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The Workbox System {Sue Patrick}

“Learning how to learn is one of the most important things we can teach our children.”

~ Sue Patrick
p. 14, Workbox System
SM
User’s Guide

If you’ve been reading blogs or visiting homeschool forums lately, I’m sure that you’ve heard the term ‘workboxes’ buzzing around. Sue Patrick’s Workbox SystemSM is one of the newest ways to organize your homeschool day, helping you structure your time more efficiently and present curriculum in a way that helps children learn more independently.

If you know me at all, I’m sure you realize that I thrive on order. Love it. When I first heard about the Workbox SystemSM, I was immediately intrigued. Finding out I had the chance to review it for the Homeschool Crew was icing on the cake. Sue Patrick was at my local homeschool convention and I was able to see the workboxes set up as she recommends, hear her story, and gain an understanding of how {and why} the system works.

How did the Workbox SystemSM start?

Sue Patrick developed the system to help her son with special needs grow and develop academically. Her success in teaching her son encouraged her to help other families with children of ALL abilities achieve success in their homeschooling.

How does the system work?

This quick slideshow, put together by Sue, does a GREAT job summarizing how the system is set up and works in a homeschool setting.



The system is set up with 12 workboxes {or an amount that works for your child’s age} that are filled with your core subjects as well as fun manipulatives: file folder games, puzzles, or other learning games. Your child works through the boxes in numerical order, with help as needed. There are other cards added in throughout their day for things like snack, lunch, or different activities {exercise, centers, etc…}.

The system encourages your child to work more independently on their schoolwork, although your child is given several ‘help’ cards to use as needed throughout their day. Some boxes may have a ‘work with mom’ card, letting your child know that they need to do that subject with your assistance. Everything that your child needs for the activities is contained in the workbox, so that they do not need to wander off in search of the activity…and forget to wander back!

Are workboxes for me {and you}?

While I already have a fairly organized school day, I knew that this would help our school day in several ways:

  • I would be more accountable to actually plan and use curriculum on our shelves {i.e. many of my ‘unused’ manipulatives would finally see the light of our homeschool day}. The boxes need to be filled with activities and it helps me chunk out our school time.
  • It would encourage me to be more consistent in our school days. While I already have an overall idea of how I want our day to go, this gives me a bit more consistency in working through the day {read ~ I am easily distracted…}
  • Our kids would be able to literally ‘see’ what was happening each school day, because there is a definite order to each day. This doesn’t only apply to the kids either – I can also see what they have finished and still need to do!
  • My kids would be encouraged to work more independently ~ and work towards definite goals during their school day. The kids have fun things to look forward too, encouraging them to work toward those goals.
  • It would encourage me to add more ‘fun’ into our school day: learning games, nature walks, learning centers, trips to the museum…
  • It has given me a renewed excitement for our school time {and our kids too}. I’ve gone through our supplies and on-hand activities and have lists of all the things that we have on hand to do. Each day their boxes have fun ‘new’ things in them to do and they look forward to seeing what is planned!

If you are not {by nature} a structured or organized person and need help in this area for your schoolday, the Workbox SystemSM would be a great addition to your day. Sue’s book offers step-by-step instructions and suggestions on how to better plan your school day. In addition to explaining the physical structure of the Workbox SystemSM, she also shares her tips and tricks and philosophy of education.

If you already are structured and organized, well….let’s just say that it didn’t stop me! :) I have been so excited about the Workbox SystemSM and couldn’t wait to share more about it with you all! Putting the system together for our family has been a lot of fun for me and our kids love how it has come together and enjoy using it!

Setting up Your System

You will need to purchase more than the book to set up your workboxes at home, but you can find the supplies at your local Walmart or Target {Sue shows an example of her system set-up in slides 5 & 6 above}. Additional supplies include a wire shelving system, clear shoe boxes, velcro, number cards and strips, and other optional supplies.

Note: Sue does not recommend altering the system until you have tried her method as it is written and then alter it to fit your needs. It is important that you read through her book to fully understand her thoughts and the heart behind the system.

We had a wooden shelf that was similar to the one Sue Patrick recommends in her book and that is working great with Kaleb. He only has 6 boxes a day and they are filled with fun and educational toys for him {lacing beads, stacking blocks, color matching bears}, coloring sheets, and other fun age-appropriate toys.

I was worried about all the velcro and finding numbers all over the house with Kaleb, but he has been great with it. Zachary recently turned all of the numbers upside-down on Kaleb’s boxes and when Kaleb noticed it, he carefully turned all the numbers right-side-up {the velcro numbers themselves can be educational!}.

Because we started in the summer, we haven’t done it in full force yet {using all 12}, but it has already made a difference in how the kids approach what we are doing for the day because they can see what is planned right up front. We have limited space in our house, so the three oldest kids are still using the number/sequencing format and a similar set-up, but I have altered how we implement the workboxes a little bit. At this point it is much more efficient for us and works well for our family.

