"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Official Workbox Post

Ok, Ok, here it is. I kept promising and guilting myself, until finally I could get organized enough to write about our workboxes. This is our second year of using workboxes and I love them. Let me say that again--I love them! If you are not familiar with workboxes, I will give you a quick tutorial, but what you really need to do is check out Sue Patrick's workbox information here.

We more or less use a modified version with Bug and Firefly (what else is new, right?) Here's how it goes:

First of all, our workboxes are Rubbermaid containers and lids that sit on a little wire shelf, all picked up at Target. (Yay! Another reason to go to Target!) Each child has eleven boxes, but very rarely are more than nine filled in a day. They have number tags that were specifically made by yours truly to fit each child. (That's why they are so fancy, lol!) Bug chose Batman as his theme, and Firefly picked kittens. Each tag has Velcro on it to attach it to the box.

Each afternoon, during quiet time, I fill boxes for Firefly and Bug. I work off of a schedule that was written out over the summer--you can find something like it here. So, for Firefly, here is an example of what is in her boxes:

This is her workbook to help explain / deal with Sensory Processing Disorder. Really fun activities and some good information.

This is her "Daddy Box". Daddy always seems to come up with ideas for extra soccer practice during the school day.

Handwriting copywork based on the poem we are studying.

Self-explanatory. ; )

This is her independent reading book for history. She will complete a chapter or two, and then we work in her Drawn Into the Heart of Reading book on some days.

We will complete a lesson in here together.

Another Work With Mom special--to keep the math-based tears away.

This is a little Bible Study that we are working on together. On this day, we are working on decorating a special box for treasures.

We will read from this and complete a notebook page together.

On this particular day, we are trying to cram a lot of subjects in because we have co-op tomorrow. Usually, I put things like snacks or computer time in some of her independent boxes, too.
Bug's boxes are currently filled with things like: puzzles, stringing beads, iPad time, popcorn kernels and measuring cups, and one or two boxes to do with me, like Five in a Row or ABC activities. (Mostly things to keep him occupied while the rest of us are working).

I fill each box and put a number on it, and if it is not something that they can do independently, I add a "work with Mom" tag as well.

In the morning, when it is time for them to work independently (mostly), they can pick a box to work on. I used to try to put the boxes in the order I wanted them to work on them, but I always got it wrong and all three kiddos would need me at the same time. Now I just let them pick.

When they complete the box, they take off the number and put it into their chart. This year they have pocket charts that I also found at Target. (Again, yay!) When their charts are fully matched up, they are done for the day. (As of today, it has not happened. Usually I am just moving the unfinished boxes to the following day.)

If you've been to Sue Patrick's website, you may have seen some other scheduling tools and ideas that we do not use. I don't use a schedule strip, for example. Mostly because we have several other scheduling tools that we use specifically for Firefly, to keep her on task, and I didn't feel we needed another.

What I Love About Workboxes:

Can I mention yet again to you all what a Type A personality I am? I love the organization. I can fill a box with everything we need for a lesson, and know that it will all be there when I am needing it the next day.

We all know exactly how much school still needs to be done in a day. I can just look over to the workbox area and groan--I mean--get a feel for how our day is flowing and how much I need to nag--I mean--encourage the kids to work possibly more quickly. I can also see what else I am needed for, by looking at the Work With Mom tags left on the boxes.

We are getting to hit more subjects more often. I can make one box French / Grammar, for example, where I fill it with French lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Grammar lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and not feel like I am neglecting either subject.

We have time / options to use all the cute "fun stuff" that I am forever picking up for school and then dumping into the never-never-land of my office closet. Each week I pull a few things out of there (quickly, before it all collapses on top of me, ha!) and add them to the workboxes for educational breaks.

It helps all members of our family to feel like they have some control. Because, of course, I can't be such a Type A personality and not be raising mini-control freaks as well, right? I can control what gets put in the boxes, so I know what needs to be covered. They can control which subject to do when. Theoretically, at least, it's a win-win.

What I Don't Love About Workboxes:

It takes time. A lot of time, in the beginning. When we first started, and both girls were using workboxes, I was taking at least an hour to fill the boxes each night. At. least. an. hour. More, probably, like two hours. That's gotten better, though. I did a lot of planning over the summer and can fill them now in about 15-30 minutes.

It's a little frustrating, sometimes, to have laid out so plainly in front of me what we clearly didn't get done in a day. That's why I re-fill the boxes early in the day. I just keep the number on the one(s) that didn't get done and voila! It looks like it was meant to be added to the next day!

Overall, I have to say again that I love our workboxes. They work great for our family, although Turtle, all grown up in sixth grade now, has decided she isn't using them this year. I'll post more about how we are organizing with her later.

There are some great websites full of wonderful ladies who use workboxes. Here are some links to them:

There is also a wonderful yahoo group devoted to workboxes!

Thanks for visiting and checking out our boxes! Happy workboxing!


  1. We have just started using workboxes and love them. I have a modified version to fit the space we have. Great post!

  2. Love this post so much I'm Pinterest-ing it! :)


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  4. we love our workboxes, I hear ya on the time consumption, I had the same issue when we first started, I find that it's harder for my youngest one, but lately he hasn't been doing all his workboxes...so it's made my job easier..what he doesn't do it stays for the next day (he is only 2). You should come link up with my friend who does a workbox wednesday blog hop each week!! Her button is on my blog. Following you, hope you'll follow back! (here from NOBH!)

  5. HI, I have not yet started Workboxes, think my kids are a little young yet..but I love the idea thanks for linking up to NOBH!

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