I've happened upon a strategy that's working great for getting my kids to pick up their stuff at the end of the day. We try to clean as we go, but invariably, the day ends with odds and ends scattered around the front room. A simple, "Clean up your stuff in here!" has not worked as well as I would like.
What I've been doing is assigning each person a couch cushion, and taking a few minutes to put everything on their cushion. Then my kids (ages 4 and 2) come in and I just tell them to clear off their cushion. I know that for every thing I've put on that cusion, they know where it goes and can reach its spot. Things that go up high, or are theirs but they may not know where to put it, go on my cushion.
This is a little more work up-front, since I technically have to pick up everything in the room first, but the cleaning part goes WAY more smoothly than having them find what's theirs in the room and put it away. I think the important part is for them to learn to take responsibility for their stuff and put it away. Also, embarrassingly, I often realize that way more of the mess is mine! Oops!
But overall, it has been working great! They know where to find their stuff, and they know where to put it away. We're definitely going to keep going with this system.
Also, just wanted to note that posts are going to be pretty scarce the next few weeks. I'm finishing up a huge portfolio for my credential, completing my Master's, and planning a move with my three young kids. So, put me on a blog roll so you don't miss anything, and I'll try to pop in here and there to post the good ideas rattling around in my head!