ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Home Schooling & Life Experience Education

Working the Workboxes

Updated on August 19, 2013

What's a Workbox System and Do I Need One?

Several years ago I started seeing the phrase "workboxes" pop up on homeschooling messageboards and blogs. I had no idea what they were, so I started investigating. Since then, this organizational system has become very well-known and used in many home classrooms. In a nut-shell, workboxes are an organizational system used with any curriculum that helps develop independent work habits and a well-structured school day.

Since there is so much out there (on the web) regarding workboxes, I thought I'd share what I've found and what our personal experience is using the workbox system..

Getting Started

This system was developed by Sue Patrick, a homeschool mom from North Carolina. In her book she states that this system was started to help her autistic child achieve his highest educational potential. What she found was that all types of learners benefit from using this system. Not only are the children benefiting, but the family as well, because their homeschool day is running smoother and they accomplish more in their day. Her book explains the reasoning behind the system, how to set-up the system in your household, and gives practical ideas and activities to implement along with your workbox system.

The basis of the system is to have 12 workboxes for each student. Each box (or drawer, envelope, however you choose to organize) holds one activity that the child is to do that day.These boxes are stored on shelves or on a shoe rack. Since each box is numbered, the child knows what needs to be completed and in which order. For more detailed information, see Sue's book.

Many homeschoolers have tweeked this set-up using other containers as workboxes (see A Peek Into the School Room for examples).

-- Repurposed Cereal Boxes

-- Sterlite plastic drawer carts

-- Hanging file folders

-- Magazine holders

-- Wall Pockets

-- Notebooks


Besides seeing the workboxes, each child has a schedule strip. The schedule strip reinforces the workbox order, and also allows the teacher to place additional schedule cards for activities that won't fit in the boxes on the strip (ie. take a 15min. break, jump-rope for 10min.) The child matches the number on the schedule strip to the box and by the end of the day, all the tags should be removed from the schedule strip and all the boxes empty.

When you order the book you will have access to all the printables you need to get started. Sometimes though, you might need a specific type of card or just want something different. Here are a few free printables for the schedule cards and the number cards that I have come across while learning more about workboxes:

Circle Tags by Cassie -pictured right

Workbox Tags and Cards from Homeschool Creations

Workbox Schedule Extras from Homeschool Share

Worbox Tags by Robin

Schedule Cards by 1+1+1=1

Many different themed workbox cards by Sunflower Schoolhouse

Sheri from What's in the Box created a bound version of the workbox schedule

Confessions of a Homeschooler shares what is in her workboxes

Each box contains an assignment or activity that your child needs to complete during the day plus everything they need to complete that assignment. So yes, throw that pencil/eraser/crayon in there too so that there is never any excuses for not getting started. What I like is that I can easily see what type of work my child has to do for the day. If the day is a little heavy on written work, I might throw in a creative activity or game that goes along with a lesson.

Limited Time Homeschool E-Book Sale

This deal comes around only once a year! This week only you can purchase 91 different homeschool/household related e-Books for only $25! That makes each book only 28cents! Click here to see the complete listing of e-Books.

Here are some links from around the web that would work well with workboxes. The goal is to put meaningful learning activities that go with your curriculum along with subject assignments in the workboxes.

Organizing Teaching Materials

Organizing and tracking all the materials that have been used with the workboxes can be challenging at times. Having a system in place makes the job of filling and tracking materials go so much smoother. Here are a couple ways to keep track of items to use and to keep track of what goes in the boxes:

- Honey from Sunflower Schoohouse organizes her materials in Rubbermaid totes.

- Another option is a file-card system. Write workbox ideas on index cards and file behind the appropriate divider. When you need ideas as what to put in the box for a particular subject or theme, glance through the cards in the index card box for ideas.

- Rhonda shares how she keeps track of what is in the workboxes by using Homeschool Tracker Software

Don't Forget

The workbox system is just that---a system. It is a tool to use in this educational journey.

Comments, Thoughts, Suggestions? I'm All Ears!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lucille12 profile image

      lucille12 2 years ago

      You want to make a selection on regardless of whether to pick amongst the closed or open shoe racks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      That's really interesting thanks. I think I will use this system with my granddaughter for the summer school holidays.Might be useful to help me with MY jobs too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The link for the Essay writing tool takes you to a blog that says you have to be invited to be able to read it. If anyone is able to contact the owner of that blog, I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee for the writing program if they are willing to share it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. I highly enjoyed how organized and neat this is. My home-school is in a very small area. These pointers are very helpful. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm 4 years ago

      I know friends who use this system and found that it works great for them. Your lens is incredibly informational and inspirational. I hope to someday use this system myself.

