So I did what many workbox users do. I customized the system. I felt the shoeboxes were too small and I didn't want twelve bins. Limey was commissioned to build me a shelving unit, which I filled with dishpans from Dollarama.
How does the system work? First off, the bins get numbered 1-10. The numbers are attached with velcro and as the bins are completed in order, the number gets transferred to a laminated grid.
I have twelve squares per child and only 10 bins. On the first and last bin, I've added an extra button. The first lists the morning routine and the second says clean up. After that, the rest of the day is free to do whatever we want.
What do you put in the bins? Whatever you want. For younger kids, lots of play oriented stuff. If you are more classical then curriculum for each subject. You can put in a book to read, play doh, sand toys, worksheets to complete, dvd's to watch etc. Whatever you put in the bin, try to put in everything that is needed to complete the task. For example, if it's colouring you want done, then you'd add the page to be coloured and the crayons. If it's a science experiment, you'd put in the lesson and whatever materials the child needs to do the experiment. Obviously some things aren't going to fit in the bins and they'll have to retrieve them.
The bin setup and chart allows your kids to see exactly what they need to do and how much they have left to do. It also allows them to do stuff independently without waiting for you to set it up for them.
For our system, I'm also incorporating activity or busy bags. For crafts, Think! challenges and misc fun stuff, I've already assembled the items for the next 3 months into Ziploc bags. I filled a box with the bags and they get added to the bins at night along with the rest of the following day's work.
So that's the gist of it. More information is out there on workboxes. Lots of bloggers are using this system and blogging about it. We'll be starting this on Monday and will post more about it then.