Take out the Trash- step by step for new learners

Take out the trash are 4 simple words on a contribution or chore chart but what they mean is a whole process. Teach and show this process for more effective chores and contributions with less frustration all around. +  Free printable A common contribution in every home is taking out the trash or emptying the bin. Up and down the land there are contribution and chore charts that say: take out the trash.

Although there are only four words it is amazing how open that phrase is to interpretation. What do we actually mean when we say, take out the trash? Each family will have a slightly different interpretation but for the most part we expect :-

  1. Take out the full bin carefully and put into the large trash can outside.  ( Maybe divide the trash if recycling into the right containers)
  2. Secure that lid so little animals can’t get in.
  3. Make sure there’s no gunk at the bottom of the original bin.  ( Gunk = smells)
  4. Clean if necessary with a paper towel and the household cleaner of choice.
  5. Put a new bin liner in correctly so it doesn’t disappear when the first new trash is put in. ( Report if this is the last liner or it’s getting low)
  6. Wipe the lid, inside and out.
  7. Check the floor around the bin for dropped trash.
  8. Wash your hands
  9. Close all doors + cabinets + put back anything you used like dustpans, cleaners, wipes etc ( maybe this is just for my family)

Even with this there are many of you adding parts I missed or taking parts out that don’t fit with your family.

We all have our system. It’s ours. We’ve got it down.

They haven’t, yet.

We have to stop presenting children with chore or contribution charts that say: take out the trash without explaining how to to do and have it written somewhere because most of these quick to say statements actually have specific process.

Teach and show

When learning anything new like, take out the trash I can’t just assume that the children will know how I would like it to be done just because of proximity. Yes they may have seen me or others do it but I mustn’t assume they know this process. The process. But we do assume.

This is where many of the big clashes come with contributions because we use those innocent four words, take out the trash and each of us has a very different take on what is about to happen next.

Their finished product and ours is often very different not just because they are children and their standards or abilities are different, that’s a given for some but it is that our expectations are different. It’s not until the end of the process that we realise how different! It’s like a test.

Once they complete we mark them on how well they have done but they don’t know what they are being tested on.

It is possible to let them discover the way to do things too and some children prefer this method. At the moment I’ve found that mine prefer we show and share then they try and as they get proficient they customize and change up the routine to suit themselves. We do ask and sometimes they want to try. Depending on what it is we’re happy to let them discover for themselves.

Know exactly what to do sheet- Download your step by step ~ taking out the trash

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Take out the trash are 4 simple words on a contribution or chore chart but what they mean is a whole process. Imagine what would happen if we taught the process and not threw them in at the deep end and hoped they would swim + free printable| Play-Activities.com

Video as conversation starters for families

family dinner conversation starters with a difference | Play-Activities.comIf you are looking to have more interaction at the mealtable with your children you might have tried asking a few questions about their day and the answers probably varied from one word to perhaps three?

We’ve developed a whole series of conversation cards to get past this problem which you can find here. Doing the same thing gets old pretty quickly so we have an audio version to mix things up so don’t forget to check those out too.

I love to see interesting Facebook videos and I like to keep the link in an Evernote folder and we watch them at a meal time. This is especially a fun thing as we don’t have electronics at the table during meal times and now the iPad or smartphone is out and we’re all watching. It’s a great treat and gives us something to talk about.

Video are fun conversation starters for families.If you’ve not seen these I’d encourage you to watch it first yourself. They’re all short. Have a think of a question or two to ask afterwards. These are a few our favourite questions to ask.

  • what does the video mean to you?
  • If you were there what would you have done?
  • What happened just before or just after the video? ( beware this one can go longgggg! :)

We tend to ask just one question as there are five of us so by the time we’ve gone around the table we’re done with questions. It keeps it light and fun. The conversation comes back to videos during the meal and at other times but we’ve found less is more.


