At our house, it's called "Breakfast" and it usually takes about thirty minutes.
Generally, I wake up hungry and my children don't. (Second Son is the worst; he prefers not to eat until ten or eleven in the morning. Then, of course, he wants to eat all day for the rest of the day.) So I eat breakfast while they wander the house and gaze out windows. Then, when they're ready to eat, or when a grown-up demands they come to the table (whichever comes first), we start our school day. Whatever fancy or elaborate Circle Time or Morning Baskets may be possible, I like a simple structure:
- Something Good or True or Beautiful
- We say a morning offering. We all have it memorized now, but I still have it printed on pretty paper and laminated. (This prayer is absolutely perfect if you only have little ones. I'm always considering switching us all to Morning Prayer, but haven't.)
- I read a psalm. I have Kansas Dad's Book of Psalms illustrated by Valenti Angelo, a book I love dearly. Early on, I'd only read a few lines, but now the children can be mostly quiet for most of an entire psalm. We also read from My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories in the past, when we weren't studying Old Testament or New Testament history.
- We have this set of virtue cards. Each day I read the virtue, the prayer, and the saint (if it's a new one). There's also a Scripture reference. We've had some good discussions around these cards and I like how the virtues are linked to actions the elementary children can understand. In the past, we've also used PACE. Lots of different resources could fill this niche like The Children's Book of Virtues, The Children's Book of Heroes, or the Catholic Treasure Box books. It's likely there's something sitting on your shelves right now that would fit, something you probably always wanted to use but weren't quire sure where to fit it in.
- Fairy Tales or Saint Stories - Currently we're reading The Book of Saints and Heroes by Andrew and Lenora Lang. The stories are pretty long, so I spread them over two days.
- Poetry - We read a bit of poetry, just for listening pleasure. Currently, it's The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems. I generally spread a book of poetry over a few days, too. You can see some of our other poetry selections using the poetry tag.
- Picture Study - We study an artist over the course of many weeks. We do actual picture study with four to six works I've printed, interspersed with picture books or stories about the artist.
- Shakespeare - We're reading through How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare and memorizing as we go. Occasionally, we'll read something else about the play we're studying.
- Math - We don't do this now, but I want to add something like this for next year so send me all your suggestions.
If people are still eating (it happens; they're slow eaters), then I dive into the read-alouds. We generally have three going at any given time and I'll alternate depending on what we read the day before, my mood, which book is at a more exciting point, or which book is due back to the library the soonest.
- historical fiction set in our world history time period (currently Mystery of the Roman Ransom)
- historical fiction set in our American history time period, or something else "American" I want to share (currently The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures)
- a family read-aloud just for fun (currently The Story of the Treasure Seekers)
The italic print: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). I like to use the little I earn on the blog to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts (so they'll really be from me because the kids say I don’t have any money).
The links to the virtue cards and to Lang's book are not affiliate links.