Tag Archives: fun

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!

choresticks2

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. 

chores

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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Garden Potions!

potions

Here’s a sweet way to make a little magic in the back yard this summer.

My Alex had been having fun making “potions” with rain water, grass clippings and such, and he asked me to help him find new ingredients.  I decided to make it a little extra magical and went and got a pitcher of tap water and a can from the recycling.  I secretly dropped a few drops of green food coloring in the bottom of the can, and then made a show of filling the “empty” can with some grass clippings from the yard.

I gave him the pitcher and told him that I’d put magic grass in the can.  Then I had him pour some water into the can and pour the can into a bucket.  Of course, the water in the can instantly turned bright green when it mixed with the food coloring at the bottom, and Alex and Fiona watched in amazement as the magically green water poured into the bucket.  🙂

I also asked the kids to find 8 yellow dandelions for a second can (that I’d already secretly sprinkled with some yellow food coloring), and we used spent lilac blossoms for a third can that had some blue. 

I also gave them a jar of fairy dust (Florida sand from a vacation) to sprinkle in.

Lastly, I had them gather dandelion puffs so they could blow wishes into their concoctions.

I gave them lots of buckets to pour into, so they could also have fun with color mixing.

Alex is old enough that he easily figured the secret out, but he had fun pretending anyway.  Little Fiona just had fun gathering the ingredients and pouring and pouring.

They happily played for an hour with their potions.  It was an easy, nearly free, absolutely magical way to have some back yard fun.  We’ll definitely be doing more of it!

I also picked up an old spice rack with little glass bottles at a thrift store, and I’m going to assemble a whole magic potion rack for them to use sometime soon in their outdoor play kitchen.  I’ll try to post pictures and update how that goes!

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Ten Ways To Make Today Magical

Hello magical people!  I hope everything is wonderful in your corner of the universe.  Here’s a few ways to make some memories with your kids this week.

1.  For September, use a white crayon to write an invisible message or fun activity on each square in the calendar. Each day, let your child color the square with a marker to reveal the secret message.

2.  Tie-dye some clothes with tissue paper and squirt guns.  I first saw this darling craft on Dollar Store Crafts (that’s their versions below!) and loved the versions (and reports on what worked best) at How to… do something.

3.  Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here.  This is also a fun way to reuse old coloring pages, worksheets, scrapbooking paper and even maps.

4.  Make crab apple cider If you’re lucky enough to have access to crab apple trees, you have to try making crab apple cider with the kids!  It’s easy (no apple press required) and the cider is beautiful ruby red and delicious.  We have friends who go to a park near their home every fall to harvest unsprayed crab apples for this stuff since we introduced them to it.  It’s a fun, tasty tradition!

5.  Do bleach pen altering.  Here’s a shirt Victoria did a couple of years ago and here’s how she did it.

6.  Invent a secret handshake or special good-bye.  Some families have special handshakes that mom or dad do with each child every morning before school.  Victoria and I had a long series of signs we went through every night when she went to bed for years.  It’s a special way to start the day or end the night and know you’re loved.

7.  Start making toasts every night at supper.

8.  Have a bake-off for your pup!  The internet is full of fun and easy recipes for dog treats, from sweet potato “rawhide” dog chews to gluten free pumpkin dog cookies to no-bake peanut butter oat balls. You can find assortments of recipes on sites like Dog Treat Recipes too.  Make up an assortment together and have your dogs do a taste test to determine their favorites. 

9.  Have a cleaning party with the kids.  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Decide on a fun family treat to enjoy together when you’re done. Who says cleaning has to be dull?!

10. See if a city near you has a sculpture walk.  Our family loves to visit Sioux Falls every year to walk the annual “sculpture walk” downtown.  Dozens of artists display their sculpture each year and the city gives out pamphlets that tell a little bit about each piece and let you vote on your favorite.  We all walk the streets together checking out all of the works and deciding which ones we like best.  I just found out that a city even closer to us has an annual sculpture walk too.

And with that, my dears, I’m off to catch up on the other 99 things on my to-do list!  Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to take care of you!

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Artwork Copyright Katie Daisy 2010, http://www.flickr.com/people/thewheatfield/, Visit her etsy shop at http://www.thewheatfield.etsy.com

Happy Monday!

I hope all is wonderful in your little corner of the world.  Winter is holding on tight around here but we’re planting seeds and making plans anyway.  My spring fun Pinterest board is stocked with ideas I want to try with the kiddos.

Here’s a few ways to make a little magic this week…

1.  Tie long sticks to ribbons and go ribbon dancing in the back yard or park.

2.  Make grapevine wreaths and bracelets.  Click here for a tutorial from my Victoria a few years back.

3.  Mop the kitchen floor by letting the kids sock skate.  Or take it a step farther like this family did and make some sponge skates.  If you go for the mop hockey idea (which is brilliant, if you have a large enough floor and the bravery to say yes to such a thing!), I’d definitely recommend helmets though.  :)

4.  Cheer up your bill-paying.  Have the kids use crayons or colored pencils to draw a picture on the back of each bill as you mail it in, plus decorate the envelope and write something cheerful.  You might make someone else’s day magical as well.

5.  Make some seed bombs.  You can make these little guerilla gardening goodies with shredded paper or clay, plus a bit of dirt, compost and wildflower seeds.  Then have fun flinging them into unloved areas that could use a bit of color (including your own back yard!).  Be sure to use native wildflowers that will not be invasive and follow all those commonsense sort of rules.  🙂  Find tutorials at every(nothing)wonderful (with free printable labels!), The Ecologist (where you can learn the very old history of seed bombs and lots more), Mademoiselle Chaos (where you can make moldable little seed bomb shapes with recycled paper), or use this basic formula from BH&G:

Guerillagardening.org recipe: Combine two parts mixed flower seeds with three parts compost; stir in five parts powdered clay (available at art or crafts supply stores), and moisten with water. Form balls one inch in diameter; let dry for 24 to 48 hours (stash in an empty egg carton). Gather in paper and tie with raffia; add easy how-tos on a tag.

6.  Got any Harry Potter fans?  Make their day with homemade Butterbeer, complete with sugared rims on the glasses.  Now if I could only figure out how to make those tiny brooms….

7.  Start a weekly project of making homemade toys together.  These can be simple (like turning unwanted stuffed animals into puppets) or sophisticated (like making homemade dolls).  Check out my Homemade Toys board for lots of tutorials and inspiration.

8.  Start some seeds.  You can start them in egg shells, egg cartons, newspaper pots, muffin tins or toilet paper tubes (cut in half) in recycled plastic boxes (the clamshell boxes from organic salad mixes are perfect) for mini-greenhouses.

9.  Do electric griddle drawings.  These are so much fun that even I have to take a few minutes to make some melty crayon art.  🙂  Click here for our tutorial and be sure to be safe.

10. Go puddle stomping!  You too.  🙂

And with that, my pretties, I’m off to start a nice pot of soup to try to kick this spring cold that thinks it’s going to get us down.

Have a magical week!

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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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A Little Snowy Fun

Got snow?  Here’s a delightful way to use it!

Wouldn’t it be fun to sneak outside tonight and do this to the family car?  Or even all the cars in the parking lot?!  🙂

Happy Sunday!

 

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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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