5 Reasons to Include Children in Organizing Projects

Earlier this week I was bitten by an organize-the-children’s-art-supplies bug that would not let me not do it. So I dove in in that irreversible way that involves emptying entire shelves and drawers onto the floor. The process took all day. We sorted, we made a list, and then I went to go buy containers while the kids napped. After dinner, their treat was to stay up and help me organize. And they totally loved it.

five reasons to organize with your children

I was honestly surprised by how they responded. They kept telling me, “Mommy, I love you. Mommy, thank you so much.” I realize two things were probably going on: They were happy to be included in what Mommy was doing, of course (as 3- and 5-year-olds still are), but something about the organizing itself was filling up their little hearts.

Although I involved them in the process without too much deep thought, their reaction to helping me made me realize the value of involving the children in organizing projects:

1) They find things they forgot they had. Two things in our home are kind of like Christmas: When I come home from shopping at a consignment sale and when we rotate or organize the kids’ toys. While Danny and Elora were helping sort through their art supplies and toys, they got really excited about things that were too jumbled up for them to access or even remember they had. “Discovering” them breathed new life into things we already have.

organizing with kids-2a

2) Sorting in a real-life setting is educational and practical. Sorting is an important activity for young children. It teaches them to look at things and consider what’s the same and what’s different and how to categorize things in various ways. Sorting is a building block for both math skills and language development. Sorting through helping with a real-life organizing task melds an educational activity with a practical skill — and that’s very high on the the list of the kinds of activities I want to do with my children.

organizing with kids-1-2a

3) They can practice working together. In the already pleasant atmosphere of them helping me and me helping them, the kids were primed to work with each other nicely and were able to practice manners and collaboration: “Danny could you pass me that crayon?” and “Oh, sorry Elora, excuse me.” I was able to model teamwork with them and they were able to apply it immediately both with me and each other.

organizing with kids-5a

4) They feel loved. Their outpouring of love to me made me realize that by letting them help me they must really be feeling loved by me. It’s easy to attribute this to the fact that I was including them in something I was doing, but I also think there was something more going on. I think that by taking the time for them to see me taking care of their things, and including them in my process, they knew that their things — and by extension, they — were important to me.

5) Appreciation and an incentive to keep things neat. By seeing how much work and how long it took for us to organize their things, they realize the labor and consideration it takes to organize. And by involving their time and energy, they feel invested in the project. This leads to a healthy kind of pride in a job well done (you should have seen them beaming at Daddy when they showed him what they did) and, moreover, a huge incentive to keep their things neat.

organizing with kids-6a

Whether I do it myself or involve them in the process, I can see the effect that organized surroundings have on the children. They are calmer, less “lost” in terms of deciding what to do or play with, and much, much more apt to put things away where they belong. Involving them in the act of organizing makes the process even more valuable than the end result, and I hope to remember to do this more often.

Have you observed similar effects when organizing either for or with your children? Share in the comments.



Indoor Activity for Kids: Tissue Paper Stained Glass

pile of tissue paper squaresThere are many things I can’t do, among them are making a decent hummus, navigating any way anywhere, and opening our attic door.

High on the list is using saran wrap. We use Press ‘n Seal around here. Pretty boring fact. But this beautiful stained glass project made with tissue paper and Press ‘n Seal isn’t! The kids loved it. It’s low-mess, low-stress, and without the to-keep-or-not-to-keep quandary to boot! (Check out salt painting for another.) Stick it in arsenal of indoor activities for kids.

Tissue Paper Stained Glass How-To:

  1. Cut several layers of tissue paper of several colors into squares.
  2. Put them in a bowl or other container for the kids.
  3. Tear off a piece of Press ‘n Seal.
  4. Tape it to a window on all four corners with the sticky little bumps facing you.
  5. Let the kids have at it. You probably will too. It’s fun. =)
  6. They can take off the squares and make another tissue paper stained glass window.

boy sticking tissue paper on window
girl putting tissue paper squares on window

boy putting tissue paper squares on window

tissue paper stained glass on windows

For similar indoor activities for kids, check out:

Keeping Kids Busy: Pipe Cleaners, Colander, and Beads 

Construction Paper Crafts: Shredded Paper Snowmen

Construction Paper Craft: Strip Mosaic Stained Glass Window


Blueberries, But Not for Sal

We went blueberry picking.

blueberry picking-14

blueberry picking

blueberry picking-2-2

blueberry picking-3

blueberry picking-3-2

blueberry picking-4

blueberry picking-4-2

blueberry picking-5

blueberry picking-5-2

blueberry picking-6

blueberry picking-7

blueberry picking

blueberry picking-10

Salt Painting

completed salt painting

With summer in full swing, having easy, not-too-messy kids crafts in mind (with materials on-hand) is, for me, essential. Salt painting was one activity I’d been ruminating and it was as fun and engaging as I’d hoped. I particularly appreciate art activities that involve the children in multiple hands-on steps that they can do themselves. Throw in color, texture, and the fact that the only way to preserve this art project is through taking pictures (no storage dilemma!) and this activity was a total winner.

Salt Painting: What You Need

what you need for salt painting

  • rimmed baking sheet
  • fine table salt
  • glue
  • paper (thick black paper works best, I think; cut it into smaller pieces to save paper if your kids like to make multiples of projects)
  • food coloring
  • paint brushes
  • bowls
  • water

kids salt painting, applying glue and salt

Salt Painting Instructions

how to make salt paintings

  1. Prep by adding liquid food color to water in bowls. Keep color pretty concentrated for best results. Try to use a separate brush for each color to keep colors bright.
  2. Draw “paintings” with glue on paper. Thicker lines are better.
  3. Sprinkle with salt. Doing this over a rimmed baking sheet contains the mess.
  4. Shake excess salt off of the glue.
  5. Touch wet paint brush to the wet salted glue and watch the color spread.
  6. Repeat with more colors. Experiment with colors mixing where they run into each other


adding color to salt painting

salt painting-6-2

salt painting-8

Once these punchy, colorful salt paintings dry to a certain point, they start to sort of disintegrate; they aren’t keep-able. Take pictures and enjoy the easy and complete cleanup. I loved this project.

Aren’t you excited to try it?