Video conversation starters for families

Piano stairs

Type: Fun
background music:
Possible things to mention: architecture and layout of another city, what would you play? would you take the stairs or escalator?

stuck on an escalator

Type: motivational
background music: midway through
talking: from the beginning
Ads: yes at the beginning
Possible things to mention: what they can do to take action? Why were they waiting? What does the video mean to you?


MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON, TWO from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

Type: thinking
background music:
talking: yes
Possible things to mention: different things in the background of the house. What’s on the computer screen? Injokes?

So now you have three videos as conversation starters for families. The great thing is you don’t have to agree or like what you see so everyone gets to have an opinion. As children get older they love this type of freedom of thought and they often love to tell you exactly why it was rubbish, silly, funny or sad in their opinion. It’s not forced and there’s no big message but there is opportunity to touch on issues that don’t usually just spring up at the meal table.

If you’re looking for some conversation for the other 4 days and more check out the April Character conversation cards which talk about on perseverance,responsibility and citizenship.

What videos would you recommend?

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum for the summer

So many things you can get for the summer don't let it be JUST a text book- Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum. List of lots of creative ideasAll school year long many children have written on sheets and used textbooks as their main source of learning. Depending on where you live in the world the summer break from school can be a slim 5 weeks to a crushing- what-are-we-going-to-do-with-them-for-10-weeks? The go to answer often is text book but what if there are many things to buy instead of curriculum?

Whatever your preference for summer work and summer fun here’s a list of things to buy instead of curriculum for the summer. These are things we’ve enjoyed, like the look of or want to do. Each of these things is a playful way of summer work without always going to the pencil and paper method.  I have a middle schooler and two elementary boys.

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum

Bananagrams is a great grab and go game. We play it like scrabble and like to leave it on a table so we can add to it as the days goes. During the school year we often use it for a break from learning spelling by writing instead they need to find all the letters to make the word.

Quiddler  another game similar to scrabble. There are 8 rounds which means there is an end! There are cards and it’s really easy to use on trips in the car or waiting at a restaurant.

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum | 10 days in Europe, Ticket to Ride Europe, Suburbia and Catan ( Seafarers shown)Ticket to ride Europe is a board game that’s a lot of fun getting to know places around Europe. The aim is to build routes from one city to another. Nice one for Geography. ( see it in action)

10 days in Europe  are you seeing a theme with Europe…? Few more rules but a lot geographical fun as you try and again travel around Europe by sea, air or car trying to link to each place in your hand. It’s a fun game with risk taking and strategy. There are others in this series.

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum : Historical Conquest Card game Suburbia Plan and build your own city. I haven’t been keen on this one myself but the boys love it and said I needed to include it. Often they are quite cooperative and helpful with each other and other times ruthless.  A game where the youngest or oldest can shine! ( Never a bad thing when you have a group of children)

Any of the Catans: we were shown this by friends and it’s been a family favorite ever since. We have too many expansion packs and add ons to mention here ( We have many of them) They are all great in different ways. Although we love Seafearers and Settlers of America the most. Each game takes 2+ hours so this is played for a while.

Snap circuits junior There’s a book of ideas and very quickly they will try creating their own circuits. Who knew there could be so many combinations? It’s been a great calming activity especially after a busy day.

Agricola  New game that we’ve played a handful of times. The boys love it. I like that there aren’t lots of rules to remember and the game doesn’t last forever. We’ve used the two player version.

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum for the summer | Hue Knew or Quoridor(Mindware) Hue Knew even though this is a junior game it is portable and it is easy to play with adults of children. It’s hard to say a color name when it in a different color. e.g. RED 

Quoridor is a fun strategy game for two players

Chinese checkers and Chess- share a small fold up dinner table. Perfect for playing over time.

Forbidden Island : We like this game on family night . You have to work together to get off the Forbidden island without sinking and coming a cropper!

Historical Conquest  I picked this up at a homeschool conference and we all love them! I just like looking at the history and the boys play them like all the other cards games like Magic. But there’s no magic it’s historical characters.

