Local Heart, Global Soul

February 9, 2011

A Step-by-Step Exciting Little (Mr.) Earner…

Filed under: Craft,Kids and Family,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our children have chores to do each week..  mind you, some weeks we are more successful than others at actually achieving getting them done, since homework, reading, sports, and various other activities take up an ever increasing amount of time, and we build in time for playdates on a regular basis to that it’s not all work and no play.

Our kids are expected to help set the dinner table, clear it, dry dishes, make their beds, hang up their coats, stash their shoes and a whole list of usually quick and easy tasks.

We hope it will help them build up awareness and expectation that everyone works in a household, that we are a team, that they can be proud of doing a  job well.

Himself and I have struggled with the concept of pocket money… we would rather that they earn treats like family outings of their own choosing, but there comes a time when they want some coins in their pockets and to have the joy of shopping for, and paying for, something themselves.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When Little Mr. was four, he expressed interest in saving for some Playmobile toys. After some time he had amassed Euro 12,– and Himself was duly dragged to the toyshop to make a purchase.

Little Mr. returned in tears and Himself in a foul mood, having failed to get Little Mr. to understand that the Euro 12,– in his pocket was only enough to pay for a small  Playmobile accessory toy and not  the massive Police Station that cost Euro 80,– plus that Little Mr. fixated on the minute he entered the shop.

Little Mr. had not yet understood the concept that the amount of money he had to spend, would only buy toys to that value in the shop.

So, instead of paying money out each week, we set it aside for them, but now that both kids are older we want to try again. Little Mr. isn’t quite ready for actual cash in his pocket so needs something simple to work towards. I also want our kids to put some effort into “earning”  their rewards, so we have devised a plan.

Little Mr. wants some Playmobile furniture. I’ve made a six-piece magnetic jigsaw puzzle  and the idea is that if he does a reasonable amount of chores in a week, then he can earn one puzzle piece. Once he earns the sixth piece, he trades the puzzle picture for the real box of toys. To add an element of excitement, he doesn’t know which furniture he is getting in advance, he will only see it as the pieces build up.

I’ve added a step-by-step tutorial so that if anyone else wants to make something similar they can see how I went about it.

Buy the toy and make a photocopy of the outside of the box ( then hide the toy away). The photocopy can be in colour or in black and white…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a separate piece of paper draw a large rectangle, then divide that into six equal squares. (I used a separate piece of paper because I knew that I was working this out as I went along, also  I’m prone to making mistakes and didn’t want to ruin my colour  photocopy).

I used a bottle cap to trace circles, and after a few hit and misses, devised a rough jig-saw puzzle layout.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tape the corners of this paper to a window and position the photocopy over it, use as little tape as possible to avoid ripping off any of the image. (I can’t manage this on crutches and have a small cheap light-table so used that instead) Trace the puzzle image onto the photocopy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cut the pieces out with a pair of scissors.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you want, you can just glue your magnets onto the back of the pieces now. I have a laminater (it cost less that Euro 20,–) and want to laminate my pieces. The laminater sheets come in various sizes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

First, I found when I cut my pieces out that I destroyed the lines around the edges… I wanted mine back so re-drew them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The pop the puzzle piece into the laminate sleeve…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Laminate all the pieces and using a small pair of scissors, cut out the shape, leaving a margin of plastic around all the edges, Don’t worry about a perfect fit.. this puzzle is symbolic, and the clear plastic bits can overlap without detracting from the overall effect.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Attach magnets to the bottom with glue and Et Voila!  Puzzle pieces ready to be earned.


  1. My ears are pinned back in wonder and amazement. Motherhood has gotten to be a lot more complicated than I remember. Of course what I remember is mostly a blur. Boy it went fast.

    Comment by Gerry — February 9, 2011 @ 2:32 am | Reply

    • Gerry, I forgot to reply to this earlier, but meant to as you comment raised some interesting thoughts. Yes I think parenthood is more complicated than in our day simply because choices kids have these days have grown beyond reason and somehow, in spite of our work to the contrary,there is greater expectation of material things too.
      Kiwi Daughter is 9 years old and has been asking for pierced ears since she was five! (some of her friends have pierced ears already!)but in our family the day girls turn 13 and “officially” become a teenager is the date that pierced ears can become reality and not a day before, so she’s hot out of luck.
      The peer pressure seems so much worse than it was when we were kids, maybe too it’s because society has changed, kids can’t be let loose to roam unattended with friends in the near and greater neighbourhood until dinner time, it was safe to do so back then, parents would be arrested for neglect/abuse/misconduct if they did it now.
      Also there are more Mother’s working as economics demand it. Maybe that’s what fuels a greater array of indoor toys?
      I’m battling against it and trying hard to teach our kids the value of money and that the hard work put into saving for stuff is as valuable as the stuff itself.
      I’m trying to show them that happiness isn’t in what you have, but in relationships and fewer things, deeply valued. That said, it’s a battle and the balance is indeed complicated.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 26, 2011 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  2. You never cease to delight and amaze me! Your dedication to (1) being a good mother and raising well-mannered and elightened children and (2) to making the process of doing so as enjoyable as possible! Little Mister will never forget how he learned the value of a dollar and how the business of commerce works!

    Comment by milkayphoto — February 10, 2011 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  3. That is such a great idea!! And for the bigger Playmobile sets, you could make a puzzle with more pieces 🙂
    Our girls (14 and almost 8 years old) do chores as well, but they get paid money. Wish I had thought of your idea (or read about it) much sooner. I’m not sure they would go for the idea of earning puzzle pieces instead of cash.

    Those Playmobile bring back memories…. I had lots of them when I was a child.

    Comment by thedailyclick — February 26, 2011 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

    • Missy Kiwidutch Daughter (9years old) can earn both puzzle pieces and cash. Her puzzles have 15 pieces and she will have to earn two puzzles worth if she wants (updated) bedroom furniture when renovations on her bedroom are completed.
      Each of her pieces are of a higher value so she gets small amount of cash for lower value reward and puzzle pieces for completing “weekly sets” of chores and we balance out both.
      Little Mr. is still at the age where far quicker gratification is most wanted, so he can earn more rewards of lesser value by completing just 6 pieces at a time.
      (I’ll make a separate post on Kiwi Daughter’s system soon)

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 26, 2011 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

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