Early Language Activities

Using Everyday Objects for Language: Cleaning Tools Edition

Continuing with our series on using everyday objects for language. On Week 6 we will focus on all things cleaning tools. We will have 4-5 activities and crafts to complete throughout the week. My goal is to keep it simple and use only items you likely already have or can substitute easily. Want to take a peek at what we’re doing?

Get the Packet

Click HERE for Packet

In this packet you will find:

  • 8 activities with 3 visual directions that make it easy for your child to follow along (and help retell after!)
  • 4 worksheets for additional practice/creativity
  • Recommended Chore List by Age

The Schedule

Monday: Sponge Bombs

Tuesday: Water Transfer Sensory Bin

Wednesday: Handprint Broom & Sweep the Leaves

Thursday: Spray Bottle Chalk Paint

Friday: DIY Kid Friendly Cleaning Spray

Saturday: Make A Kid Cleaning Caddy


Sponge Bombs

What You’ll Need:

  • Visual Directions (found HERE)
  • 2 Sponges (per bomb)
  • 1 Rubber Band (per bomb)
  • Scissors


  1. Gather all materials into one area.
  2. Read the instructions while pointing to each picture.
  3. Say to your child “Get 2 sponges” while pointing to the picture. When they get one you may want to practice “one, two” or quantity words like “both, all”. When you’ve got the two sponges have your child check off for “finished” (even toddler can help with this part!).
  4. Next tell your child to “Get the scissors” (parents supervision needed). Point to the picture and say “we need to use scissors to (pause).” See if they can finish your sentence. If not, after a few seconds finish it yourself (cut). Cut the sponge in quarters (parents or with parent supervision) the long way. The children can practice saying the verb “cut” each time you push down on the scissors. Check off and say “Finished. What’s next (point to next direction)?”
  5. Give your child an opportunity to copy the pattern on the visual directions. You may start by giving them only a few at a time. Verbally say the pattern that is being created. Once you have done the bottom say “put on top” and do the pattern again. When finished, check off and say “We are finished, what’s next?”
  6. “Put rubber band on”. Help your child to wrap the rubber band on the sponges. “Put in the middle”. When done say “It is on. It is in the middle!”.
  7. Spread the sponges out and get playing in the water.

Water Transfer Sensory Bin

What You’ll Need:

  • Bucket of Water
  • Empty Bucket
  • Varying sizes of Sponges
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Pitcher/Small Bucket


  1. Grab cleaning materials that are used to collect water- sponges of various sizes, bucket, mop bottom, wipes/cloths, etc.
  2. Grab 2 buckets (here we are using our Ikea Flisat table). Add water.
  3. Label the items for your child. Then let them tell you what they want (using words, pointing and you labeling with hopeful imitation, making a request using a question, etc….wherever they are at!).
  4. Tell them (pointing to the full bucket) “This one is full” (then pointing to empty bucket) “This one is empty”. “Let’s make this one full!”.
  5. “Put the sponge in” (while modeling the task).
  6. “then take it over here” and “Squeeeeeze out water!”
  7. Transfer the water until the other bucket is full. Take turns letting your child explore vs. you witholding the object and requiring them to request.
  8. Add Ons for Preschool & Older:
    • Have a competition of who can transfer the fastest. This makes children think about what holds the most vs. least water and problem solve.
    • Have an experiment: What sponge/material holds the most water? Using a measuring cup fill each with water and squeeze it into a measuring cup to document. You can also introduce a simple graph while doing this!
    • Have a Sponge Bombs Water fight. Have the child come up with game rules (this is important- it teaches them awareness of rules, turn taking, and sportsmanship) and then get playing!

Handprint Broom

What You’ll Need:

  • Printed Worksheet from Cleaning Packet (alternative- use construction paper to make your own)
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush


  1. Gather materials: Print worksheet & get paint and paintbrush.
  2. Point the picture of the stick and say “broom stick”.
  3. Then point to the blank space and say “But something is missing!” If your child doesn’t know- take a walk to your broom (with picture in hand) and compare!
  4. Tell them “Let’s make bristles”.
  5. Using the paintbrush (or they could simply place their hand in paint) say “I put paint on your hand”. “It is (color)”.
  6. Then tell your child to “Put hand on paper”. For younger children, guide them to where on the paper but for older children say “put hand at the bottom of the stick”.
  7. Set aside to dry and get ready to practice sweeping with the next activity!

Sweep the Leaves

What You’ll Need:

  • Broom (kid-sized if you have it)
  • Dustpan
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Leaves (real or fake…could also use pom poms, flowers, etc.)


