Sunday, July 19, 2009

Treasure boxes

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
Proverbs 24: 3 & 4



Welcome to my new obsession... An old idea explained in detail in Sue Patrick's Workbox System. Delightfully suited to homeschoolers of children in any age range! It's not a curriculum. It's is merely a way to organize our school day, keeping children on task & mom accountable.

Perhaps it's me (although after reading Sue's book and through more blogs on this new craze, I'm beginning to suspect it's not *just* me!). I have great curriculum. Each subject chosen on it's own merit and with each child in mind. I own more activities, books, craft supplies, and games than a non-homeschooler can imagine! Within these four walls, I have everything to make our school days fun, challenging, creative, complete. What I lack is the apparent ability to organize these things to easily incorporate them into our day.

What's a mama to do? Treasure boxes (or workboxes if you plan on Googling them)! The idea is delightfully simple. Each child has a rack of boxes. The mama fills them with as much as she wants each child to reasonably complete the next school day. After breakfast & morning chores are done, my children now "clock" in to school and set out to empty their rack.


A view of our boxes. We're schooling through the summer as no one is complaining yet and we're making good progress. Our days are lighter and we're taking more breaks so everyone is happy!


Schedule strips for each child. As with all things around here, each kiddo has a color (when possible). Rhys= blue. Kjersten= pink. Brennen= green. Cael= orange. This applies to towels, toothbrushes, cups, pencil boxes, etc... Anything I can coordinate this way, I do. I never wonder whose towel is on the bathroom floor, but I digress...

The schedule strips are set by the mama when she fills the treasure boxes. For instance, if you see Kjersten's strip above (pink, if you weren't paying attention in the previous paragraph!), you'll notice she has 1-3 and then a cute little computer picture. She is to do boxes 1, 2, & 3 and then she gets 15 minutes on the computer (http://tutpup.com/ is the current favorite). When her timer dings, she's on to box 4. Following that, she has 15 minutes of guitar before she continues with box #5.

She can look at her schedule strip and see what's next. She can look at her shelves and see how many boxes are left (as she completes the boxes, the box and the completed work go in a large bin). It's motivating for her to see fewer and fewer boxes as she works her way through...



Rhys' boxes- If it requires help from mom, there's a tab on the front (see box #7). For this day he has (in order) math, spelling review, Flashmaster, handwriting, library reading, homophone worksheet, new spelling, and a cribbage game with the mama!


Here's a peek at Brennen's. In order, he has stamping letters, library reading, math worksheet, small craft, maze worksheet, new spelling, and handwriting. Rest assured, his schedule strip included jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes, etc...

Even baby Cael has boxes holding puzzles, toys, coloring, etc...

With the boxes all laid out, my kids can see what their school day will include. The fun stuff (games, crafts, cooking projects, and so on) motivate them to get to the boxes that hold them. The dwindling number of boxes as they work through encourage them to keep going.

For me, the advantages are incredible. No more "Mom... I'm done with math. Now what?!" No more three kids needing help with spelling at the same time (there's power in determining the order of those boxes for each kid)!

We're still fine tuning our system and I'm constantly on the look out now for great treasure box activities. So... stay tuned for updates as we cruise into our "regular" school year this fall!

Resources:

7 comments:

Colleen said...

Good lord, that seems complicated to me. I'm glad it's working out for you and your kiddos though. Are all of those boxes actually in your house? How do you find the room? Even with one kid, we are out of extra space for anything!

Anonymous said...

I love this!!! If I'd know when my kids were little, I might have given home-schooling a try! You rock! Sharmi

Rana said...

It does look complicated, but sounds like a really neat system. I love the idea of the boxes. Where did you find the shelves that the boxes are sitting on? I've been looking for something like those.

The Ferguson Five (5) said...

I am impressed!! I love this idea! Don't know if I am brave enough to apply it, but I am encouraged just by what you have done!! Great Job!

Karen said...

Rana, those shelves are from the laundry aisle at Target (orange box/ $15 each). They sell another similar shelf made with wood/ chrome. A friend has them and does NOT like them; they're not as stable.

It really isn't "complicated." It just takes a bit of setting up and then it just flows! Well worth the effort!

Lisa A. said...

Hi -- really like your system, thanks for sharing! I was wondering, is it still working out for you? Was it sustainable over the years? I've found many blogs showing setup and beginnings, but I'd like to see some long-term results. Not that it wouldn't be worth it even if just used for a shorter time, just curious. Thanks! Lisa

Karen Sunderland said...

Gosh, I haven't blogged forever. I'd forgotten all about this post. However, just an hour ago, I was in our schoolroom filling workboxes for Monday! It does work. I use it every day we do school and my kids have just grown up using this system. It has changed a bit for the older ones. I use a "tower" of drawers for my 13 year old. My nine and six year old are still using the same boxes you see in the pictures. Same schedule strips. It just works!

If you would like more info on what we do or how, email me at mom2mykiddos @ gmail.com.