Thursday, March 8, 2012

Workboxes: My (New) Favorite Organizational System!

This was a revolutionary week for us ... and that is a good thing! And it has to do with organization ... my favorite thing in the world! : )  I stumbled across the world's greatest classroom organizational system for moving the girls from a teacher-directed approach to a more student-driven (higher independence and responsibility) approach to their learning.  What was the key, you ask?


I came across this idea several months ago through the amazing Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler (have you checked her website out!? She's truly saved me this year). At the time I saw her use of workboxes, I literally thought to myself, "Wow, now that's a lady who wears a cape! How DOES she do all this?!" So, not believing I was operating at cape-wearing status to pull something like this off, I put off setting up workboxes of our own. And now, of course, I wish I had done this months ago! In just one week's time, they have completely revolutionized how we do school, and I now understand why I was literally going nutty trying to accommodate an 8-year old's learning needs and levels along with a Kindergartener's needs and levels, and a toddler boy climbing up walls (or just on tabletops)! All in the same room! 

So. Workboxes are my new favorite thing ... IN.  THE.  WORLD. And what's better is the girls RAVED about them! : ) Here's a picture of what they look like:

I ! LOVE !  THEM ! 

So here’s the gist of how we use the workboxes:

  • I bought a 6-drawer storage unit for each girl, and stuck two velcro dots on each drawer (far left and far right). 
  • I printed out 2 sets of subject cards from Erica's website (click HERE to print them), and put a velcro dot on the back of these. 
  • Each evening I organize each girl's set of workboxes with the learning tasks for the 5 subjects they can work on semi-independently, along with everything they need to complete each task to save the inevitable "where are the scissors?" or "I need to sharpen my pencil!" time-wasters. Here's a picture of what the contents of a drawer looks like:
  • The girls must complete the workboxes from top to bottom - no exceptions! This helps me manage my time and availability to each of them, and also sets them up for more success as I try to organize the order of their subjects based on their strengths/needs. For example, starting Abbie off with composition will surely drive me straight to Dairy Queen before 10:15am out of pure misery and frustration!  (Wait ... maybe that's not a bad thing!?)  On the other hand, starting her out with history, silent reading, or math goes much, much smoother.
  • I can also add a "Work With Mom" card on the righthand side of the drawer which tells the girls that for this workbox, they need me to either get them started or provide direct instruction (ie math, phonics). 
  • At the end of their 5 workboxes, they have a FUN BOX which has something fun and often with educational value to end their workbox time with. They LOVE this, and so far this week the Fun Box has given them motivation to work hard on the previous 5 boxes. (YAH!)

The workboxes occur during the middle of our morning, so our new "schedule" looks more like this (and no, I'm not going to attach a beautifully designed Excel document down to the 15-minute marker, though I still have a weird infatuation with that thing!): 

9:00 - Group Time for Bible reading/prayer, Calendar Connections, history reading, Ellie's science focus, and a read aloud. 

10:00 (ish) - Workboxes!  So far, I've focused on math, composition, handwriting, phonics/spelling, reading, and history for their workboxes.

11:15-11:45 (ish) - Group Time again for a read aloud / literature study

Lunch and free time

1pm - Group Time for art, science, a music history lesson, or finish something from the morning. 

So there you have it. Workboxes are the highlight of the month so far, and I'm so thankful for those who have gone before me in this homeschooling journey and are so eager to share their ideas! We'll keep tweaking this system to make it work more smoothly than our first week, but systematically - I am on board!!! 

And just for good humor, here's the "Picture of the Week" of Ben: 

Picking up the kernels of corn he threw out of his lunch bowl. Yep - we're still in Toddler Bootcamp around here! I love that little man.

From our household to yours, with loads and loads of workbox-love!
The Utechts 


  1. Looks great, thanks so much for linking back to my blog! Erica @

  2. I love this idea! My girls are pretty young for too much work with out mom time (2 1/2 and then our baby 2 mo.) But I love the organization of it. I am already coming up with ideas in how I can use this with my toddler. It may help with keeping her engaged in educational activities while I have baby duties :)