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The Lunch Crate: Circle Time for High School

Last year, I did something that really worked well for our family: I replaced our morning basket with a lunch crate. In preschool, we called it “Circle Time”. Early on in our homeschool, we called it “Learning Together Time”. It later morphed into the popular “Morning Basket”, and now it’s a “Lunch Crate”, a.k.a. circle time for high schoolers, and I love it!

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What’s a Lunch Crate?

If you remember circle time, or are familiar with a morning basket, the Lunch Crate is the same thing, just done at a different time of day. In a nutshell, it is simply a time of day when everyone in your homeschool gathers to learn the same thing. It’s different for every family and can change from year to year, or month to month. It is most effective when you keep it fun, and do it consistently. The Lunch Crate gives us an opportunity to do some of the extras that often get pushed aside by academics.

Why lunchtime?

If you are a morning person, I would recommend the morning time to do this, as the goal is to set a positive tone for the day. I am not a morning person. In our home, my teens have several subjects they can work on independently. Meanwhile, I am able to get laundry going, sip my coffee, gather my thoughts, and fully wake up. Coming together midday is a welcomed break from their core subjects after a morning of hard work. I am also able to use my time to make copies, grade papers, or retrieve lab supplies for the day. Plus, in my attempt to be a cool mom, “Lunch Crate” just sounds more fitting for teens.

What’s in the crate?

I’ve scaled down slightly from last year’s crate, and actually included one core subject for this year. With the exception of some quick games, the crate contents will not vary much throughout the year.

  • CNN 10 – We’ve viewed this for several years now. It is a 10 minute news show geared toward tweens and teens for keeping up to date with current events. So far, it is a fairly neutral source of information.
  • Nature Study – I’ve been gathering my monthly Noticing Nature for Teens posts, editing and adding to them as we go. I hope to turn them into an eBook in the future. I’m super excited about this, and glad I’ve got a couple of kids to practice with!
  • Creative writing. One resource I’ll be using is Unjournaling. I really like that it will stretch their creativity and thinking skills, all while staying impersonal. It’s intimidating to write about personal topics, especially when mom is the teacher!
  • Cookbooks! I thought this would be fun to include in our lunch crate. We won’t necessarily be cooking during this time, but they can contribute to meal planning by choosing recipes, and serving lunch or dinner. After all, this is one of life’s most important skills! The ones I chose to use are: Eat Your Way Around The World, Eat Your Way Through The USA (to sneak in geography, as well as try new things), and The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs for more familiar things.
  • A read aloud or assigned book. The first book on our list is Do Hard Things. They are reading their own copies own their own this month. We will have discussions weekly. Next time, we will alternate with a read aloud.
  • Politics & Government. I had intentions of putting this together myself using Understanding Politcs & Government as well as internet finds. My mind changed after seeing the state of our national and local government and decided they needed a solid, better organized course. I chose Exploring Government by Notgrass. This is in our lunch crate because it is a course we will do together. It is set up as a semester long course, and I anticipate that we will not cover it all in a semester with some of the extras I would like to include. One of those extras is You Decide! Applying the Bill of Rights to Real Cases. This looks like a fun activity to put our new found information from the course into action later in the year.
  • Games. I love incorporating short games into our school day. Games that will sharpen our thinking, as well as a welcomed break. A new one for us that we’re enjoying is Word A Round. Another quick game that’s a load of fun is Tenzi. I had the opportunity to review it earlier this year. Bible Outburst is another favorite that we enjoy. To make it quick enough for my lunch crate, we don’t use the game board. Just answering as many items we can from the decoder is a great way to learn all kinds of things from the Bible.

The Loop

Our simple loop sheet is how I make sure we touch on everything in the lunch crate on a regular basis. Since the contents are not as varied as last year, I use it more for notes. I jot down the title of our book and where we are in it, Bible memory verses, or ingredients I need to gather for the recipe they chose. It’s still beneficial to list all the things in the crate, because things come up and I can quickly glance to see if there’s something we had to skip over due to time restraints.

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 in the crate or notes. Download yours in my free resource library – it’s free for you to use however you wish!

Our crate is set up for the year, but flexible enough to include things I may discover throughout the year. We spend less than an hour of time per day with it. 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 that I have collected over the years. It’s also fun to incorporate seasonal fun into the crate to freshen it up a bit during the year. I’m always up for new ideas. Drop a comment if you use a morning basket or something like a lunch crate in your homeschool!

13 thoughts on “The Lunch Crate: Circle Time for High School”

  1. Well, I’ve been homeschooling for 13 years and only just now learned about morning baskets and lunch crates! LOL I love the idea of finding a time to work on things that usually get pushed aside (like poetry, arts, etc.).

  2. This is such a great idea to make circle time grow up with your family. It can be so difficult to add the extras into our school day, but this is a great way to make it all happen! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really love this! I am so not a morning person and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do the ‘morning basket’ at lunchtime. I think this would actually be able to work in our homeschool.

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