Sunday, March 8, 2009

More on Workboxes

I shared this idea (Sue Patrick's workbox system) with my friends on the Five in a Row board.  The thread has caused quite a stir and lots of great discussion.  If you are interested in reading about some of the ideas shared there, please take a visit. 

I think what I am liking most about this system is that it holds me accountable.  I may have good plans, but this helps me to prepare and to accomplish not just the basics but some of the fun things too.  I know that I can get easily distracted (and so can my children) if I'm not ready to go with whatever subject or project is at hand.  This saves all of us a lot of time which is one reason we are able to get more done. 

Also, several of my friends have also blogged about their systems.  I think it's always fun to see what others are doing.  Check out these blogs to read a little more.





Here's what we have planned for tomorrow.  I thought I'd share a little more in-depth, though won't do this often as I couldn't keep up! 

For Daniel (age 4) he will be doing the following (double asterisks are with mom):

**FIAR title My Blue Boat (with lessons on the Bible and decorating a cover page for his notebook)

*Mazes with a write on/wipe off pen - he loves doing this (got mine at Target)

**Color and shapes Bingo game

*Get Ready for the Code - 1 page

*Work for Contenders of the Faith - he is working on a memory verse and the ABC badge.  He will be putting ABC refrig magnets in order (can also put them in the frig to hear the sounds).

**Little book on the color blue to go with B4FIAR title and color I spy game from homeschoolshare

*Dough ABC letters (Handwriting without tears)- good sensory work for him.  I've asked him to make 5 of them

*Color pockets - Pre-made file folder game that he will sort pictures by color and put them in the appropriate pocket

**Animal "what am I" game from homeschool share

*Read ABC ocean animal book

*File folder activity (from Sue on alike v not alike - recognizing lowercase letters)

*Sequencing by shapes activity (preschool activity bag)

For Isaiah (age 7)


*Reading (we are one lesson away from finishing Reading Made Easy - should finish this week!!!)

*Time with Eliana  (15 min) and then 15 minutes of computer.  I've put a toy in the box that he can use to play with her to help teach in/out and shapes

*Five in a Row - We are doing Mirette on the High Wire.  We'll be covering 2 social studies lessons and adding things to notebooks. 

*Read aloud to me from a short reader from Starfall

*Handwriting with Tears - 1 page

*Pattern blocks - I've put a pattern page out and he will build that and then be finished

*Game with Joshua - either Blink or Knights in the Corner

*Skip counting drill (this was Sue's idea and my boys love the write on/wipe off page.  It was easy to make and I'm hoping to make more types of this for review)

*Explode the Code

*Knots (badge work for Contenders of the Faith) - Intro lesson to learn about ropes and how to do one type of knot (will eventually cover more)

*Joshua reading a book to Isaiah

For Joshua (age 9)

*Time with Eliana (15 min) and then 15 minutes of computer



**Five in a Row

*Logic (bought these fun cards with logic problems on them and I give a couple every few days or so)


*Reading with a patch (to help improve his vision).  I've chosen books on topics we studied last week (ponds and Rev. War as review). 

*Game with Isaiah

*Read aloud to Isaiah

*Wordly Wise


*Skip counting

For Rebecca (7th grade)


*Time with Eliana  (15 min) and then 15 minutes of computer

*Spelling Power

*Logic cards



*Cooking (She is working through a home ec book and will be making a mid-morning snack)


*Herbs (She is working on a badge in this area for our Keepers of the Faith group)

*Game with Christopher (Rummikub)

*Correct math test

*Doll (She is starting a doll from an adorable pattern that my friend Becky shared with me.  You can find it here.)

For Christopher (10th grade)

*Notgrass Govt

*Understanding the Times (Worldview)


*Time with Eliana

*Free Rice - This  is a website that donates rice for each correct answer you get.  We use it for drills/quizzes in a variety of subject areas - math, chemistry, foreign language, ...


*Movies as Literature


*Game with Rebecca

*Working on teaching Knots to the younger children

*Computer Science course
*Reading (Bruchko)

I don't have a separate pic of his, but you can see it in the last picture below (on the left).

