I Luv Workboxes

Early into our school year a friend asked how things were going with a 2, 4 and 5 year old. As I sat back and reflected on it for a minute I realized with a grateful spirit that I could say on a scale of 1 to 10, a good solid 7! I attribute the success to a system I stumbled upon in my summer research called Workboxes. Now there is a lady who came up with this system and she wrote a whole book on it. I have not read it. When I stumbled upon this way of organizing the school day I was mainly interested in what I could do for little h to keep her busy while the other two worked. I also wanted some planned play ideas for e and little h that would be more intentional than “go play in your room while I teach your brother how to read…and do it quietly!!”.

As the summer went on, I realized I could use this system for c as well. It took a lot of planning and prep work, but I am SO thankful that I went ahead and did it! I modified it to fit our family, now we are in week six and I can honestly say it has been a huge benefit.

The basics: First I found these cute bins at Target on sale, I just love the colors! Then we bought clear, thick plastic envelopes at Uline that have worked wonderfully for each “subject”. They are a little wider than the bins, but when they are filled up it balances out. The basic idea is that each child works through the “subjects” for the day systematically. We made number cards (1-12) which have velcro attached on the back. Each envelope has velcro on it, as does a chart located on the front of the box. As soon as the child finishes one subject they take the number off the envelope and stick it to the chart on front of the box. When they work through all the numbers their school day is done! For a child like e who tends to not be focused and dawdles, it really has been super. He seems to enjoy finishing a envelope and seeing what he gets to do next.

An invaluable tool is the yahoo group I joined which has an index of links and files that I borrowed images from. They also share ideas for filling the boxes. I made up index cards with images on them and used contact paper to make them sturdier. I have cards for tools they will need to complete a task (pencil, crayons, markers, glue, etc.) I don’t have to tell e what things to get out because he just looks at the picture and gets it himself. I even have a “Go Potty” card for little h and e! There are cards for fun things to do like building with blocks, legos, play dough, riding bikes, running around the house, etc. I also intermix chores throughout the day.

With the young ones I realized that I have to have them do physical activities or have some play time between harder subjects like math and phonics. Otherwise they will blow up with frustration and the wiggles! I made up some cards with time limits like 10 or 15 min. So often c can play legos between math and phonics. In that time I can do a subject with e that he needs me to work one on one with. It really has smoothed things out.

It takes prep time each night. I refill each envelope the night before but then I don’t have to think about what I am going to do the next day and each child has something to work on at all times. Usually all the books are gathered and they are not searching for their phonics book for 10 min. wasting time. They have all their supplies ready too.

Having a graphic designer husband has made a huge difference as well! He does an amazing job making all the little things I need to make our days more beautiful. I love you, j! If you have any questions or ideas please comment below. I am planning on sharing with you ideas I have gathered especially for little h in the near future.


  1. J
    Sep 20, 2010

    I love you, h!

  2. Laura Hughes
    Sep 21, 2010

    WOW! I am very impressed. That is the way homeschooling needs to be done and I know lots of moms who are organized and do it well! Kudos to you because that does seem like a lot of work but so much better than the alternative of concentrating only on C and telling the younger two to go play. I don’t plan to homeschool but I think your ideas (though I know you borrowed from others) are brilliant! Who knows maybe I’ll do something like that with the triplets before they are in school. So good to talk to you the other day and this is one of those questions we never got to talk about. So glad things are going pretty smooth for you. Sorry this is a redundant entry to the one on facebook my computer was slow in loading this page. :)

  3. Addy
    Sep 21, 2010

    Wow!!!!!!! I love how you’ve incorporated this idea! Way to go! I need to come over and see it in person!

  4. MMOM
    Sep 22, 2010

    Love the pix! Love your descriptions! How sweet to see all that summer prep work coming to fruition. You go, girl! :-)


  1. ethiHOPEia » Blog Archive » Homeschooling with Little People - [...] are, right? ) about what to do with the little ones while schooling the older ones. I shared ...

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