Category Archives: activities

Chore Sticks Help Make Chores Fun for Kids

Looking for a way to get the kids to help out more around the house without nagging or fights?  Try chore sticks!

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My fabulous friend Tiffany came up with the idea of chore sticks and we’ve adapted it here with great success.

Here’s all you do:

  • Write some simple chores on one end of some popsicle sticks.  Also write some fun things and surprises.
  • If you have children with very different abilities, you can add a colored dot to the blank end corresponding to each child (so your preschooler would pull sticks with red ends, for instance, and your high schooler would pull ones with blue).
  • Put the sticks, writing side down, in a mug or similar container.
  • Have the kids pull out a chore stick and do the job assigned.  Make up family rules about how many sticks they should do a day (we do 3 a day, plus as many as they like after that) and whether they can swap (we allow one swap per day if chores are drawn that the child really doesn’t want to do).
  • As kids do chores, have them put the sticks back upside down so that chore isn’t pulled again that day (or that week for chores that don’t have to be done often).

The chores don’t have to be just housework.  You can add in anything that you’d like the kids to do more of — exercise, reading, flossing, school-related jobs, you name it.

Some examples of chores on our chore sticks are:  Do 15 minutes of exercise, vacuum the living room, read a book to Alex, write a letter to a relative, do a workbook page in math, dustbust the stairs, brush your hair and tidy your room. 

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Some examples of the treat sticks (which are mixed in, so the kids are anxious to keep pulling chore sticks) are:  Take a walk with Mom, get a quarter, win a prize (I keep small prizes in a drawer for emergency gifts and fun), get a candy and color with Mom.

Everyone I know who has tried chore sticks has had great success with them.  My kids love them and tend to pull way more than 3 a day.

Here are some tips to keep it fun and easy:

Make the chores small and relatively quick.  Nobody wants to pull “clean your room” but pulling “straighten your bookshelves” or “make your bed” is easily doable.

Focus on chores that are pretty enjoyable.  Kids often find out that they don’t mind chores if they get to do things that almost seem like play.  Dustbusters, Magic Erasers, feather dusters and other tools can make jobs even more fun.  If you have many chores in there like “scrub the toilet” and “scoop the cat box” you may find that the kids aren’t too anxious to pull chore sticks any more!

Make it a routine.  Put the mug where you’ll see it often and have a general time every day when the kids pull their chore sticks.

Don’t be afraid to change it up.  If the kids don’t enjoy it, ask for their suggestions on what to add.  They may volunteer to do chores you hadn’t thought of.  Also consider adding more fun and silly jobs.

Keep the treats small and easy.  You don’t want to put “go see a movie” in there if that’s not something you can do at the drop of a hat.  Also be careful not to outweigh the chores (which are the main point) with too many treats.  They should be a special surprise, not every other stick.

Get wacky!  Toss in some “chores” that are pure silliness.  Who wouldn’t like having to do chores like “cluck like a chicken” or “give someone a magic marker ankle tattoo”?  Again, just do a few to keep them as fun surprises.

You could even try making up a grown up version for yourself and put some fun rewards in there!  🙂

Have fun!

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Signs of Love

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Here’s a sweet art project that’s perfect for the times right now.

Girls to the Moon offers instructions for how to make Signs of Acceptance to show people that you care about them and are on their side.

The site says:

What are some words you could say to let people know they are safe with you?

If you felt left out, what could someone say to you to make you feel more included?

If you could make a sign to let people know you will always accept and include them, what would it say?

This project, Signs of Acceptance, turns your favorite words, phrases, slogans, and symbols of inclusivity into beautiful pieces of art you can display at home, school or work.

Better yet: Give it to friend, a local business, or leave it in a public place for someone to find as a nice surprise!

All you need are some basic supplies like foam boards (from grocery store packaging), paper and paint.

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What a great way to combine art and kindness, which we could all use a little more of right now.

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If you do this with your kiddos, please feel free to post links or pics!