Christopher worked on his knots badge a few years back and made this poster to demonstate the knots.  I think it will be a fun starting place for the other boys, not to mention a great visual.

We are currently schooling in our dining room and I have the workboxes along with walls of the room.  I tried to take a few photos so you could see what it looked like.  It was kind of hard to see, but hopefully this helps some.  The shelves are really not that big.  Less than 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide and a foot deep.  This is a view from the doorway.

This is from standing on one of the chairs so you could see the workboxes better.

This is the other side of the room/table. 

Hope this is helpful to someone.  :-)




  1. Hey Leslie,

    I'm so impressed with your system, and I'm sure it helps keep everyone (including you) on track. I don't homeschool, but I may improvise a homework/chore system for the boys similar to this but on a smaller scale. .

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Leslie I am just amazed at how everyone loves this system (but of course not surprised!). Thank you SO much for sharing it with us all. I can't wait to start next week!!!! ;)

    Heather P :)

  3. This looks like a great system. I'd love to implement it as soon as I have my life under control again! :) I can see Jacob enjoying it, and Mattie too in some form, honestly.

    Melissa C

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. I really like your system.



  5. Leslie,

    They don't take up as much room as I thought. It looks awesome and I'm continuing to pray about getting the book. It's hard not to rush and just buy it, because it looks so good.

    Love and prayers,


  6. Leslie - what planner do you use?

    What overall planning do you use to ensure you have everything ready every day?

    Lov Leanne

  7. EXCELLENT! Thanks so much!

  8. Thank you, thank you! It helps me to see how this works with multiple children. I am a visual person, and I couldn't see how this would work with 5 children, until I saw your dining room! I can picture it now and with a few adjustments, I think it may work for us. Thanks!


  9. Leslie, Your photos are beautiful.

    your organized home inspires me :)

    Could you please tell me where I might find the lg. black organizer that sat on your dining table (with a lot of books and supplies inside)? I also liked your file folders and holder in the same picture.

    Thank you!

  10. Thank you all for your sweet comments. I'm so glad that the photos have been helpful and that this system is encouraging for you! :-) That was my hope in sharing to begin with.

    The large black organizer is a "Desktop Apprentice" and you can buy them online or at Staples. I also got the file folders (aren't they pretty?!) and clear file rack at Staples too. The folders are for me and I am visual and loved how pretty they were.



  11. How do you affix the PERMANENT numbers to the workboxes? Are they INSIDE the workbox? It looks like you have a permanent number inside the workbox, then a velcro dot on the OUTSIDE of the workbox to affix the number from the Schedule Strip.

    Thanks again for all of the photos and detail.

    Julia in StL

  12. Hi Julia,

    The first set of numbers are on the outside of the box. (Though I can see why it looks like they could be on the inside.) I just used velcro dots - one piece on the box and the other on the laminated number. I think it said it takes 24 hours to "set", but I haven't had a problem with that at all.

    There is a second dot on top of the laminated number square for you to match the number from the strips. I also have a velcro dot in the lower right corner (as you look at the box) for a work with mom sticker to go when needed. Does this make sense? If not, please ask again.



  13. I am new to workboxes and really appreciate all your entries. I'm also visual, and the photos are very helpful.

    I wonder if you or any of your readers use a MOTH schedule, and how you integrate the two if so? We have been doing MOTH for many months, and it really helps make sure the computer is only needed by one person at a time, there is one older child at a time playing with the little one, etc. Seems like that would be harder to coordinate using the schedule strips.

    Maybe I won't use the schedule strips. Maybe I will just use the workboxes for whenever the kiddos are doing school time on the MOTH schedule...

    Thoughts? Thanks again!

  14. Hi

    I’m not using MOTH, though I have read the book – just never gotten organized enough to implement a schedule. So, I can’t speak from experience on integrating the two systems. I can offer some ideas based on what I do know from reading the book on MOTH.

