Friday, November 30, 2012

Chores: the Game

Ivory is four.  

She is somewhere in the nebulous realm of  needing an afternoon nap and stubbornly staying awake.  By four thirty or five in the afternoon, she acts like a monster.  She is a block throwing, screaming, crying, supper tired child which no reasonable speaking, pleading, bargaining, or threatening seams curtail.  And then I act like a monster.  Night time books are taken away, toys are confiscated and, yes, I find myself screaming.  We both hit a wall and the only place to go is to bed, but we still have to make it through dinner and picking up toys and getting ready for bed before that can be realized.

So in the footsteps of my mother (who made beautiful water color and pen and ink chore charts for my siblings and I)  and many other mothers I have created my version of a chore chart.  Here is my attempt at a solution:  

Chores: The Game

Please excuse the slightly blurry image of our cookie pan game board, but reflective surfaces are a little tricky to photograph and after many frustrating attempts this is as good as it gets.

The idea is this:  Ivory (and Sylvan) both have a visual representation of a list of things that I expect of them during the day.  They can look at it in the morning (when everyone is still well rested and chipper) and throughout the day, as they complete those tasks, they move from the game pieces from the To Do column to the Done column.

Ivory's chores are: 
     make her bed and put up pjs
     brush her hair
     feed the chickens
     pick of dirty clothes (put away clean ones)
     help set the table
     pick up toys
     brush teeth
     be kind

Today, she has already made her bed, brushed her hair, fed the chickens, and been kind (this is a game piece that can be put back in the To Do column, if she starting being unkind to, well, especially her little brother).

Sylvan's chores are:
     make bed and put up pjs
     feed the dogs
     pick up toys
     brush teeth
     be kind

Today, he has already made the bed, fed the dogs and been kind.

At he end of the day, if all of the game pieces are in the DONE column the little girl tile (Ivory) and the little boy tile (Sylvan) are allowed to move forward one space on the game board.  After successfully completing their chores for 30 days (which might as well be forever in their world) we are going to go on an outing to Big Dipper to get ICE CREAM!!! (Ivory's favorite flavor is Licorice, which is this dark purple color, hence a purple ice cream cone as the final destination.)

The cost: < $3.00
I bought the cookie sheet for $2 at Goodwill, as well as the two tiles ($.69) that have the faces painted on them.  I had acrylic enamel sitting around the house from a college art project as well as a multitude of weak magnets left over from some other project.  The chore game pieces are stiff cardboard that I pulled out of the recycling and painted with the acrylic enamel.  They turned out much nicer than I had anticipated.  And of course, time.  This took me about three hours, but I hope that it will be worth it.

What I hope to gain:
I hope that this game board can function as a tool to communicate my expectation to the kids in a visual and tactile manner while it also enables me to keep my cool when things get tough.  I hope in the process we can learn some good habits, a little responsibility and eat some delicious ice cream. I don't expect this to work forever. Ivory is four.  And this will work for now.


  1. You are doing a good job in trying to create responsible and organized individuals. They will thank ou one day for setting expectations for them and seeing that they follow through with taska and chores.


    1. I just hope that it pays off when they are 15 and 13. :) I assume the sooner we lay the foundations, the better off we will be in the long run.

  2. I love it.
    Have you tried the 'rest' option with Ivory? By that, I am thinking of the blue mats we had to rest on in Kindergarten...we didn't have to sleep, just have quiet time. So, some of my classmates would sleep, but most of use just played with our hair, fingers, toes, or sang little songs or told stories to ourselves....I know I did. Maybe a little corner somewhere where she can spread a special blanket and look at a book or something and that can get her out of the fray of afternoons. It could even be 'Ivory Time'.
    Good luck!

    1. She often is pretty content and reads to herself for a while, or colors... she is pretty intense about her coloring lately. We don't have a problem until it is dinner time and I am asking her to put things away, or help me, etc. We are on day three of the Chore game, and so far it has been working beautifully. She even made Sylvan's bed this morning. It was pretty adorable. I like the idea of having two special blankets for them that get pulled out if they need their own space. I might have to do that anyway one of these days.