One thing I’ve learned in my time as a mom, is that kids make messes. I don’t know about you, but I HATE cleaning up the same mess over and over and over again. Since my tots are the reason for most messes, I try to make them clean up as much as possible. Here are some of my kids favorite Clean Up Games:
1. Sing the Clean Up Song – Have a special song that you sing or listen to when it’s time to clean up. Ours is well known and goes like this: Clean Up Clean Up Everybody Everywhere, Clean Up Clean Up Everybody Do Your Share.
2. Have a Race – I literally race Big E around my living room, each of us picking up a toy along the way and then racing to put it where it belongs. You can also have a race to see who can get the most toys in the least amount of time.
3. Gobble it Up – With toys like blocks, where there’s lots of pieces, I take a bag or pillowcase, hold it open and pretend it’s a mouth that likes to gobble things up.
Little g and Big E love to drop the toys in, then pull their hand away quickly before the gobbler gets them too.
4. Singing Plinko – Similar to Gobble it Up, Singing Plinko is where you sing one note to a song for each toy dropped into the toy box. If the tots want to hear Twinkle Twinkle Little Star without stopping after each word, they have to hurry and put more things away.
5. Bubble Machine – For little g’s first birthday I bought her a bubble machine and soon discovered that when left unchecked it left a wet soapy area on my kitchen floor. I decided to use that to my advantage and now put the bubble machine on whenever I mop the floor. Bubbles are soap, right?
6. Dust Buster – This is not a game per se, but you’d be surprised with how much time Big E can spend vacuuming the floor with the handheld vac. He loves machines anyway, and loves to do things by himself so he’ll often look extra messes to vacuum himself. We’ve also turned the dustpan, broom, toilet brush and vacuum attachments into toys to help us clean.
7. Find the Magic Toy – Sometimes I will have Big E search the room for the one magic toy that will make me sing a silly song. Conveniently the toy is one of the last ones picked up.
8. Hot and Cold – If Big E walks closer to the item I’m thinking of, I tell him he’s getting hotter and hotter until finally when he picks it up. Conversely, if he walks away from it, he gets colder and colder. He loves finding the secret toy, and I love that he’ll put it away before we play the next round.
9. Have Toys Help – Big E loves construction machines, so if I can find a way for his dump truck or excavator to help put socks in his drawer or toys in his toy box, I do it. Along with this, squirt guns make great watering cans and bathtub rinsers. You’d be surprised how useful some toys can be.
10. I Spy – Almost any tot knows the phrase, “I spy with my little eye…” It’s easy to play this game to choose items that need to be put away. For example: I spy with my little eye something that is blue, has wheels and drives around a track (a car).
11. Basketball – Get a laundry hamper or the toy box and plop it in the middle of the messy room. Then walk to each toy and throw it into the hamper without moving your feet.
12. A Minute to Win It – In this game each family member must pick up and put away as many items as they can in one minute. We actually use a countdown timer from Scattergories or Catch Phrase because it makes a great countdown sound.
It should also be mentioned that positive reinforcement goes a long way. Nothing makes Big E help out faster than me telling little g, “You’re such a good helper!”
So try out some of these clean up games for kids, and please let me know if you have any more. And thanks to the moms in my life who taught me some of these games in the first place.