Family Participation Board

My kids love jobs. This has been such a fun discovery and consequent tool for me for it always true: When Margot and Ruby have a sense of belonging and importance in whatever it is we have going on, things are smoother and more fun. Giving my kids real, meaningful responsibilities is my silver bullet as a mama, especially as a work from home mama.

Measuring and stirring. Yes, it is messier.

I get asked about working with my kids quite often. Sure, there are arguments and difficult days. But, mostly? They move through my work right with me. They seal envelopes, organize fabric scraps, attach interfacing, they sit on my lap while I sew. They play together, make games out of buttons and spray bottles. We take a lot of breaks for snacks, tea, untying knots in doll’s hair and working through conflict. They are a part of this family business and I’ve always expected that they could be. I’ve found that, when given opportunity and trust, my kids shine.

Hiking up to the coop to collect eggs

Sometimes it feels easier to do it myself but then I am reminded that I am denying my kids an opportunity to experience the pride, accomplishment and happiness than comes from a job well done. Every single day Ruby wants to buckle her car seat by herself. She can’t do it. Sometimes I hurriedly buckle it while she protests and remains bummed out for several minutes and I feel pushy. When I let her try for 15 seconds, she then sighs and says, “Can’t mama. Help?” I buckle her and we drive away happy. I learn from my kids every day. In this life, I prioritize family, connection and community. It isn’t easier to just do it myself.

Another successful process that has emerged in our home is the power of visual reminder notes. For example, I’ll ask Margot if she wants to bathe tonight or in the morning. She’ll say the morning and then wake and fight it. But! If we draw a picture and write a note about bathing in the morning and place it on the bathroom door? She excitedly discovers and “reads” her instructions and eagerly hops in the shower.

So where am I going with all this? I made family participation boards for my kids.


Jobs + Visual Reminders = Winner!


It’s like a chore chart, a schedule of activities for each girl to complete that focuses on the health of our homestead and it’s inhabitants. These work to not only encourage kids to participate but to remind the parents to step back and let their kids do it. So far, everyone loves it.


I am not the best tutorial person so I don’t have many process photos, but it was super easy to make.

:: supplies ::

  • steel (I used 1/4″ welded steel, 4×12″, I found these at Lowe’s, $9 each.)
  • clear glass flattened marbles (available in the floral dept at craft stores)
  • glossy Mod Podge (clear drying craft glue)
  • 1/2″ magnets (don’t get the high powered magnets or your kids won’t be able to easily move them)
  • 1/2″-3/4″ images depicting your participation items
  • white paint (I used primer)

:: process ::

Make magnets:
I searched the interweb for royalty free images, manipulated them in photoshop and added .6″ diameter circles of color behind the images. I printed two copies in case of goofs. You could also use photos, magazine images, drawings, words…



I followed this tutorial, with a few changes: I used mod podge to adhere the magnet to the back as well (no glue gun). I assembled the whole thing at once (I didn’t wait for the image to dry first). I didn’t use strong magnets because I wanted my kids to be able to move the puppies.


These boards comfortably hold 10 magnets each. I made one magnet with each name for the top. This name magnet will eventually cover the screw that holds the boards to the wall.

Paint a line:
I wanted a hand painted line so I used a tiny paintbrush that I secretly borrowed from Andy’s studio. I drew a line in graphite and then followed with Ruby’s encouragement.


That’s it! They will hang on the wall when we move (we will drill one hole at the top and use a wall anchor with screw and then cover the screw with the name magnet) but, for now, they rest out of reach, on the cat food shelf, under the cocksucker, next to Jupiter.


I made several more images and we will rotate out for the seasons and as skills or needs change. For example, I made a snow shovel and a garden trowel. I also made one indicating a thank you note needs to be written.

Also, the girls get to manage who does what. So, if Ruby fetches the eggs, Margot will pick up books. It’s very cooperative and Margot especially likes this because sometimes she says things like, “Well, mom, I really want to pet Sam but I am just sooooooo tiiiiiiirrrrred.” But running around outside to pick up buckets and shovels feels way less taxing to her.

