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How We’re Using Workboxes

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Note: For those of you who have asked about how this worked for us during the year ~ it went well, but we did do some tweaking! See the post Our New Workbox System: Weekly Workbox Grid to read more about our updated system!

While I love the Workbox System and understand why Sue Patrick set it up the way she did {and why it works that way}, we seriously do not have room for 48 boxes, 4 shelving systems and to implement it the way she recommends. Kaleb’s workboxes are very similar to Sue’s system, but for our other three we modified the system to fit our family and it is working great for us.

Want to see some pictures?

Our workbox number strips and tags hang over near our school shelves in our dining room. Each of our kids is color-coded {trust me, it helps keep track of all those different school supplies}.

The strips are laminated and I punched them with a hole punch and hooked them onto a book ring. We hang them on one of the 3M adhesive hooks and the kids can take them down to put in their ‘work space’ when it’s time for school.

Next to where our tags hang we have a set of four drawers. The drawers all hold the kids school supplies: markers, pencil boxes, our ‘workfolders‘, mini office folders, journals, and books that are specific just to them.

Our workboxes are actually more like ‘workfolders‘. I saw a similar idea on one of the yahoo groups and walked into Walmart a few days later and found folders that were all our kids color codes. Each of the folders originally only had 8 pockets, so I bought a few extra folders, took the comb binding off, and added a few extra pages so they all had 12 pockets. The inside folders are clear. If something that we are doing doesn’t fit into one of the folders {a puzzle, a manipulative, or a ‘hands-on lesson’} the kids have a special tag on their folder that lets them know what they should be doing.

Most of the folder pages have their worksheets, journals or papers they need slid into the folder itself. When they finish the page, they remove the number from their number strip and put it next to the number on their folder. If there is another tag on that page already {see the picture tagged ‘folder page for spelling’ above} we have a basket in the middle of our table where the kids return the ‘extra’ activity cards for me to sort and store later.

Those big and bulky items need a place to be stored for the kids to find. Kaleb’s shelf has 12 boxes, and 4 of the boxes are oversized. Kaleb’s school things are in the top 8 boxes and if there is a puzzle or special game the older kids are going to work on, they find them in the bottom 4 boxes.

I have quite a few activity and subject cards for things that we do during our school day that don’t have worksheets to go along with them {spelling, geography, language} ~ all things that the kids work 1:1 with Mommy. Kari from The Snails Trail mentioned that she had found a pocket chart in the dollar section at Target, so I ran over there quickly to grab one for myself. I have the chart stuck on the inside of my spice cabinet {yeah, my husband was thrilled to see that}. I used the removable adhesive hooks and tabs from 3M to keep it hanging up on the cabinet door.

There are cards we use daily {located on the bottom rows}, subjects and activities we only do one or two days a week (alphabetized in the top few rows}, and special cards for activities out of the house {museum, library, and outside activities}. I have them sorted so I can grab them quickly.

That is our system in a very LARGE nutshell. :) If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

You can view and download all my workbox printables that go along with our workboxes, in my post titled Workbox Tags & Cards. Also, don’t forget the fun preschool workbox number cards for your little ones!.


This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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  1. I can’t think through how to use the time cards…however, I really want to. Where do you add the times on, for example, a knitting workbox, computer game time–when I want them to only do it for 15 minutes?

    • typically we have the time cards added onto the pockets {because we aren’t using boxes, but the workfolders} or an extra bin. depending on their age, the kids usually know how long an activity is and will grab a timer if needed. The time cards really help our younger ones put a limit on how long they need to do something.

  2. How did you make the work folders? Erikahargrave@gmail.com

  3. Jolanthe, how old are your kids? (grade levels?)… I feel like this is adding WAY more work to my day…. currently, I just let them turn the page in the workbook, and we all work together (except my 7th grader). I have two 1st graders, and a K and a PK and a baby. How long does it take you at night to load this stuff up? and how much time would you say it saves you in the day? How long did it take your kids to get used to this routine and follow it unsupervised?? Thanks…

    • Our kids are 7, 9, 11, and 12. The workboxes have been a HUGE help in streamlining everything. I don’t reload their boxes every day. With the folders I am able to put in their pages for the entire week and they work through them as the week goes along. If they want to, they can work ahead in a certain subject. Overall, it has really been a help because I am not pulling out sheets daily and the kids know what is expected of them up front. Our oldest two work independently and our 9 year old – well, he has attention issues anyway (wink). There are good days and bad days for him. Our youngest knows exactly what is in his pockets for the week as well and pulls out the ones he can work on independently as well.

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