These 17 chore games turn household chores into memories! These family chore games will instantly become a fun family tradition in your home.
Do your kids scrub off their bathroom countertops with joy, and secretly sing your praises while cleaning their rooms?
Or…do kids chores look more like rolling eyes, sarcastic remarks, and the word “survive” gets thrown around a lot?
Some parents use chore charts with reward systems attached to them – with money, chore bucks, star stickers, extra time with video games, etc. – to motivate their kids to clean up, while others expect their child to do chores without a reward because they don’t get paid to put their dishes in the dishwasher, either.
Either way, getting your child to actually DO the chores – without the amount of nagging you have to do COMPLETELY overriding any benefit the household gets from the work – is difficult to do.
If you have these struggles, or if you’re just looking for a really fun, family-tradition-in-the-making chore games to add to your home routine, then you're in the right place.
Let these housework games keep the chore gremlins (and grumbles) at bay!
Pssst: interested in tracking chores through chore apps? I've reviewed the best chore apps for families here.
How to Make Cleaning into a Game – Gamify Chores
Before we dive into one of my fave family chore games, I want to talk a little about how to make cleaning into a game.
If you’re like me, you don’t see cleaning as a game. You don’t even see it as fun.
But, if you think this way, then how are you supposed to make it fun for your kids? They’re probably picking up on some of your mental cues about the cleaning process in general.
Don’t worry – that can be changed over time.
Aside from changing your mental outlook on chores and cleaning, you can also “gamify” the activity by adding points systems, challenges, rewards, competition, and so much more.
Bonus: many of the following cleaning games will also make cleaning fun for adults!
17 Fun Cleaning Games
I can't figure out which one I'm more excited to try first — turning our cleaning day into an escape room, or turning our velcro dart board into a chore dart game.
#1: Escape Room Cleaning
Give each family member a specific room to clean. Add a timer – you can adjust the times based on room difficulty levels. Have your family race against the clock – sort of like when you go to an escape room and you only have 60 minutes to solve the puzzles and get the heck ‘outta dodge.
If they don’t meet the buzzer?
Come up with a “fun” negative consequence, like dunking a bucket of water on them (remember that Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago? Yep. I got dunked.).
#2: Musical Tasks
Set a timer, and each time it goes off, everyone swaps tasks with the person to their right (or with the room to the right, in case you do chore zones) and picks up where they left off. One of my favorite chores game!
#3: Winner Chooses the Movie
You can pair family cleaning day with pizza + a movie afterwards. The first person who gets their tasks completed – and okay’d by everyone that it’s been completed (a chore oversight system is part of your family chores system) – gets to pick the movie!
Psst: you'll also want to check out these 20 child reward system ideas.
#4: Minute-to-Win-it Tournament
Take your entire list of household chores (wait…you don't have one? Here's how to choose age appropriate chores), and divide it into two lists. Either do a random count of 1, 2, divide as you see fit, or REALLY up the competition by dividing the list into desirable chores, and non-desirable ones you typically have to nag everyone to do. Then, divide your family into two teams.
Hold a family tournament night, picking several Minute to Win it games. Divide your family up into teams, and let them know that the team they're on is the one they'll also be on to complete their list of chores this week. Keep score, and play several rounds so that everyone has the chance to catch-up on points.
The winning team gets to choose which chore list they want to tackle.
#5: Minute-to-Win-it Chore Breaks
Complete your chores as a family (as usual), but with a twist…set a timer to go off every 10 minutes, at which point you all run to a central gathering location (like the living room) and complete a minute-to-win-it game.
Chore-inspired Minute-to-Win-it Games:
- Penny Hose Game: Give everyone 1 minute to find all of the change they possibly can that's NOT in someone's wallet or in a jar (think: cushions, floor, bedroom floor, top of washing machine, etc.). Then, use what they've found (you only need a few) to play the penny hose game.
- Socks Match-Up: Bring out the basket of mismatched socks, and give everyone a minute to rifle through the piles and try to find matches.
- Laundry Dash: Put 60 seconds on the clock, and have everyone gather ALL the laundry they possibly can, and race to get it on the laundry room floor. Biggest pile wins!
- Window Water Gun Shoot-Out: Arm your family with water guns filled with vinegar/water solution, and set the timer to 60 seconds. The person with the cleanest window in front of them is the winner.
Winner of the round? Gets to choose to switch tasks with someone else.
Then, it's back to work!
#6: Chore Darts
My three year old, husband, and I have a new favorite game that would fit PERFECTLY into chore work: a set of velcro darts and a velcro dartboard.
Take any dartboard set you've got (though make sure it'll be safe for your kids…AND for the parents), and write a chore post-it note or chore piece of tape for each section. Have fun watching your kids attempt to target the chores they want, but inevitably get one or two they don't.
