Morning Basket, Circle Time, Learning Together Time – whatever you want to call it, it has been a staple in our homeschool for years. This year I felt the need to revamp, upgrade, and change up how we do things. I’ve replaced my morning basket with a lunch crate!
I would like to say that because my kids are teenagers I’ve replaced my morning basket with what I like to call “The Lunch Crate”. That’s only half true. I have traded my morning basket for a lunch crate, and it’s not because I have sleepy-headed teenagers. It’s because I’m not a morning person. Please don’t get the image that I sleep until 10 (although I would if I could – and most weekends I do like to sleep in). I begrudgingly get up around 7:30 and immediately get dressed. I simply don’t have much to say during my first hour or two after waking. Don’t worry, I make up for it the rest of the day (and well into the night)!
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What is a Lunch Crate?
If you are familiar with a morning basket, the Lunch Crate is the same thing, just a different time of day. In a nutshell, it is simply a time of day when everyone in your homeschool meets up and learns together about specific subjects. It’s different for every family and can change from year to year, or month to month. Pam Barnhill at Homeschool Solutions is a great source for all the details, and is the author of Better Together. For us, around lunch time is a great time of day to gather and do things that I would not know where to fit in our day otherwise.
If you are a morning person, I would recommend morning time to do this. The morning basket can set a positive tone for the whole day. In our home, my teens have several subjects they can work on independently after breakfast. Meanwhile, I am able to get laundry going, sip my coffee, and look over my calendar and lists for the day, and fully wake up. Coming together midday is a welcomed break from their core subjects after a morning of hard work. The Lunch Crate gives us an opportunity to do more of the fun things that often get pushed aside by academics. Plus, in my attempt to be a cool mom, “Lunch Crate” just sounds more fitting for teens.
What’s In Our Lunch Crate?
It seems like yesterday, our Lunch Crate was called “circle time”. It included learning days of the week, the weather, and character building. I even used puppets to teach! Now we’re learning logic, nature, notable people, places, and much more. I’m always on the lookout for good books, quick games, and interesting topics to incorporate in our crate. This year’s create consists of:
- CNN 10 – We’ve viewed this for several years now. It is a 10 minute news show geared toward tweens and teens. We watch it daily for current events.
- The Thinking Toolbox – An introductory logic and critical thinking course that is a favorite so far!
- NC History – I’m writing this curriculum as we go. A Nutshell History of North Carolina is the spine, and I’m incorporating field trips where I can with Fun With the Family North Carolina. Another great source is NCPedia.org.
- Then Sings My Soul – A great book of hymns and the stories behind them. Unfortunately, if I don’t teach them, they will never learn them.
- 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet – I’ve had this for awhile, and since we will be studying American History, I find this fitting to use in our Lunch Crate.
- Mistakes That Worked – I’m always fascinated at how things came to be. This is a great little book of randomness!
- Foodworks – An older book that is a little elementary, although still full of fun facts about food. Our main elective is cooking this year, using America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School. We will be using things such as this book and food documentaries to incorporate in our Lunch Crate.
- Exploring Nonfiction Cards – Just because something is labeled above or below grade level, don’t discount its usefulness. These cards are short snippets of information from Navajo Code Talkers to The Invention of Braille. Comprehension questions are on the back as well as project ideas.
- State Notebooks – I picked these up at a convention a few years ago. It’s been several years since we’ve learned about the 50 states. We can all use the refresher, and these can be adaptable for all ages. The Desk Atlas that we use with the notebooks is the absolute best!
- Nature Study – I’m super excited about this! We are not really using this as a class or curriculum. However, it’s perfect for our Lunch Crate. There are several resources I’m using to create a new monthly series, Noticing Nature for Teens. We will talk about things we’ve seen outside, what to look for according to the season, and the significance of it all.
- Games – I enjoy incorporating quick, simple games in our Lunch Crate. Games that don’t require any set up and can be played in just 15 minutes or less. I’d rather save the longer games for a weekend or a special game day. A couple that are currently in our Lunch Crate are Last Letter, Apples to Apples Dice Game, and some conversation cards that I picked up from a dollar store.
- Reading/Memory Work – This includes a book I have chose to read aloud, and is read most every day. Memory work is reviewing Bible verses. The kids are so much better at this than me! Above all else, this is definitely one we all benefit from.
How We Use Our Lunch Crate
This lengthy list of items with the exception of CNN 10 (daily) and logic (weekly) are placed on a loop schedule. There is not a particular subject for a particular day. Our Lunch Crate takes no more than 30-45 minutes. We may only get to a couple of those items, and pick up with whatever is next on the list for the next day. That way, instead of looking at a calendar or schedule to see what we have to do that day, I look at the list and see what’s next in our Lunch Crate.
This is our first time using the loop, and so far it’s working well. This is set up for the year, but flexible enough to include things I may discover throughout the year. With a dozen things in there, everyday is different! I have found this is a great way to get to some of the lighter things and utilize my collection of “ohhh this looks fun” things.
I’ve made a free printable if your morning basket needs to be replaced with a lunch crate! The circles at the top I use as a reminder for daily things, a memory verse, or the current book we are reading. The list is for the items on the loop. Download yours in my free resource library – it’s free for you to use however you wish!
I love to hear from other families, and I’d love to know if you use a morning basket or something like a lunch crate! I’ve found it to be a great part of our day.