Sunday, October 14, 2012

Workboxes, updated.

I recently posted about how we use Sue Patrick's Workbox System, but I've since received many questions.  You can read the original post here, which is mostly a "how to" in setting them up. I'm going to attempt to fill in the gaps that I may have left out.  So, this is how we work through our boxes.


Here are our boxes for a day.  They start out like this.  They are numbered 1 through 9 with a taped picture of the child's choice.  Next to each taped picture number, is an identical removable picture number.  These are attached with Velcro.

And work cards start out like this.  Empty blocks, also numbered 1 through 9.  Note the Velcro here too.

The child opens box # 1 to find an assignment. After the box is complete, he puts the assignment in his letter tray on top.

Then he pulls the #1 tag off of box #1 and attaches it to his work card on block #1, signifying he's completed his first assignment.

Now, he'll move on to box #2, and do the same. 

He works through all 9 boxes until they're empty and his full card looks like this.

His completed assignments get piled up in the letter tray on top of his workboxes.  The kids see the quantity as an accomplishment, (and since they didn't see it in a stack at the beginning of the day, it wasn't overwhelming).

One other little tip, we use a lot of Post-It notes for instructions.  Just stick it to the front of a workbook, telling the child which pages to complete.

Questions that have come up:
(1) How do you stagger work between your children?

Thoughtful's work with mom work goes at the beginning of his workbox stack.  Reading (he needs to do this out loud with me still), math lesson, and LLATL, for example, might go in boxes 1, 2, and 3.

Meanwhile, Spunk is working through independent stuff in boxes 1 through 4.  Then by the time he gets to box 5, he'll find his work with mom subjects while Thoughtful gets his independent boxes from 4.

The trick is this staggering, but also remembering not to bog them down too much.  Clumping together all of their least favorite work will leave them feeling discouraged.  So fun items need to be woven in too.

(2) How do you schedule which supplements they get in their boxes?

First, I look to my planner, which I've written notes such as "adjectives" or "multiply X 5," so I know what they're working on in their curricula.  Now, I'll include games, connect the dots, worksheets, or other fun activities in the boxes to help enforce their lessons. 

Sometimes, they'll find an activity that goes with one of our group studies, such as, a piece of a lapbook.

I also know what they're having difficulty with, and I'm able to continue reviewing that material until they've got it.

And there are the "extras."  Spunk has a few Kumon workbooks that we rotate.  Thoughtful gets a mapping workbook some days.  Sometimes, Spunk gets cray-pas with blank paper and a note instructing him to draw a picture which tells about the story he read earlier.  After Thoughtful finishes a book, sometimes he gets a book report outline to complete in one of his boxes.

Active boxes are necessary as well.  "Practice your Tae-Kwon-Do form" or "soccer ball headers" are great ways to burn some energy from their reserves!

(3)  How do you keep a record of what they're doing?

I have a separate notebook dedicated to each child within my planning binder.  I number 1-9, and write a quick note as to what went into the boxes.  Later, I record things like, attitude, difficulty level, etc.  I'm hoping our portfolio evaluator will appreciate this piece of recording since she specifically asked for something more last year.

(4)  Do you fill the boxes everyday?!?!

Yep!  I know, this is the downside of workboxes.  It truly only takes a few minutes, and in the big picture, this mundane job is completely worth it.  My children aren't looking at a stack of books, and asking "How much more school?"  This has caused many tears in the past, and since we incorporated this system into our days, they haven't even asked the question once!! 

<insert my happy dance here>

We do boxes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Wednesday we have co-op in the morning, so they each read and do a page of math before we head out.  That's it. 

(5)  How do you go through their work if they simply stack it up?

After their boxes are empty and their cards are full, we go through each completed assignment together.  I circle any mistakes, and ask them to try it again, looking for them to correct their own work.  If they completely don't understand, then I know I did a poor job of teaching the material or they didn't fully absorb it.  This needs to be addressed before we move on tomorrow.  If they easily know what they did wrong, we discuss distractions and not taking our time.

We're currently beginning a reward system for our days, to include schoolwork, behavior, and other parts of our day.  I'm granting them a credit for each properly completed workbox. 

More on our credit system later, once we've tweaked it!

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