Family Time, Spring: Child Ages 7-8

This publication provides spring activities for families with children between the ages of 7 and 8.
Family Time, Spring: Child Ages 7-8 - Articles


Your Child from 7-8

  • Is busy and curious.
  • Values belonging to a group.
  • Has quickly changing friendships.
  • Is adventurous, active, and daring.
  • Can give fairly clear explanations.
  • Likes to play games with words.
  • Still values family unit.
  • Has steadily improving body control.
  • Enjoys many different activities.
  • Likes to experiment.
  • Is very active

To Do Family Time You Must

  • Have a firm desire to help your family grow stronger.
  • Make a strong commitment to regularly do Family Time activities.
  • Set aside time to do the activities.
  • Be determined to involve all family members.

To Get Started

  • Pick an activity.
  • Before the family gathers, be prepared by getting together any materials that you need to do what you have planned.
  • Set aside some time each week when all the family members can be together. Turn off the TV, radio, or any other distractions.

A Word to Parents of Younger Children

Strong, healthy families don’t just happen. They take planning and work by each member.

Strengthening your family mean deepening the relationships or bonds the members have with each other. The effort required pays big dividends—the child and his parents (or parent in a single-parent family) grow closer, each feels good about himself and others in the family, and the family develops a sense of pride in itself.

Family Time will help you strengthen your family. Families who do Family Time faith-fully will grow close and will be laying the foundation for a healthy family in future years.

Every parent is busy. Family Time helps busy parents develop the habit of putting their family first by setting aside time to be together.

Parents in strong families plan or “make” the time they spend with their children. By repeatedly spending time with their children, parents send them a powerful message that they believe their family is important. The young child who is forming a belief system will learn to value his family.

The child will see his parents as persons who deeply care about him because they spend their valuable time and energy doing things with him. The child who grows up in a family that spends time together has a good feeling not only about his parents and his family, but he also feels better about himself.

You and your family will benefit from doing Family Time. Two-parent as well as single-parent families can grow stronger. What is needed is your commitment and time to do the activities.

James E. Van Horn, Ph.D., Professor of Rural Sociology and Certified Family Life Educator

Let’s Explore...Our Family

Are You Celebrating Together?

Your child will be able to take an increasingly important role in celebrating spring holidays with you. Put him in charge of finding out some new ways of celebrating or some new holidays to add to your old calendar.

Did you know that:

  • April 14 is Pan American Day?
    It’s a day set aside to establish better relations with Latin America. Celebrate with a Latin American feast for supper.
  • May 1 is May Day?
    It’s a traditional time to surprise your neighbors with flowers. Make May baskets and hang them on your neighbors’ door.

Family Nights/Ping-Pong Polo

Some families schedule a family night on a certain day each week. Other busy families can only manage them on special occasions. Either way, family night means fun. It’s an opportunity to enjoy one of the important advantages of living in a family. For instance, no one can resist becoming hilarious over a few innings of “ping-pong polo.”

This game is played with a bare tabletop and a ping-pong ball. Two opposing teams try to blow the ball off the table in the territory guarded by the other team. No one may touch the ball or table top with any part of his body.

My Turn to Plan a Family Night

Your child will enjoy taking a turn planning a family night. All will play the games the child suggests.

Some ideas:

  • Charades
  • Giving a puppet show
  • Guessing games (What am I)
  • Singing or dancing to records
  • Reading or telling a story together

Discovering Your Home

Are there mysteries for you to solve in your home? Look around your home carefully. Find five objects that are a mystery to your child. You can name them but you cannot explain them. For example, an antique kitchen gadget, the toilet tank, the dehumidifier. Ask someone to explain or show you how to use it.

Try to think of items found at your home that:

  • come from another country.
  • were not there when your grandparents were your age.
  • start with each letter of the alphabet.

What things from your home would you put into a time capsule to help people 100 to 1000 years from now know what houses were like in your lifetime?

Great Moments Family Diary

Are there special memories which you share as a family? Would there be more if you could capture them forever? Make a large scrapbook giving each “great moment” plenty of room for expression.

Great moments are special events, or days, agreed on by all members of the family. When you agree on one, give it a grand treatment.

You might start your scrapbook during a family vacation but carry it over throughout the year. Perhaps a great moment is the time the family was trapped at home during “the big blizzard.” Perhaps a great moment was the time the cousins from Alaska came for a visit, or the day your child started school, or the day you moved to your new home.

Whatever the occasion, celebrate and record it in your scrapbook. Let all family members help fill the page with pictures, newspaper clippings, keepsakes, postcards, poetry, or anything which has special significance related to that day.

