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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Five Days of Workboxing. Day One: What Is A Workbox?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When I was first approached about writing a five day series, I was stumped.  I mean, we are only going into our fifth (gasp!) year of homeschooling.  What on earth did I have enough knowledge about that could fill five days?

So I dug around on my blog a little bit, and thought about local homeschooling friends a bit, and then realized that something we had been doing almost from day one was something that some homeschool mommies and daddies had never heard of before:


I KNOW about workboxes.  I'm pretty sure they have saved our homeschool many, many times now.

But before I go too much further, I want to give credit where credit is due:  Sue Patrick is the originator of this little system, and she has a wonderful book that helps to completely explain the origins behind why this works, as well as to tell you how to make workboxes work in your home.

For this series, I'm going to tell you a little about how we use workboxes in our home.  (Note:  it is not the "purest" sense of using workboxes.  But what homeschooler out there doesn't improvise? ; )

Essentially, the workbox system is a simple, but structured way to set up your homeschool.  It is an easy way for your kiddos to know what work they have, and what they still have to complete, and it can really help you, as the teacher, to stay on track throughout the day.

Sounds great, right?

In our home, workboxes are a set of clear boxes in which a child's work is placed so that they can see what is expected of them throughout the school day.  We use Sterilite containers with lids and a shoe rack that we bought at Target.  (Very high tech, here...)  But I have seen multiple set-ups with colored drawers, IKEA Trofast systems, and even small crates.

For example:

This is a picture of some workboxes set up for my girls, when my oldest was in fifth grade and my younger in second.  My older daughter's boxes are numbered with the "funky" numbers, and my younger's are numbered with the animal tags.

Each box contains one lesson or subject.  Those lessons that the girls could do alone just have the number on them, while those that they needed my help with have a nifty little "work with Mom" tag.  But the best (well, one of the best) part?  EVERYTHING the child needs to complete the lesson goes into the box.


Ever sit down to do an activity with a child and then spend fifteen minutes looking for a pencil?  How about realizing five minutes before you are ready for the science experiment that the baking soda was all used up?

Only in my house?  Yeah, I don't think so!

With this system, when I am filling the boxes the day (or weekend, depending on how often I fill them--more on that later) before they are needed, I am finding all of the supplies.  So, the lapbook activity goes into the box with the books, glue sticks, scissors, and crayons.  The reader goes into the box with the note that says what pages to read, or the timer set to how long the child is supposed to read.  All together.  Just grab the box and go.

In a perfect world, everything that is needed for a lesson always fits neatly into the box that is used for that specific subject.

In our not-so-perfect homeschool, we have two different sized boxes that we use, and we also have cubbies for larger, more bulky materials.

Also in a perfect world, the boxes are numbered in the order that the child should do them.  In that way, you can split up the "harder" subjects, or place, say, copywork between poetry reciting and maybe a computer learning game.  

But again, in our not-so-perfect homeschool, I can never seem to align the boxes in a way that my kiddos don't all reach their "work with Mom" boxes at EXACTLY the same time.  And then it's chaos.

So, the way that we use the boxes is that each of my kiddos is able to do their boxes in whichever order they wish.  Since they can see inside of them, it is easy for them to choose what they would like to work on first.  If I am available to help them, we can do a "work with Mom" box together.  If I'm not, they have to choose one they can do alone.

Once the lesson is done, the kids take off the velcro number and then attach it to their pocket chart. This way they know what they have left, and so do I.

In a nutshell, that's what workboxes are.

But, really, there is so much more.  (About four more days worth, lol!)

Make sure to come back the rest of the week, when I'll talk about:

Day Two:  "Extras" for Using the Workbox System--Organizing Your Boxes and Your Day
Day Three:  How to Make Workboxes Work for Your Family
Day Four:  What do I Put in the Workboxes?
Day Five:  More Internet Helps for Workboxing

Make sure to visit other Five Days bloggers.  There are so many wonderful ladies with so much experience showcased in this series!

Summer Blog Hop


  1. Oh my gosh I'm so glad I stumbled upon this method of organizing my homeschool. This was and is a lifesavor for me on my first homeschooling year.

    1. Oh, I'm so glad! Workboxes have been wonderful for our family, too! Good luck, Nita!

  2. I am looking forward to this series as I have just recently learned about workboxes and am planning on using them this year.

    1. I hope it answers a lot of questions for you! Please let me know if you are wondering about something I don't address...



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