Chore System — Chore Cards

Traci posted a great idea the other day at the T2CHK Message Board — chore cards and card-holders. She said she got the idea from somewhere and made it to suit her family. I saw her idea this morning and I’ve made it to suit us!

I will focus on how I made this for my family. Traci’s system looks a little different.

The general idea –> Cards have chores written on them. The cards get assigned to a certain child by being put in that child’s card-holder. When the chore is completed, the child moves the card to the “done” card-holder. That child’s chores are done when all their cards are moved out of their card-holder into their “done” card-holder.

For comparison, Traci’s system is to have ‘AM’ and ‘PM’ folders containing all her children’s chores; an equally intriguing and beneficial method.

I thought the chore-card method would be great for our family for these reasons:

  1. It would make the chores a little more exciting and hands-on for the children, as opposed to our current chore chart which looks the same every day and week to week.
  2. It would make the chores that need doing more flexible — so I can respond to needs of our household on a day to day basis.
  3. It would be a great help to me, so I would NOT to have to write out a list each day of the chores-that-need-doing (the chore chart isn’t that flexible, see reason #2).

Here’s what I did.

Chore Cards and Card-Holders

The chore card system in our household.

1) Assign each child a color. A. got orange; B. got pink; C. got green. Additionally, purple became the color for the group of cards containing chores that will rotate among the children.

2) Create index card chores. Using a fat Crayola marker, I colored the long edge of each card with the appropriate color. I used the unlined side (prettier, that way). I wrote one chore on each card as follows, indicating AM or PM if that was important:

(green) C.:

  • brush teeth (this is the only ‘hygiene’ issue that made the chore list)
  • tidy bedroom AM
  • tidy bedroom PM
  • fold & put away own laundry

(pink) B.:

  • brush teeth
  • tidy bedroom AM
  • tidy bedroom PM
  • fold & put away own laundry

(orange) A.:

  • brush teeth
  • fold & put away own laundry
  • (no tidying for her; she’s always tidy)

(purple) general, rotating chores (some done everyday, some on as-needed basis):

  • unload dishwasher & dish drainer AM
  • rinse sprouts AM
  • rinse sprouts PM
  • load dishwasher — breakfast
  • load dishwasher — lunch
  • (no loading dishwasher at dinner because the kids are having their science lesson with Dad then)
  • set table — lunch
  • set table — dinner
  • make salads — dinner
  • sort & wash laundry
  • sweep front & back porch, and sidewalk PM
  • tidy front & back porch PM
  • sweep kitchen, laundry, and bathroom PM
  • empty bathroom garbages
  • take out kitchen garbage
  • take recycling to the barn
  • bag up recycling to take to the dump
  • tidy living room PM
  • tidy dining room PM
  • wash bathroom sink PM
  • vacuum
  • declutter to help vacuumer
  • dust

Chore Cards and Card-Holders

The chore card system in our household.

3) Create Card-Holder. Using 4 long sealed envelopes, I created 7 card-holders (as shown in the picture). I cut the sealed envelopes to 3-1/2 inches. Each envelope generates 2 card-holders; 1 card-holder is extra. The short end of the envelope become the bottom end of each card-holder. As I said before, most of these great and inexpensive ideas were passed on by Traci. I labeled one envelope per child as “_____ Chores” and the other as “______ Done”. The 7th envelope became the purple “Chores to Assign” card-holder.

4) Put Up Card-Holders and Fill with Chore Cards. I adhered the card-holders to the side of the refrigerator with scotch tape, as shown in the picture. Each morning or the evening before, I assign the chores to the children by putting the chore cards in their card-holder. Any of the purple chores that don’t need doing will remain in the purple “Chores to Assign” card-holder. As the kids complete their chores, they move the corresponding chore card to their “done” folder. The process begins again the next day.

5) Another application. I thought this was such a good idea, that I decided to use it for school!

Using the same idea, I made “_____ School” and “_____ School Done” color-coded card-holders and cards for each child. (See photo.) I hope this will eliminate our current reliance on my unreliable memory for what each child must accomplish each day. The cards each child has are similar to this: Read Bible & Pray Alone, Math, Flashmaster, Reading, Grammar, Phonics, Spelling, Wordly Wise/Keys to Good Language, Typing, Latin/Greek Roots, Science, Drawing Practice, Piano Practice, etc. I mounted this system on an opened-up file folder that I tacked to the wall of our dining room (/school room).

School Cards and Card-Holders

The school card system in our household.

So this was the first day. Of course it was a thrill. The kids loved moving their cards over to the “done” card-holder. Will it stick? I think this system is a good match for us.