Let’s Explore...Our Community

Visiting the Jug Farm Dairy Store

Some farms process and bottle the milk they produce. Take your family to visit a farm near you this spring. Check before you go to see if and when you might be able to tour the barns, when the cows are being milked, and when the milk is being bottled (that doesn’t always happen every day). Most dairy stores will be happy to help you see all their facilities if you give them advance notice that you are coming.

You can follow the process from calf to heifer to milk cow to milking to bottling, and even to the making of ice cream at some dairies. Many such stores also sell ice cream treats for a special ending of your visit to the farm.

When you get home, try making a special milk drink (see Let’s Explore...The Foods We Eat), or even make your own ice cream. Talk about what you saw. You might talk about what kinds of jobs are done on the farm as well as how we get our milk.

Neighborhood Helper

Take a walk through your neighborhood with your family. How can you help keep your neighborhood clean and pretty? Some places have clean-up day on your street. Is there a place it might be nice to plant some flowers?

Try Recycling

One thing many communities do is to recycle items that would otherwise be thrown out. Many places have centers where you can take glass, aluminum, or tin cans. Sometimes newspapers are taken as well. See if there is a center near you. Volunteers are al-ways needed. Your family could volunteer to help on collection day.

Recycle some of your old clothes and other things you no longer need. Groups like Goodwill and the Salvation Army collect old clothes for sale in shops to aid others. Churches and other groups send clothes to the needy. Your child can help you go through the articles.

Your family will learn the value of saving resources in all areas of family life.

How Did Your Community Get Some of Its Names?

Look at your street, town, city, county, and other local areas. How did they get their names? From other towns people came from, a native American chief, an early settler, a local builder? What about your school, community building, or parks?

You probably will find some names like Main Street and Broad Street that almost every town has. Try to find out how the streets got their names. (Is Main Street really the main street in your town? Was it the most important street when the town was new?)

  • See if you can find out if any of the streets were on Native American trails, cow paths, mail or stagecoach routes, wagon trails, railroad beds, or trailer truck routes.
  • If you can’t find interesting street names, try buildings, areas of your town or city, or names of nearby towns or villages.
  • One way to find out how places got their names is to ask people who have lived in the area a long time—teachers, librarians, the historical society, or the town or city clerk.

Seeing the Lumber Yard/Hardware Store

Spring is a good time to begin thinking about repair or building projects. It is also a good time to share with your child some of the jobs that are done and things that can be seen at the lumber yard and hardware store.

Take time to explore thoroughly all the various nuts and bolts. Explain to your child what their purpose is, if you know it. Watch a key being made. If the store cuts glass, see if you can observe a piece being cut. If the lumberyard has a planing mill, watch workers in there. Watch paint being mixed. See if there are color samples for your child to take home to study later. Talk to your child about the many different jobs you have observed.

Spend some time looking at the tools. Perhaps you are going to buy a new rake or paint brush. Let your child help in the decision about which to buy. Talk over what you need the tool for and what qualities you need in that tool before you make the decisions.

When you get home, your child can help use the new tool, enjoy playing with the paint samples, and use other things you got at the store.

Let’s Explore...The Foods We Eat

Let’s start off with some dairy recipes to make after you visit the farm dairy store.

Yogurt Dip


  • 1/2 c. yogurt, plain low-fat
  • 1 T. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • cinnamon


Defrost the orange juice. Mix with the yogurt. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Serve with vegetable slices or fruit chunks.

Orange Cooler


  • 5 c. milk (whole or low-fat)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 6-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate


Mix well and chill before serving.

Cheese and Fruit Kabobs

  • Pretzel sticks
  • Chunks of soft fruit (canned or fresh peaches or pears, bananas, melon, etc.)
  • Cubes of cheese (farmer’s cheese, mozzarella, longhorn, cheddar, swiss)

Stick a pretzel through each piece of fruit or cheese to make a kabob.

Cheese Ball


  • 2 oz. blue cheese
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion (optional)
  • 1/2 t. soy sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts


All cheese should be at room temperature. Place all ingredients except chopped nuts in bowl and stir until blended. Let stand in covered bowl in refrigerator overnight. Shape into ball and roll in chopped nuts.

May also be served as stuffing for celery or on crackers.

Walking Salad

Here’s a salad you can eat on a hike.
Ingredients (per person)

  • apple
  • 2 T. cottage cheese
  • 5-6 raisins
  • 2-3 nuts, chopped


Cut the top of the apple. Core it almost all the way through, leaving the bottom skin over the hole. Scoop out the pulp of the apple and chop it up with the cheese, raisins, and nuts. Stuff mixture into the apple shell and put the top on.

Note: Young children can easily choke on nuts, seeds, popcorn, raw vegetables, peanut butter, meat sticks, and hot dogs. Do not give these foods to infants. Closely watch young children when they eat these foods.

