Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Workbox System

Leslie over at the FIAR forums introduced us all to The Workbox System by Sue Patrick. It has taken off like wild fire and I have to admit I was bitten by the bug immediately. Take a look at the results.

Basically, each child gets a cart full of boxes. Each box gets an activity that the student needs to complete for the day. It's a visual thing for them to work through the boxes and set them aside as they go. Yes, I have four kids and three racks. Would you believe our Target only had three? Plus, they had no shoeboxes? What is THAT about? When I got to Wal-Mart they only had 40 boxes and no racks. What is going on in the world that the big box stores are out of plastic organizers? What?!

Sue's book explains how the system works and gives you all sorts of ideas on what can go inside. So, anyone who has been to my house knows that the last thing I need is four carts with 48 boxes on them in our school room. Believe me, I tried to think of an alternative and there are folks who came up with plenty over the weekend. Of course there are alternatives, but I have tried variations that just never seemed to quite make it.

For me the appeal is in the box. In it you put the materials for a task. I'm a great list maker. In fact, I was working on elaborate checklists for my kids when this came along. A living checklist! It works in several ways. First, it gives the kids a visual for how much work they have for the day and how much is left to go as they work. I think I can safely avoid the question, "What's next?" or "Am I done?"

Next, it holds me accountable! We lose time if I'm not ready. If I have to say, wait I just need to print this off or where did I put that, I can lose the momentum of the day pretty quickly. So far this system has given me a place to put what I prepare for the kids without me losing it in the process.

Finally, because I'm filling up to 12 boxes, I can pull activities off the shelf we normally don't have time for, forget about, never get around to trying! In my next post, I'll share the things that have been going into the boxes so far.

The sytem in use- the book comes with downloads for the numbers and schedule strips. Ami at Walking by the Way/Homeschool Share made up some extra cards for hers. Check them out!

E10 working on his writing assignment- we had a great day yesterday before co-op because it was all laid out ahead of time.

J3's boxes- four lonely boxes on the floor right now

He only did one box before co-op and asked to do his Play Doh box after dinner. When I gave him a warning that it was almost time to clean up and get ready for bed, his reply was, "No Mommy! I have two more boxes!" So the answer is yes, little kids "get it".

I'm pretty excited to put this into use over the summer too. I have in mind to parcel out Adventure Boxes this way and either establish a time of day for the kids to be doing box time or just say X number of boxes need to be done today and let them decide when to work on them. However, I know what my response will be when I hear the words, "I'm bored."!

Want to see some variations?

Walking by the Way

A Mother's Journal

Joyful Mother of 6

Color Me Orange

My biggest problem with it all? What to do with the lids for the 40 boxes I have so far? As R8 and I stood there debating whether or not to heed the sign that said don't forget the lids, all I could think of is all the space they would take up! But then...all I could think of was the horror and shame if this doesn't work out and I have 48 boxes with NO lids making them even more useless. So...I took the lids. They are still in the van. And I did commit to getting rid of a few large items since I brought so much in to the house!


Holly said...

Looks AWESOME Heather!!!

Amber said...

It looks great!! I chose to go with the envelope system like Jessica over at Color Me Orange, only b/c I don't have the space for the boxes. I love the boxes!! Today is the first day we used the system. It is a big hit!!

Jennifer said...

LOL! Same issue with the lids. RIght down to thinking, it would be awful if I needed the lods and didn't have them! Mine are also still in the van. Hilarious.

I need to get this started tomorrow. I think I am mostly ready.

Shauna said...

I've apparently missed the Next Big Thing on FIAR while I've been taking a break! I like this idea but would definitely need to tweak it. The funny thing is that I had a chance to review the eBook for TOS Magazine but turned it down because I didn't "get it" just from looking at the author's web site a few weeks ago. This makes much more sense!

Heather said...

Agreed Shauna- her website is not too helpful. I'm guessing because of the nature of the product. It's too easy to copy I would think and I suppose our blog posts are not helping that one!

However, I think Sue has seen a boost in sales from all this so that is good.

Heather said...

Jen hilarious!!! I'll just drive them around until camping season...

Sugga Mama said...

Heather, that wall looks so neat and clean! I am SO loving this.
Hopefully you'll find a rack for little J soon. I love it that he wanted to complete his boxes.
Elijah has already asked if he can stay home from co-op tomorrow and do boxes. LOL

School for Us said...

Wow! After reading this post last night, I spent a lot of time looking at these systems... I'm going to have to give this some thought!

By the way, I've given you an award! So, please stop by my blog when you get a chance.


Kim said...

I would love to give this a try! I just have no idea were I'd put them :-(.
Oh the lids make great paining pallets, bead trays etc. Might use up a few that way.

Emily said...

I'd love to know more about what you do with your youngest. My little one just turned three. Thanks!

Alicia said...

I'm doing workboxes with my toddler, and I leave the lids on. It helps contain the smaller parts, and as we work on one I sit it next to us for roll-away items! lol Also if it's something that I cut while he colors I keep all my supplies on the lid, as a reminder not to spread out all over the table!

What if you made it into a room divider by making shipping tape "hinges" between rows of lids? LOL

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The most perfect satisfaction is seeing children smile, when I see them making projects like these ones I feel so happy and comfortable, because I know I'm helping them to develop their skills.