Thursday, December 3, 2009

Workboxes a la Olive Plants

I wrote in my review of Sue Patrick's Workbox System that I would share a few of the modifications I have made to fit our homeschool needs.

What I found most difficult about workboxing was having to fill the boxes every night. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I love to teach/lesson plan/do anything school-related. However, filling the boxes was taking over an hour each night.

Maybe that's because I'm an overachiever and do too much.

Maybe that's because I'm getting old and don't move as fast as I used to.

Maybe that's just because workboxing takes that much work.

I don't know for sure but I do know that I could not keep up with it all.

Then I read this at the HSBA Post and decided to make some changes. Rhonda's idea of using Homeschool Tracker is great, but I don't have a subscription or the money to buy one right now. So, I did what homeschoolers do best and improvised.

I have nine boxes for each boy. I have designated one box for each of the following: math, writing, reading/journaling, geography, memory work, handwriting/copy work/coloring, other language arts (spelling, reading skills, etc.), project, extra-curricular.

These are Wilbur's workboxes.

Here are Orville's boxes.

On Saturdays, I place all the materials needed for the upcoming week's assignments in each box. I include activities like computer work and musical instrument practice. Sometimes a box will be filled with materials for a project. Sometimes it will contain a workbook or a game. Sometimes it will simply contain a card that says, "Complete two levels of math practice on each day this week." It takes me about three hours to put it all together which is still a lot of work. However, it makes the week run much more smoothly, and I have the energy for it on Saturdays, unlike at 8 p.m. each week night.

Here is a better view of Wilbur's boxes. He has a card box that contains a game, a DVD to watch, workboooks, copywork, and a cd with one activity in the bottom row.

I place the index card with instructions for each day on top of the materials.

Here is an example card:

Occasionally, I write "see me" if the instructions are too complicated to write out or if I know I will need to assist or give a test.

After a couple of weeks, I also stopped using the schedule strip. I kept putting the same numbers on it in the same order every day, so it seemed superfluous. I let the boys decide the order they will complete their work. This means if they want to do box 6 first, then so be it. Just so long as it all gets done, right?

When each boy has completed a box, he removes the tag from the front of it (I have them attached to the front of the boxes with Velcro) and places it inside the box. When all his tags are removed, he asks me to check his work. If everything is complete, he is done for the day.

Those are our changes. I'm curious, though. How many of you use workboxes and what works best for you? Please share. I have started a conversation in my Blog Frog community.


argsmommy said...

I did get inspired by your post (and others) to give the workbox system a try. I started to get it set up and we tried it for 2 days before we took a 2 week Thanksgiving break, which has turned into 3 weeks bec. I got really sick this week. : ( So it's too early for me to make any assessments. I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out.

Kimberly @ RaisingOlives said...

We ditched the workboxes when the morning sickness set in.

I, like you, found the time commitment overwhelming and am now so sick in the evenings it is not possible with 7 children using workboxes......

I had a good system worked out that cut my prep time down to an hour each night and perhaps when I'm feeling better that will work again for us.

I like your idea of putting the weeks assignments into the boxes at once. That is much more streamlined than doing it every evening.

Mrs. White said...

I love the pictures! Everything looks so organized!

Mrs. White in Vermont

argsmommy said...

Oh, I also wanted to ask what you thought of the DVD drawing program. We've actually owned it since before we started homeschooling, but after a few lessons Anna said she didn't like it. I remember also having problems with not knowing where in the workbook we were supposed to be as we watched the DVD. But I've held on to the program, thinking maybe we didn't give it a fair shot.

Homeschool Dawn said...


Wilbur really enjoys it but he has such a passion for art that he is very easy to please.

I followed along with the lessons for a couple of months and thought it was good enough. The videos could be more interesting and the layout is very confusing. It took completing the 1st unit to figure out when to do what.

I don't like the vocabulary activities at all, but he is learning it. So, maybe I'm being too picky.

I do like how it teaches basic sketching skills which is odd for me. I'm usually one to like creative expression/lots of projects. When I first looked at the curriculum, I thought "yuck"... too workbookish (is that a word... you know what I mean). But, it has given him the know-how to complete his own projects on the side. I'm seeing his artwork improve, and he is able to complete the lessons independently. That's what makes it a great fit for us. I could never find time to give him one-on-one in art.

Hoping your workboxes work out for you.

Homeschool Dawn said...

Now that he is on unit 2, he is able to work alone... just wanted to clarify. :)