Comments

  1. Sonya Hemmings says:

    Oh, Wardee! I love this idea! Although my children are younger than yours, I am gradually increasing their chores/responsibilities, and this is a great way to freshen up my whole approach. I will have to customize it for our family, now. I think they will really respond to the notion of being able to place their cards in the “Done” envelope! I also like how you adapted the idea for school work. Because mine are younger and need a lot of one-on-one interaction with me, I probably can’t use it for school quite yet. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind for the future. Thank you for sharing it!

    Sonya

    • Sonya, I hope this will be helpful for your family! Like I said, it wasn’t my idea but I sure like it. And so far, so good. Things are really steamlined around here the past couple of days. Very easy to implement and very cheap to set up! Love, Wardee

  2. Great job Wardee!!!! I like your variation on the card system.

    Sonya – if your children are very young, you could use pictures
    above the words to help them with their chores: like a tooth-
    brush for brushing their teeth, or a bed, for making their bed,
    or a toy or toybox for picking up toys, etc…. It can be
    adapted for younger children easily. ;)

    In Him,
    Traci

    • Thanks, Traci! You were my inspiration! :D I appreciate your idea so much. I’m going to forward your idea on to Sonya… thanks for posting it! Love, Wardee

    • Sonya Hemmings says:

      Thank you, Traci! You read my mind! I just took a photo of
      our goldfish tank to use on a chore card for feeding the
      fish. :-) My kids are 7, 5, 2 and 6 months, so I have both
      readers and nonreaders. I also thought of adding what I call
      a W.I.L.D. card (which stands for Walk In, Look and Do). The
      plan here is to develop their skill for observing their
      surroundings and thinking of a quick way that they can make
      it neater/cleaner/nicer for everyone. So they would walk into
      a room, take a look around and maybe pick up a toy that’s
      out of place or put a book back on a shelf or hang up a
      jacket or something. We’ll see how that goes! :-)

      Sonya

      • Sonya, I love the WILD card idea! I’m going to add WILD cards to our our set of chore cards. I’m really glad to see how you’re taking this idea and making it work for your family. Love, Wardee

  3. Sangeeta says:

    Dear Wardee,

    Thanks to you and Traci! I love this system and have adopted it for my 3 year old (with pictures!) and for myself! I know- it helps me keep track too :) I’d love any feedback on how to get a 3 year old started on chores.

    • That’s great, Sangeeta! To get him going, just show him how fun it is to read the card assignment, complete the chore and then get to move the card to the done envelope. How much fun could a 3-year old have? ;) Love, Wardee

  4. I just found your blog and love it! I have a four year old and 16 month old. I have been thinking about beginning chores and I am inspired. I’m kind of thinking about making a wall hanging out of felt. We’ll see what’s on sale at Hobby Lobby ;-) Thanks for the idea.

  5. I am in the process of making one very similar.
    I also have one in the classroom that we use for our assignments. Each subject has a different color and since it is all divided into units, it is easy to see what day is what subject.

  6. Wardee,

    I found your blog via a google search and thought I would add that the Notecard system that you and your friend have created, I believe may have originated from a book titled Sidetracked Home Executives, by two “slob sisters” by the name of Pam and Peggy Jones(?). They were a big hit in the 70′s with a system for Homemakers who weren’t inherently organized. They took their own chores and made them into a note card system that whipped themselves into shape (daily chores, weekly chores, monthly chores, quarterly chores (dust above door frames, vacuum out lamp shades… constant spring cleaning in bite-sized steps).

    They also recommended a system to help your children “help you.” It is quite exactly what you did! Its great!

    The kids are out of school for another week here at my house, so I was just getting online to get a refresher course on how to make a card system for our house! I think I will try to find the book on ebay… I don’t think it is in print any longer, but I highly recommend it!

    Angie- (Mom of 3 in Virgina- tomandangie.blogspot.com)

    • Angie, thank you for all that information! Did you find the book?

      Love, Wardee

      • I have the book and I love it! highly recommend! I see it’s been updated and re-released. Amazon has the new version in hardcover for $2.79 (used) plus shipping ($3.99) — or $11.19 new. also, paperbackswap.com has their other (newer) book – Get Your Act Together. You have to join to participate on paperbackswap.com but it’s a great site for swapping books. They give you a bonus of one or two books free when you join.

  7. I saw your system and knew that I could modify this and make it work for us. We have 5 kids (ages 7 to 16) and lots of things that need to be done so giving the kids a little control over when seemed to perk everyone up to the idea.

