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Our First Grade Workbox System

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I’ve mentioned before that my daughter loves schedules. She likes to know what is going to happen and she likes to check off a “To Do List.” My husband likes schedules too and gets pretty flustered if I change up our plans last minute. I’m a slave to schedules as well, but have always approached them with an attitude of flexibility. My daughter and my husband don’t share this love of flexibility with me at all. So, when preparing for the upcoming school year, I decided to give Sue Patrick’s Workbox System a try. The general idea is that students are presented with a daily schedule that maps out all of your expectations for them that day. This schedule is combined with numbered drawers that hold their work for the day. It is an amazing system in that there are not questions about what is going to get done and if your child needs that kind of discipline, it is an easy way for you not to loose your mind as you plan ahead of time.

How I Set it Up

Image 2After reading Sue Patrick’s book, I took what I liked and then searched online for other ideas. I found many variations on the idea. For example, rather than drawers, you can use file folders, magazine boxes, or the system I chose, bags and boxes. After reading Sue’s ebook, I decided that the box/bag system would work best for us. I only have one daughter and limited space so we did not need something too big. We also needed something portable. I decided to use two Sterlite Boxes- one for the IN work (where I put Mya’s bags of work) and one for the OUT work (where she puts her work once completed). I also use Hefty 5 gallon large zipper bags. These are big enough to put most books and supplies for each activity. To personalize the boxes I created purple heart tags for in and out and then made blank scheduling sheets with 12 squares each. I also created square tags- small ones numbered 1-12 and larger ones numbered 1-12. Additionally, I created multiple copies of the following tags: make bed, calendar, wash up, get dressed, freewrite, clock in, clock out, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, clean up, nap, snack, martial arts, dance, break 30, break 45, read 30, art, music, computer, wii resort, play, bath, help and bedtime. I laminated everything and added velcro tabs to them- the soft side is stuck to the tags, the harder side to the schedule and boxes.

How We Use It

Each night, I fill out the Workbox Planning Sheet to map out the specific activities that I will place in each bag. I load up the bags and place the appropriate large numbered tag on each one. I also include two other tags if needed. For example, I add “help” if it is an activity that requires adult supervision, “clean up” if it is messy, and so on. Andrew and I need this Planning Sheet because it helps her both know what the other has done with her too.

Mya's ScheduleI then create Mya’s schedule as seen in the image above, including both her morning and her night routines. In the morning, Mya begins with the first thing on her schedule. As she completes each task, she removes the tag from the schedule and places it on the OUT box. When she completed a bag, she puts it in the OUT box so that I know to check it. I go over her work while she continues to keep working and then discuss them with her as needed.

Of all the systems that I’ve tried, this is the best for us so far. Not only does it satisfy Mya’s need to know what is coming next, it helps me get an idea about what we are completing and how long some assignments may take. I am also more focused and less inclined to let things slide because I know at the end of the day the IN box needs to be empty! So far we are enjoying using this!




4 replies on “Our First Grade Workbox System”

We tried a very similar workbox system last year with Sterilite tower drawer systems (we have more space than you all!). It lasted about two weeks before we let it fall by the wayside. I just write out a basic weekly schedule for my older son now, and he can read well enough to know what’s happening. I’ve kept all of our workbox system lying in wait, though–I think my younger son will prove to be like Mya and want that concrete scheduling. As it is, I’ve been sticking to my lesson planning and it keeps me from letting things slide for both guys so far.

…and I really need to take a harder look at Meet the Masters. 🙂

The thing about the Workbox system is that Mya likes it so much that even if I did not I would be forced to stick with it. The ease of this system for me is that she likes it so much that it gets hr excited about what is happening next. She likes completing things… hey, whatever works, right?!

Meet the Master’s is OK. I like the intro to the artist but I am not sure how I like about the activities.

ETA- Thanks for commenting!

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