Margot’s daily jobs:

Photobucket gardening gloves and red sequin dress optional

feed the dog
put shoes away
make a choice to give someone love and kindness
collect eggs
snuggle with the cats
wash body
make bed
brush teeth
set dinner table
lay out clothes for the next day

Ruby’s daily jobs:

Photobucketpick up books

make a choice to give someone love and kindness
feed the cats
put shoes away
wash body
brush teeth
snuggle with the dog
put art supplies away
help mom water seedlings
put outside toys away

Not every job gets done by the girls every day. And the “give love and kindness” magnet has generated some funny conversation:

Me: Margot, tell me about something you did to give love and kindness today.
Margot: I didn’t hit Ruby.
Me: How about something you DID do?
Margot: Oh, OK. Well, I just gave love and kindness to everyone all day long.

60 Responses to Family Participation Board

  1. Ani says:

    I love this! I’d like to make one for my son, and then make one for myself!

  2. @Ani,

    I know! I could use one as well!

  3. Lillian says:

    SO love the idea of one for me, too, Ani:)

    These are so fun!

  4. Jennifer says:

    This is so adorable and so needed in my house! My boys like to help but they often need so much direction that I often do it myself…this sounds like a fun solution.
    Ruby’s hair is so adorable. I wish my hair was that cute.

  5. Jenn says:

    These are so great! I love the simplicity and the colors. I also like how you incorporated love and kindness. Well done :)

  6. ChiChi says:

    I love this! I think this could be a best seller if you sold them!!! I know I would buy one for our family and they would make such great gifts for my friends. Just an idea!

  7. fantastic! they are so beautiful and i totally agree – they would fly off the shelf if you were to sell them…

  8. Cait says:

    That is so fun, for adults too! Maybe we’ll make a “farm chore chart” since we don’t have kids yet!

  9. kara~daume says:

    Yeah! These are rad. Max gets so excited about checking out his job on the job board in his classroom at school. After he gets home, he often talks about whatever his daily job was with such pride and sense of accomplishment. Now I am totally inspired to create something in our home. Thanks Mama!

  10. Hannah says:

    What a lovely idea. I’ve looked at chore boards before but never purchased one. I’ve also made weekly chore charts on plain paper but they did’t provide much my boys much incentive to help out around the house. But I love the idea of moving completed chores from one side to the other! A true act of accomplishment. I think I’ll have to give this a try. And my boys are old enough to help assemble the board, which will make for a fun family project. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Chante says:

    This is so true. Kids love being included. The boards also show what’s been going on all day. Some days it feels like the day just got away from me. The board is a way to show just that.

  12. Caroline says:

    so so so so so cool! I think that both kids and adults would love these; I would love these! Perhaps I would not longer find myself cleaning the bird cage at 11:30 PM if I had a chore chart….

  13. Holly says:

    I will definately make one of these for my two wee ones! I also think I can adjust this for a potty training chart!! What a fantastic idea. Thanks!

  14. Jasmine says:

    beautiful! I’ve made many a chore board in my day–but they always get lost or wrecked or fall apart. But, I’ve never taken the time to make them lovely. I guess even chore boards need love and kindness. I’m inspired. Thanks!

  15. Rhett says:

    Love the chore boards! Thanks for sharing your great idea!

  16. Hillary says:

    This is such a great idea! Bets the paper and check list chores I had as a kid. Just confirming that I have this right left side of line is just a holding celling for magnets right side is all the chores that will be done for that day? Do you pick the chores in the morning, or are they flexible throughout the day?
    Love it :)

  17. Kelly Cach says:

    You are SO wise. I love how you give your girls a chance to prove themselves! And I adore the image of Margot reading her own instructions and being excited to take a shower!!! I should have done this a long time ago with my boys 😉 But I have no excuse not to make one now…..I’ve made magnets the exact same way before….it IS easy :)

    Oh, and the GARDEN GLOVES!!! My littlest man, now 8, used to wear the itty bittiest pair all over town! I miss them….and him at that age. I think I’ll go buy him a junior size today :)

  18. Jill says:

    This is great! I’ve been looking for something for my 4 and 2 year old. I love the conversations with your kids. So sweet. :)

  19. Tina says:

    That orangey red sweater Ruby is wearing is adorable! It looks handknit and perfect for her.

  20. ABK says:

    Please please sell these in your shop!

  21. You are so very fantastic! Love this!

    I recently found your blog thru Kelle at “enjoying the small things”. I can’t tell you the amount of countless hours I’ve spent reading your posts. They really seem to speak to me and I look forward to a new one (or two) each week!

    Thanks so much for sharing your life with us Nici!

  22. Courtney says:

    So awesome! On it, for the bean and for me… and maybe for husband as well. :)

  23. Sarah says:

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it!

