Saturday, February 14, 2015

What's in my Work Boxes {Part 1}



I could never say enough positive things about using a work box system in the classroom-- for any child. I've used them with typically developing peers in the classroom as well and it's an amazing way to in-bed practice and skill maintenance, all while working on attending to a task as well.

Over the summer I did a whole post on how I structure this system in my classroom. You can check it out {here}. But one thing I've never done is actually post photos of the activities I have in my boxes. My boxes have grown since I last posted a photo this summer. I have 83 work boxes available in my classroom at all times. I know that sounds like the only thing that make up the shelves in my classroom are work boxes, but I promise it's not. It might be close, but it's not!

I don't have a lot of remaining storage in my classroom. So to constantly be changing out activities and finding a storage system for previous activities is a little challenging for me. So I prefer to just have a lot of boxes available. We also need a high number of boxes to complete each day. Let's break it down.

I have 10 students total, 8 of whom complete work boxes at some point doing the day. Children complete anywhere between 1-10 boxes a day. Right now, as a class, we are completing 28 boxes a day. We come to school 4 days a week, so that's completing 112 boxes a week. And planning so strategically that a child doesn't repeat a box during the week. It's a huge planning challenge. And my paras are awesome at catching my goofs!

I'm hoping to come across some appropriate shelving between now and the end of the year to expand our boxes even more. Sounds crazy I know, but it will make the planning challenge so much easier when there is a larger amount to pick from.

So the whole point of this post-- what's in the boxes?!

I use a combination of handmade activities, printable activities, and existing manipulatives from my classroom to make up my boxes. Our lowest tasks are simple "put-in" activities and our higher tasks include activities like capital and lowercase matching using clothespins and sight word matching mats.  I've been trying to come up with more and more put-in activities so that's what I'm going to share with you today. In another post I'll share another category.

 For this activity I saved a small peanut can from the grocery store. (Yes I washed it out) I simply cut slits in the lid--these lids are super easy to cut into which is nice. It's the perfect height for dropping these mini popsicle sticks into.

This activity is another saved container- an almond one. I have saved a ton of these! They are a great size and again, the lids are easy to cut into. This one has a circle in the middle of the lid and heart erasers to put into the container.

This activity I found on pinterest. I simply saved a Parmesan cheese shaker, washed it out and added q-tips. When students open the box the cheese shaker is already open. (It would be too challenging for my little guys to get open independently- it's tough!)

This task I clearly didn't make. It is courtesy of Lakeshore Learning. Students simply place the buttons in. This jar is one of three included in the pack and can be purchased by clicking {here}. If you wanted to make a more challenging task for a student you could place two jars into one task box so the student has to sort as well.

This is the second jar included in the Lakeshore pack.

I used another almond container for the activity. And obviously a hole punch to put the holes in the lid. Students have to put the beads into the container through the holes.

I saw someone else blog about these small paint containers they found at the Dollar Store. They really are great! I bought four of them and used one for this work box. Students simply push the pom-poms into the container.

This activity is similar to the Lakeshore bucket with buttons. I found the small yellow containers at the Dollar Tree in the baby section. They come in a multi-pack which is nice, BUT, they are a pain to cut holes in the top. It's a much harder plastic than I thought, and it cracked in the corners. If I hadn't gone through so much trouble to cut the slot in, I probably would have used another almond container.

This was one of the first work box activities I made. I recycled a cookie dough container and cut holes in the lid. Then students just have to put pom-poms into the holes. I'd like to re-do this container at some point because most students catch on that the middle hole is big enough to just drop the pom-pom in versus pushing it through the hole.

I don't know if you would call this a "put in" task, but I do. They're putting pegs in a peg board! I can also guarantee you that this peg board is older than I am.

For this activity students push down the lever on the gumball machine to get a stone out, then they have to place the stone in the container. I liked the idea of students using their index finger to get the lever done-- additional fine motor practice. Sometimes more than one stone may come out, but that's okay.

So there you have it. Those are our current "put in" activities. I hope you get some new ideas for your own work boxes from these. Next I'll share our sorting activities.

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5 comments

Christer said...

I LOVE these boxes!! I will definitely try a few of these soon. Thanks for sharing!!

Christine Reeve said...

I love these!! Just pinned them to my Put In Tasks Pinterest board! Would love it if you would like to link up the Workbasket Wednesday post for the month or next month. :)

Chris
Autism Classroom News

Peggy said...

Great Job, Erin! Thanks for sharing. I am an OT who has been practicing 41 years in schools and just wanted to point out for your readers that round objects in round holes is an easier task than putting sticks, shapes, or pegs into openings where you must correctly orient the object before inserting, rather than just sticking it in any old which way. I also recycle containers (though I avoid peanut containers cuz of kids allergies). My biggest collection is of plastic drink cups - great for creating obstacle courses or for "put in " activities. Include various tongs in your boxes and you have upped the task considerably. thanks again.
Peggy

Hannah Zedick said...

Erin I saw your dino matching game on Pinterest and feel in love with it but I can't seem to find it on your blog and I looked at comments on that post and it seems that others have had the same problem for a while... I was wondering if you could help.

Hannah

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to give a caution about those decorative stones. My pediatrician said they are the #1 choking hazard for children (I was told this in 2008). They are made of a material that swells when it gets warm, and are next to impossible to remove from the airway. Someone with small children would not want to use those in their home.
Sarah

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