Jun 10, 2010

Workboxes: Revised, Reviewed, and Revisited

We have been using workboxes for a little while, now, and I think we have managed to figure out the exact system that works for us. I have never read the book by Sue Patrick, but I have heard her speak and while I think she has tons of great ideas on homeschooling in general, I really only know enough about workboxing to know that we are not doing it "correctly". But, as I said, it is definitely working.
This is what the big kids set-up looks like.

IMG_0150.jpg picture by 4littlepenguins

We do not use numbers, scheduling strips, or cards. The kids don't have their own boxes, mostly just because we don't have that kind of room. If what is in their box is consumable, I put two in, if not, then they know to return it to the box when they are finished. This also means we can't be terribly picky about order, because they have to work around each other (and sometimes with each other, since we do a lot of "together games").
However, they always start with their Bibles in the upper left corner. This is their "devotion" time, and they do not report to me what or how the Bible is read. They read for as long as they like and they what they take away from it is between them and God. When they complete a Bible, they will be given a more difficult one. 
The next box is always their math journals. Since this is something they can do at least semi-independently, I prefer for them to do it while I work with the little kids. On a good day, math journals take them about 10 to 15 minutes. On a bad day, it can be the only thing they get done all morning.
The third box is also a constant. It contains dry erase boards, sentence strips, dry erase markers, and Nate's handwriting alphabet cards. This box is for handwriting, and since it is also something they do every single school day and can be fairly independent with, it never moves.
The last box on the top always contains something "quick and simple" to round out their morning. It could be a color page, a worksheet, a quick game, or even a book to read. When they have finished this box, they know they are finished with "morning school". 
We start afternoon school with the box on the bottom right. This box contains all of our "group work". Our science book, Bible workbooks, History, Spelling, the books they read aloud to me, and whatever books we are reading for Geography that day. I prefer to get all of the group work done first, so the quick kid is never waiting on the slow kid. Once we have finished with this box (except for the read aloud books), they start on their bottom boxes and work their way through them. These boxes contain everything else they will do for the day, but are never the same two days in a row. In fact, some days, I use different (smaller) boxes if their work is smaller and there is more of it. Occasionally, if they are doing both a color sheet and maze (for example) I will two sheets in the same box. They are more than capable of figuring this out, and don't seem to mind a bit.
I plan my boxes straight off of my lesson plans, which I do a semester at a time and keep in a table in Microsoft Word.
Anything we do on the computer is either done during group time, or juggled around their boxes. And as for Big Projects, which require use of the kitchen and/or supervision from me, we usually do those late in the afternoon or on Saturdays and don't require boxes.

Here is the little kids' set-up.

IMG_0151.jpg picture by 4littlepenguins

After Circle Time, and while the big kids are reading their Bibles and fighting over their math journals, the little kids get to do their boxes. Again, there are no cards or schedules. Also, their boxes are the total opposite of independent, because their boxes are actually "work with Mommy" things. They sit at their table and I fetch a box and we work together. We start with the phonics book (we are currently stuck on "e"), then I will start one kid on a semi-independent task while I work more closely with the other. Once we have worked our way through all three boxes, they are free to either be finished with school altogether and go play, or they may choose whatever they like off of the bottom two shelves and work as long as they choose.

At this point, everything that is in their boxes focuses on math or the alphabet. It mostly consists of: those types of things that they kinda need to do, but would not choose off the shelves to do on their own; something consumable; or something new that I am teaching them. 
That is our workbox system, and, in a nutshell, our school day. 


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your workboxes. i love all the variations...

Jen said...

Your workbox set-up looks like it is working well for your family. I would love to hear more about how you use Math Journals!


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