I've tried many things over the last few years to get the kids to clean up. And through the trials I've learned a few tricks......
Number One:: Do not under any circumstance tell the kids you are "cleaning up". Some how they are programmed to rebel against those very words. It's no fun! So we use a few other words and techniques that still get the job done but introduce a little fun in the meantime!
The first is a Counting Game:: I give the kids a number of toys to pick up and PUT AWAY (my kids have a tendency to get the toys off the floor and pile them on a bed or dresser). It works great for a quick room rescue when the room is not totally out of control, just a little messy.
The Toy Scavenger:: is for total chaos. When every bin has exploded (er been played with) and there is no floor space left, we have a little treasure hunt! I give the kids toy "groups" to hunt for. Like legos, dolls, cars, ponies, army men, etc. I think it helps little minds focus on one thing and not feel so overwhelmed about cleaning up ALL the things on the floor!
The Race:: I set the timer and we "put toys in their homes" for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off we are rewarded with a nicer room AND usually a treat. If you do this before snack time or meal time it works well. You can be preparing the snack or meal while they work. And the faster they do it the better but again, with my kids I have to make sure things are actually being put away and not piled up!
And last but not least......my favorite......
Mission Impossible:: I LOVE this one. I use it for the living room, an area in our house that gets messy quick with it being the living room, dinning room and school room all in one! Each child has their own name....We've got 001, 002, 003 (I know creative right??) in their birth order. Kids love whispering and secrets so much I incorporated that into this method. I'll look into the living room and find something that each child can do, or identify something of that child's and then give them a mission. I bend down and whisper into their ears, "Ellie, I want you to pick up all the princess shoes and take them upstairs and put them in the shoe bin." And she's off! I have NEVER had a complaint about cleaning when I do this! Each child gets a little competitive with it, wanting to hear the other person's mission or know how many missions each on has done! It's too cute! Even Gracia gets missions (she's 003)! And in no time the whole room is cleaned up and lookin good! I usually do this when I am cooking dinner in the kitchen so I can see what they are doing and what needs to be done, and can get something done myself! And if an spy get's of track I can call out, "002~Is your mission completed???" They really love it. It helps teach them obedience, following directions and being responsible all at the same time!
What do you do to get your kids to clean up with out prodding and yelling???