If you want something doing…

The traditional end to that sentence is, of course, “do it yourself”.  But I would like to suggest an alternative ending.

If you want something doing, make it fun and employ child labour.

This, I suspect, will come as no shock to anyone who has children and has ever needed them to tidy up after themselves.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve played two “games” which fall into this category.

First, my Brownies played the pen-sorting game.  This is a relay race in which there is a large box of unsorted pens in the centre of the room.  The Brownies, in their Sixes, are each assigned a type of pen or pencil – for example “felt tips”, “biros”, “grey pencils” and “coloured pencils”.  If you only had felt tips you could divide them by colours instead.

They take it in turns to run up to the centre and grab something of the appropriate type.  Back in their Six corner, they try it out – if the pen works and has a lid, they put it in their box.  If the pen doesn’t work, they put it in the bin.  If it’s a pencil, they have to sharpen it.

At the end of the game, you have several boxes containing pens which work, have lids, and are separated into types.

They got surprisingly competitive about it.  It probably helped that I promised them Six points based on how many items they correctly collected.

I think the most amusing part was the reaction of our Guide helper.  She listened to the instructions of the game, and then when they had started, she sidled up to me and asked, somewhat incredulously, “are you just making them do chores?”.

Secondly, my Guides – they aren’t very good at cleaning up after themselves.  So on Friday we had a competition – a quality race.

Each group was given a room at random.  We have four areas which we can use for different things, which makes this easier – the groups were “main room”, “messy room” (it has easy-clean flooring), “kitchen” and “bathrooms”.  Each room had a detailed list of tasks, such as “put equipment back in the correct boxes”, “if bin is full, remove the bag, tie the top, place it next to the fire exit, and put a new bin bag in the bin”, “wipe the kitchen benches with antibacterial spray and a damp cloth”, and “vacuum the carpeted areas”.

Then they raced to see which group could complete their tasks quickest and best.  They got points for teamwork and tasks completed, and lost points for complaining (although there actually wasn’t any of that, which surprised me) or getting in the way of another team.

I was amazed that they actually did it very well.  I was expecting more resistance.  I suspect that will come when they realise that over the next three weeks they will be doing the same activity, so that they all have a go at all the rooms…

What tasks have you had your Brownies or Guides do that could be considered “chores”?  How did you make them fun?

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