Homeschool Workboxes for First Grade

Homeschool Workboxes for First Grade

When I first considered homeschooling my kids, one of the big things holding me back was the idea of teaching all subjects to all of my children while also being constantly available to each of them. As an introverted, highly sensitive mama, I knew that I would get overwhelmed very quickly. My husband, knowing me as he does, was concerned for me, too.

I had a nursing baby at the time, so I decided to start researching homeschooling by watching YouTube videos so that I could see how other moms got it all done. One video, created by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler, introduced me to the homeschool workbox system. Suddenly, homeschooling seemed possible! Even my husband agreed to be all in on homeschooling if I homeschooled “like that.” 

So from Day One, I’ve implemented a version of the workbox system in our homeschool. It has evolved over time to meet our specific needs, but we continue to love it.

Organizing with Homeschool Workboxes

Homeschool Workboxes for First Grade

Like Erica, I use a drawer system as our homeschool workboxes. I chose the Seville Classics Large 10-Drawer Organizer Cart for its  wider drawers that comfortably hold a binder. My first grader’s drawers are each assigned to a different subject and labeled appropriately. I’ve ordered the drawers in the order that I usually want him to do his work (from the top down), but the drawers do come out and can be re-ordered easily.  

Homeschool Workboxes - Subject Labels

Besides a label, each drawer also has an indicator (similar product) that you can move to show red, green, or in between. Since my first grader doesn’t have work in every drawer every day, I move the indicator to green if a drawer has work for him to do that day. When he’s done with the work in that drawer, he moves the indicator back to red. He loves being able to glance at his drawers and see how much work he has that day (it’s often the first thing he does in the morning!), and I can glance at the drawers to see how much he’s done.

Crate Contents

A file crate lives on top of the drawer system. I color-code my kids so that I can identify the owners of certain belongings with a glance, so his name on the front of the crate, his folders, and his clipboard are all in his color. 

Crate for Homeschool Workboxes

The clipboard is one of the most important things in his crate. It holds a checklist of his work for the week, which I print out from Homeschool Planet (an online lesson planner). Each day when I fill his drawers, I can just pull out the clipboard and see what I have planned for him for the next day. I should mention that the lesson plan is not set in stone. It’s just a plan, not my boss, so I change it as needed. But schooling three kids and having a lot going on, I absolutely must have some plan in place to refer to so that I’m not standing in front of the drawers each evening trying to come up with a plan on the fly.

While a lot of my first grader’s work is in binders that generally stay in his drawers, I keep a few resources, like some worksheets, book reports, and file folder games, in folders in the crate until they’re needed. Keeping these materials close at hand makes filling the drawers quick and easy.

The crate also contains reading material. I keep his Hooked on Phonics books and readers for the year in the crate, along with any other books that I have planned for him to read over the next month or so. That way I don’t have to go looking for them when it’s time to fill his drawers.

What’s in the drawers?

Now let’s take a closer look at the contents of each drawer on this particular day:

Morning Work

Homeschool Workboxes - Morning Work

This drawer contains my first grader’s glasses and Morning Work binder, which he works out of every day. His Morning Work binder contains calendaring sheets as well as some copywork. And isn’t this binder cover the cutest?! The printable comes with many different binder covers. I chose this little guy because he has a big smile like my first grader.


Homeschool Workboxes - Math

This drawer contains my first grader’s math binder. We’re using Math-U-See, which does come in a workbook, but I re-order the worksheets into a binder to fit our needs. Last year I had all of the math worksheets in a folder in his crate and just pulled out pages each day to put in his drawer, but there were days that he wanted to work ahead and do more. Keeping it all in a binder allows him to work ahead if he wants to without him having to wait for me to pull out more worksheets.


Homeschool Workboxes - Handwriting

This is where his Handwriting Without Tears workbook lives. And that’s all I have to say about that. 🙂


Homeschool Workboxes - Spelling

My first grader is doing a couple of different things for spelling this year (please refer to our Curriculum Choices video for more information). This drawer usually contains a Spelling You See worksheet along with a Boogie Board that we use for All About Spelling. I’ve also put together a Spelling Practice binder with worksheets for practicing his All About Spelling words. That binder stays in the crate on top of the drawers on days that we’re not using it. The other materials we use for All About Spelling are a teacher’s manual, which I keep with my other teacher’s manuals, and the All About Spelling app, which we use on my iPad.


Homeschool Workboxes - Grammar
Homeschool Workboxes - Grammar

This drawer contains our First Language Lessons book and the Kumon Writing workbook for Grade 1. My curriculum video explains more about why we have two different resources in here, but basically it looked like First Language Lessons wasn’t going to work out, so I selected a Kumon resource to give him another way to learn parts of speech.


Homeschool Workboxes - Bible

He reads out of The Beginner’s Bible every day. It’s a bit above his reading level, so I treat it as shared reading. When it’s time to read out of his Bible and do his other reading (below), we move to the couch to be more comfortable.


Homeschool Workboxes - Reading

This drawer holds his Hooked on Phonics material, plus another fun reader if he doesn’t have a reader in his history drawer (below). Reading real books every day has helped both of my older boys progress more quickly and naturally in their reading abilities (especially in recognizing sight words!), so I always have him reading out of a book as well as working through his phonics program.


Homeschool Workboxes - History
Homeschool Workboxes - History

We do a lot of our history together as a group, along with age-appropriate notebooking. This drawer is the home for my first grader’s history binder, which holds his notebooking pages. It also often contains a reader related to the historical topic that we are currently learning about.