      Li Li

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      What a great idea!!!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      SquidAngel blessings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am a homeschool mom of 2 (1st and 3rd grade) and we use work"boxes" well manilla folders for us during independent work time.

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 5 years ago from Slovakia

      An excellent idea

    • profile image

      funbee lm 5 years ago

      a really good idea

    • steph-naylor profile image

      steph-naylor 5 years ago

      This is a pretty cool lens!

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 5 years ago

      Nicely done! Didn't do this with my girls, but will be sharing it on my FB page HomeschoolPreschoolthruHighschool on July 27th.

    • LLMom27 profile image

      LLMom27 5 years ago

      Such a beautiful lens. I have used workboxes for several years, and they have been so helpful in my homeschool.

    • profile image

      GeniePark 5 years ago

      They look like cool way to organize kids room too. Specially around there table.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      Workboxes are great too so students don't have to take out supplies from their backpack or from home all the time.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Boxes are foundation of better organisation. Great overall!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      SUPER Useful Lens.

    • Titus2Homemaker profile image

      Titus2Homemaker 5 years ago

      This is such a great overview of workboxes! I have bookmarked this, and will keep it in mind for when people ask me what workboxes are.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Nice organization ideas that can also work for lots of other projects. Congratulations on having one of the top 35 homeschooling lenses.

    • profile image

      RobinDM 5 years ago

      I love our boxes and really enjoy seeing what others are doing. Thanks for this wonderful lens!

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 5 years ago

      What a wonderful tool! How I wish I had implemented something like this for my precious ADD daughter! Congratulations on a practical, helpful lens!

    • Hedremp profile image

      Sandra Wilson 5 years ago from Wilson Education Resource Centre

      I think it is a wonderful way to keep organized! Great job!

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      I do not homeschool, but this system should work for all kinds of projects for just about anybody - especially those of us who work on line. I can imagine household chores and daily exercise and internet projects in a box system. Thank you for helping me to understand this brilliant concept. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      The SquidAngel School Bus is driving through your neighborhood leaving ~*~*~*~*~angel dus~*~*~*~*~ sprinkles along the way!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've been here before but wanted to stop by again to leave a blessing from this angel on the "Back to School Bus Trip."

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you so much, I have been trying to figure how this works, and your article helped me a lot. I have been homeschooling my kids for 8 years, and this looks very interesting especially for my 4th grade daughter.

    • TeacherRenee profile image

      TeacherRenee 6 years ago

      Very interesting ideas, thanks for sharing. And thanks for visiting my "teaching your children to write their name" lens and sharing the link to your printables. Very nice!

    • kwhiting644 lm profile image

      kwhiting644 lm 6 years ago

      I teach special needs children and there are some very good ideas on here. Thanks.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      cool ideas.

      Btw, great looking lens. Awesome job!

      Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 6 years ago

      This sounds like a great idea, however, I think it would be a lot of extra work to fill these boxes every day. My kids have all their work laid out by day in an assignment book and they keep their work in a plastic tub (we call them their schoolbuckets). They know each day what to do and what order to work in by following the assignment books. They check off assignments as they are done. I have 7 kids, no space and am schooling 5 of them (one preschooler and one baby) so far. Great info here, but I don't think it would work for me.

    • achraf lm profile image

      achraf lm 6 years ago

      great idea! very helpful, thanks a lot

    • profile image

      AdriennePetersen 6 years ago

      Great idea for all sorts of projects too! Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Good stuff for saving my place!

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      I'm in education and your system is very helpful. Thanks! and congrats!

    • Susan300 profile image

      Susan300 6 years ago

      Great lens. Great system. Glad I stopped by. :)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      This lens is now featured on The Homeschool Club on Facebook www.facebook.com/homeschool.club

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      Congratulations on receiving a well-deserved Lens of the Day award!