  1. Tape down a box on the floor.
  2. Put the leaves all around the outside of the box.
  3. Show your child the “mess”. “Oh no! We need to sweep, the leaves are everywhere!”
  4. Pause and see if your child goes to get the broom. If they don’t say “Hmmm….I think we need the (pause)” Finish with “broom” if your child doesn’t respond.
  5. Once you have the broom and your child gets sweeping, begin reinforcing “they are out, get them in!” “you missed one here/there”.
  6. When they are all in the box say “they are all in! Now we need a dustpan”. See if your child will get it independently. If not guide them to the area and prompt again.
  7. Let them collect the leaves into the dustpan then “dump” them out (for real leaves- back outside/in the trash can, for fake- into a basket or storage bin).
  8. Tip: Leave this one out! My daughter came back to this multiple times throughout the week.

Spray Bottle Chalk Paint

What You’ll Need:


  1. Print off the visual directions.
  2. Gather all the items and put into one area. (HIGHLY recommend a towel…or even doing this activity outside. It was messy)
  3. Tell your child (while pointing at first direction “Open it up”.
  4. Pour all of the ingredients into the spray bottle using the funnel. For each items say “Get the _____. Put it in”. Narrate as you measure each ingredient as well- this is a great opportunity for counting. Give them a choice of what color to use.
  5. Put the lid back on the spray bottle. “Put it on” If they struggle don’t jump in to help. Give them time to practice requesting it on their own.
  6. Shake “Shake, shake, shake it up!” “Shake it fast. Shake it hard. Shake it up!” The ingredients get settled on the bottom so shake it well. Otherwise it will get stuck in the tube (if this happens, just run water through it)
  7. Go outside and make some art!
  8. TIPS:
    • This dries better than the initial color spray.
    • I recommend cleaning it off afterward. Continue with the cleaning tools and use a mop and water to “clean up”. Not in the mood to get that out? Just grab a water hose and rinse.
    • If you want to use again- just shake the bottle to mix up the ingredients again.

DIY Kid Friendly Cleaning Spray

What You’ll Need:


  1. Print off the Visual Recipe. To Make: Cut each page in half (on dotted line) and staple together. Pre-measure water and white vinegar.
  2. Look at the ingredients and materials together. Point to each picture and take turns trying to label the items. Once you have labeled them use the list as a checklist and go find each one. this is a great time to name different places in the house (The vinegar is in the pantry, the oils are in the living room, the measuring cups are in the kitchen in a drawer, etc.).
  3. “First, open bottle (pointing to picture)”. Don’t immediately jump into help, give them a minute to get frustrated to see if they will request it. And if they look at you for help and whine, name the request they are trying to make “help”.
  4. Put the funnel on top. My toddler struggled with the orientation so we practiced “turn it over”.
  5. “Put water in the cup”. Pause and see if your child reaches for the water (pre-measured). If they don’t cue again with “get the water”. Then “put it in the bottle” (while you hold bottle for stability).
  6. “Put white vinegar in the cup” Repeat same directions as in #5.
  7. “Now we need to make it smell good! Hmmm what do we need?” (pause and wait- see if they say/get the essential oils).
    • Some possible Essential Oil Combinations (we used Immunity Blend):
      • Lavender & Lemon
      • Eucalyptus, Peppermint, & Orange
      • Grapefruit & Lavender
  8. “Put (up to) 20 drops of oil in the funnel. Let’s count together” Before you start, let them open the oils to given another opportunity for requesting help.
  9. Take the funnel, put the lid on, and shake.
  10. Get ready to clean! Give your child a rag or towel and practice cleaning (or favorite practice spot is the window)! DO NOT use on granite or marble.

Child’s Personal Cleaning Caddy

What You’ll Need:

  • Small Caddy
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Items for Caddy:


  1. Gather all materials and place in one area.
  2. Tell your child the final result “We are going to make a caddy for your cleaning supplies.” “This will be yours”.
  3. Showing the paint, let your child request (pointing, using 1 word, creating a question- wherever they are at in language skills). If they don’t know the name but point, say “you want ______”, or simply “purple”.
  4. Put the paint on a paper plate. You can do one at a time or count out the colors they chose.
  5. With the paintbrush in sight, say “Hmmm, what else do we need?” See if they can recognize the paintbrush and reach or ask for it.
  6. Let them paint. Narrate as they paint but also give them a chance to narrate.
  7. Set aside to dry.
  8. Once your caddy is dry, it’s time to add materials. Here is what we included:
  9. Let your child get cleaning! Bring this out whenever you are cleaning the house so they can have a chance to get involved too. It offers up natural conversation, helps with following directions, and teaches routines and responsibilities from an early age.

I hope you have enjoyed our week of all things cleaning tools and your child has expanded their vocabulary! If you want even more “worksheets” for your child to use during this week you can find my cleaning tools unit with additional activities, crafts, and worksheets HERE.

Remember- the key is slowing down, being repetitive, and staying intentional during your time together. Let me know if your child learned any new vocabulary throughout this week! And if you do any of the crafts please share with me @languageandplaydates on Instagram!

Books we love to pair with the Cleaning Tools Theme:

This is part of a 12 week series. Check out activities from previous weeks:


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