I’ve been treating science very much the way I’ve been treating history, with group work supplemented by notebooking pages. This drawer holds notebooking pages when we have them.


I’m saving this drawer for a couple of writing projects that we’ll do later in the year.

I hope this peek into my first grader’s homeschool workbox system was helpful! The labels that I use for his drawers are available for download, so go ahead and grab a copy today!

You may also be interested in:

Homeschool Workboxes for Fourth Grade

Homeschool Workboxes for Pre-K

Videos you may find helpful:

Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2018-2019
How We Use All About Spelling

** This post contains affiliate links.

Our Longterm Homeschool Goals

Our Longterm Homeschool Goals

Need to fold some laundry? Watch the video! 🙂

I thought I’d have daughters. Maybe it’s natural for people to expect their spawn to be like them in every way, including gender. I did understand that sons were within the realm of possibility. I’m smart like that. But thoughts of frilly dresses and bows in long hair distracted me. So the possibility that I’d become the mother of THREE boys – three smart, adorable, funny, ACTIVE boys – never entered my mind.

So much about boys was alien to me. The energy, the clothing, the energy, the fearlessness, the energy…I think you see where I’m going here. And I was shocked by the incredible responsibility I felt when I found out the gender of my firstborn. Because baby boys grow to be big boys, and big boys grow to be men. Once they become men, I also hope that they become husbands and fathers (in that order, please God), while contributing to society in a meaningful and satisfying way.

And here’s where I panicked.

Because, as an engineer, I’d worked mostly with men. All kinds of men. Men of high character, low character, and questionable character. Which would my boy grow up to be????

So in the course of 12 hours, I’d made the mental leap from “It’s a boy!” to wondering what type of man my little peanut would become. It’s fun living inside my head.

Thankfully, throwing up every couple of hours has a way of banishing deep thoughts. I birthed the first of three boys that I considered to be perfect in every way. I’m almost seven years into mommyhood and can still sit and stare at each of my boys as if he’s a work of art. And he is.

Homeschool Recess

Homeschool Recess

But the reality of the extent of each child’s perfection eventually made an appearance. Right around the time the Terrible Two’s made an appearance, as a matter of fact. Before I knew it, my oldest was getting ready to go to kindergarten.  He’d spent two years in preschool, so it should be smooth sailing, right? RIGHT?


It was a difficult year. You can read about it here, but, long story short, we were stressed and disappointed by the family dynamic resulting from sending our son to school. I saw the beginnings of negative character traits forming in my perfect little peanut, and knew that we had to make a big change before things got out of hand.

And just like that, I was that pregnant first-time mom wondering what kind of man my son would become.

Only this time, I wasn’t hampered by pregnancy hormones and fear of the unknown. I had a nursing baby and was sleep-deprived, so still emotional, but I had enough sense to shift into problem-solving mode.

For me, that meant reverse-engineering my idea of the type of men I hoped my boys would become.

Our Longterm Homeschooling Goals

  • Faith – I pray that my sons will grow to know, love, and serve God.
  • Passion – I hope that we identify a field of interest for each of my boys that ignites a spark of passion that motivates them to work hard and learn new things.
  • Habits – I am determined that my boys learn good work and learning habits, including diligence and maintaining an organized workspace.
  • Relationships – People smarts are necessary for healthy relationships, be they personal or work-related. I pray that my boys grow in wisdom so that they become men that navigate both business and personal relationships with wisdom and confidence.

These general homeschool goals will become more specific and tailored to each child as they grow and start seeking God about His purpose for them. But in the short-term, they’ve been helpful to me as I’ve researched curriculum, considered activities, and even bought furniture for our homeschool room.

It might seem odd that our long-term homeschooling goals don’t have a lot to do with school or education. But I’ve learned that learning something new isn’t really all that difficult as long as you’re motivated and eager to achieve your goals, and have the good work habits and diligence to back up that motivation and eagerness. Add people smarts to the mix, and you have all the tools you need to learn whatever you want to learn.

What about more traditional educational goals? I purposely did not include a couple of traditional goals to our list of long-term goals, so I thought it would be helpful to share my reasoning behind those decisions.

Our longterm homeschooling goals do NOT include…

  • …a love of learning. Here’s the thing: we’re not raising our boys to become professional students. When they grow up, they each need to get a J-O-B. Or start a business. Or both – whatever it takes for them to support themselves and a family. My hope is that their life’s work lines up with their God-given purpose, a purpose that will give them great joy and satisfaction. I believe that a passion to fulfill their purpose, combined with good work habits, will motivate them to be ready and willing to learn whatever they need to learn to fulfill their responsibilities, and to seek that knowledge with diligence and tenacity. But that makes learning a means to an end, not the final destination.
  • ...a love for reading. This is a hard one for me, because I LOVE to read. The written word is so powerful to me that, as a kid, I would even read toothpaste boxes and shampoo bottles. For fun. (My poor parents. I was such a weird kid.) But not everyone is wired that way. For example, my husband is an auditory learner and gets so much more out of a speech or talk than a book. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But he’s not opposed to going to a book for information, and that’s what I expect from my boys, as well. I hope that my boys do eventually grow to share my love of books, but I don’t consider it necessary for homeschool success.

I love to read and learn new things, but I struggle with paralysis of analysis. Consequently, I feel a burden to emphasize action in service to our loving God, and not put the collection of knowledge on a pedestal. I keep thinking of 1 Corinthians 8:1 – “But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” Oh, may my boys never be puffed up with their knowledge.

Have I missed anything? How did you develop your homeschooling goals?

Our Longterm Homeschool Goals


Linking up with Hip Homeschool Moms.

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