  24. Lashley says:

    No joke, I read this post, got up because the dogs were losing their minds barking at a person outside, reached into my jeans pocket and found one of those marbles! It wasn’t a miracle, though. I’ve made magnets like these for my fridge. I can only assume this one was one that fell and broke (a hazard of those guys – they’re delicate) that ended up in my pocket. Still pretty funny!

  25. Bikini By 30 says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Bikini By 30 says:

    Man oh man! You can totally see Margot’s face in the pic of you and Ruby! I always wanted a sister.

  27. ctb says:

    not hitting Ruby totally counts :)

  28. tawathie says:

    This is a very, very fabulous, wonderful, and well-executed project. We do little-one’s chores here, too, but the visual reminders and opportunity for self-management with the movable magnets is a great idea. I love it! Thanks for sharing with us all!

  29. mumofsix says:

    I am a huge believer in including children in helping around the house. If we do everything for them they are going to get quite a shock when they leave home. My gang have a number of ‘family tasks’ they must do each day in order to move their 5 little ladybird magnets across the fridge and collect their small amount of pocket money on Saturday morning. Puffing up the sofa cushions and removing toys from the sitting room, listening to a younger sibling read. Playing with the baby, feeding the pets. Laying the tabe, sweeping the floor after supper….They can really help us and feel a
    sense of pride at the same time. I have to say one of mine (8) does not enjoy doing his tasks and does it
    purely for the money! His older brother (10) is my 5 year old’s ‘monitor’ on top of his tasks and helps him get his shoes, school bag, snack and lunchbox together every
    day purely out of love and duty. Thank goodness for Fred!

    I love your chart. Thank you for sharing it. It is simple and perfect. I must try and figure out how to make those magnets. So wish we had some chickens so we could add egg collecting to the list of tasks.

    Not hitting would certainly get Margot a star for the star chart in this house. She is priceless x

  30. Kelly says:

    I am so doing this! Thanks for sharing. I AM going to make one for myself too.

  31. Hazel says:

    this is fantastic, I need one for me!
    I really like that they’re not all chores, like the snuggling Alice or the cats, or showing love and kindness. Rob and I both chuckled over Margot’s kindness. She doesn’t miss a trick does she!

  32. What a fantastic idea! I feel you on the importance of patient parenting. The clipped belt and fastened shoes ect, go a long way to making a happy home. Faster, no. Better, yes.

  33. I love this! Lucy would really love having one of these– can’t wait to make her something. Sweetness!

  34. FinnyKnits says:

    Your creativity and patience thoroughly impresses me. Well fricken done, sister. And how darling is Ruby, anyway?? So.

  35. Love that “give love and kindness” is a daily task.

  36. TRB Holt says:

    Well done Burb! Can you make a magnet that says, “Go to Gram’s house”?! and “Skype with Gram”?! :)

    You are correct, sometimes letting your kids be involved makes a mess, but that mess can ALWAYS be cleaned up….whereas creating an “inner mess” can not. You always wanted to clean the toilet,(go figure!), when you were little. I did not want you to, it would have been quicker & easier for me but I gave in. We worked it out…while the bath water was running you, (in your birthday suit), happily would wield a toilet brush and then would hop into the bath!

    Margot~ Where did that little toddler go?….you are such a little girl now. I love talking to you, I find myself smiling with tears when I am on the phone with you. AND your sense of fashion is over the moon! I Love You A Bushel & A Peck!

    Ruby~ I have got to find some photos of me when I was your age, we really looked like twins! I have decided that you are a HAM!…the expressions on you face are just priceless! You Are My Sunshine!

    Love to all….xoxo

  37. rebecca... says:


  38. Peggy says:

    God, how I love that cocksucker. Oh, and the family participation board rocks my world too!!! :-)

  39. Great idea, might have to do something like this in our house.

  40. Stef says:

    Love, love, love this. It’s great that the girls help you with your work and the chart is fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Ooh I love this!! Thanks for sharing!

  42. Zoe says:

    Love this! I have two months off this summer, and this might be the perfect summer project. I don’t have photoshop – is there any way you could upload those images you used for the magnets given that they are royalty free, or a template I could upload my own images into?

  43. awesome idea! Love that you planned ahead too!

  44. Sara says:

    This is so awesome! I’ve got a few years before my daughter is ready to help, but I love that this involves her being able to keep track. And it is fun, moving the magnets and seeing what she’s accomplished. I’ve pinned this so hopefully I’ll remember in a couple years. Thanks for sharing!

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