    I used the colored edges on the card to signify which room the chore was for but we also used different colored index cards for whether the job would need to be done daily, weekly or whether that chore was an everyday chore for that person (can never be switched out as the daily and wkly ones can.)
    The daily chores will change owner each day but the weekly ones will get changed on Sunday.
    I would love to share my version and photos with anyone that wants a look.
    I bought plastic pouches and punched slots in the center to thread string so that there were 2 distinct sides and one other pouch for the extra cards.

    The kids thought the cards looked like Monopoly cards and that made them happy. We spent the day hanging the plastic pouches and making new cards for any job I had overlooked.

    We even have an Extra card pouch for odd jobs like cleaning the car or organizing a cabinet.

    So far so good. Let’s hope they continue to love the plan through all the hard work.

    • Andrea – I love your modifications – using colored index cards is a great idea! For anyone who is interested in Andrea’s method, leave a comment here and I’ll pass your information on to Andrea. Is that okay Andrea?

      • I’d LOVE to see Andrea’s idea. I’ve been toying with the same idea and mixing it with the workbox system idea.

        If you’ve little ones you homeschool and you want a system check the workbox system out. There’s a yahoo group and everything for us diy’ers.

        Honey

  8. Absolutely!!

  9. Thank you so much for being so thorough! God Bless you two and all of your ideas. I will be starting to put this system together today. Thank you for all of the pictures. I am a visual learner and this sounds great! I couldn’t afford to by the Titus2 version of this, so thank you for somthing much more economical.

  10. Thank you so much!! I have a 5yo and a 3yo. and have been searching for a chore card system and this is just what I’ve been looking for! I will start tomorrow on developing one for our chores and one for our school. Although I have a good routin for school, maybe the cards will help when it comes to those subjects least favored. :) God bless!!
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..New Year’s Resolutions =-.

  11. Discovered your blog today and love it! I would like to have more info. on Andrea’s version, if possible.

    Thank you!

  12. I would love to see more of Andrea’s modified system. If she could include photos that would be such a huge help. Thank you.

  13. Corinne and Jo I am sending you pics shortly. Thanks for your interest in what I did.

  14. I too would love to see pictures of what you’ve done Andrea. And thank you Wardee for sharing what you and Traci did. I’m excited to set this up for my kids for chores as well as school. What a great idea!

  15. Traci Thanks this is a great idea and I am so going to use it I am a mom of almost four and we homeschool as well so you ideas will help so much!! Thanks for posting this!!!

  16. Just discovered the blog today. I would also love to see Andrea’s ideas. Thank you both so much!

  17. I am curious if this plan is still working for you.

  18. Christie says:

    Love this idea and all the modifications. Would love to see pictures of Andrea’s method as well.

  19. Thank so much for the pictures. I too am a visual learning and also love the step by step directions on how you did it! Your kids are lucky to have you teaching them :)

  20. I would love to see photos of Andrea’s modifications to this system. I love the simplicity and usefulness of this method! Wardee, I love your websites– just recently been introduced to them and am learning a lot. You’re such a gentle, humble woman and I appreciate your heart. ~Sharon

  21. Thanks for the idea. I was just trying to figure out how to make it a little more “hands on” for the kids rather than me telling them what to do. This is perfect. I am going to work on it tonight…. <3

    Trish
    .-= trish´s last blog ..Free Printable Tooth Fairy Letter… =-.

  22. Shalece says:

    Thanks for the great ideas. I would love to see pics of Andrea’s chore system. My kids are young (2, 4, 5 and 10) but I wanted to start one with simple, yet colorful pictures of the chores needing to be done. I think my kids will love it and will be more likely to want to help if I make it fun. My mom did something like this when I was young for Saturday cleaning. I remember getting so excited to look into my pocket to see what I got to do that day. My mom kept them changed around so my 3 brothers and sister didn’t get bored and everything was even. My mom made the pockets on a fabric covered pin board. The pockets were made out of fabric that my mom sewed on. It was neat and I have great memories of our chore pockets!

  23. Hi! I have been using these for a few months and they are working beautifully! Posting about it on my blog with a link to your site!

  24. I just came across this after hours of searching for a system for my family that would be flexible and simple like this. Thank you for the great ideas – I’m off to make our system.

  25. So I am WAY behind the times a few years later but is Andrea still willing to share pictures of her system??

Trackbacks

  1. [...] friend Wardee modified this system a bit after she saw my version of it.  She’s even is using it for their [...]

  2. [...] Chore System — Chore Cards It would make the chores a little more exciting and hands-on for the children, as opposed to our current chore chart which looks the same every day and week to week. It would make the chores that need doing more flexible — so I can respond I have a four year old and 16 month old. I have been thinking about beginning chores and I am inspired. I'm kind of thinking about making a wall hanging out of felt. We'll see what's on sale at Hobby Lobby ;-) Thanks for the idea. [...]

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