Monday, March 23, 2009

Work Boxes

With many of us preparing for our new school year I know that a major concern is organization. Workboxes have been all the rave in the homeschooling community for quite some time and for good reason. It is a great organizational/accountability tool. As go most things with us homeschoolers there are many ways that workboxes have been "tweaked"-albiet all are great ideas not all work for every family.
About a year ago I posted about how we used workboxes in our home. I thought that since it was "that time of year again" I would repost what I wrote about workboxes in our home. Now, this is just another idea in an ever growing pool of workbox ideas but hopefully more of you will find our ideas useful.
Although we didn't stick with workboxing all year last year I do plan to do better at it this year but we are definetly going to stick to the plan laid out here.
As I often do I was scanning blogs of other homeschooling moms and came across this idea that struck me as a must try!! Yes, I am guilty of trying out too many things and not sticking with them but...well...ok so I really have no excuse!! That's just me.
So anyway...the idea I saw was awesome so I'll explain it here and let you decide if this is one more idea you want to try or not! :) So this is what you need:
A clear plastic tote like the kind that you can put the hanging folders in. I purcahsed two from Wal-Mart (blue box) and two from Target (green box). I sent hubby on an errand for one more box from Target but he came home with two instead that's why we have so many. But can you really have too many containers? My son has already claimed the extra one for his toys!! Wal-Mart's were $4 and Target's were $5. The only difference is that Target's are a little cuter. I know, it's a plastic box, but it really is cuter!!
Okay, back to the list. You'll need cardstock in any color you'd like or maybe in your child's favorite color. Clear laminate, less than $6 at Wal-Mart. I did purchase the more expensive kind of laminate because the cheaper one is always kind of cloudy and that bothers me. Velcro (I purchased the dots, less than $3 for a box of 20) and some numbers. I printed mine off the computer but you can use whatever you have. Next you will need something to put each assignment in. I already had some hanging folders so it was easier for me to use hanging folders but you can use whatever you want or have on hand. I've seen someone use those big yellow mailing envelopes. I'll try to put the link up here so that you can see how others fashioned this for their own families. You will also need scissors, an empty cereal box, glue and paper clips.

You will need to get on a word prossesing program and make up a simple table of 3 rows of 4 so that you will end up with something like this:
You can adjust your grid according to the number of assignments that your child may have. I made mine with "room to grow!" Print it out, laminate it and place a velcro dot in the middle of each of the squares.
Then using clipart from the same program print out the numbers 1-12. Make them fun if you can. Print them onto either regular paper or cardstock. I printed mine onto regular paper and then glued them onto cereal boxes that I have saved. I have plenty of cardstock but it's expensive so I use it sparingly!! You can then cover those with clear laminate and place a sticky velcro dot on the back. You will end up with something like this:
Next tape the grid that you made onto the front of the plastic tote. Now like I said before I used the hanging folders because I already had them but you can use large envelopes, plastic ziplock bags with a piece of cardstock or cereal box added inside to help the bag stand up. You could even use manilla folders if you like. Be creative!! Put those inside your box and now your box will look like this:
What I've done to save on velcro dots is to take my number cards and paper clip each of them to a hanging folder. Like this:
Inside each of the folders I place one of my daughters assignments for the day. For example in number one I placed her reading book because that's what we do first thing in the morning.
Once she reads to me she returns the book to the folder because she'll need it the following day and removes the number card from the folder and places it on the appropriate grid on the front of the box like this:
She then reaches in the next folder for her next assignment. That's it!!! Done!! Easy huh?! At the end of the school day hopefully her box will look like this:
When I explained this to her she was so excited and really does like using the box. My daughter is what Debra Bell labels as a routine learner. She needs structure and routine. She thrives best in situations where she knows what to expect and what is expected of her. Well, unfortunatley she has a Mama that isn't very good at doing things consistently but this is helpful in keeping us both on track. This is also helpful because she can see how much work she has left to do so I don't hear (hopefully), "Are we almost done yet?" I like that I'm even able to schedule in "fun" things for her that I otherwise wouldn't be organized enough to do.
Now if you're like me and have more than one child you can work it so that if you're working with one child on their first assignment then the first assignment for your other child could be something that they can do on their own. I was even organized enough to give my younger daughter a learning puzzle and a finger painting assignment. YAY!!
So, go ahead and think about whether or not this would work in your life. I know that for us any thing to help organize a little more is always a breath of fresh air. This is a relatively inexpensive project as well so maybe that will help you decide.;) If you decide to do this please let me know how it goes. Or if you have other ideas to make this even more awesome please let me know!!!
Here is a picture of a game I made that I put into a ziplock baggie. You can see how you can utilize this method for your box instead of the hanging folders if you'd like. The added cereal box or cardstock allows the bag to stand upright a little better. If you look in the above picture you can see how the baggie is set inside the hanging folder but it might be okay without a hanging folder to sit in.