    I think you can tweak the workboxes to work for YOU. I think its fine to have a set time for certain boxes if that works best. Or a child could work ahead if they finished on one box and had extra time before moving on to the next thing. In that way it offers a reward for finishing early.

    In her book, Sue also talks about having “wait” areas for those times that children need your help and you can’t get to them yet b/c you are working with someone else. You could use this too.

    It’s relatively easy to stop in the middle of a box to do an activity together as a family (or for computer time) and then just pick it back up when you are ready to get back to it. That could possibly work for you too.

    I don’t know if any of this has been helpful. I’m happy to talk about this and answer questions as best I can.



  15. Leslie,

    I am new to your blog ~ scouring the internet for more pics and info on workboxes! I have Sue's book and we started this system last week. I am curious about the ring clip hanging from the side of everyone's workbox rack. Is that their schedule strip? If so, do you have different little cards that velcro to various places on the strip, or are the activities on the strips always the same every day? Hope my question makes sense. I will check back here in the comments section for your answer, or maybe you'll devote a blog entry to it! Either way, I am very grateful for the help. I have not made my schedule strips yet and am trying to visualize exactly I want them to work. Thank you!


    Pam in SE MI

  16. Oh, and one more question! I am already having a problem with storage, where to store the items we are not using every day. We had an organizational system pretty "down" before, but for some reason using the workboxes is creating more piles of stuff that I don't know what to do with. Sue does not talk about storage in her book. How do you handle storage in your home? These would be things we use regularly but not every day, so they can't just live in the workboxes all the time. Thanks again!

    Pam in SE MI

  17. This seems overwhelming to me for some reason. I'm an organizer but cannot imagine the amount of time it takes to do you do it weekly, nightly or as needed (probably all of the above).

    Also, what do you do with the finished work and projects?

  18. I can understand why it can look overwhelming. One thing that I did the first day was to set it up for just one child. I wanted to get a feel for how it was going to work and to just test it out. It went well, so I added two more the next day. Seeing success really motivated me to continue the system.

    In terms of time, it did take a lot of time at first. I found that there were ways I could organize our materials better and more efficiently so that it didn't take as long. This was a learning curve for me though.

    Some of the lessons I plan weekly like Five in a Row. Others I do daily - usually the fun or extra things. I'm hoping to organize our supplies a little more this summer so I can spend less time figuring out what to do and get the boxes filled more quickly.

    We keep notebooks for our FIAR lessons (Five in a Row) and they add any pages/papers to the notebook as they do them. I love this system of doing things as it really cuts down on stray paper! Other projects - I don't do a lot of things that just take up space - or try not to. I don't have a good system for that yet. I had thought of putting a shelf somewhere to display things and just rotate as needed.

    I hope this helps some. Really, the system is so wonderful in terms of what we are getting done that it was worth the time it took to get it set up each day.



    Also, what do you do with the finished work and projects?

  19. I sure hope Isiah was working on "Handwriting without Tears" instead of "Handwriting WITH Tears"...

    Looks like a fantastic setup!

  20. Oops! LOL I never noticed that typo! Too funny. Some days it is with tears - but mostly without. ;-)

  21. Leslie, Thanks for sharing your story & pics. Our kiddos are g7, b5, g3, g15m, & g due in May. I just ran across this system this week & am wondering if it will help me out. I admit, this year I have done very little with b5 & g3 - I take for granted that they are very bright & already know what most kids their age @ school know. How quickly they can fall behind or get bored, tho. This preg has been draining in every way & I really want to get something going better before baby gets here so that I don't fall even farther behind. My biggest concern is space: 7 people & 2 big dogs in 1100 sq'. I told g7 about the boxes & she looked at me big-eyed, "Where would we put all those, Mom?" I have no idea! So, is it worth all the shifting (and getting rid of things) to find a place for 48-60 boxes??

    thx ~

  22. oh i love and am impressed with your organising and homeschooling. I would love to be 1/2 as committed and organised with my 5 & 3 year olds.

  23. These are great and take up very little space.


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