Alright, here we go! This is how we're doing our school boxes (we're not calling them workboxes - most kids don't get too excited about the word 'work'!). The original idea for them is here - she has an ebook and a whole program. I should mention that I did not read this book. I saw the idea on various blogs and just kind of knew how it would work best for us. Once I had the idea in my head, I could figure out the rest myself. And I'm not usually big on people telling me what to do...heh.
So, I showed you our cabinets already, but this is what we're using (IKEA Trofast ). You don't have to spend as much to make this program work, most people use inexpensive shelving + plastic shoeboxes, but since ours were going in our dining room (we don't have a School Room) I wanted ours to look a little nicer. I figured if this system didn't work out it would still be useful storage.
Above: Monkey folding washcloth napkins (a Montessori/motor skills idea)
Each night, I fill the boys boxes with one activity per box. Actually, sometimes two. The idea is for one complete activity in each box - with everything they need to complete it (pencil or scissors, glue, crayons, etc.). But they also recommend 12 boxes per child and we're only doing 7, so occasionally I'll put two workbooks in one box.
When the boys are ready to go in the morning, they pull out box #1. They can remove what is in it (if it's just a workbook or cutting page, etc.) or take the whole box out and take it to the table or rug.
Above: Playing with Star Wars figures and a balance scale
When they have completed box #1 (and many times it's an open-ended activity, so when they are tired of it - we've also tried using timers for some of them) they return the box, take off the #1 tag to stick on their schedule, and move on to box #2.
What I really liked about this idea is that it's very visual. Many kids (esp. Autism spectrum) do better with visual clues to what is going on in their day - which is why we've done picture schedules and calendars in the past. It's easy for the boys to see how much school they have accomplished and how much they have left before they are done.
I also like that it fosters independent work. The boys still need prompting sometimes, and some boxes require help from me - but we are working towards being much more independent and accountable in our schooling. And they are so proud of themselves when they finish a box.
(Above: Monkey playing with pop beads)
The first time I switched the boxes it took me quite a long time. But since then it doesn't take nearly as long. I just make sure that each boy has at least one box each for reading, math, and fine-motor/handwriting activities. The rest are various educational/fun boxes. We do history, science, and art together, so those aren't in the boxes. I also try and put a fun box after the box the boys will think is the most hard, and a fine-motor warm-up before handwriting (playdoh, popping bubblewrap, mazes).
Above: Monkey painting a huge gorilla in a jungle. He loves when he finds painting materials in one of his boxes.
For the most part the boys are loving it. It's definitely made this school year easier - even with the prep that has to happen. Some days we have to take more breaks than others ("One more box and then we'll go outside and swing!") but it always ends up okay. Most days the boys are done with their boxes by lunchtime. After lunch I read out loud to them (right now it's the first Harry Potter book) and then they do Quiet Time - where many times they listen to an audiobook or music while they rest/read/play quietly - and then they are free to do what they want for the rest of the day (and usually spend a good chunk of that outside).
Above: I carved (quickly and badly) some teddy bear stamps and had the boys count and graph a pile of counter bears.
Monkey especially is loving school. He tells everyone he meets that he's in Kindergarten now (he was ready). The first Friday after we started school I was telling them that since tomorrow's Saturday, you don't have to do school - and Monkey was really bummed about that. He really is loving this (and of course I told him he could still 'do school' if he wanted to!).
This would be a great system to use while kids are off-track or during the summer, too. This is not a system I see using when the kids are bigger (although some people are using a similar idea with just big envelopes or folders that could be useful) - but for now it's great.
Above: The Exploring Box. It has tweezers, clothespins, beans, lentils, funnels, pom poms, pipe cleaners (wait, where did they go?), and an ice cube tray. They can count sort, clip, etc. I'll probably be changing this up sometimes - the boys love it.
I've been writing down what's in the boxes every day, just for me. The photos in this post are some of my favorite boxes that we've done so far.
Here's a typical day's boxes (actually, this was yesterday's):
Ed Emberley thumbprint book
Brainquest workbook - phonics section
Kumon glue page (I love Kumon books).
Bob books #4, 6
Kumon Alphabet games book
Personal info card (say/sing phone number 3 times at least)
Explode the Code workbook
pop bubble wrap
Handwriting without Tears workbook
Kumon Simple Addition
Kumon Easy Telling Time
Dick and Jane
(and both boys learned more about elephants for science).
This didn't cost any more than our usual curriculum. I sat down and made a list of ideas of what to put in the boxes. Once you start looking around, though toy cabinets and game closets, you'll find tons of ideas of how to fill the boxes with things you already have.
I saved my list of box filler ideas as a PDF - click here if you'd like to see it.
Here's a post with lots of workbox links - this is where I originally read about workboxes.
Okay, I hope this was helpful, or at least interesting! Sorry it took such a long post to explain! Something crafty for the next post, I promise!
If you have any questions about what we're doing here - feel free to ask - I'll answer any questions in the comments - since now Typepad isn't letting us reply directly to comments via email... at least not easily...
Have a great weekend!