 

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A Little Festive Fun

Want to have a little online holiday fun with your kiddos?  There are some really sweet sites that let you virtually decorate trees, make gingerbread houses, cut snowflakes and more.

Technology Rocks. Seriously has a fantastic roundup of gingerbread man fun storyboards, activities, interactive sites, printables and so on like these:

Then there’s the snow round-up of fantastic activities like these:

There’s the Christmas tree decorating roundup with fun links like these:

And oodles more! 

Be sure to check out the rest of the site for all sorts of great printables, educational games and other fun.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little Snow and Cold Fun When You Don’t Have Snow and Cold!

If you’re lucky enough not to live in one of the freezing cold places right now, you can still take part in lots of fun with snow and ice!

Here’s a list of ten ways to make the day magical, warmer style for warmer climates.  And here’s a little round-up of online snowy fun.  Help the kids make some snowmen, “cut” some snowflakes and more.  🙂

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Marble Mice!

Here’s a fun little printable craft from The Toymaker — Marble Mice!  Just print out the pattern on cardstock, cut out, and add a large marble inside. 

The Toymaker says…

These Marble Mice are fun to make and roll around on your desk. Cats love them!

What fun!

 

 

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Colorful Baking Soda Busywork

Here’s a fun way to occupy the kids in a bubbly, colorful way.

Do some baking soda and vinegar experiments but add color!

You’ll need:

  • A box of baking soda per child (ours cost about .50 a box and we bought a bunch)
  • 1-2 cups of white vinegar (generally under a dollar)
  • Food coloring
  • One cake pan or similar container per child
  • Muffin tin (regular size if two kids will be sharing it the way ours did, or mini muffin size would be enough for one child — an ice cube tray would work too)
  • Eye droppers or pipettes (one per child)

Instructions:

  1. Fill the muffin tins half full with the vinegar, and tint each cup with a different color of food coloring.  We usually leave one clear so kids can mix a custom color.
  2. Pour one box of baking soda into a cake pan for each child.  Smooth out.
  3. Spread an old towel on the table (or do it outside) and put the cake pan(s), muffin tin and eye droppers on it.
  4. Show kids how to squeeze the eye droppers in the colored vinegar to fill them up, then have them drizzle and drop it on the baking soda to watch what happens.

This large amount of baking soda means that kids can happily do the activity for a good long time, making this a perfect activity for while you’re making lunch or taking a break. 

Kids can also experiment with things like pushing the eye dropper under the baking soda and then squeezing (tiny volcanoes!) and so on.

Science info:  Want to know why baking soda and vinegar bubble up?  Explain to the kids that carbon dioxide is released when acids (like vinegar) and bases (like baking soda) combine and react to each other.  If they want to do more colorful science to learn about acids and bases, consider the purple cabbage pH experiment (our family’s all time favorite science experiment).  You can also just bake something!  People make cakes and breads rise by either using yeast or relying on the same reaction with ingredients like baking soda and buttermilk. 

Have fun!

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Newspaper Acting!

Here’s a fun little activity my girls and I made up yesterday.  Newspaper acting!

I grabbed a copy of our local newspaper and a few junk mail flyers and challenged them to read lines in all different types of voices.  For instance, Victoria read a sentence about a basketball game as if it were an ad for a horror movie.  Anna read a sentence about a city council meeting as if it were heartbreaking news.  I read a sentence about a budget proposal with terrible rage.  🙂

Want to play along?  Just grab some really boring or random reading materials like newspapers, ads and magazines.  Even homework pages would work!

Here’s some suggested voices and styles:

  • As if it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read
  • Like an action movie preview
  • In the voice of an evil genius
  • With great rage
  • As if you’re heartbroken
  • With a strong, funny accent
  • As if it’s a children’s book for very young kids
  • As if you’re super excited
  • With terrible sorrow
  • As if it’s a line in a romance movie
  • Like you’re terribly scared

We had so much fun doing this!  We were all laughing like crazy and the girls have asked repeatedly to do some more. 

Happy Thursday!

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