OK, so you're all caught up (kind of) on what workboxes are, right?
If you're coming into the game late, make sure to check out Day One: What Are Workboxes?
But if you're still with me, let's move on to how to use them in an average school day. And again, just like there are many, many ways to set up your workboxes, there are many, many, many ways to use them in your home.
I'll tell you a little bit about how we use them, and then show you some extra things that wonderful people all over internet-land have created in order to make workboxes work better for them.
One of the first things I did once I got my cool shoeboxes and shoe rack was to play around with my computer, laminator, Velcro, and label maker. In other words, I was in Homeschool Mommy Heaven!
Each of my kiddos' boxes was promptly labeled with a subject (or two) label, and had two strips of Velcro on it--one to attach the workbox number, and one to attach the "work with Mom" tag, if needed. There are a ton of adorable workbox tags out on the net, and on Friday I'm going to try to collect as many links as I can to show you. In the end, I created my own, and tend to re-create them every year, as my kids and their interests change.
Every week, I make out a little spreadsheet from my lesson plans that helps me to know what we are working on when. It looks like this:
From this, I simply go through and fill up Firefly's boxes. I used to fill boxes every day for the next day, because I changed out activities often to keep things fresh. Nowadays, since Firefly is a bit older (5th grade), I fill up her boxes weekly. So, for example, her Math box for this week would hold her flashcards, an index card telling her to do lesson 13 of Teaching Textbooks, and the Life of Fred book. Her History box, on the other hand, would only have the Grandpa's Box book in it. The double asterisks you see on
some most all of her tasks is a note to me that it will require me to work with her. (And yes, more independence is a goal I have for Firefly this year, haha!)
I do not do workboxes for their daily calendar work (that includes copywork) or for activities / subjects we work on together. Those are some extras that we do together throughout the day.
Now, speaking of extras, there are many other tools that work well with the workbox system. First of all, while I just put subject labels on my workboxes, there are others who will make cute matching cards for those as well, and move their subjects around every day. I think it is a great idea to be able to shake things up like that, but, frankly, I just don't seem to have the energy. However, it is a great option.
There are also other cards that you can make for your workbox system. "Help" cards were some that we used in the beginning. The idea behind the "help" card is that when a child is working independently while you are working with another child, the independent child can use their "help" card to alert you to the fact that they need--well--help. But they can do it quietly, and without distracting the rest of the family that is working.
That idea never seemed to catch on in our home. Which probably means I need to really, really practice it, huh?
Another useful tool is called a "Number Strip". A number strip is simply a visual layout for the child of how the day is going to go. We used to use idea this very often for Firefly, even before she was schooling at home. Essentially, the visual schedule lists in pictures "what happens next". You can label the schedule by box number, by subject, or by pictures. Other things can also be added to the number strip, such as field trip, lunch, or read-alouds. Jolanthe, at Homeschool Creations, has a wonderful post about how she and her family used number strips one year, as well as great printables for workboxes.
One other thing to keep in mind when organizing your workboxes, is that it's always nice to add some fun. Workboxes, I think, tend to make it easier to add fun to your school day. You know--those cute games or manipulatives that you continue to buy at homeschool sales or maybe the Dollar Spot at Target? And then never remember to use? Yeah, those!
You can space your boxes so that Play-Doh shows up after Math. Or maybe when your child finishes reading a chapter in that book they are struggling with, it is time for recess. I tend to usually just add "reward cards" in with the less fun subjects. You'll see above, for example, that after those pesky flashcards are done, it is iPad time. Or we will get to have a snack while we read our anatomy (yuck, actually, now that I think about it). Or Firefly's movement / sensory break cards in a box of their own for her to grab when she feels like she needs them.
It's all about making your workboxes yours. You can use all of the tools that you can find out there, or you can use none of them. You can create your own materials or just download everyone else's (with permission, of course!) Maybe your workboxes are workfolders, or workcrates, or workshelves.
Today I wanted to give you a taste of some ideas of how workboxes can be organized. Tomorrow's post will talk about making workboxes fit your family.
Make sure to tune in the rest of the week, to get fully immersed in workbox overload!
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
Also, make sure to check out some of the other Five Days series. There are over 90 bloggers participating, and there is some really amazing information out there!