Workboxes Redux

I loveLoveLOVE the concept and practical use of Workboxes.  But I’m short on space and tried to innovate another solution.  It only took two days to learn that theory vs. practice crashed and burned, so I jumped ship and have been treading water ever since.

I know that there is something huge to Workboxes and that it will benefit the citizens of Boyville greatly, but couldn’t wrap my brain around how to make it work in a tight space.

We live in a very remote location and so when I had a chance to visit the closest Walmart, I jumped at the chance to browse and brainstorm.  Three hours and two very achy legs later, by George, I think I’ve got it!

Workboxes set-up for Kinder/1st Workboxes

Workboxes set-up for Kinder/1st Workboxes

What a blessing, a grace and a sigh of relief.  I love it–and it works.  Here’s how it came together:

  1. The shelf from Walmart was $24.88 and I found it back by the hardware/home storage/shelving area.  It’s 30″ high x 23″ wide x 13″ deep.  I can’t find it on their site online, though.  Phooey.
  2. The Sterilite boxes were $3 each (approx 4″ high x 6″ wide x 7″ deep.  They came with clear lids and squarish teal-colored handles (and those handles sure put up a great fight! ; ).
  3. The hooks on the boxes are 3M Command strip hooks, about $3.25 for a pack of 6.  I didn’t use the sticking strips, but hot glued them instead to keep them as invisible as possible (see below).  Those babies aren’t going anywhere.
  4. The number tags were made very simply from what I had on hand (foam sheets & glitter glue).  I used magnets on the back instead of using velcro dots (I cut two self-adhesive business card magnets to size and simply stuck them on the back of the tags) .  When Pip’s done with a box, he takes the number off the hook and moves it to his “All Done” magnet board (see below).  Easy peasy!
Hooks and number tags

Hooks and number tags

"All Done" magnet/dry erase board

"All Done" magnet/dry erase board

Now, this side of heaven, nothing is perfect; what are some problems that I see with this set up?

  1. I’m pretty sure that the shelf is too small.  There was a longer, slightly deeper 4-shelf version right next to the 3-shelf version I got.  I think for Middlin (rising 5th grader), I’ll get the bigger 4-shelf version and just not put the last shelf on (very possible with the adustable assembly method).
  2. Cost.  This sweet set-up cost $25 for the shelf, $18 for the boxes and $3 for the hooks (I had everything else at home), so it was $46+ when all was said and done.  That’s almost twice the cost of some set-ups, but only a fraction of my heart’s desire, Ikea’s Trofast system.  I think it’s a great compromise.

I am so very excited to move through the rest of our light summer schooling schedule to see if I need to make any tweaks along the way before we hit the new school year on August 15th.

If you’re blogging your own Workboxes set-up, please feel free to leave a link in the Comments section.

Blessings to you!


12 Responses to Workboxes Redux

  1. Jill says:

    Those are interesting blocks in your box #3. Are they wood or foam made to look like wood? Is that a measuring tape in with them?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Jill,

      Aren’t those blocks wonderful? We love them! They are foam and they’re a ton of fun.

      As for the tape measure, my youngest is learning the math concept of one-to-one correspondence and a little bit of measurement/size comparison. We’ll make a tower out of two blocks and measure it and make another one out of ten blocks and measure/compare. It’s so much fun! We ditched traditional text math in favor of a curriculum that progresses according to the child’s maturation and teaches in a very hands-on way. It’s called Math on the Level. I’m going to blog it when I have more experience (we *just* took the leap), but so far, so fun. : )

      Thanks so much for visiting!

    • Jennifer says:

      PS–I meant to say in my reply that the blocks are made by Step 2. Looooove them. : )

      Here’s an Amazon link for the wood-colored ones; I couldn’t find the colored ones.

    • aisling says:

      If it helps I’ve seen those very blocks at Big Lots in the past month or so and was thinking about purchasing them to replace our old foam blocks which are. well. Old!

      • Jennifer says:


        Next time I’m out in civilization, I might have to check and see if our store has them, too. They are so colorful; they make everything fun!

  2. Velma says:

    Very creative solutions and adaptations1 I do believe in making any system work to fit our needs. Very nice pictures. Visit my blog at: to see how we are adapting.

  3. Alicia says:

    It looks great! Is it really any smaller though then the regular plastic shoeboxes on a shoe rack? It looks almost the same size.

    I’ve been using three drawer carts for my little follow (prek) and love it! I had a set that you can stack more then one set together, and have it six baskets tall, all in about 1 and 1/2 square feet of floorspace!

    I hope this new system works for you! I think the previous way you did might work really well for older grades, like 7th and up or so. When there are a bit less hands on things, and more general books.

    Good luck!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Alicia,

      Thank you so much!

      I would say no, this cart is probably about the same size. The closest Target is 80 miles away, so I made the most of my time at the Walmart. O; ) I order most everything in (God bless the delivery guys!), but this was one of those times when I really did need to have a hands-on idea of the possibilities.

      It sounds like your system is working wonderfully for you. What a great way to start homeschooling!

  4. Great job setting this all up! I only just read about Workboxes a few weeks ago. It’s a really interesting idea!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, Angie. Workboxes are fascinating, and I’m so excited to get going with our new school year next month. I’m definitely the weak link in the home chain (organizationally speaking) and am the most excited to start the Workboxes.

      Since I have access to MS Office back on my computer, I’m going to be posting the actual Publisher file so that people can download it and edit according to their needs. Hopefully, that’ll save a ton of handwritten ink. : )


  5. […] Workbox-inspired To Do List If you’ve read any of my other posts recently, then you know I’m really excited about […]

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