Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I am doing a short presentation for our homeschool group on workboxes and how our family uses them and thought it would be fun to put my thoughts together and post it here.

I first heard of workboxes about  a year and half ago and it seemed like a fun way to present lessons to the children as well as a great way to organize our materials and learning time.  The creator of the Workbox System is Sue Patrick and she created the system when her son was diagnosed with Autism as a way to structure his day and  promote independence.  Sue began workboxes with her own children when they were 18 months old and has since taught her system to many homeschool families with children of all ages and learning needs.  Her book is called Sue Patrick's Workbox System A User's Guide. Google her website by typing in workbox system (I could not properly link to it--sorry).

Here are a few reasons Sue cites in her book for using workboxes:
  • to provide structure
  • to provide a clear and visual presentation of the child's work
  • to present your expectations
  • to provide fun and interesting materials
  • to promote independence
Sue says that the workboxes promote natural breaks, simplify lessons and give opportunities for review and I could not agree more.  Sue is very adamant that her system by followed step by step because it is tested and it works.  That being said I think all families have to find what works for mom and children.

Our system with our morning folders in box one. 
We have been using our boxes for a year and I have adapted the system to meet our needs and wants.  But just so you know, because I forgot to say what the system is, it is a put together shoe rack from target with 12 clear shoeboxes on its shelves. This is the system that we use but I have seen many other ways of using the idea with magazine boxes, file folders or even large envelopes. Now, onward.  I like the system because it organizes our materials, uses our many resources, shows the children what to expect for lessons that day and provides a clear ending point.  I use the boxes for calendar activities, morning folders, life skills, lessons, puzzles and file folder games. Sue suggests that fun activities be intermingled with more academic activities to provide motivation to complete the more difficult lessons.  I started our mornings with a morning folder in box number one.  The morning folder usually contained the days' calendar to be traced and filled in and any "funsheets" as we call worksheets, that could be completed independently.  Then subsequent boxes included books that needed to be read, hands on activities, projects or games.  Many people include a snack time as a box activity but I rarely did that and no I did not fill up 12 boxes per child.  E usually had 6 or 7 boxes and A had 5 or 6 boxes.  So currently I have one shoe rack for 2 children.  For my other 2 children I have a different system of trays or baskets on designated shelves, but that is another post.

Preparing for this post, I re-read Sue's book (get it, it is worth it) and it refreshed me for some new planning ideas to further implement her system.  I would like to add in more review using posters and try removing the boxes from the rack as they are completed.  Last year we did not remove the boxes and I wonder if removing them would promote a since of accomplishment and mastery in the children.

On the topic of using the boxes as review, I created a lot of file folder games using Evan Moore Take It To Your Seat Centers and file folders games.  I used the following sites to make the games :
Evan-Moore books and folders I made from the books.
Also Homeschool Share has a workbox section with many materials to print or glean ideas.

Some of the file folder games we enjoy.
Now, when I first heard about file folder games,  I thought "whatever" but now I cannot say enough about there fun and practicality of use for teaching things from counting to math operations to contractions.  I usually spent one or two days a month making up the folders to correlate with the months topics.  Oh, and when gluing use spray adhesive applied to the object to be glued, I learned the hard way.  Spray adhesive seems expensive ($10) at first but I am still on the same can I bought last fall.

Here a few helpful blogs that started it all for me:
And here is a Comprehensive Review Of The Workbox System.

Happy planning and enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Nature Scavenger Hunt

Here is a fun way to get outside and enjoy some of God's creation and let the children explore.  Go on a nature scavenger hunt.

Give each child a bag or bucket and ask them to look for some of the following things:

A leaf that is dry
A green leaf
A red leaf
A brown leaf
A pine needle
A pine cone
A weed
An acorn
A twig
A twig with moss on it
A smooth twig or a bumpy one
A feather
A round rock
A rough rock
A bud
A seed
A flower

Practice counting while your at it and ask them to find certain numbers of things or their age of thngs.  Then go home and create a nature display, we currently have 2, one in our mudroom for the children's things and one in our great room for my things. Or try drawing your findings, making a collage or even a sculpture like we did.  I wielded the hot glue gun and the children picked their pieces and told me where to place the glue.

Fun simple and it can even be done in your own yard, down your street or at the park.

Favorite Foods

Today is the Completing Him Challenge #6 and it is about making one's husband a priority by making him his favorite foods.  I remember giving a client the advice to fix her husbands favorite dessert and share it with him after the children had gone to bed, hoping to show him that she really does care about him and desire to engage with him.  I remember our next session she came in grinning from ear to ear because her husband had loved the German Chocolate Cake, she was so proud that she had made him feel happy.