Well, that's it! Now hurry along and get your items together and plan a workbox making evening. I hope that this blesses you~
Lovin' Learnin'


  1. Oh this is very very cool! I love it!

  2. I really like how compact your system turned out to be. It looks like a lot of fun too.

  3. Due to a lack of space and dislike of clutter in my home, I have been looking at every workbox blog I can find to see all the variations. You have really done a wonderful job of totally explaining your variation. It looks so neat and clean and compact. I love it! Thanks for posting.

  4. I just discovered workboxes today and am excited about the possibilities. I was concerned about space with all the "boxes" needed for each child (we have three school aged), but you have made a very compact and easy version. Now I just have to figure out which version best fits our family. Thanks for the great pictures too! I need to see a picture to get a really good idea of what is being said.

  5. I love your space saving idea. Would it be okay to use some of your pictures and link to your site for a website I am building to help homeschooling parents? I am building a page dedicated to Sue’s system and linking to her website. I’ll give you credit for the pictures.

    Homeshool mom

  6. Sandy,
    Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you!!! I just realized that I had comments on this!! Yes, please feel free to use the picturees if you'd like!! I am all for helping another homeschooling Mom out!!!

    And thank you to the rest of the ladies for all of the comments!!! I hope that your systems go just as well!!!

  7. great idea!!! in fact i just stole it! lol i can use all the help i can get with organizing there work. Last year my whole table was filled with books and papers. thank for leting me Steal it! lol

  8. Great way to make workboxes your own!! I love it.

  9. Krissy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your system! I have been intrigued by all I have been hearing about the Workbox System, but I have very limited space. Your file box idea is just the right size for our children. I hope you don't mind if I copy you - remember, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".


    Mrs. H

  10. This is exactly how I've been brainstorming to hopefully implement in our school. You've just saved me a lot of thinking:)

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been pondering schedules/order of events, workboxes etc and couldn't figure out how to pull it together in a compact manner and you figured it out for me...and explained it in detail! Blessings to you and yours!

  12. This is giving me a good idea for how to take workboxes and homeschool on the road. We are hoping to travel while homeschooling. Great step by step instructions and great ideas on how to save money on this project. Thank you!

  13. I know you posted this over a year ago, but I just found this a month ago. I am so thankful for your simplified version. I will be doing this and can't wait!!!

    Thank you so much!!

  14. Hi - I'm using workboxes too! Check out my blog for part 1 details. I'm still working on the labels. We are going to do pictures instead of numbers this year. Your boxes look great by the way! Are you having fun? Are you kids excited about them?

  15. Like a few before me, I am just learning about work boxes, and interested in checking out all the variations (don't have a lot of floor space for a rack with plastic boxes for EACH child).

    I was wondering if you have any updates regarding your experience with your system.

  16. So how do you deal with the prep time? I am looking into purchasing the book - but I need to hear about that aspect of it. I have 4 kids similar ages of yours and I just cant see myself resetting their boxes every night after school. I can barely get a weekly lesson plan done, let alone making up a new set of 12 activities/assignments every night for my 4??? I would love to hear your take on this aspect of workboxes.

    oh - and I love the hanging folder idea.

  17. Jennifer,

    I actually sat down this summer and planned out the first half of the school year, tore out any worksheets, got any books needed, craft items etc. and filed them in a file folder for each week.
    Now all I have to do it pull out what they'll need for each day and but those things in their boxes. It takes only a couple of minutes because all of the stuff is already neatly filed and ready to go.
    I plan on posting about my planning a little later on, just wanted to take some time to see how it all works first.
    I will say that so far having all things neatly organized and filed has helped make the task of filling workboxes much easier.
    I would, if you can, suggest to do the same for yourself. Maybe start with planning two weeks at a time, filing those things and see how it goes from there.
    Check back here around the end of next month. I'll try to have my planning post up then.

  18. Ladies I'm glad that you all find this useful!! I have tweaked it just a little and will post again soon.

    I do have to say that the kiddos LOVE their workboxes and having them helps me out so much during our school day!!

    More info. to come!!!

  19. You have COMPLETELY inspired me to make my own work boxes :) I'll be posting soon to my blog carronhefner{at}

  20. I'm from Alberta Canada and just entering my 2nd year of homeschooling...what I love about this idea (other than affordable and clever) is that it is easily portable...what a great idea! Thank you!


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