Maccano can’t beat the manipulatives of trying to make something stand or lift. There are so many different set that when you have a group you can mix and match.

Potato clock we’re fans of building one thing items like the potato clock because there’s a goal and something to end with. We’ve had the tin can robot too. Working within instructions is a good skill and while there was a lot of frustration the happiness at the end was worth it.

Lego  we just add and add to this year on year. They used to have a giant tub to share but now they are into different things we’re slowing building their own collections. During the summer they often combine forces for something epic.

Audiobooks from the Library use them for downtime and calm down activities as well as filling out a much loved book. At the moment the boys like to read half the series and listen to half the series on audio. It keeps them engaged.

Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum for the summer | Agricola + Forbidden island Watercolor paper There’s not been much opportunity for experimenting with watercolor at school and the boys have tried it a few times before so having the right type of heavy paper makes a difference. We’ve kept the paper to postcard size for experimenting on but there are many different sizes.

Prisma coloring pencils I started bible journaling this year as a New Year project and met and fell in love with these pencils. I’d never spent that much for pencils before and now I have a set I can see they are totally worth it. When we’re coloring, shading or doodling I share my pencils. Since then the boys have inherited a different set of coloring pencils that are better than the basic ones they had.

Large sheets of paper You can’t go wrong with lots of different sizes and types of paper. Their favourite is the huge butcher paper as it’s become part of a new game, a town, backdrop for LEGO, cut for Kites, shredded for paper mache and once some paper trousers!

Sakura Pigma Micron Pens in different sizes- we’ve been big fans of zentangle. Part of the fun of this type of work is using different sized pens to get the patterns you want. They’ve taken quotes, verses and titles and been really creative with pen sizes and not just color.

Space to leave things up like on a table or in a room or corner. Having a nook is a major plus during the summer. Games and activities can develop over time when you can leave them out. Long games eventually end and you’ll find your children standing over games and activities planning their next move.

There are so many other things like outdoor activities and STEM projects to add but we have to stop somewhere. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Leave a comment below with your go to things to buy instead of curriculum.

Developing habits, Goal setting, Unity and cooperation Character Conversation Audio

Character Conversation Cards are available in two formats: task cards (pdf) and an audio file.

The audio file is a downloadable .mp3 file of the 25 conversation task cards read with a special effect to signal when to stop the audio to answer questions.

This set is all about developing habits,goal setting, unity and cooperation and is the Audio version.


Audio version of Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation character conversation task cards

Note: Audio bundles have the music note and Audio and do not contain the the pdf version.  

Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation Character Conversation Audio

Choose the audio version if

  1.  you want to have character conversations on the go with your 6- 13 year old children.
  2.  you want to be one step removed and someone else is reading the situation.
  3. you want to use this at a listening station, on a family journey or to make a change.

Get these Character Conversation Cards for $5

Audio version of Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation character conversation task cards


Each pack is different.

Within this audio:

  • 10 situations on developing habits
  • 10 situations on goal setting
  • 5 situations on unity and cooperation

Each card had a short real life situation and different questions afterwards to encourage longer answers and especially, “What would you do?”

Listen to the situation and activate voice commands to play, pause and stop to give time for discussion for a hands free session. There’s an audible pause and time to pause the recording to respond if you prefer to use the buttons.

Listen on your phone and download to your tablet for easy on the go use.

Download the audio of the 25 character conversation situations  on Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation  as one bundled audio.

Buy this bundle using paypal $5

To help foster communication there’s no answer key as answers will depend upon your values.

*Older children may enjoy debating ideas and there’s  opportunity to rest on many sides of an issue and work through the thinking to the end. E.g. If I do it this way, this will happen, then this etc.Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation Audio Character Conversation Cards

Want to know what the audio sounds like?

Listen here

Can I have the pdf version of this Character Conversations Set?

Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation character conversation task cards pdf $3

What other cards and audio character conversations are there?