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      great lens...:)

    • profile image

      canonpowershotprice 6 years ago

      Excellent Lens , Great Idea

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Interesting lens and this system seems very organized!! It's also a great way to keep children interested. Congrats on LOTD. :)

    • profile image

      sa_kargo 6 years ago

      what a great system!

    • ChaosAndCritters profile image

      ChaosAndCritters 6 years ago

      Although I had never heard of this system, I did a very similar setup back when I was homeschooling all of my kids! They're in school now that we live in a tiny rural community, but with summer vacation coming up next week, I think it's time to put in a workbox system for the next three months!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 6 years ago

      Sounds like a great system! I think it could be a great way to occupy children at home as well as in a classroom setting.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congratulations on a well deserved LOTD!

    • profile image

      AltogetherLeather 6 years ago

      Love this post about organization - I can always use more of it in my life! :)

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the advice.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I wish I could be so organized -:)

    • jennysue19 profile image

      jennysue19 6 years ago

      It's an interesting lens, mainly because homeschooling is less popular in the UK. I guess it's because we mostly don't have people living out in the sticks too far for kids to get to school every day. One thing I don't see much of here and that is teaching children healthy eating habits. How about including an activity that involves a healthy snack like some fruit or raw veg, together with a discussion and/or an assignment that backs it up. Or you could have a cooking session with related health education on nutrition. Teaching children to cook ensures that they don't grow up to think that all food comes ready-prepared from the supermarket and only needs a microwave. Gardening and growing food could also be an integrated activity with all kinds of spin-offs like wildlife, climate change and so on. Education is not just about the core subjects. I'm not a parent, but if I had been, I might well have ended up home-schooling because so many of these things don't seem to feature in the curriculum of a typical British school.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      I have seen the workboxes system on TV a year ago and decided to follow. The system helps the family so much in organizing toys, papers, books and the list goes on.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Seems like a very good system.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 6 years ago from Washington KS

      Wow! I can see where the workbox set up would work equally well for other tasks, such as organizing bills etc. Great lens! Congrats on getting LOTD.

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 6 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Well done on LOTD. I need to implement some of these ideas into my daily life I think!

    • profile image

      Mellony 6 years ago

      Great lense, great ideas !

    • profile image

      WeirdStuff 6 years ago

      This is how I imagine a useful lense! L(

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image

      Lisa-Marie-Mary 6 years ago

      What a cool system to organize the school day - I love it! Congratulations for getting LOTD - great work!

    • profile image

      sujaysen 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Thanks.

    • Lace9 profile image

      Lace9 6 years ago

      What a fantastic lens, I love how you took the time to highlight the ways in which some families have tweaked the idea. As a homeschooling mother of three I think I am going to have to give the book a read myself. Oh & congrats on LOTD too :) well deserved.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, what a great resource. Thanks for all the examples of how you and other people use workboxes. Congrats on a well-deserved LOTD!

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      congrats on LOTSD, looks like useful info.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      So true, so good and so easy. I need to work on my boxes more....hehe

    • profile image

      Ruthi 6 years ago

      Terrific ideas for helping us all get organized! Congratulations on Lens of the Day! I hope you'll stop by my Teachers are Heroes lens, since you are one!

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      Thank you for this great explanation and example of using a work box system! Congrats on the LOTD too!

    • profile image

      67Shelbygal 6 years ago

      Great Lens. Congrats on LOTD! :)

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

      Very useful lens and so worthy of LOTD - congratulations!!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      fantastic homeschool resource! Congrats on LOTD!

    • ikeephouse profile image

      ikeephouse 6 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Congratulations on LotD - a worthy example for everyone to enjoy.

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 6 years ago from Chicago area

      Awesome lens. I don't have children but a lot of this I could adapt to my own needs. If you saw my home office you'd know why. Congrats on LOTD - well deserved.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Congrats on LOTD! As a former elementary school teacher, I appreciate every system that contributes to a well-organized learning environment. Thank you for a very useful lens with tips that can be immediately applied. All the very best to you.

    • creativedreams profile image

      creativedreams 6 years ago

      Nice lens!

      I see the point of using this to engage younger kids (and to keep the required items, that looks amazing too), but won't a bit older ones feel a bit funny about playing with boxes instead of just having an agenda/printed schedule?

      That said, I think it's neat. It could even work in traditional schools with few children per classroom. Gives everybody a very clear pointer of what is next to be done, what they need to do it, etc... It should encourage initiative as well (instead of the teacher or parent telling them what to do all the time).

