First, gather up a bunch of "contraptions" from around the house. In this picture, I raided the kitchen utensil drawer. I have a wire sieve, a ladle, wooden salad fork & spoon, small cheese tongs, big tongs, and turkey lifters. Sometimes we'll grab measuring cups, pliers, wrenches, a brush & comb, really anything. Make sure to choose instruments you're sure your kids can use safely. *Those turkey lifters are kind of pointy, but I made sure to only let my older kids use them. They're actually great for picking up laundry. Use what works for your kids.
1. Try your best not to use your hands. You have new contraption appendages now!
2. No using contraptions on siblings.
How to play-
Have each kid grab their tool of choice (if they seem to fight over a certain gadget, explain that they'll be taking turns).
Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin the cleaning (keep track of which kid is working the hardest or keeping the best attitude). When the 5 minutes are up, all contraptions go back in the basket. The best cleaner gets to choose their new gadget first (but not the same one they had last time).
Repeat until each kid has tried each tool and you're satisfied with the clean-up. If it's a really big mess and they're losing interest, it's time to change it up. This is when we start TEAMWORK CONTRAPTIONS. Give each kid a partner. They now have to work together, using their contraptions to clean an area. Keep setting the timer and rotating tools. It's amazing how fast they'll work when there's a certain tool they really want to use the next round.
I have found that it's best to walk them through what needs to be done in the room before you start. For example- Clothes in hamper, cars in their tote, trains in a certain bin, books on shelf, legos in their bin, etc. If there's a place for everything, the kids work MUCH better. They'll probably need reminders while working, so stick around and supervise (or help).
Make sure to encourage them as they go. It's amazing how positive words can FUEL them and keep them pumped about cleaning.
Salad spoon & fork-
Yes, even my 3yr old enjoys cleaning up with this game. I sure love these little helpers.
Bless their little hearts, I now have a spotless upstairs!