One-Bowl French Bread

Let your child do as much of this as possible. Children love to knead and shape the dough. Allow plenty of time!


  • 3-3 1/2 c. unsifted flour
  • 4 t. sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 2 T. soft butter or shortening
  • 1 1/4 c. very hot water (105-115°F)


  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1 T. water


Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved dry yeast in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add shortening. Add very hot water gradually to dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Cover bowl tightly (with plastic wrap). Let rise in warm place for 45-60 minutes. Stir dough down, turn out onto heavily floured board. Wash hands. With floured hands, knead, then shape into an oblong, 15 inches long. Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise 40 to 50 minutes. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes. (Brush top with egg white and water.) Return to oven for 15 minutes or until done.


  • This makes a good pizza shell. Add pizza sauce, cheese, and your favorite topping.
  • Instead of one large loaf, experiment with different shapes and sizes. Try pretzels, bunnies, or shamrocks.

Let’s Explore...Plants and Animals

Just to See What Happens

Fill a large flower pot with soil from the outdoors. Do not plant anything in the flower pot. Put it in the sunshine. Water it. Do plants start to grow in it? If they do, how did the seeds for those plants get there?


Easter eggs aren’t the only kind of eggs which can be found in the spring. If you have a marsh or quiet pond near you, visit it in the early spring and listen for the frog’s croak. If there are frogs, get a glass jar and a pair of high wading boots and walk softly into the water.

Some frog eggs are found in masses, some like strings of pearl, or floating in clumps on the surface of the pond. Scoop them into your jar with some of the little green plants growing in the pond.

Tadpoles will thrive on a little corn meal sprinkled into the jar each day along with the green plants from the pond. Add water when needed.

Return the tadpoles to the pond where you found them when they become large.

Lady Beetle (Bug) Cage

Most people like lady beetles. They help gardeners and farmers. To catch lady beetles, take a glass jar, a piece of cloth big enough to cover the opening, and a rubber band.

Hold the jar as close as you can under the beetle and tap the plant it is feeding on. It should fall into the jar, which you will quickly cover. If not, try again!

To make the cage:

  1. Take a clear plastic drinking glass (approximately 3 1/2 inches at open end; 2 3/4 inches tall).
  2. Use a piece of corrugated cardboard 4 1/2 inches square for the floor.
  3. Cut a piece of white paper toweling 4 1/2 inches square.
  4. Lay the toweling on top of the cardboard.
  5. Put glass, open end down, on the toweling, and your cage is down.

Preparing the Garden

When the ground is ready in the spring, your child will be a good helper in get-ting the garden ready for planting. She can help turn the soil over, add materials from the mulch pile, scatter fertilizer, and rake the soil. If she has her own garden space, then her energies will be doubled.

She can help decide what plants to grow and how the garden will be laid out. Suggest that on her own plot she might like to grow:

  • “her own salad”—planting lettuce, radishes, parsley, tomatoes, peppers
  • “a circle of herbs or flowers”—laying out a wagon wheel shaped plot. Try basil, dill, chives, mint, oregano, and sage for the herb garden.

If you start your own tomato and other plants inside, let her start some too. Seed companies sell seeds already planted in grow packets which you need only water. Later these can be trans-planted outside.

Grow an American Flag

The White House gardens have many groups of red, white, and blue flowers. You can grow your own red, white, and blue garden that looks like a living American flag with stripes.

Plan your American flag garden in a sunny place about 28 by 36 inches. Get seed pack-ets of red, white, and blue petunias. (Or buy the plants.) Measure off the inches and place sticks, pegs, or clothespins in the dug-up earth as in the drawing. Plant the blue ones in the big space at the upper left and the red and white ones in the stripes. Keep the sticks and string up to keep the colors apart.

Let’s Explore...The World of Crafts

Clay Animals

Everyone in the family can enjoy creating with clay. Take some time first to play with the clay. Then:

  • Start your animal from one ball of clay.
  • Pinch and pull each part of its body out of the ball. Pull out heads, legs, tail, etc.
  • Make the parts thicker than the real parts so that they will not break off.
  • Now, look at your animal. Do you want to turn its head? Make eyes in it?
  • Let it dry. You can paint it later with acrylic paints if you like.

Tie Dye Paper


  • tissue paper (or white paper towels)
  • warm water
  • food coloring
  • plastic containers


Pour a half cup of warm water in each plastic container. Add five or more drops of food coloring. Fold tissue paper any way you want. Dip corners of folded paper into dye. Unfold paper and let dry. Refold a different way and dip into another color.

Make a Twine Pot for a Mother’s Day Plant

These pots make nice Mother’s Day presents. Put a nice plant from your garden in it.


