I'm trying to make sure that some of the things I put in Gerrick's workboxes are open-ended activities. Here's an example: I printed this worksheet from Enchanted Learning, cut it up, and put the pieces in a bag. I gave him no instructions. I suspected he would choose to glue them in his pirate notebook, but if he had not, that would have been fine too. He could have just matched the word to the pictures on the table...or turned them into a story...or anything else.
(This little slider zip bag came from our dentist. We get one of these at every appointment with a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. I'm finding that they're great for little activities like this to toss in a workbox.)
He chose to spend a lot of time on this activity. He really focused on the words and figured them all out on his own (except island--that silent s really threw him off). If I had just put the worksheet in the box as it came off the printer & told him to follow the instructions, I'm pretty sure he would have grudgingly done it as quickly as possible without much thought.