It is officially March and spring is right around the corner (although it doesn’t feel like it with 10 inches of snow in my front yard!).  One of my favorite spring-time activities is spring cleaning!  I’m sure you’re thinking “Seriously, Carrie?  No one enjoys that!”  But I do!!  I think with the right attitude and the right helpers, cleaning and organizing can be loads of fun!  These spring cleaning for kids activities will help get your children excited about and involved with your spring cleaning and will work on their speech and language skills while you do so.

Spring Cleaning for Kids #1:

Keep, Toss, Donate: Writing, Researching, Sorting

One of the best things you can do to clean your house (or therapy room) is to go through and see if there are things that can be gotten rid of.  Sit down with your child and tell her that you’re doing spring cleaning.  Tell her you’re going to play a game called “Keep, Toss, Donate”.  Make sure you keep a fun, light attitude while you go through this activity, she will feed off of your energy.  Choose one room to do at a time.  This could be your child’s room, a play room, your therapy room (for all my SLP friends reading this), or any other room that needs a good makeover.  Designate three different areas or baskets as the “keep”, “toss”, and “donate” piles.  If your child is old enough, have her write the labels for each area.  If not, write it for her but show her what you’re doing while you do it.  Just watching how print is used is great for pre-literacy skills.  Once you have your areas, explain what each one means.  When you talk about the donate area, you and your child will need to decide where those items will be donated to.  If possible, go online with your child to search for a worthy charity to donate to (or a couple if you have different kinds of things to donate).  If your child is older, guide her through searching for local charities and doing research.  If your child is younger, do it for her but let her watch and teach her about what you’re doing.  For each charity that you look at, help your child pick out the main idea.  By this, I mean “what is the charity all about”.  Calling it the main idea will help your child when it comes to reading skills as well.  Write down one sentence that summarizes each charity.  For example, you might have the following main ideas about different charities:

  • The Humane Society rescues lost animals and finds them homes.
  • The Salvation Army takes donations of clothes and household items and sells or gives them to people in need.
  • The local hospital is accepting donations of warm clothing to give to homeless children.

Once you have the main ideas, help your child decide which charity would be the most appropriate to donate to.  You may actually choose a few different ones.  For example, you may decide to donate all of your child’s old toys to the local preschool and her clothes to the Salvation Army.  Once you’ve decided what charity you’ll be donating to, it’s time to sort.  Go through everything in the room and have your child place it in one of the three categories.  You may need to help your child at first until she understands how to do the sorting.  When you get done sorting, bag up the trash and box up the donations.  Have your child help you take the items to be donated so she can feel that sense of pride in helping others!  Now move on to the next activity for the items that you decided to keep.

Spring Cleaning for Kids #2:

Putting Everything Away: Sorting, Writing, Literacy, Vocabulary, Describing

Now it’s time to re-organize the things that you decided to keep.  It may be helpful to gather any boxes or baskets that you will be able to use to store stuff.  Start by sorting everything into large categories.  For example, put clothes in one pile, toys in another, books in another.  This is a great language skill that will help your child understand categories and how vocabulary is organized.  Start with one of the piles and if needed, sort that pile into more specific piles.  For example, if you started with the clothes, you could sort them into piles of shoes, shirts, pants, underwear, etc.  Make sure you’re telling your child what those things are called but also describing them as you go.  You could say, “oh here’s a yellow shirt” or “these pants are soft!”.  Find a designated area to put each type of item you are sorting.  If you want, you could have your child write labels to tape to the location where that item goes so she’s remember in the future.  For younger children, take a picture of the thing that goes in that location and use the picture and the written word for the label.  Do this for each large pile that you have collected.  For example, if you were sorting toys, you might put the blocks in one tub with a picture of blocks and the word blocks on it.  In another tub, you might have dolls or cars.  Just keep sorting until everything has a home.  Keep in mind that the easiest kind of organization for children to maintain is what I call dump and go.  It’s easiest if they just have to dump something in a tub and it’s ready to go.  If each car has its own compartment or each shoe has to go in a hanging organizer inside the closet door, your child is much less likely to keep it organized than if you had a big tub for him to dump all of his shoes or cars in.  For some children, you may want to even just have a big toy chest or tub where all of their toys go.  This may be the easiest way for some children to keep clean.  Do whatever is going to work best for your child.

Spring Cleaning for Kids #3:

Teaching Your Child to Clean: Following Directions, Sequencing

Believe it or not, most children actually love helping out around the house.  Just make sure that you’re approaching it as something fun and not something terrible that they have to do or else!  Teaching your child how to clean something will allow you to reinforce them for doing something positive around the house and will give them a chance to burn off some of that built-up energy.  At the preschool where I work, we will often have children do “heavy work” to burn off energy and help them focus.  They love it when it has a point, like stacking chairs, wiping down tables, or carrying/pushing heavy baskets of materials from one end of the building to the other.  You can teach your children to do some of these tasks so that they can feel useful, burn energy, and learn how to sequence the steps to an activity.  Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose a cleaning task that you think your child could do.  This might be vacuuming the floor, wiping tables, dusting, bringing you the laundry, etc.
  2. Write down the steps to completing this task.  For younger children, try to break the task into just a few steps (example: spray table, wipe table, dry table).  For older children, you can break the task into more steps (example: get out the cleaner and a clean rag, spray the table with the cleaner, wipe down the table with the rag, get another dry rag and dry the table off, repeat with the coffee table and counters).
  3. Create the instructions.  For younger children, try taking pictures of the steps and using those along with the written words.  This will help your child understand what they are supposed to do.  For older children, you may be able to use just the written words.
  4. Show your child the instructions and go through it with him the first time.  Then, have him complete the steps on his own.  Provide any prompts that you need to get him through it.  Once he’s done, give him tons of praise and celebration!  The more excited you are about it, the more he’s going to want to help again in the future.

There you go!  Three great spring cleaning for kids ideas to help get your children motivated to help you clean and improve their speech and language skills while you’re at it.  These activities can be used at home or during speech therapy sessions so get in there and start cleaning!!  Don’t forget to check out my store full of fun, printable, speech and language activities!