Magnetic Chore Chart

As I am sure is the case with many other parents, I have tried various systems and charts and lists to get my kids to do chores, and do them consistently, especially in the summer. This spring I started brainstorming about how I was going to have a successful summer with the children and I came up with this idea.

Up to this point, my most successful "job chart" was when I made a list on a piece of paper and the kids would read what they had to do and write their initial next to the job when it was finished. There are several flaws in this system, though. What if there is a job that I only need/want one child to do? What if I forget to write a list the night before and the children get up before me? I would often tell them to "pick two from this list" but the faster ones would pick the easier/shorter jobs. I don't want to write out a different list for each child, but I need to be able to have customizable lists without all the work.

And the magnetic job chart was born. I went to Home Depot and got a piece of sheet metal that measures 1x2 ft. I had just planned to hang it on the wall but Frugaldad hopped on the job chart train with me and cut me a piece of 1/4" plywood for the back and we glued them together with polyurethane glue. I went to Staples and bought some magnetic paper. It is designed to run through an ink-jet printer, but I wanted to hand-write the jobs so that as I added more, they all matched. I used a paper trimmer to cut the magnetic paper into 1/2" strips, then I used fine-tipped permanent markers in different colors to write the jobs on the strips, and I just cut them apart with scissors. I wrote down every possible job I might ask the kids to do and wrote them on a piece of paper. Then I coded them according to the type of job. Some jobs, like feeding our various animals, rotate weekly. Some things are done daily. Some things are done whenever I feel like asking the kids to do them. My coding system isn't perfect, but it works. I wrote each type of job in a different color.

jobs for the new chart

job on magnetic paper

I wanted to make it cute, but by the time I got everything assembled and written, etc, it was the last day of school. I knew that I had to start the very first day of vacation to get all the kids on board with my system. So I wrote each child's initials with a washable maker and called it good.

chore chart before beautification

When a child finishes a job, they move it from the left side to the right side of the board.

After a month, I finally had a spare minute to make the board prettier. I bought a roll of faux leather Contact Paper and some scrapbooking stickers and covered the board.

Magnetic Job Board

I am happy to report that after over a month of summer vacation, we are still using this job chart with great success. I have a job magnet called "mom job" that is a job that they have to come ask me about, so I don't have to make magnets for special one-time things, like "unpack your backpack from the camping trip." When a job goes unfinished that I need done (like the dishwasher needs emptied and I'm ready to load dirty dishes,) I am able to remove that job from the offending child's section and replace it with a different (usually harder) job. This child, in particular, doesn't care too much about getting her turn on the computer or picking a television show, so I often empty the dishwasher for her and assign her something else. And then I leave the unfinished jobs for the next day, as well.

jobs on the job board

Cost for this project:
sheet metal: $7
plywood: free (scrap from the kitchen project)
contact paper: $7 plus almost a whole roll left
magnetic paper: $10 for 4 sheets. I have more than 3 sheets left
kids who do jobs: priceless

(I modified the system just a bit when school started. Check it out here.)