Seven Quick Takes – a closer look at our homeschool workboxes

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It’s taken me a while to perfect our workbox system (although I’m sure I’ll keep making changes as we go!), so I’m really excited to show you what we’ve got going on!  I’ve written before about our workbox system, but here I’ll go into it one more time, in even greater detail, because after several months of working the system I think I’ve finally ironed out some of the kinks!

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Overview

Just a quick reminder of our setup:

The workboxes themselves are just simple plastic file boxes we got from Office Depot and inside we have folders with each subject the kids are working on.  Our workbox materials (books they’re currently reading, violin/cello books, etc.) are located to the left of the workboxes, and our activity boxes are below (currently holding I Spy bottles, Cuisenaire rods and a clothes pin color wheel for the little ones.)  To the right of our workbox shelf, we have miscellaneous project boxes which, at the moment, hold paint sets, stationary for writing cards, and misc. craft supplies.

As I’ve worked the system each day (or, almost each day!) I’ve found some minor irritations with it, that I’ve been working on fixing these problems.  Following is an updated and a little more detailed version of what we’ve been doing…

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The Folders

The folders we were using inside our workboxes (just regular file folders) were sloppy and you couldn’t see the subject tags easily.  So, we switched to hanging folders:

Much easier to access, and nicer to look at.

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The Activity Tabs

The activity tabs that told the children what to do each day (see image below) used to be located on the outside of each folder, but they weren’t working out so well for us because the kids had to pull every one of their folders in order to find out what they were going to do for the day. So, I decided to do something similar to what I’d done for the miscellaneous activities, and make a separate paper holding the activity tabs for all the folder activities.  Now, they just glance at their two sheets (one for folder activities and one for miscellaneous activities) and know what they’re supposed to do for the day.

Old system (featuring tabs on the outside of each folder):

New system:

(everyone kept the same colors, I’m just using two different workboxes here as examples.)

As before, when they finish each task, they pull off the velcro tab and put on the “look what I did today” page.

Also as before, we have number cards that correspond to the activity boxes, so whenever the kids see a number card, they know to pull the activity box with that number and work with whatever is inside:

Since they don’t do every subject every day, we house the extra activity tabs in the back of their workboxes.  Rather then housing the extra activity tabs in a zip-lock bag as before, I found something similar to these in colors that corresponded with their hanging folders:

It’s much nicer to get into the envelopes than it was to get into the zip-lock bags (and it just looks nicer, too.)

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The Inbox

The older girls are doing a lot of independent folder work right now, so they don’t need me to be right there with them as they work.  When they’re done with their independent work, they put it in the inbox for me to review, located at the top of their homeschool shelf:

Every night (or sometimes in the mornings before school) I go through and check their work, then put their folders back in their workboxes, or give them new sheets to put in their folders.  Which leads me to the next thing that has been working out GREAT for us…

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Clip Tabs

The kids know that if one of their activity tabs is velcroed to their activity sheet, they’re supposed to do whatever is in the corresponding folder.  But what I wasn’t quite getting through to them is that we needed to go over their OLD pages together (also located in the folders), if I made corrections for them.  They’d forget, and I’d forget, and the mistakes weren’t getting corrected.  Enter, souped up paper clips!

These little guys make their home in the clear plastic box they came in, attached directly to our homeschool cabinet:

And every day, the kids have a quick visual reminder of what they need to review with me, before they get started on their work for the day:

(I also use these when they’re doing a new activity that I need to explain to them, and as bookmarks for the books we’re currently reading.)

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The Reward Box

These are everyone’s favorite boxes!  As each child finishes a major milestone (reading an entire book, memorizing a new set of multiplication tables or music notes, etc), they get to pick out something from our reward boxes.  We have a large reward box for major milestones (memorizing ALL of the multiplication tables, reading an ENTIRE book, etc.) and a small box for smaller milestones (memorizing one set of multiplications.)  We got most of our stuff from the Dollar Tree, and some we’ve picked up here and there as I see things I think they would enjoy, and I’m still working on getting more things together for them:

I try to keep everything in their reward box school/craft related, and they’ve gone a long, long way in keeping the kids motivated!

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So, there you have it… Our workbox system, in a nutshell.  I’m sure there will be more changes and updates as we continue working through the system, so I’ll probably write more on this in the future.  This is all pretty new to us, so if you have any suggestions (or questions,) please let me know!

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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7 Responses to Seven Quick Takes – a closer look at our homeschool workboxes

  1. Patti Milam says:

    Organizatiom makes it so much easier

  2. Of Life, Family, and YHVH says:

    Love the motivation boxes. I know my kids would do really well with that, especially my 2nd grader who doesn’t like math.
    I found Post-It Flags last year (they are similiar to the clip tabs) and love them. We use them to keep track of where we are in books, I write on them to divide my lesson plans into quarters, and so much more. My kids want “tabbies” for all their books. I think whoever thought of these things is a genius… or a homeschooler 😉

    • Rina says:

      I just have to thank you for your comment… I didn’t know what Post-It Flags were and so I googled it and found that post-it has an online store! I’ve been trying to find post-it flag pens for the longest time now and haven’t been able to find them (partly because I didn’t know what they were called), jumped on the post-it store, clicked on “writing tools” and there they were! So, thanks! 🙂 I hope you’ll let me know how the motivation boxes go, if you decide to start using them!

      • Of Life, Family, and YHVH says:

        I’m so glad to have helped 🙂

        I will let you know how the boxes go. I think they will come in handy this summer when I tell my kiddos they are doing Greek and Latin root words, writing, and math exercises over the summer, lol!

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