One adult activity that many young children absolutely love to imitate is sweeping. They’re eager to grab that broom and brush it along the floor just like Mommy and Daddy. So fun! Unfortunately, they’re not actually very effective with their sweeping.
You as the parent have the opportunity to give them a very special gift – teach them how to really sweep! Of course, they enjoy just waving the broom around, but to be able to really clean an area of the floor like Mommy and Daddy do makes them feel confident and proud that they can accomplish such an important task.*
I recently gave Mr. BANG the sweeping lesson, which involves purposefully “dirtying” up the floor, allowing him to practice anytime he wants, regardless of whether or not there’s something already on the floor.
In preparation for the lesson, I cut up small pieces of construction paper to be the items he sweeps. I set those in a Christmas container I had on hand, and placed those on a tray along with a small stack of stickers. Those small colored circle stickers are ideal, but I chose some small square stickers instead, just based on what I could easily find in my sticker drawer. (As a former teacher and current scrapbooker, I have no shortage of stickers!) We already had a child-sized broom which I had purchased from Montessori Services.
Here’s the lesson, as I showed it to Mr. BANG.
1. Carry the container of confetti to an empty space.
2. Sprinkle one pinch of confetti over open area, then return container to shelf.
3. Pull backing off of sticker and throw it away. Place sticker in center of scattered confetti.
4. Bring the broom to the confetti area, holding it vertically with two hands.
5. Holding the broom with two hands, set bristles on opposite side of the sticker from you, and slide it toward the sticker.
6. Walk in wide circle, pushing confetti toward sticker.
7. Look around to see if there are any remaining pieces not on the sticker.
8. Carry broom back. Return with dust pan and brush.
9. Sweep all bits into the dust pan, moving it as needed.
10. Pick up sticker, fold it in half, and set in dust pan.
11. Lay brush on top of dust pan; hold it like a tray in front of you.
12. Sweep into trash can.
13. Return brush and pan.
Mr. BANG loved this lesson, and proceeded to immediately repeat it on his own twice. I did need to frequently check on him, though. (As he repeated the work in the living room, I was working with Drama Queen in the playroom.) The first time, he dropped a large amount of confetti on the floor and became overwhelmed by cleaning ALL of it up. Both times, he had trouble getting those little paper pieces to slide onto the dust pan. In retrospect, I actually think Cheerios, beads, or some other small 3-D item may be easier for a very young child to practice with.
Drama Queen also became re-energized with the thought of sweeping after watching Ethan. She sometimes uses the confetti, sometimes just cleans up crumbs she sees on the floor. She usually doesn’t bother with the sticker at this point.