Posts tagged chalkboard
Kids Can: Jobs and Teamwork Around the House

My husband and I share the parenting and home responsibilities. Our life is packed, like yours I might suspect, with the busyness of professional responsibilities, children's activities and school, Church community and functions, and home projects/maintenance. Our home can go from an organized, in tact, gracious space to an absolute food, toy, and clothing disaster in less than 35 seconds (yes, I timed it).

Before the summer began, and we're clearly immersed in the outdoors and summer activities, my husband and I decided to strategise on how we could get our children more involved in keeping our home a great place to live and play. Not only did we want more of a happy, clean place to be, we wanted less of the midnight-house-cleaning-after-the-kids-are-all-fast-asleep moments. We also want our children to learn important principles of responsibility, teamwork, organization, and caring for all we've been given.

We pulled up to the kitchen table with all three kiddos (at this point 7, 5, and 2). We sat in front of our chalkboard wall, our place for conversation and idea generation. We asked each of them:

What needs to happen in order for our house to be clean?

We went through room by room to talk about washing dishes, dusting, cleaning sinks, vacuuming, etc. I wrote them up on the board so that we could all remember (even if only some of us could read the list).

I added in a few jobs that my children overlooked like cutting the grass and putting laundry back in the drawers and closets. We talked about the tasks that the kids left out. For example, no one mentioned empty the garbage. As I added it to our list, we talked about what would happen if no one emptied the trash (lots of "ewh yucks" here). Going through the complete list of all household chores was a helpful way to make everyone aware of all that has to be done to keep our house clean and functional. It was also an interesting way to find out who enjoys what tasks. My oldest daughter loves to do the dishes, and my son loves to help cook. These preferences came in handy later when trying to start off our teamwork on the right foot!

Now that we had our list of everything that needs to be cleaned in every room (wowza), we could get into the meat of the lesson. We asked the kids to shout out which jobs they could do on the list. We put stars next to every responsibility that could be handled by one of them. This was actually a lot of fun to discuss, and it brought out each of their senses of independence. Can my five-year old really wipe off the table every night after dinner? Yes, she can! And she's even very interested in doing it. Can my two-year old put away his own clean clothes? Yes, he can! And he wants to! How have I been holding these children back so much?

The key here for our kids was keeping the discussion light and fun and focusing on all of their capabilities and talents. We highlighted the theme of teamwork and down-played the notion of chores.

The interesting part of this exercise for me: we found only two chores that needed just Mommy and Daddy.

Curious? Mowing the lawn and driving to the grocery store.

This next step is really a matter of preference. How often does the sink need to be cleaned? How often do we need to vacuum?

So we went through our lovely list one more time and circled the things that needed to be done every day and underlined those that needed to be done weekly. If it was something even less often (eg: cleaning out the fridge), we left it alone.

This step was an eye-opener for my 7-year old. "There are really that many things to do every day?"

Smile. Yes.

It was time to put the team to action. My children are very motivated by music. Or at least music that they love which right now includes a strange blend of Veggie Tales, Disney, Rihanna, and Sugarland (they're eclectic).

Looking at our daily tasks, we focused on how many songs it would take to accomplish each. We decided collectively that most could be accomplished in two or three songs.

This was a revelation and relief to me. We could really get each of these tasks done together - while building our family connections and learning important life skills in the process - and it might take 6-9 minutes. Suddenly the monumental mountain of house cleaning dissolved into a manageable pile of dust. The Nagging Fairy would get a break.

Helpful tidbit for getting your kids involved in this process? Purchase lightweight and easy-to-use tools. Our 7-year old can (and wants to) vacuum. The fact that our vacuum is purple and weighs under ten pounds, definitely works in my favor as well. My two-year old always runs for this broom and dustpan that look like an alligator.

Every family works differently, and schedules will dictate a lot. When is the best time of day to accomplish these jobs? What day or days of the week? Do you work in pairs, alone, or all together?

You know best. My advice is to embrace the possibility of togetherness and enjoy the fun of hard work. And keep in mind what tasks even the smallest members might be able to do with great success. My two-year old is very proud of his ability to empty our bedroom trash cans into the big trash, and he does it well.

Here's the list we created as a family. Feel welcome to download here if it's helpful for you!

Cheers to a happy home, and independent, confident children with a sense of responsibility and teamwork! What are your thoughts on giving children responsibilities around the house? Here's what we do (I'd love to hear your tips and tricks, too!)

xoxo, MJ

DIY Teacher Chalkboard Frames

Today's the last day of school for us. It's been a wonderful year, especially for


who had an amazing first grade teacher. No matter what new technology comes into play, nothing will ever compare to a high quality, energetic, knowledgeable, and creative teacher. We've been really blessed.

The small gifts and gestures we make as the year comes to a close do not compare to the real earnings these great individuals should take home. However, we want to do our part to let these amazing educators know the lasting impact their gifts, freely given, have made on our children.

My kiddos wanted to be a part of the gratitude this year, and we went DIY shopping together at Michaels for a project that would be appropriate for them to create and enjoyable for their teachers to receive. I think this one hits the mark.

We picked up a stack of unfinished frames from Michaels that retailed for $1.90 each! Using Martha Stewart's Chalkboard Paint and a foam brush, we added three coats of paint over a two-day period. I looked through our photos from the year to select ones that reflected moments with each teacher.

Press print, trim, and add great chalk touches from your child.

I added a note on the back letting teachers know that these are fully functional chalkboards so each can feel welcome to redecorate when they're ready.

Here's M's snack for today. It's a bittersweet day of mom melancholy for sure.

Thanks for stopping over, friends! See you back here tomorrow when we'll be sharing in some more goodness.



PS. If you've been following along here at Pars Caeli, you know I love, adore, surround myself with chalkboards (see chalkboard notes and chalkboard message bowls).

DIY Chalkboard Bowls

Happiness is a bowl of ice cream.

When we registered for our dishes (which are still in use ten years later), we selected some ample, deep cereal bowls. Lately, I've been looking for something a bit smaller and frankly more fun for our summer ice cream scoops.

And you know that I love all things chalkboard so I combined the love with the want for these simple charmers.

It's super simple to transform your favorite ceramic piece into chalkboard goodness. 

I bought three classic bowls from TJ Maxx for $1.50 each, and I ordered the chalkboard porcelain paint from Blick Art Materials for $4.99. All very reasonable.

To make, simply paint the shape that you want on the piece and let the first coat dry for one hour. You can see what one coat looks like in the photo below.

Add a second coat and let the whole thing dry for 24 hours. 

 Bake in your own oven at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. And voila! You have cute chalkboard bowls (or plates or cakestands or platters - whatever you can think up).

Here's the best part...

These bowls and the chalkboard elements are all dishwasher safe!

The kiddos are excited to write their names in the circles or their favorite flavors of ice cream or silly faces. So many fun possibilities. I promise to update this post with better-lit photos (these don't do the cuteness factor justice) when I can get these in some great natural light. I just couldn't resist sharing them with you on this Wednesday!

Thanks for stopping over! I wish you'd stay for some ice cream. I'll put your name on a bowl.

I'm pretty sure we'll be making more of these for some teacher presents coming up for the end of the year. Hope you'll give them a try, too.