Depending on the size of your family, an alternative to the racks and boxes might be necessary. For us, four kids means 48 boxes which take up a lot of room. The more children you have, the space they take up increases. There are families that have come up with alternatives {ours included} to using the racks and boxes. In essence, that is a great benefit to homeschooling ~ finding great tools like the Workbox SystemSM and being able to adjust them to meet your family’s needs.

How can I find out more?

All of the workbox products are offered through Sue Patrick’s Workbox SystemSM site, and her book is available with several different options:

  • E-book download ($19)
  • Book purchase ($19.95 plus s/h ~ also available through Amazon)
  • Book & consulting package ($119.95 plus s/h) – includes 4 months of email consultation with Sue regarding the system

Once you have purchased the book, Sue offers resources on her website for download, as well as starter packages that include centers, log books, and a typing program {these packages are not necessary to use the program}. Sue also offers velcro dots in sets of 300 at a great price too.

The book is a wonderful resource to keep on hand and be able to refer back to when you have questions or need a quick ‘refresher’. In addition to walking you through the Workbox SystemSM, there are suggestions for hands on resources, storage ideas and learning centers. Sue is also updating her site to add additional online resources for those who purchase her book and register with her site.

For me, this was also a wonderful excuse to buy the laminator that I had been eyeing for awhile. Now, not only is our homeschool day more consistent, everything also comes with a nice shiny finish. It’s pure heaven!

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.
As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I was given this product to review,
and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post.
All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Preschool Corner: Workbox Number Cards

I had every intention of posting a different printable this week, but I’ve been so wrapped up in getting our workboxes pulled together that my focus was a little swayed.

Some of you may be wondering what workboxes are {I’ll soon be posting about the system and how we’re using it this year} and some of you have already been sucked into the workbox realm. Making the workboxes fun and appealing to both me and the kids is important, so I asked both boys what they wanted on their number cards. The answers were ‘Chicken Little’ and ‘Nemo’. And then Zachary saw the Chicken Little ones and decided he wanted Monsters, Inc. instead. Since I can fit two sets on a page, I had to throw in a Bug’s Life too.

Click on the graphic to download and print the document.

The printable has two pages of number cards with the four different character sets above. I’ll be printing off two copies – one for the boxes and one for their number strips. Stay tuned to see how we’re all piecing it together!

If you are wondering about the different colors, we color code our kids. Yes, I’m serious. Each one has their own color – makes it a whole lot easier to figure out what belongs to who. Blue is for Zachary and green is for Kaleb.

While I’m in the midst of planning and re-organizing our upcoming school year, the world around me hasn’t stopped. So share, share, share!! What all have you been doing this last week?

About the Preschool Corner:

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our “preschool time” with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Please link your exact blog post to the Mr. Linky below (if you have questions feel free to ask). Be sure to link back to this blog post so that your readers can find some other great ideas too!

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you’ve been doing in your house this week!

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School’s Out Summer Challenge {girly-style}


A few days ago I shared Zachary’s School’s Out! Challenge, but wanted to also share what we’re doing with the girls. They’ve been working like mad to earn some of the treats on their list and have already listened to three different audio books in the Narnia series and completed NUMEROUS other feats to earn those precious points.

Note: ** I am not the one who came up with the idea ~ I based ours from Carissa’s Summer Plans at 1+1+1=1. Be sure to head over and see what she’s doing too!**

The girls earn points based on a list that I pulled together of school-type things or helping out around the house. There are different levels of points that they can cash in for a prize…or show a little restraint to save up for a big prize. Once a prize has been earned it is crossed off the list and they can start on another one. I happen to have some things that I found at yard sales for **cheap, cheap, cheap** to use as bribery bait incentive.

25 points: Trip to Target dollar section; trip to Dollar Tree; book from Gift & Thrift

50 points: Outfit for Our Generation doll or Frosty from Wendy’s

75 points: Ice cream for dinner or a little sister for Only Hearts Club doll

The points page is hanging nearby to remind me of how many points then can earn for different things {the areas are similar to Zachary’s, but stepped up a notch}:

~ Reading/Listening: Audio books {in the van} or reading independently

~ Writing – a complete story {illustrated earns bonus points}

~ Bible – daily Bible reading together {without fighting}

~ Spanish – Using a cd-rom we have and knowing the words Mommy asks

~ Lapbook review – going over the lapbooks we’ve done this past year

~ Letter writing – choose someone on our list to write to {practicing addressing and proper letter etiquette} – grandparents, cousins, uncles/aunts, Compassion child

~ Chores & Extra: Cleaning up without being asked, going all day without tv, etc….

If you are interested in doing something similar with your kids, I uploaded a blank set of Summer Challenge sheets for boys and girls to Scribd. Just follow the link and you can download your own set to print off. If it doesn’t work for you, let me know and I can email you the pdf file.

Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!