Jay's favorite dinner meal is Chicken and Dumplings.  I won't get to this, this week because it is so warm and the chicken is not thawed but we do eat it frequently when the weather is cold and he is always very appreciative..  I have tried from scratch dumplings and we CANNOT STAND THEM, so it is the one of 2 times that I turn to the trusty box of Bisquick.  Bisquick makes very yummy dumplings, you won't be disappointed.

Jay's favorite desserts are many, so I will share his first response.  Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake!  Well, this is a hard order to fill since the nearest Cheesecake Factory is 2 hours away but we will be stopping there next month on our trip to Napa.  He also likes anything custard, like Creme Brulee.

Now his favorite drink, I can serve him any old time and it is a big glass of milk.  EASY--one milk coming right up!

Join in--make your hubby;s favorite dinner, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Nana!

Our Nana is turning 70 years old today and we are so proud of her.  Nana, we hope you enjoy this milestone of a day filled with friends and family.  Even though we are far away our hearts are quietly with you wishing you all of our love and kisses.

We just want to say:

And we even made you a cake:
We love you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Today is post number 5 in the Completing Him Summer Challenge and it is about priorities.  Courtney suggests lising 5 priorities that I currently do and asking Jay to prioritize them according to what is important to him.  So I showed Jay my list this morning and he thought all of the things on my list were good but he had something else for me.  He was not able to prioritize my list but rather stated that his priority for me was to mentor and be mentored.  He feels that I should make a weekly date to get together with a friend for fellowship (and yes he acknowledged that he would have to watch the children).  Now this is not the answer I expected.  Here is my priority  list: working out, morning quiet time, Me time for reading and projects, the house and all that its running and maintenance entails, homeschool prep, children and of course Jay.  Now, this is being completely honest, the way I listed my priorities is also the way I tend to accomplish them--not good in some situations.  So the answer I was expecting from dear husband was something along the lines of "look I'm at the bottom" and here is how you can move me up a few bars.  In further discussion with Jay he said that he could not think of one thing I was currently doing that I should not be doing, so kudos for me.

So what do I do with his priority but pray because meeting one on one with a friend each week feels like a heavy burden, so I will be praying on how to accomplish this.  I know Jay's main motivation in this priority is that I would be refreshed by sweet fellowship and time away from home.  So what can I say, not many husbands say "ya, ya" to all the usual priorities and say "you need friend time."

I did ask Jay what he thought the priorities should be between he and I, so we looked at what we currently do together and what we use to do together and decided that we are tired and don't want to have to think once the children are in bed, so I don't know but we are having a getaway in August, just us.  Clearly, more discussion is needed in this area.

This was a great activity because it spurred us both to thinking about our lives and relationships.  I am definitly able to state my priorities and live them out, where as Jay, true to his personality can't clearly state his priorites but is very good at taking care of issues at hand.

It was also a great exercise because I think I need to re-prioritize a few items and define a few priorities more clearly.  For example, I think children should be higher on the list, even above homeschooling and I would like to spend more time enjoying them, playing with them and discipling/trainning them in all aspects of life.

What are your priorities?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunday Afternoon--Victorian Square Fountain

These pictures are from a few Sundays ago at the fountain infront of the movie theater at Victorian Square. We packed a picnic dinner and enjoyed an evening of warm weather and cool fountain spray.

How I Admire Thee, Let Me Count The Ways!

Today is Challenge #5 in the Completing Him Series at Women Living Well. Today I hope to make Jay smile by listing the things I admire most about him, thereby showing, that after almost 11 years I really still do like him. Liking him has always been our joke because when we talk about what initially drew us to one another he always says "you liked me." In the throws of raising young children we forget to show that "like" for one another, so honey let me count the ways:

You can fix anything, and I mean anything. If something breaks I know you will and can fix it, like our deck umbrella, thanks for not giving up.

You have stuck with consistently working out for the last 3 and1/2 years since finding P90x.

You frequently stop what you are doing to attend to my need for something to be fixed, like the vacuum or computer.

You are loyal.

You are reading books to the children and have taught them to pay attention to details.

Your the primary "bathman."

I've never clipped a child's toenail or cleaned a child's ear.

You like to cook.

You will walk, hike, bike or play with your family.

You bring home the "bacon." You do it faithfully and have never let us down.

You are a believer and walker in Jesus Christ.

You are responsible and make things happen.

You watch the children when I need to be alone.

You admire and find value in the Love and Respect Series.

You are married to me and all my moods, sighing and unpleasantness--thanks.

I am sure when I walk away I will think of many more things, so this is just a start--Are you smiling?