Feeling REALLY crafty? If your dartboard comes with numbers, then create a list of how much each chore “costs” (with the easier chores costing more points), and keep a tally of everyone's points. At the end, let everyone take turns purchasing a chore (by rounds — with the overall winner getting to go first).
#7: Chore Relay Race
Divide your family into two teams (or however many makes sense for you guys). Give each team a chore task to complete.
Set a timer for 3 minutes, and the first person starts (or rather, races) through the chore task. They want to get as much done as possible before the timer rings, at which point they run back and give their partner a high-five — it's their partner's turn to try to get as much done as possible in 3 minutes. Decide how many timer-runs you want to do, and how to establish a winner (best effort? closest to completing? good team-manship?)
#8: One-Week Chore Pass
Think about ways you can introduce a one-week chore pass for someone in your family. This can increase morale (if done right — it could also go badly, so gauge how well this will work for you guys).
Reasons to give this coveted pass out:
- Best grade improvements
- “You've been caught being kind”
- Winner of family board game night
- Best team player
#9: Chore Dice Game
There are chore dice out there, though you might just want to make your own dice game that lines up with your system (here's a set of big, blank dice you can fill in with your own chores! I love how these use dry erase markers, so you can use them endlessly.).
Here's how to do that:
- List out all of your household's chores. If you have a chore chart already established, then you can use that.
- Assign a number for each chore, from 1-12.
- Get a pair of dice, and go through chore-picking rounds by letting each of your kids roll the dice and see what number they get. If you have multiple age ranges, then you can just one use one dice and create a chore list categorized by ages (so, a younger box of chores form 1-6, and a tween set, and an adult set).
- Complete enough rounds to give everyone chores for your next family cleaning day.
#10: Chore Jenga Game
You could play a round of Jenga on your actual chore day (with a little prep-work) to keep things interesting.
Get out your Jenga or building blocks game, put color dot stickers on each piece, and add corresponding colors to your chore chart or master chore list.
Break out the game on chore day, and repeat playing a round, everyone getting their chore, completing the chore, then meeting back to play one more round. Could be the longest game of Jenga you've ever played…but it will also keep your kids curious to see what their next chore will be.
#11: Chore Popsicle Game
I love making smoothie Popsicles for my little guy — we make Monster Pops (using these awesome monster molds…but they won't work for this one), made of only watermelon, one banana, and one steamed carrot. They're delicious!
Write a chore on each Popsicle stick, make your Popsicles, and freeze. When chore day comes around, offer up some pops! Whatever is revealed is the task they need to complete.
Another way to do this? Create your Popsicles, and drop in a different colored piece of candy in each. Then, coordinate each color with a chore on your chart. Boom!
#12: Color-by-Number Chores Game
Here's how this one works:
- Print off an age appropriate color-by-number: There's Pokemon sheets, chameleon sheets, and lots of hidden color-by-number sheets.
- Hide the Color Crayon they Need in Each Chore Area: So if you use chore zones, you'll hide one color crayon needed for the coloring page in each chore zone. OR, hide one color crayon in each task area.
- Child Colors After Each Task: After your child successfully completes that task, they get to take the crayon in color in part of the page.
- Rinse and repeat
Does your child need more motivation than getting to color (I get it)? Then tell them once the page is complete, they win a prize. Your choice how to set that up!
#13: Pool Noodle Chore Draw
Grab a set of dollar-store pool noodles — one for each member of your family (or each member that will be doing chores).
Wrap the bottom part of one of your pool noodles with tape (any kind will work — a marker circle works as well!).
Find a bin where all of these pool noodles can stand up in, then gather your family for chore draws.
From your chore list, read a chore out loud. Everyone grabs a pool noodle…and whoever grabs the one that's marked in tape adds that chore to their list.
Have them drop out of the round, put the noodles back in the bin (mix them up), and draw the next chore. When everyone has their first chore, have everyone join up again and go through Round #2.
#14: Pick a Mystery Stick
I don't know if you've seen these cool chore Popsicle sticks creep up on Amazon, but the reason why I call them “mystery chore sticks” is because they don't have ONLY chores on them. Sometimes, your kid gets to do something fun. The fact that they can sometimes get a reward-like stick, and sometimes will get a chore stick, adds a game element.
#15: Chore Fortune Cookies
What's better than having to be the bad guy (i.e. the chore assigner)? If fortune takes over and it's out of your hands — or at least your kids think so.
This woman came up with a way to take regular fortune cookies, open them, and put in your own messages. So, I got to thinking, why not offer these up as dessert, but with a chore added into each one? Put them in the middle of the table, and let everyone pick one.
