The Learning Room ~ Working the Workboxes

This week saw a new change for us. I’ve been thinking about implementing workboxes for a while now. I especially started thinking about it when I serendipitously discovered that two of the boxes I had been holding toys in actually fit hanging file folders. I knew I couldn’t use the traditional method…not with six+ kids eventually all homeschooling at once!

2009-2010 Work Tubs

We had been using basic work tubs in that each child each had their own tub that held all their workbooks, school papers, pencil case, etc. that they pulled out during school time. These worked great for a year or so. My oldest two loved having their own books in their own space. I loved being able to throw everything into a tub and just tuck it away at the end of the school day. Our system broke down this year with a preschooler and two toddlers who thought it great fun to get into and dump out the tubs on an almost daily basis despite being disciplined for it. And I was also finding power struggles over kids wanting to work on a book that I hadn’t planned on for the day just because they saw it in their tub.

I now needed a system that ~

  • Fit on a bookshelf up high in a minimal amount of space away from destructive little kid hands.
  • Allowed the two older kids to pull out their workboxes and know exactly what to do and when/how long they had to do it along with the oder they were to do it in.
  • Allowed for me to work more one-on-one with my younger children who are desperate for my attention during school time.
  • Allowed for me to take 5 minutes in the evening to plan throw things together for the next day.
  • Allowed for me to use it in a very formal we-have-a-good-curriculum-plan-for-the-year sort of way or the spontaneous follow-the-rabbit-trail sort of way or the project-week-independent-interest-led-study sort of way.
  • Allowed for me to implement more of the notebooking/lapbooking pages I’ve collected in an organized manner.
  • Can also be used the same sort of way with the preschoolers/toddlers and guided activities.

So I researched one weekend and found this wonderful site of another researcher who had gone before me. Just love those trailblazers! I looked at all the examples of workbox systems working for others and took a few ideas and made it my own based on my needs. Most of my ideas are taken from how Ruby Slippers implements workboxes in their home. Here is what I came up with that worked wonderfully for us this week.

  • I took the clear plastic totes and hung about 6-8 file folders in it.
  • I took about five minutes to write out 15 minutes, 30 minutes over and over on one piece of cardstock and the numbers 1-6 twice on another piece and generically cut them into about one inch sqares.
  • I paperclipped the numbers to the folders on one side.
  • I put in what I wanted them to work on for the next day when I wanted them to work on it. (If it was something they didn’t have in the box like typing on the computer I just wrote what I wanted them to do on a piece of recycled paper and put that in the file).
  • I paperclipped the timed squares on the other side of the folder.
  • I taped a piece of cardstock in the back of the bin that said: FREE TIME if you have all your chores and schoolwork done.

Now the older two knew exactly what to do, in what order, and how long they had to do it. It really did only take me five minutes to throw together at night before I went to bed! And twice during the week I was too tired before bed so I took five minutes after breakfast to throw it together. The system worked beautifully. I especially like the paperclips. It allowed the freedom to switch things around very easily. And the kids LOVED having control over how their school day went and knowing when it ended. It turned the routine I had in my head into actual reality in our week. It even worked so well that on the day I had my ladies Bible class and daddy is watching the kids, schoolwork STILL got done! This has never happened before. The kids just effortlessly knew what to do and dad effortlessly played with the little kids managed their school time! I did just purchase two clip on timers so they each have their own to use for next week.

Hooray for workboxes!

Linked with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

10 thoughts on “The Learning Room ~ Working the Workboxes

  1. It looks and sounds like you have a great plan there! We don’t use workboxes, but I can’t see the benefit of them. Stopping by from Weekly Wrap-up.

  2. Amy, we’re using the Hands of A Child WWI pack. I got the type-it-in version for $12 through their website. The regular version was around $20 on Currclick, so it was quite a deal. My daughter was thrilled not to have to write by hand. LOL

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