This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.

To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Workboxes-3 Month Update

I blogged about the concept of workboxes back in May. The whole concept appealed to me for a few reasons
  • structure
  • independence
  • variety of activities
  • organization
We started strong and saw some definite benefits. Within 2 days my son had learned to ask for his "work" and he'd go to the cabinet, pick out one box and take the activity to the table and complete it. This was my ideal of independence, not wandering randomly around the house choosing what he wanted to do but instead making small choices within very specific boundaries of which activities, how to do them, and where to do them. He neatly cleaned up workboxes after playing with each one and knows he is only allowed to take out a new one after he has cleaned up the other one.

So here is when I would recommend this system:

1) your child gets out several toys at once without putting the previous ones away and needs practice with that.
2) your child likes goal-oriented play, or play with a purpose.
3) you have an immense amount of time and motivation.
4) you have a natural creative streak.

For me, while I LOVED seeing my son fall right into the orderly habits that make this system work, and while he still enjoys the activities, we lost interest really quickly. The prep time to come up with new, fun activities he could do independently was just too much even with me being a homemaker. The slightest bump in our household routine (vacation, family visiting, or sickness) meant the workboxes got neglected for a week or more, I'd get discouraged, and we had trouble getting back into the groove of things.

For us we also struggled because we do not have a lot of toys. That may sound awful but really it's never been a problem except that I could see if we had the money and willingness to buy several learning toys the prep time for workboxes would be drastically reduced. As it is we like our clutter-free living room and the fact that a wooden train set can keep Tobias' interest for an entire month :)

I'm still considering whether there are ways to make this system work for us, because I worry that if our next child is a more hands-on learner he might need something like this. Any ideas to reduce the prep time involved? Any ideas for the creatively challenged moms trying to do this? I'm seriously not creative, the preschool age range is out of my comfort zone so these activities do not come naturally to me.

For now though, I think we will mostly move on to a different format for learning time, something more free-flowing and literature/art based since that is definitely within my comfort zone :)


ys said...

Thanks for the update! I have looked at the 1+1+1+1 blog you referenced originally and the Tot Trays. Love the ideas! We're trying to do that but Oriental Trading is out of stock 6-8 weeks. But I agree, she has LOTS of neat educational toys! And they are $$$ when you add them all up. I've been slowly building up craft supplies,etc. That all adds up real quickly. She has a lot of Melissa & Doug and Lauri toys. She said they asked family and friends for holidays,etc. She has 3 LO's and maybe a lot of people giving because I certainly don't have that! A lot of those toys are $20 each. So I agree with your reasoning. If you make a lot yourself, it takes up SO much time! I have had ambitious curriculum and it just hasn't got done:) So for now we're doing structured learning time but more free for all with crafts. For example we were reading The Little Red Hen book and made chickens,etc. They like it:)

Becca said...

Manda, I'm so glad you updated us on this. I've been going back and forth considering it. I guess I should at least give it a try. I think it really fits into my personal style and would be beneficial to Caleb. However, I can definitely see that, like you, I probably wouldn't keep it up every day. I'm learning that this is ok. It sounds like a good thing to turn to a few times a week or whenever the urge strikes.
Thanks for the honest results!

btw, Raegan gave me the best idea back when Caleb was just starting to do daily activities. She said to put a list of possible choices on your fridge and when a need for structured activity arises in the day, everything is right there for easy choosing. This helped me a lot and I use the same idea when planning our weekly activities. I have a list that I glance through to pick from. It helps me keep some variety and not forget something that is stuffed away in a closet somewhere.


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