See the full view here

*Pin and share*Listen to the audio version of Character Conversation Cards : Developing habits, goal setting, unity and cooperation


Super smart strategy every child should master

Have you ever gone to find something like a book or a top and an hour later you’ve just reorganized the books or cleaned your closet? Maybe you found the missing item, maybe you didn’t.  You might not even remember now why you’re here but you do feel better about sorting through this particular mess.

Sorting helps us find things.

Sorting helps us notice things.

There is a purpose for sorting.

Like their parents not all children are good at sorting. But everyone has to know how to do it. Sorting is a lot more involved if we really think about it.

Empowering our children to succeed now and in the future with this super smart strategy that every child should master, even though it's hard for some :)

[Read more…]

3 tested ways to encourage Intrinsic Motivation at home


Bribing and rewards are forms of extrinsic motivation often used in families to get desired outcomes. It’s really easy to do, quick and just happens so many times.  It starts when they are babies and toddlers. Yet we know that children do so much better long term when they are intrinsically motivated.

Intrinsic motivation ideas for the home instead of all the bribes and rewards | play-activities.com

Why is extrinsic motivation our go to motivation as adults for our children ?

[Read more…]

3 Little known sleep facts that elementary and older children families often miss

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman share the skinny on sleep in NurtureShock: New Thinking about children.

They collect in one place lots of the current science and sleep facts on different subjects. Often we as parents have a common sense notion about things based on us. But children are different they aren’t little adults.

Sleep is one of those things. We think that our sleep problems and the children’s sleep problems are the same. (They are not!)

The earlier we can set down patterns of good sleep habits the better it will be for our family flow and family atmosphere.

Little known sleep facts for our elementary and older children. |Play-Activities

Here are three highlights from the sleep chapter  [Read more…]

Gratitude, Courage, Adversity, Unity and Cooperation Character Conversation Cards

Here are 25 conversation task cards about Gratitude, Courage, Adversity, Unity and Cooperation Character Conversation Cards. They are designed to bring conversation between children and between families. It’s good for use during the 5 day week so can last a month giving a good amount of time for the conversations to develop.

Character Conversation Cards pink bundle.Gratitude, Courage, Adversity, Unity and Cooperation Character Conversation Cards

Gratitude, Courage, Adversity, Unity and Cooperation Character Conversation Cards

Choose these cards if:

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Overhauling reading when they read just one type of book

Getting the children to read is a step but getting them to read a range of books is another matter.  It’s been my fault. Once I raised a reader I think I just assumed with all these books around they would read a range of them.

I see they don’t.

I know it doesn’t happen to every reader but for some readers once they find an author or book series they can get stuck there. While I’m happy I have boys who read and love to read there’s definitely more to this reading journey than cul-de-sacs.

Pin and save for when  they get stuck reading one type of book. One way to change.

Although we read there’s more to explore just up and over the horizon. As their guide, I need to guide.

The care is to not switch them off to books by forcing them to read also not give the impression it’s wrong to read everything by an author or a series. I guess  it comes down to this: you can’t say you don’t like animal books if you’ve never read one. Once you’ve read an animal book now you can tell me why you don’t like that one.

Here’s one idea we’ve done as a family to try and bring some diversity into our range of books.

[Read more…]

Setting up email for kids: 5 things to teach at the beginning

It’s that time and you’re email address shopping for your child. We’ve had a family email account for a little while as a handy catch all for all the children. It’s been useful to not have to set up separate accounts and all the friends could get each child right there. It was a taste of what’s to come.

As they get older the children have more rights and responsibilities and an email address is earned because of all the responsibility that comes with. There are so many things to talk about never mind all the fear based stuff we all see as parents.

What we should know before setting up that first email address and the conversation we have with our children.

Before I sent off my son with a new email address after the technical wrangling behind the scenes I needed a checklist of things to talk about. Cool Mom Tech has an excellent 11 point list of things to teach your child before they get their first email account  that we followed. I’ve added 4 things to teach or have at the very beginning that we found useful, along with a three messages for us.

[Read more…]

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