A DIY chore chart for kids can be a great way to set expectations, encourage participation in family responsibilities, and develop good habits. Learn how to make an easily customizable and age-appropriate chore chart and some of the pros and cons of using one.
“So, how many times a day do you brush your teeth?” the dentist asked my seven-year-old son as she poked around his mouth.
“Uh, once?” he mumbled around her gloved hand while looking at me for reassurance.
He told the truth, but it was the wrong answer.
Although my husband and I are AM and PM tooth-brushers (there’s no bad breath here!), we could never get our kids to brush in the morning. It was one of those morning routines that never stuck – there was never enough time, and more than enough yelling already, so why start my day with another fight?
Brushing teeth in the morning should be simple and expected. So should putting dirty clothes in the hamper. But when you have kids, nothing’s simple.
My embarrassment at the dentist’s office was the kick in the butt I needed to finally figure out how to make my kids take responsibility for themselves and our home.
I was sick of yelling, tired of nagging, and fed up with doing stuff that even a 5-year-old and her 7-year-old brother should be capable of managing themselves (or with minimal help).
I don’t want to yell at my kids first thing in the morning and again at night, but it was happening, anyway.
Something had to change.
So I rifled through my craft stash and created a DIY chore chart for kids that would (hopefully) end the nagging and instill some sense of responsibility in my two little troublemakers.
Supplies to Make a Chore Chart for Kids
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This is an easy DIY chore chart, but not as quick as the projects I usually share. Let the kids watch two episodes of their favorite show, then you’ll be done with the chart (and so done listening to “Vampirina”).
First, gather your supplies:
- 11″x14″ foam core poster board
- Washi tape
- Letter stickers
- Adhesive Velcro dots
- Craft sticks (popsicle sticks, standard size)
- Label maker (or excellent handwriting on tape – but don’t use a Sharpie directly on the sticks because the ink will bleed)
How to Make a DIY Chore Chart for Kids in 5 Steps
This chart organizes chores and responsibilities by the time of day and whether or not they’re complete. I wanted my kids to have a very obvious visual of what was done and what was left to do, while (hopefully) creating morning and evening routines.
Each child’s chores are spelled out on craft stick that they move from the “to do” section of the chart to “done” when completed, or at least by the end of the day.
Here’s how to make it in five steps.
Step 1: Divide the Chart
Use your ruler to draw guides for where you’d like the washi tape to divide the poster board. If your kids typically have more responsibilities in the morning, make that section larger. Once you have your measurements down, have your kids pick our which washi tape patterns and colors they want to use on their chore chart. This will help make them feel included in the process and (hopefully) more likely to use it.
To make my daughter’s chart a bit more interesting (and add the pink sparkles she requested), I layered skinny tape on wider tape.
Step 2: Add Letter Stickers
Now that the chore chart is divided into sections, use the letter stickers to label each section. The columns are for status (“to do” and “done”) while the rows are for the time of day (am or pm).
Step 3: Make the Chore Sticks
Since this was our first time using a chore chart for kids, it was important to me that I set my own expectations about what my 5- and 7-year-old kids can realistically accomplish. Do I want my oldest to be responsible for picking up the dog poop in the backyard? You betcha. Will he do it without a horrible fight? Not a chance.
Instead, I focused on the daily tasks we expect them to do each day but often argue about, and brainstormed on a piece of paper before committing them to the label maker.
Making the bed was a stretch goal for them. Although my kids are capable of doing it, brushing their teeth in the morning is far more important than ensuring their beds are neat before we rush out the door.
After you decide on the chores and responsibilities you want your kiddos to accomplish each day, print them out on your label maker and stick them on to the craft sticks (one chore per stick). Here are 14 ideas for chores for kids that most toddlers and young elementary school aged kids can handle:
- Put toys away
- Put dishes in sink (clear the table)
- Empty backpack
- Make bed
- Do homework
- Put clothes in hamper
- Brush teeth
- Put on shoes
- Empty lunchbox
- Put on pajamas
- Set the table
- Feed pets
- Sweep floor
- Clean the table
Using labels or writing chores on tape makes it easy to switch chores around as kids grow and take on new responsibilities. Just remove the label or tape from the stick and replace with a new one!
Step 4: Make the Chores Stick
Now, it’s time to use the Velcro adhesive dots. The diameter will likely be a bit larger than the width of your craft sticks, so you may need to trim them up a bit. Below, you can see the dots on the left before I trimmed them, and the finished sticks on the right.
Now’s the time to add a bit of color to the chore sticks with washi tape in a complementary color or design, although I don’t recommend the sparkly tape I used on my daughter’s sticks – it doesn’t like to stick to itself and looks a bit messy.
Finally, remove the backing from the dots and stick them to the chore chart in the order that makes sense for your kids.
Step 5: Choose a Spot
When your DIY chore chart for kids is complete, it’s time to put in in a spot where they’ll see it an use it. My kids agreed to hang theirs on their bedroom doors so they could move the chore sticks to “done” before going to bed. I used removable poster adhesives to secure the charts to the doors.
So, are my kids super responsible now?
Here’s what happened after we mounted our kids’ chore charts on their bedroom doors:
- There was an immediate frenzy to accomplish all the things.
- They became incredibly competitive with one another over who had more chore sticks in the “done” sections.
- Mornings and evenings were less chaotic.
All this lasted approximately one week before the excitement wore off and they haven’t moved the sticks since.
But, that doesn’t mean they stopped doing the chores.
I reached a point where something had to be done to kick our kids in the pants to take more responsibility for themselves and our home. Making the DIY chore charts forced me to think carefully about what I really wanted them to do and what they’re capable of at this age and stage.
Even though they don’t pay attention to the chart anymore, they know what’s expected of them.
Our morning routine is smoother because they know to have their teeth brushed, bags packed, and shoes on before they’re allowed to turn on the TV.
Sometimes we need to remind them (especially the younger one), but there’s less nagging. I credit the routines and expectations set on the chore chart for these positive changes.
To reward or not?
I’m very torn about whether to reward my kids for doing household chores. Could I convince them to use their chore chart regularly if I dangled a carrot from the stick? Okay, well definitely not carrots, but maybe a lollipop.
Part of me believes kids should learn that keeping a clean home and helping the family is simply the right thing to do and doesn’t require a prize.
But the other part of me sees that our dog won’t do anything she doesn’t want to do unless lured with a treat, so why should kids be any different?
So I’ll pose this question to you:
Do you reward your kids for helping around the house, and if so, what’s the prize?
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