference. I once scored a 2′ tall book of Georgia O’Keefe’s works at a garage sale for 50 cents and it’s one of our favorites.
At this point, our kids are not enrolled in music lessons (which I hope to remedy soon) but we do study music appreciation in our loop and, like art appreciation, it’s a gentle, low stress study that’s not hard to incorporate. In general, each time we have music, we read about the composer’s life and then listen to his works. It really is that easy. Simply choose a few of the composer’s most well known works, or pieces that you think your children would enjoy, and just listen. I play a song as an introduction each time we start a new artist, but after that, we simply play it throughout the day, during lunch, in the afternoons during chore time and in the van. Again, just like art, at this age, my goal is appreciation and recognition.
In the past we’ve also spent time going through the orchestra and it’s always good to review – we usually start our school year with those lessons, and then move to more “appreciation”.
Here’s what we’ve used and enjoyed:
The Story of the Orchestra– this is my go-to book. There are lessons on each instrument, major composers, and general listening techniques and it includes a CD for listening to particular tracts during each lesson.
Meet The Orchestra – a fun look at each individual instrument
Meet The Great Composers (book + CD)
Aside from those, wikipedia and youtube are easy ways to find all of the information and music you might want.
Ambleside Online also has wonderful composer resources as well.
Goodness, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface!!
In some upcoming posts, I’ll be talking about the curriculum we’re using this year for their independent work and how we schedule our days to fit it all in. I always love seeing how other homeschooling mamas work their magic, so hopefully this has given you some ideas!