#16: Pay Out of Chores
What if…your kid earns “chore bucks” for chores that they complete, and then they're given the opportunity to PAY their way out of doing one chore of their choice the following week (or whenever they rack up enough chore bucks)?
Sounds pretty fun, to me.
You can find printable chore money here:
- Free printable chore charts with money
- Free Printable Money (includes printable coins)
- Free Printable Realistic Money
- Printable Money (with fill in spots)
- Love this idea for using poker chips with chores (you could easily use the chips to pay out of future chores)
Here's a fun idea: use this board to incentivize your kids to do chores. You write down the chores that need to be completed on this Tic-Tac-To-Do board. As your child completes a chore, they cross it off.
When they get three in a row? You give them a surprise!
And now…I’m going to walk you through something I created that has become one of my favorite chore games out there!
What is the White Elephant Family Chore Game?
I’ve come up with a pretty fun idea you’ll want to introduce into your home: The White Elephant Chore Games.
You know the regular White Elephant Gift exchange? The one where a group of people each brings a silly, unwanted, gag gift to a get together and then swapping/exchanges/stealing happen with people trying to leave with the best option?
Well, I’ve applied the same principle to chores.
Your family is going to take one of the chores they’ve been given for the week, and they’ll bring it to a fun round of White Elephant Chore Game. During this game, everyone will swap the chore they don’t want for one that they do want, with a little fun competition as everyone tries to walk away with the “best” chore.
Prep Work for the Chore Game
Before you can play this game with your family, you’ll need to do a little prep work.
For starters, do you have a chore system of some sort? Meaning, a way that chores get divvied up among your household members?
Things to Think about for Your Chore System:
- Chore Organization System: It can be hard to keep straight who is doing what, when (or at least what each person is responsible for). Some sort of chore chart is a great way to organize which child/family member does what task, on what day, to keep everyone accountable and to keep things rolling.
- Age Appropriate Chores for Kids: You’ll need to fill your chore chart in with chores that are appropriate for your kid’s capability level. I want to take this a step further and add that you’ll want to choose chores that will help your child learn and grow in 5 different ways – a novel chore idea!
- Oversight System: So, how do you know when your child’s work is finished (or any family member, for that matter)? You can model the chore with your kids, then quickly look things over when they’re finished. You could create checklists for each room/chore that your child can work through. You could even have chore buddies where they check on each other’s jobs and provide some feedback before giving the “okay” that it is, in fact, completed.
- Rewards System: This topic is highly debated, but something you’ll need to search your gut about and figure out how you want to handle. Are chores expected of your child because they are part of the household? Should kids get paid to do chores? Should you do a hybrid of rewarded and non-rewarded chores?
Whatever you choose to do, be clear about your expectations and systems with your child.
Alright, now let’s get to the really fun part!
Rules of Play for the White Elephant Chore Game
You’re about to turn family chores on its head in your household, plus create a really fun family tradition all at the same time.
You can incorporate this into your normal chore routine. Just choose one week, and play a round at the beginning of the week (or at least after chores are given but before they’re due).
Or, you can give out a new set of chores (chore card printables are included in the free kit) and use this as a way to start the chores process in your household.
In order to play this game, you’ll want to establish the following rules:
- Your child gets to choose one chore from their weekly/bi-weekly/daily chore list to swap.
- Your child will need to keep the chore a secret by writing it down on a piece of paper and sealing it in an envelope.
- Everyone will come together, and place their envelopes on the coffee/kitchen table.
- Everyone draws a number from a basket, which shows their turn.
- As each player’s turn comes up, they get to either choose an unopened chore envelope from the table, or steal someone else’s opened chore envelope.
- Whenever someone takes a newly, unopened chore from the table, they must open it and read it aloud.
- Once the game ends, everyone has to complete the chore they got by the deadline (you get to decide!).
I’ve got a free printable for you that will lay out all the rules, setup, plus really cute chore cards (both blank + pre-filled) to use when handing out those chores.
I can’t wait for you to try this out! Let me know how it goes.
Chore Game Apps
I'd like to finish up this article with chore game apps — yet another way to introduce interest and competition into your household chores.
Do your kids get excited about things like gold coins and experience points? They can earn these plus you can get some help with chore management through the chore game app, Chore Wars.
The person who creates the guild for everyone becomes the “Dungeon Master”, and all others are “Apprentices”. Each member of your guild (I mean, family), gets to create their own character. Kids (and parents) can pick chores one of two ways: using a drop-down menu, or from the “adventure” page.
Points tracking occurs both on weekly high-score charts, as well as with ongoing character sheets. Characters can level up each time they've completed 200XP worth of chores to Henchlings or even Secondary Dungeon Masters.
Sounds a bit World of Warcraft to me!
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