Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Modified Workbox System

We started using our workboxes this week. Remember, I mentioned them last week?

I know you just want the out of focus awesome photos, but I am going to bore you with my interpretation of the workbox system. I believe the original idea was that each day, each child has a set number of school-related tasks, let's say 12 (though this number varies a lot). The night before, the parent or teacher puts each task in a separate box (tray, drawer, file folder, etc). The next day, the child knows that she is to do all of the tasks, most often in a specific order. Some will require adult assistance, but most will be independent. With this system, the child is more independent as a whole, knows exactly what is required of her, and can get to work with little guidance.

There is no why I want to spend EVERY night filling boxes. I prefer the once a week approach that a lot of people adopt. Also, I don't have room for 60 individual containers, so we have one box per day. This will work for us because for the most part, I don't really care what order the work gets done in. Throwing everything into one box leaves the sequence of completion up to Emma. I believe setting the workboxes up this way will teach her the importance of balance.

The way it works in our home is that sometime during the weekend, I fill out a workbox chart which looks like this
Weekly example
(you should be able to click this so get a larger image)

Jared and I feel that math, reading, writing, and physical exercise should be done every day. I wanted an easy way to check that these 4 activities are on each day so I color coded them. If each day has red, yellow, blue, and pink, I know the "basics" are covered.

While every day has the four subjects mentioned above, each day will have 2 "main" subjects, each getting 3 tasks. If you look at Monday, you can see that math and art are the main subjects. There are three math tasks (in red) and 3 art tasks (in purple). The rest of the everyday tasks are filled in, then I fill in the rest of the slots with brain breaks, or other fun things.

As you can see by looking at the other days, not every slot gets a task. Yet.

Once I had all the tasks plugged in, it was time to fill the boxes. Well, after we made the boxes. I'm way to cheap to spend money on something that may not last very long, so Jared and I cut up some moving boxes (I had to hold onto a few!) and made our own workbox boxes. Did I take pictures? Of course not.

Once the boxes were made, I was off gathering goodies. I want each box to have it's own special pen, pencil and clicky eraser (think mechanical pencil, but just the eraser part-Emma loves them). I don't think they all have this yet, but after a trip to Staples, they will.

Here is what our school bookcase looks like with the workboxes.

Sorry for the blurry picture! Eventually we will make the workboxes pretty, but for now is function over form. 

Workboxes (5)
Each workbox gets a copy of the chart. As Emma gets tasks accomplished, she crosses them off. Once everything is done, she flips over the chart where I have printed "Done!" Gives a fun sense of accomplishment, I think. I plan to make some fun and funky "Done!" cards this week. 

As for what's inside each workbox, here are Monday and Tuesday's workboxes. 

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (5)
Monday (math and art) Workbox Contents: 
Math- Skip Counting by 3's, Make 3, Addition Squares. Art- Leonardo's palette, Da Vinci's body box ("The Inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci", painters tape), Paper Horse (Box A- there wasn't room to fit all the supplies needed for this project in the Monday workbox). Writing- Lowercase practice. Reading- "Marley: Farm Dog," "How Do You Make a Giraffe Laugh?" P.E.- Dance Party activity card. Fun- 30 Minutes of ABC Mouse activity card, Rush Hour.

Workbox Day 2 22Jan13 (7)
Tuesday (writing and science) Workbox Contents: 
Writing- Letter To: activity card (I plan on making her a letter writing kit with cool stationary, colored pens, funky envelopes, and other goodies), Lowercase Practice,  First Grade Scholar pg. 8. Science- Microscope Activity Card (looking at salt and sugar), Stalagmite experiment, Planet Earth: Caves DVD (not pictured). Math- Transition Math pgs 26, 29, 30, 32-35, 43 (most of these pages were just fixing one or two mistakes). Reading- Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin. P.E.- Walk around the block activity card. Fun- Movie Project (though this also counts as art), Cooking Horse Treats (from scratch!).

Anyway, that's my interpretation of the workboxes and now here is how we did them on Monday and Tuesday.

It kinda seems like a lot, and at first, Emma felt like we were doing school ALL. DAY. LONG.

Were we? No. Both Monday and Tuesday her school work was done by lunch time, with the exception of one task*. Course we slept late both Monday and Tuesday, so we had a little less time to get the work done, causing us to have to do the missed activities after lunch. On Monday it was the paper horses (oh darn, hang out in the craft room listening to audio books and painting!), and today it was the her "Movie Project" (which is a topic for a different post). Basically it entailed her watching "Brave." Again, a very tough task.

*Knowing this is always a possibility, I'll save the "most fun" activity for last because I know there is a good chance these tasks will either take longer then anticipated, or it will evolve into something else entirely.*

Here is what Monday looked like.

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (3)
Emma working her way through her work box. 
She jumped right in with reading (while I ate breakfast), finishing both books before doing anything else. We talked later about mixing up the order- doing something not so fun, then something fun, etc. 

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (6)
Rush Hour 
We call these types of things "brain breaks." It also works as a waiting activity if she needs me for something and I am busy. 

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (7)
Addition Squares- She loves these! 

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (8) Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (10)
Make 3- 
Emma wasn't so nuts about this one, till I gave her some nuts to help her figure out the answers! 
(I was cracking nuts to make some grain-free granola and some grain-free granola balls)

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (13)
Dance Party
We plugged 3 songs into our media player and danced around the kitchen for about 10 minutes (me while mixing and taking photos!)

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (18) Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (23)
Da Vinci's "Man in a Box"

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (24)
Power Lunch!
Egg salad scooped up with red peppers and carrots

Workbox Day 1 21Jan13 (26) Workbox Day 1 21Jan13
Last Activity- Paper Horse (actually made from watercolor paper)
This one ended up being a work-in-progress kinda thing. Unfortunately paint doesn't dry on demand. 

And now for Tuesday.

Workbox Day 2 22Jan13 (5)
Checking out salt and sugar close up. 
(We are borrowing the microscope and I didn't have any slides, so we tried using ziplock baggies, but they didn't work so well. then I got the idea of using the glass from a picture frame. So much better!)

Workbox Day 2 22Jan13 (6)
Recording her observations

Workbox Day 2 22Jan13 (9)
Making some horse treats from scratch. 

I apparently didn't do a stellar job taking photos today (though as long as this post is, it's probably a good thing). My excuse is I was busing finishing up the grain-free granola and whipping up another batch of grain-free granola balls (at Jared's request). 

Well, that's our week so far. I feel like this approach will work well for the foreseeable future, though don't be surprised to find that we've made a few adjustments here and there.  

Happy Learning!


Des said...

We started workboxes a few wks. ago using a plastic file box with hanging files. I let the kids skip around as long as I am available to work with them if needed. I put a "work with mom" sheet in the file folder if I want them to talk to me first. Stuart loves it and gets done quicker. Ellie likes it but has been taking longer to get done. I like the independence. For Ellie I make a list of what needs to be done for the week so "if" she wants she can work ahead and get done early.
Love the "workbox" idea. Looks like you have a good set up.
I love the picture with Emma on the counter!

Anonymous said...

Wowzer on the great school ideas. I think Man in the Box take-off might be my favorite of this set. Or maybe ... too many good ideas!
Emma could always write to people about "school". Hey, Emma, how are the Valentines coming? Logan is waiting to see what a Valentine is! Gramma