I have loved the idea of the workbox system. The method has literally transformed our homeschool. Not only do they keep me organized, but they have kept our day moving—THE key to a successful day with little ones that have zero-attention span. One fantastic thing about workboxes is the variety. From blog to blog, I see so many variations of this idea, each family finding what works for them.
The basic idea of the workbox system is to have 9-12 compartments (or however many you need) for different assignments and projects. As the child works through the assignments in a compartment, he will take off the number attached to the compartment and add it to a grid. Then, the completed assignments will be returned to the teacher. (For a video tutorial from the originator of the idea, click here.)
Though the original idea calls for actual boxes in a rolling cart, there are so many ways to incorporate the principle. The space-saver version is what we use—file folder pockets that hang from the wall using Command Hooks. You can purchase these for around $15 on Amazon.
Another idea, especially for younger children, are the toy bins or trays. A more expensive option, but they allow little ones to see what’s planned for the day. For older children, some other ideas I have seen include a file box with numbered hanging file folders. The assignment pages would actually go inside the folders, perfect if you have a lot of workbook pages or notebooking pages. Last idea, create a notebook with pockets and place assignments inside.
Our Workbox System of Choice
First, our workbox method is the space-saver version from Amazon, 12 pocket files that hang from Command hooks beside each child’s chair. I attached velcro dots to each file pocket and each laminated workbox number card. When work is completed, they turn it in to the “teacher tray” which is simply Wal-mart’s cheapest paper tray. Then the workbox number is pulled off the file and placed onto our “workstation” grid. I’ve seen many people cut these grids into strips and hang them from office rings, but the single sheet of paper works best for us. I have velcro dots attached to this as well. (And I laminate everything!)
I place scissors, glue, pencils and whatever else is required directly into the pockets. For art projects, I put the small pieces in a ziplock, and then place the ziplock and supplies into a pocket. If a project is too large for a pocket, I stick a card in the pocket for them to see me, and I’ll hand the activity to them. And that’s our system, as simply as I can state it.
Our Workbox Printables
Just search Google for “Workbox printables” or “Workbox Grids” and you’ll find a myriad of options. But some of the ones that we use and love are from two separate websites. First, our grids, number cards, and a few of our activity cards were from Robin’s Heart of Wisdom blog. I love how bright and colorful they are! And they coordinate with our bright red pockets, which of course is important. She also has a workbox weekly planner.
I’ve also used a number of printables from Erica at Confessionsofhomeschooler.com (scroll to bottom of the page for the workbox printables). And all of last year, I used her workbox planning page, modified of course, to fit our schedule. Erica’s blog is actually where I first read about workboxes, and I am forever indebted to her!
This year, I’m going to try a couple of things differently. Primarily, I’m using an editable pdf planner from Homeschool Creations, so my format is more lesson plans than necessarily workbox plans (for my son). She also has a couple of preschool planner pages, which is what I’m trying for my daughter.
I’ve actually used the preschool pages as a template for our week, more than specific plans. And the space for workbox planning, I’ve kept very general. Since her schedule is pretty routine, I figured I could just look at my template, find the activity for the specific pocket (i.e. “wipesheet”) and pull out the activity for the letter of the week that we are working on. Trying to streamline my planning, we’ll see how it goes. If all fails, I’ll go back to Erica’s method; it worked great last year.
And if you’ve made some printables or have a favorite you absolutely love, please share it with me in the comments section!