I started using work boxes in 2009, when I noticed a bunch of home school blogs were raving about them. Nathan was in second grade and he needed a schedule. Nathan was very ambitious, intelligent, obsessed with time management; he needed a visual outline of his schedule. I couldn’t keep up with Nathan’s type A personality and demands as I also needed to teach Ellie her 1st grade materials.
My brain was in overdrive as I tried to make this work for my family as frugally as possible. I couldn’t afford to buy 20 bins to hold their schoolbooks in. I couldn’t afford to buy Sue Patrick’s workbox ebook. I gathered information from various blogs about how they applied the workboxes to fit their family.
Fortunately, IKEA opened a store within 45 minutes of my home. As I walked through the showrooms, I saw these magazine file holders and I was elated as I did the mental math to discover that I could easily create a workbox system for two children for $20 total!
Nathan lives and breathes baseball so I used baseball as his theme and Ellie was into “Fancy Nancy”. (She outgrew it too quickly…) She loved anything that glittered, sparkled, and “diamonds”. I found fake strips of gemstones that I used for her name and used glittery stickers to create a border.
Joann fabrics had scrapbook cardstock paper (12×12) on sale for a quarter apiece. I picked up a bright sparkling ruby paper for Ellie and a black one for Nathan. Since I had a coupon to use 50% off of any regular price item, I saw the little sparkling flowers – so I used them to accentuate the number pieces along with shiny silver number stickers. I found a clipart of a baseball so I resized it in Word and typed out the numbers 1-12 in a red font to match the stitches on the baseball. After getting the cardstock laminated, I attached Velcro dots to the cardstock. I used my personal laminator to laminate the number cards for Nathan and Ellie.
I accomplished so many things by utilizing workboxes in our homeschool. It allowed Nathan to chill out and continue his work without waiting for me to tell him what to do. Nathan enjoyed the visual count down until he was finished with school. It motivated him to work continuously until he was finished so he could play for the rest of the afternoon. Ellie thrived on this system as well because she liked to look at her sparkling chart and it would “remind” her to get back to her task at hand. Also, she didn’t like looking at Nathan’s chart almost depleted of numbers so she would be determined to get caught up.
I loved this system because I gave them their independent schedule:
- Pull out box 1 and whatever subject was in the box.
- Look on their schedule… find the page they need to work in… finish…
- Put the book on my desk for correction
- Take the number off the magazine box and put it up on the chart
- Count how many boxes to go
- Pull out box number 2…
I love being able to step out of the room, and do a load of laundry or finish up the dishes. By doing the workbox system, it allowed Nathan and Ellie to become independent workers without needing me to sit at the table guiding them onto the next subject. They had their schedule for the week so they could work ahead if they desired. However, they HAD to have all their scheduled work done by Friday. Since the magazine boxes take up a lot of space, I decided to double up the subjects in each box so that I will need to use two shelves for two kids instead of the four shelves as shown in this picture. I had to move my boxes from the original shelves to fit in this shelf as shown in this picture.
Elijah’s desk was on the other side of the room. I didn’t want to add magazine boxes so I elected to go with a chrome mobile cart that has wheels on it. I love that because it allowed me to wheel his school work over to the table and work with him for the things that he needed my help with. Elijah has an independent streak in him with a desire to do more of his work at his desk. I love the flexibility of wheeling to the table and to his desk. I used a zebra striped cardstock for his number chart and then I used a picture of a zebra for his numbers.
I love being able to customize the workboxes to the interest of the child.
Do you use work boxes (or some variation of them) in your homeschool? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!