  • coffee can or other tin can
  • twine
  • glue
  • shellac
  • clothespin


Wind ordinary twine around and around the outside of the can. A little glue holds the end of the twine at the bottom. When you reach the top, fasten the loose end of the twine with glue and hold it in place with a clothespin until it dries. A coat of shellac will make the pot glisten.

Thumb Printing


  • stamp pad
  • paper
  • pencil, pen, or marker (thin)


Press your thumb on the pad, then press it on the pa-per. Let it dry and then draw on it. Experiment with multiple prints. Make birds, faces, caterpillars, cats, dogs. Decorate stationery or use for thank-you notes.

Go Fly Your Kite!

When the March winds blow, get the family together, make some kites, then look for a field and try them out.

Caution: Stay away from electric wires and never fly kites in the rain.


  • 2 sticks (2-3 feet long, 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide)
  • tissue paper or wrapping paper
  • cord
  • glue or rubber cement
  • plastic tape
  • strip of cloth
  • ribbons and bows for tail


Take sticks and notch with knife or make a split with a coping saw in each of the ends to hold the string around the kit. Glue cross sticks. Tie with cord. String the cord around the sticks to outline the kit. Tie cord around notches or slip it into slits.

Tape sticks on kite paper and draw outline around the string. Cut the paper so it is two inches bigger than the outline of kite. Fold margin of paper over the string and glue. Decorate your kite by painting it or pasting on pieces of colored paper.

Tie a piece of cord to each of the four corners and knot the cords together. This makes a “bridle.” Experiment to find the best place to tie the cord to the bridle. Add a tail of cloth to balance the kite. Add ribbons or paper bows to make it look gay. On windy days you will need a heavier tail than on calm days.

Let’s Explore...Other Fun Things

Family Music Time

More adults should start music lessons with their children because making music is so much fun. However, a family doesn’t have to play to enjoy music. Get two or three copies of songbooks so that everyone has the words and can follow along.

Even in families where no one can carry a tune, the rhythmic elements of music can be enjoyed. Get up a family rhythm band with an empty oil drum, washboards, pots, and the like for instruments. Put a record on and go to it.

Try clapping out rhythms and having others follow them.

Make Mine Music

A bottle symphony is made by filling eight bottles or glasses with varying amounts of water until they have the eight tones of the scale. Music is made by tapping the bottles with a spoon. This can provide lots of entertainment for the whole family. Some real creative expressions of music can result. A variation is to slide the fingers on the edge of the glass. With practice, you will find that you can make the keys in a chord by varying the amount of water in each glass.

Try seeing if you can “play” some familiar tunes.

St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt

Try this with your family on St. Patrick’s Day. Give your family 45 minutes or so to collect the items. Celebrate with a green snack like green finger jello, celery and pepper slices, or limeade. The following ideas are suggested to get you started. Think of green objects in your home.

  1. Green pepper
  2. Green pear
  3. Green piece of paper
  4. Four-leaf clover or shamrock
  5. Green stamps
  6. One dollar bill
  7. Green pencil
  8. Green button
  9. Green tennis shoe
  10. Green hair ribbon
  11. Green crayon
  12. Green beret, etc.

Weather Report/Weather Station

Set up a weather station at your house. Give your child the responsibility of making the daily weather report.

  • Is there a recorded weather report in your area that your child can dial? Record the weather on a chart and then check it the next day to see if it was accurate.
  • Do you have indoor and outdoor thermometers that can be checked every day?
  • Make a homemade rain gauge. This can be a large can with markings in inches painted on one side of the inside.
  • Make a wind sock to report on the wind, if any, and from what direction it is blowing.
  • A discussion of the “weather report” can be used to decide what your child should wear to school that day or what activities she can do outside. A look at the rain gauge can determine if her garden needs to be watered.


Children love to be able to help with home woodworking projects. They can also begin to make gifts using simple tools. Have available for your child’s use a small crosscut saw, hammer, nails, Elmer’s glue, metal tape measure, screws, and sandpaper.

Also designate an area where these activities can take place. Include a broom, dustpan, waste basket, or trash can ready for cleanup.
Before allowing your child to help you or to make her own project, demonstrate the proper method of using the tool. Allow her the chance to practice. (An old stump is a good place to hammer nails.) Always watch to see if she is doing it the proper way. This activity should be closely supervised at least until you are satisfied with your child’s ability to safely handle the tools.

Some projects she could try:

  • book ends
  • bird feeders
  • plant stands
  • blocks for younger sister
  • safety glasses

Developed by James E. Van Horn, Professor of Rural Sociology and Certified Family Life Educator; Ellen Y. Matten, Program Assistant; and Natalie Snyder, County Extension Director, Union County.