Oct 4, 2011

Workin' Boxes

Workin' Boxes?!?

I have heard about these....these work boxes for a while now. I never paid much attention to them. Previously I had visions about moms putting science projects together in a box and millions of beads and crafts and games and pages and pages of math worksheets on and on and on. And if I was one of those good mom's I might do that :)

But as usual, I have to tweek a system and make it my own . So wala.... Work Boxes

When we began I gave my kids each three boxes...I'll be honest I didn't want to spend a small fortune buying everyone a box and then have them sit there unused like so many other "systems" I've tried.

The first box is church box. They put their scriptures in here and their journals and their strength of youth books, etc. We talked about the importance of doing the Lord's work first so the first box is always used to serve the Lord and His knolwedge and His work. I don't dictate how much or how long they choose to read or to write. They each choose for themselves.

The second box has to be Math. I laid out all the math workbooks and textbooks and said...choose. I don't tell them how much to do or how long to go I just showed them the books and let them pick. My 10 yo does one problem a day. My 8 year old does three pages...go figure! I talked to them about the importance of doing the hardest things first when our brains are fresh and ready to learn so that is why we do math second.

The third box is their reading box. They are allowed to put anything in here that they would like to read. My boys have put their reading books for their boys club and my girls have picked books they would like to read. Chipper is reading The Wizard of Oz. Since this is the first chapter book she has ever read I think it is pretty ambitious.

Each day after 2nd devotional I simply say, "Time for boxes"...and the cheering commences. Well....., sometime the cheering commences, but there is never "booing"!... so I take this as a good sign. I even get away with saying things like "Hey, it's Saturday! Let's do boxes" and they do. And when they are bored I say..."Hmmmm, Have you done all your boxes" and if they say yes then I say get to say nice things like, "wow! That's awesome! Tell me what you learned." And sometimes they get so excited they work on their boxes again!

Since things went so well the first two weeks of boxes we decided to upgrade everyone to 6 boxes. And I love it because now everyones "stuff" has a place.

My boys boxes are: Gospel, Math, Reading, Scouts, Karate, Piano.

My girls have Ballet and Violin in theirs.

My oldest who is in Vanguard this year has 12 boxes. She has her Gospel, Math, and Reading, as well as Ballet, Piano and Violin and she has one box for her Writing Class and one box for her TFT group and the rest of the boxes she uses for her scholar group.

(For some of the mom's who also have children in Vanguard I'll share how I do these boxes) At the beginning of each month when we receive the newsletter she goes through and highlights which activities and inspirements she would like to do for the month. Then I go through with her and we talk about them and I find out how I can help her to get them done. Then I put supplies or books or sometimes just a note reminding her what she picked to do, or what the assigment says. For example, This week she has a play to practice so that has it's own box, She wants to make something from Poland for geography projects so there is a polish cookbook in one box, She also has a box with her books to read and their bookmarks full of activities. This week she has one empty box which she has filled with her things I lovingly call "junk."

At the end of the week, usually on Saturday I go through everyones boxes collecting library books and spare bits of paper that seem to collect themselves during the week and sometimes I put little surprises in the boxes like a Yummy Organic Sucker or a bookmark or a treat coupon. Something to make the boxes exciting and fun. It is also helpful for me to see where they are at and what they have been working on the past weeks.

When they finish something during the week in their boxes they put it on top of my box and then I know that I need to help them find something else to put in their box. For example my 10 yo does not love to practice the piano...shocking! I know! And for a year I have had to encourage him to play. But not anymore with boxes. He looks in his piano box and it tells him exactly what to practice. There is a little piece of paper that says...practice book 1 and the new song. When he has done that he puts the paper on top of my box and I never have to say did you practice today? Then I put the next little paper in his box which says...practice book 3 and the new song.

So I also have to say how much I love my boxes! You know that pile of books that all homeschool moms have that never goes away! Yes, yes, we all have them. It piles up and up and up and then the books on the bottom never get read. Well between Vanguard , my Speech Class, the 5 Pillar Class, My friend book group, and my TFT group I am reading 7 books a month...and that's not including all the books I want to read! If I just kept my books in a pile I would be in BIG TROUBLE. With my boxes each has a book in it. Then when I have a minute to myself I can open a box and start reading. No more piles! and I even have a few fun boxes for me the bills, (that box is soooo fun) and other books I want to read, and church articles, and one that reminds me to practice piano and guitar and violin and even to lift some weights and stretch.

I also have my devotional boxes. We have our gospel devotional each morning where we read from the scriptures and sing songs and read a scripture story from the Bible and memorize a verse and a poem. All of this goes in one box. One box has our value for the month. This year I am teaching about "The Leader in Me" By Covey. We talk and do activities about beginning with the end in mind and being proactive.

Then each month I teach about a scientist and we do some science experiments or study about the things he/she studied about. I also teach about a famous person from history and we do some stories and activities out of the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bower. Then each month we study a famous Mathmetician from Mathmeticians are People too and we do an exercise from Family Math. And finally we study a famous Composer and listen to his music for the month. Each of these subjects have their own box and it is so convenient to find everything and to grab it, whether we are on the couch or on the run.

I empty the boxes once a month and fill them once a month and then they always are ready when I need them and I don't wake up in the morning fretting about what I am going to teach that day.

I'm so loving workboxes!

ps. If you decide to try work boxes you might be interested to know that I purchased mine from Office Depot when they were buy one get one. They ended up being around $14 each. They are the plain black and clear ones and that works well for me since I'm into white and black. A good friend recently bought the really cool colorful ones..which I'm sure my kids would love if their mom wasn't so black and white :).....she got them from Shopko for under $20. So you can find some good deals if you look around.

...this is for you RaNae! :)


  1. I am so glad you posted this! I've been thinking a lot about getting a similar system and wasn't even sure where to buy them, or the price. I have visions of simply telling my son "go grab your math box" and everything he needs that week is already there instead of me grabbing whatever random thing he needs. Sounds like it just might work. Thank you, thank you!!!

  2. you are truly the coolest...
    when I have a home again, I am going to do this. :) I started doing it a little before, but started moving before we could incorporate it as effectively as you have.
    thanks for taking the time to share it in such detail!