Tag Archives: chores

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!


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. 


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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Mama’s Holiday Helpers


I love this sweet idea from Magical Mama Lisa at Simple Gifts Toys.

She says, “I thought I’d show you all how my kids are earning Christmas gifting money while helping me get through the busy season. In the white envelopes are things like cup of cocoa, book with mommy, and a few tiny items from my shop.”

What a lovely idea!

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A Few Good Links

I have a date with a hubby, a bowl of ice cream and a show on tape so I’ll be quick!  Here’s a few fun things around the net that we’ve done or mean to do soon!

Made overnight french toast with strawberries and bananas

Doing super simple activities for lazy days (you all know simple is my favorite word!)

(Although this would require a much cleaner floor than I presently have!)

Making Valentines Day paper mache boxes

Talking about chores for toddlers and preschoolers

Making Chinese New Year crafts

And now, chocolate chip cookie dough awaits me!

Please do something fabulously wonderful for yourself in my honor.  You deserve it!

Happy Thursday!

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Household Bingo!

I love this idea from From Pigpen to Paradise, making Bingo sheets for household chores:

Cleaning can be boring, tiresome, and just no fun. But who says it has to be like that. I figured out a way to do my daily chores with a little fun, by playing, House Cleaning Bingo! What I do is I generated some Bingo cards and wrote my daily chores on them, scrambled the words, print out the sheet then it’s off to clean have fun. I look at my card and decided which chore I do first. Now for each Bingo I get, I reward myself with 15 minutes of computer time

I went to the template site the author recommended and plugged in my own items for the kids.  Some are chore related, some are educational, some are charitable, some are health and fitness and the last row are miscellaneous.  I made sure to make some of them just plain fun in each category too! 

We’ll give them a try once we’re all recovered from the flu and I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Chore Balloons

Here’s a fun way to divvy up chores.  Write simple jobs on small pieces of paper and slip them into balloons.  Blow up the balloons and let the kids each pick one to pop.  They do whichever job is inside.  When their job is finished, they get to pop another balloon and do the next one.  Fill a few of them with jokes or other fun freebies, too.

(Be careful with balloons around little kids, of course.)

Happy Saturday!

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The Importance of Ick

I have come to the conclusion that my children’s lives are just too rosy.  No wait — hear me out.  This is deep.  😉

Today their fabulous father called from running errands to say that he was going to pick Jack and Victoria up in 3 minutes and take them to a nearby state park.  I gave them the news and they promptly… complained. 

It was too cold outside.  They didn’t want to.  It sounded boring.  Did they have to?

I suggested they could take their cameras and do photo challenges, and then pick their favorite pictures to put up on a family Flickr page (sound familiar?).  I said we could do themes for each day, like taking pictures of things that started with the letter C or from weird angles or finding beauty where others wouldn’t think to look.

I got whines from one and scowls from the other.

At that point I went into ranting mother mode, I’m afraid to say.  I asked them if they had any idea how many children would love to "have" to go to a state park and play.  I reminded them that they could be in school doing algebra!  I informed them that they were spoiled by too much fun and didn’t know how good they had it.

They ended up going, and I’m pretty sure Victoria really did like the idea of the photography assignment because she grabbed her camera up pretty quickly despite her scowls.  When she came home, she even proudly showed me some pictures she took of deer she encountered in the woods.  Jack came home all smiles, too, and Daryl told me that they frequently grumble about going anywhere and then they have a blast once they’re there. 

But I still think there’s something to the fact that we need to have the bad to appreciate the good. 

We need to get sick sometimes to appreciate feeling good again.
We need to have gray days to appreciate the sunny.
We need a little sadness to appreciate the happy times.
We need chores.  We need drudgery.  We even need failure sometimes and loss.

My kids have all that, of course.  I’m just beginning to think they need a bit more!

Last night, the kids were bickering.  I was busy wasting time on the computer and ignored it at first, and then I called out to them to dial it back.  They kept at it and I finally had enough. 

I hollered out that Jack and Anna needed to clean with me for 15 minutes and I set the kitchen timer.  Any whining or acting obnoxious about it and I’d add 5 minutes, I informed them.  They dutifully (if not happily) followed me and I set to work giving them tasks to do.

In the end, Anna earned an extra 5 minutes and Jack kept going after the timer beeped.  He told me it was fun.  By the time the 20 minuteswas up, Anna was glad to be able to go back upstairs and was in a surprisingly better mood.  She thanked me for helping her cheer up (!!!!) and asked if they could all play again.  I said they only could if they could get along, and they agreed.  There wasn’t any more squabbling that night.  And my downstairs looked much nicer!  🙂

Now I don’t want to give the impression my children are ungrateful brats, because they’re really pretty nice little people.  They thank me for making dinner and help out around the house and clean up ditches and make people lots of presents.  They care about people and animals.  They take care of their little brother.  They do chores and give to charity.

But I think perhaps there’s been a little too much free time and fun stuff, and a little too little rotten stuff to suffer through!  I think our mothers and grandmothers may have been on to something when they said that stuff builds character.  If nothing else, it builds gratitude when it all stops!

So during the next few weeks I’m going to do a little experiment.  We’re going to have more workbook pages and family cleaning sprees.  We’re going to have more assigned chores and … whatever else that counts as drudgery that we do around here.  I’m not that fluent in drudgery.  You can tell by the state of my kitchen.

We’ll still make sunbutter beards and play soccer and go to parks and do art together.  We have three birthdays this week so there can’t be too much drudgery this week anyway.  But I’ll add in a little more of the icky stuff on the off days.

It’s in the interest of science
and happy childhoods
and a cleaner kitchen.  😉

So where do you stand on the icky stuff?  Can life be too good?  Or have I gone to the dark side? 

Weigh in!


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Fun Uses for Plastic Eggs

Here’s a fun little project to use those plastic eggs after Easter.  He even has dried beans in his tail so he rattles!  I noticed that the plastic eggs we bought this year had little holes in them already (I suspect it’s so they’re not as much of a suffocation hazard for little ones) so they may not even need the drilling step.  Pretty cute, huh?  🙂

Here’s some other uses for plastic eggs:
  • Fill them with slips of paper with simple chores and fun activities written on them and have the kids take turns choosing eggs and doing the jobs inside.
  • Put different objects inside and have the kids rattle them and guess the contents.
  • Use them as bath toys.  See if the kids can find a way to make them sink.
  • Use them as molds to make playdough eggs and decorate with bits of other colors.
  • Make beautiful felted eggs like these.
  • Have a treasure hunt.  Put a clue in each egg leading to the next, with a fun surprise in the last one.
  • Teachers and homeschool parents can fill them with writing prompts, review questions or math drills.
  • Use them to count down the days till a special event like a birthday or a parent coming back from deployment.  Number each one and put a little treat or write a fun activity for the day inside.
  • Make a basket of "talking eggs" for mealtimes.  Write little questions on slips of paper for inside each egg (What’s something funny that happened today?  What job would you not like to do for a living?  If you were a superhero, what would be your superhero name?  What are 3 things you’re grateful for?) and have everybody take turns opening an egg at dinner and answering it.

If you have any more, please leave a comment and add them!

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