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 6 years ago

      As I was a teacher and used to consider myself a good one, I admire the fact that you chose to home school your children. I was a single parent and wanted to homeschool my sons, but I was very lenient with them. I let them get away with a lot of things that perhaps I should have objected to, and did not. I started to teach so if they needed me, I would be in the same place they were. It would not have worked at home. But, I'm rambling, great lens, excellent information. See you around the galaxy...

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I just got the books and work pages for next semester for our first time of homeschooling. These are great ideas as I was not sure how to organize and keep track of all that stuff. Thanks for the timely tips. Congrats of LOTD.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your LOTD .. dear, SpellOutloud :) So wonderful lens with a lot of great ideas. Have a wonderful time.. always :)

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      A fantastic idea, very well presented! Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image

      TKOSquidoo 6 years ago

      Nice lens!

    • Dee Gallemore profile image

      Dee Gallemore 6 years ago

      Great information and wonderfully done . . . congrats on LoTD! Well-deserved.

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      Congrats for the LoTD.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 6 years ago from Croatia

      Awesome! Well deserved LOTD :)))

    • profile image

      djroll 6 years ago

      Great suggestions. I'll share it on my Facebook page with many mommies.

    • bbsoulful2 profile image

      bbsoulful2 6 years ago

      Thank you! I need something like this, because my little guys is smart as a whip, but not always organized, and I know this would be helpful for him. Terrific! Favorited...

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      thank you for sharing this lens! i love to have everything well organized! cheers

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You just got a "Lucky Leprechaun Blessing" from a SquidAngel who really loves your lens. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      So here you are....jumped over to check out your lenses. You have some great lenses! I think you should definitely build some more! I am adding to my favorites and blessing.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 6 years ago from US

      *Blessed* by a squid angel;)

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Absolutely great lens. I don't have any children,, but this looks like a wonderful organizational tool many different groups might be able to use.

    • SheilaVine LM profile image

      SheilaVine LM 6 years ago

      I like this idea very much many of my students would have benefited from learning about it earlier they are so disorganised

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 6 years ago from Quezon City

      The work box system is a wonderful and clever organizing idea that can be used in home offices/workspaces too - I just might have to start implementing this as well!

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 6 years ago

      This is a great lens for all, and really good for the unorganized (like myself) I will refer back to this one many times, see you around the galaxy...

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 7 years ago

      Great lens:) We need all the help we can get, helping our 5 year old stay organized. Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      The Random Happenings of Us mentioned in this link is now moving to www.teachertofour.blogspot.com . I am in the middle of switching posts over, but have also added other posts.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I was wondering exactly what they were and how they were used. Thanks for explaining them so well! I don't know that this would work with my junior and senior highers, but it would definitely be helpful to my elementary son. I think it would help him know what to do while I'm working with his siblings. Thanks! : )

    • profile image

      webseitler 7 years ago

      Great lens! I will have to come back and make some time to really read everything and check out these links. I love this idea for homeschooling. :)

    • LilliputStation profile image

      LilliputStation 7 years ago

      You did a great job with this lens. I love the workbox idea, but I think it would be too much for our family. With 7 in school ages 5-14, I think I'd go crazy trying to set things up every day. I may try it with my little "caboose" when he is older. I'll have to bookmark this page to refer back to.

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      I haven't tried workboxes, but it does sound like a neat idea. Great lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I purchased the e-book, not the tangible book, but I do believe you only have access to PDF files of the color printouts online. Many other hs moms have made some cute workbox cards. What you can do is save the file on your computer and email it/bring in a CD to Kinkos or a local copy center. They can print them for you.

      Also, there is not a special book for toddler workboxes. The concept is the same, but you just tailor the activities to be appropriate for toddlers.

      I hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I was looking for something like this for my two year old. I think I'm going to purchase the book. Does the book have the actual cards and color printouts or just access to them online? I do not have a color printer at home. Is there a specific book for the toddler workboxes?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hello:

      Please update the forum location for the workbox forum. It will no longer be located on ning but has been relocated to the following address:

      http://workboxusers.spruz.com/

      Thank you for all you referrals to our forum.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I can use one myself.

    • Tiffany3 profile image

      Tiffany3 7 years ago

      I have long admired this system. Great lens!