Loop Scheduling for Morning Time

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Hello everyone!  I'm finally back!  I had a nice little ladies' getaway in New Orleans last weekend and I've been having a bit of a time getting back into my regular routine.  But I'm still here!  February is going to be all about curriculum on the blog, as I mentioned in the last post.  I'd like to kick it off by giving you a peek into our newly overhauled Morning Time plan.  

I spent a good chunk of time over the last few days thinking through our Morning Time plan and giving it a much-needed overhaul.  We started doing morning time about a year and a half ago and have pretty much followed the same plan since then.  But I've learned some things since then, and there were some things I really wanted to add in...without making it longer.  The solution?  Loop scheduling!  I've never tried this before, so we'll see how it goes!  This plan is based on a 4 day school week, but viewing it as a "loop" as opposed to a "weekly schedule" will allow the freedom to miss a day now and then and still get to the things we want to accomplish on a pretty regular basis.  So, here is the detailed list of what's going to be in our upcoming morning times:

Daily Prayer/Memory Work: 15 minutes

Poetry/Singing Rotation: 5 minutes

  • Review old poems
  • Sing a hymn
  • Sing this term's folk songs
  • Practice Year 2 poetry

Fine Arts/Geography Rotation: 20 minutes

  • World Cultures (using Give Your Child the World)
  • Geography (with maps and study guide from Beautiful Feet)
  • Composer study
  • Artist study

Upper Level Rotation: 20 minutes

  • Reading from Shakespeare
  • Reading from Plutarch

Hands-On Art Rotation: 20 minutes

Daily fun read-aloud: 10 minutes

On paper I'm loving the look of this plan.  The total time adds up to 90 minutes, which may be pushing it on the long side, but I think there's enough variety there to keep us going.  Also many of the things on the list won't take as long as the time I allotted them, but I'm trying to build in margin for distractions, (like taking the two year old to the bathroom!).  

A few things to note about this list: are you wondering where the Bible instruction is?  My kids each follow the Ambleside Online Bible reading plan for the year they are in, so for now Bible reading is taking place at another time during the day, and they narrate that to me individually.  We may put that into morning time at some point, but for now this system seems to be working.  This loop schedule is also much lighter on classical music than I would like, only getting to formal composer study about once a week.  I'm going to try to compensate for that by having our music selections for the term playing around the house as much as possible.  I even have that built into my new daily schedule: "12:30 - prepare lunch and turn on classical music"!  At some point I also want to add some fun math activities into the loop, but I don't feel quite prepared for that yet, so it's going to have to wait at least until the next term.

I'm also hoping to take this plan one step further by making a checklist of supplies needed for each day in the loop, or even making baskets for each day.  I really want to get all the planning and supply-gathering done up front so that when morning time comes, we just grab and go.  I find myself scrambling around at the last minute WAY to often.  Since there are either 4 or 2 items in each loop category, I should be able to put them together on the same "loop day" consistently.  So my morning time baskets will look something like this:

Daily (or almost daily) Basket:

  • Opening prayer
  • Current Psalm
  • Current poem
  • Song School Latin materials
  • Current Shakespeare reading
  • Current Plutarch reading
  • Fun read-aloud (currently Little House on the Prairie
  • pencils, paper, colored pencils, and crayons

Day 1 Basket:

  • poems for review
  • World culture books
  • ARTistic Pursuits book
  • Drawing supplies and paper

Day 2 Basket:

  • Hymnal
  • Geography book selection (currently finishing Paddle to the Sea)
  • Beautiful Feet maps

Day 3 Basket:

  • This term's folk songs
  • Composer information (or books about them) and list of works being studied
  • Chalk pastels and paper
  • Wipes (for cleaning up chalk messes!)

Day 4 Basket:

  • Year 2 poetry selections
  • Artist information and list of works being studied (actual art print will always be on display, not put away in basket)
  • Nature journals
  • Field guides
  • Watercolors?  We haven't used them for nature journaling yet but I'm curious to try!
  • Paint brushes and cups for water

I hope these plans are helpful for you!  I know I feel much more at ease now that I have it all written down.  Of course, don't feel like your family's morning time needs to look just like ours.  No two families will have identical plans - we all value different things.  Feel free to make your own morning time reflect your family's own individual character!

If you found this post helpful, make sure to share it on pinterest or facebook!  I'd also love to hear your ideas for scheduling morning time.  Do you use a loop schedule?  What do you include?  Is it shorter?  Longer?  Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

Stay tuned for a new free curriculum checklist cheat sheet coming soon, too!

Products featured in this post:

Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)
By Holling C. Holling
The Little House (9 Volumes Set)
By Laura Ingalls Wilder