Allowing your child to help with basic tasks makes her feel important.

How to Set Up Chore Jars for Kids

by Penelope Longfellow

A bizarre, but true, story: Toddlers and preschoolers will often find great joy in small assigned tasks or chores. Who knew carrying a light bag of groceries, using a broom or washing a pot could be so much fun? Chores such as these make a young child feel included and important as she mimics your own grown-up behavior. Take advantage of this naive, but endearing, enthusiasm for responsibility and achievement by setting up a chore jar.

Choose a selection of age-appropriate chores that are within your child's capabilities. If you're an overachiever, paint tongue depressors each a different color and allow them to dry overnight. Using an indelible marker, label each stick with a single word or phrase that describes each chore such as "brush teeth" or "pick up toys."

Apply a sticker or glue a magazine cutout next to the word or phrase that illustrates the chore. For instance, choose a picture of a sink or a toothbrush for "brush teeth." If gluing the image, allow it to dry overnight.

Arrange the collection of chore choices in a plastic jar. Display the jar on a shelf or counter in a high-traffic area of your home. When your child is in a listening mood, tell him about the chore jar, showing him the chores and their corresponding pictures on every stick. Assist your child throughout the day in completing his chores.

At the end of the day, count with your child the number of sticks whose chores have been completed. If desired, reward your child consistently for completing an agreed-on number of chores. For instance, three chores completed in a day might earn a sticker or other small treat.

Items you will need

  • Plastic jar
  • Wooden tongue depressors or craft sticks
  • Colorful paints and paintbrush (optional)
  • Indelible marker
  • Stickers or magazine cutouts
  • Glue


  • Keep the number of chores in the jar to a minimum so as not to overwhelm your toddler or preschooler.
  • Choose chores and tasks that your child is fully capable of handling to ensure success.

About the Author

Penelope Longfellow has been writing professionally since 2001. She holds a graduate certificate in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Longfellow's work has appeared at and in "Cape Fear Parent" magazine.

Photo Credits

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