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Preschool Corner: Summer Challenge


A quick note about Summer Preschool Corner: Summer will be a little more laid back, so feel free to share a fun craft or other fun idea that you are doing at home ~ you don’t have to have an elaborate week’s worth of plans to participate. I won’t! :)

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With summer in full swing around our house we’ve had very little “school time” as it generally is. What we have had a lot of is playing outside, sprinkler running, pool time and craziness. Somehow I have a feeling the majority of our summer is going to be like this! :) {and really…that’s ok!}.

So while I don’t have a day-by-day account of what we’ve done, I will share something with you that we have implemented for the summer called “School’s Out Reading Challenge!” We’re doing this with our oldest three, but made it a little easier for Zachary. I am not the one who came up with the idea ~ I based ours from Carissa’s Summer Plans at 1+1+1=1. Be sure to head over and see what she’s doing too!


Each day Zachary can earn points based on a list that I pulled together of school-type things or helping out around the house. When he earns a certain level of points he can cash them in for a prize or hold out for a big prize. At the rate we’re going right now, I might have to offer several prizes throughout the summer, but you might notice my prize list is a little {ahem} cheap. :) Here are the prizes he can earn {and little does he know I have some of the things already stashed away in my closet!}:

15 points: Trip to Target dollar section; trip to Dollar Tree; book from the Thrift Store

30 points: Frosty from Wendy’s or a Hot Wheels car

45 points: Ice cream for dinner or a new dinosaur


The points page is hanging nearby to remind me of how many points Zachary earns for different things:

~ Reading/Listening: Audio books {in the van} or reading a book to Mommy

~ Writing – completing a writing worksheet

~ Bible – Mommy sits to read a Bible story from our ‘special Bible’

~ Spanish – Using a cd-rom we have and knowing the words Mommy asks

~ Lapbook review – going over the lapbooks we’ve done this past year

~ Letter writing – {Mommy will help with this}

~ Chores & Extra: Cleaning up without being asked, going all day without tv, etc….

If you are interested in doing something similar with your kids, I uploaded a blank set of Summer Challenge sheets for boys and girls to my site. Just follow the link and you can download your own set to print off. If it doesn’t work for you, let me know and I can email you the pdf file.

About the Preschool Corner:

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our “preschool time” with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Please link your exact blog post to the Mr. Linky below (if you have questions feel free to ask). Be sure to link back to this blog post so that your readers can find some other great ideas too!

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you’ve been doing in your house this week!

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Geography Notebooking Sheet / Travel Diary

Here are two geography notebooking pages to help you in your geography studies. 

country geography notebooking page

Country Geography Notebooking Page ~ Jot down some notes on the country you are studying: square miles, longitude/latitude, natural resources, religions, languages and more. It also has space to add a picture of the country you are learning more about.

country fact sheet notebooking page for geography studies

The Country Fact Sheet {or travel diary} can be used for any country {I left the country name area intentionally blank}. There are several boxes on the page to record information about the country being studied: Facts about the country, someone famous from the country, famous landmark(s), and other fun information about the country. There is room for children to draw their own pictures, add clip art and journal answers on the page. Click here to print/download the Country Fact Sheet.

So you can see how we used it, I scanned in a completed one for the country of France. Ok ~ not quite completed and sorry the picture is a little dark {grins}. The handwriting is a little funky because Laurianna is trying to be artistic and make fun letters…and then gets distracted halfway through…

Before we started the country fact sheet, I pulled out our atlas and jotted down a few things that I wanted to cover. For famous people I chose Claude Monet. Famous places ~ Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. As we worked through our atlas we filled in some of the blanks and then the girls wrote a sentence or two about the other areas. I googled the places we were going to cover and created some ‘clip art’ for them to cut and paste onto the notebooking sheet.


 
When we are done, this page will go into our geography notebook for the girls to review later in the year. Here are a few more printables and resources to help you out as well.

 

Printable Number Matching Cards

number-matching-cards-from-homeschool-creations

Remember when I asked you a little while ago which printable you wanted next? And then I avoided the number cards you all chose and selfishly made some Fruit and Vegetable Matching Cards?

I promised I was working on them ~ and today they are yours for the printing! The set includes the numbers 1-20, number words 1-20, Roman numerals 1-20 and also dot cards 1-20. I am loving that I can use these will all of my kids right now: Zachary can work on his number words, the girls can practice Roman numerals more, and Kaleb can start counting 1:1.

These cards are designed to help your child identify the numbers 1-20, practice counting with 1:1 correspondence from 1-20, identify number words 1-20, and also learn Roman numerals from 1-20.You can have your child sequence the numbers in the correct order, match the correct number card to the corresponding dot card, match Roman numerals to numbers…the rest is up to you!

The full set of cards is available for FREE by clicking on the download graphic below ~ I promise it’s easy! Enjoy!

 

Looking for more? Be sure to check out the additional number printables linked below!