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Book helps to show caring for possessions and having respect fo

October 08, 2004|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

"We need to put away this game before we get out another one."

My daughter was asking a young guest to help with cleanup before they moved to the next adventure.

She has learned that it's a lot of fun to have friends visit, and that the aftermath is more pleasant if they pick up as they go along.

If a trail of toys is left out, guess who gets to put them away?

The persons - or person - who got them out in the first place.

My husband and I don't pick up after the children. We step over, give warning and then confiscate deserted items for a week or so.

One time he hid a bag of repeatedly abandoned toys in the basement for a month. Once returned, those weren't left out again.


It's all part of teaching our kids how to take care of their possessions and to have respect for the people with whom they live.

I wish I could say they've mastered those concepts. Let's just say this is a work in progress.

Because we are working on these skills, books that reinforce them are always welcome at our house.

Such was the case with Cheri J. Meiners' latest work, "Respect and Take Care of Things." Written for ages 4 to 8, the book helps children understand respect, responsibility and stewardship.

My kindergartner could relate to the illustrations of children tidying their rooms, helping in the kitchen and not touching forbidden items.

I appreciated the discussion questions, ideas and game suggestions at the back of the book.

For example, Meiners suggests asking children to draw pictures of how they can take care of their things. Post the pictures in appropriate places. A drawing of a child putting away toys could be placed near the toy box. A drawing of a child matching his socks while a parent folds laundry could be posted near the child's dresser.

The drawings might help the child remember what he is supposed to do.

"When they can manage their own things, it helps them feel confident," says Meiners, a former first-grade teacher and mother of six.

Meiners also suggests creating a "Put it Away" matching game. Cut out a dozen or so pictures from magazines of items you want your child to put away. Attach the pictures to index cards. Draw or cut out pictures to make cards with storage places that match each item. Possible matches could be a book to a shelf, crumpled papers to a trash can, a toothbrush to the toothbrush holder, etc.

To play the game, place the card face down on the table or floor. The first player turns two cards over, seeking to match an item with its storage area. If the cards don't match, the player turns them back over. If the cards match, the player takes another turn. After all the matches are found, the players can pick one item that they will remember to put away during the week.

Here's another suggestion from Meiners: A Responsibility Role Plays game.

Write individual scenarios on index cards. Place the cards in a bag.

Ask your child to draw a card. Read it aloud. Ask, "Is this showing respect for things?"

If the answer is yes, ask your child to act it out. Collect the no responses in a pile.

Possible scenarios could include:

· Jack couldn't find his shoes when it was time to go to school.

· Andrew hung up his towel after taking a bath.

· Olivia left her bike out in the rain.

· A little boy left his light on after leaving his room.

· A little girl had no idea where she left her brush.

The first three ideas are from the book. My children might know the origin of the last two.

"Respect and Take Care of Things" is part of Free Spirit Publishing's "Learning to Get Along" series. For more information, go to on the Web.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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