Family Time, Summer: Ages 7-8

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


Your Child from 7 to 8

  • Is busy and curious.
  • Likes belonging to a group.
  • Has friendships that change quickly.
  • Is adventurous, active, and daring.
  • Can give fairly clear explanations.
  • Likes to play games with words.
  • Sees family unit as important.
  • Is steadily improving in 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 the 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 and radio, and minimize other distractions.

He or She? Him or Her?

Please note: In this and all Family Time publications, we take turns referring to children as “he” or “she.” When we use “he” or “she,” we include all children.

A Word to Parents of Younger Children

One of the most effective ways to build a strong family is to do things together. The family that routinely spends time together establishes a tremendous reserve, or emotional bank account, that can be drawn on when daily life becomes a bit tedious or trying. Family Time is a good beginning.

The family that does Family Time regularly develops a pattern or habit of doing things together. Family members enjoy being with one another. They develop the security and good feeling about one another and about themselves that is so vital to growing as human beings.

Family Time will not just happen, at least in the beginning. Parents especially must plan it, setting aside time and minimizing distractions. The family must do Family Time regularly. Skipping, canceling, or simply putting off is very disappointing, especially to the child. He may get the idea that he is not important.

Doing Family Time will be very rewarding in a number of ways. Besides deepening the bond with their child, parents will see the child do new things—the excitement on a child’s face after completing some activity is worth more than all the sacrifices a parent has made to set aside time. Family Time gives parents the chance to reap rewards and satisfaction that no amount of money could ever buy.

Regardless of your family makeup, Family Time will help you build a stronger family.

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

Let’s Explore...Our Family

Have a Patriotic Summer

Summer holidays are times for flag waving. Celebrate on:

  • Flag Day, June 14, the birthday of Old Glory
  • Independence Day, July 4, the birthday of our country

Celebrate by waving your flag, then have a special picnic, watch a parade, or have your own celebration.

Take paper, crayons, and scissors. Let all family members create their own design for the first flag of the United States.

Pretend You Are a News Reporter

Pretend you are a news reporter for a newspaper, radio, or television. Observe what family members do during the day, at home and away from home.

Ask them what they think are the five most important things they do to keep the family happy and healthy.

Families that do things together grow strong together.

Around the State with Scissors

Keep a file of ideas for places to go. Clip articles and pictures from the local paper. Over a period of time, your file is bound to have lots of good ideas. Add places to visit from other sources like stories on the radio or suggestions from friends.

Then look through the file occasionally on Friday nights until you discover someplace that everyone thinks would be good to visit. Sometimes these suggestions turn out to be disappointing, but that is all a part of the game.

The same clipping file can come in handy not only for planning these Saturday expeditions but also for planning a vacation. You may have articles about state parks or other inexpensive travel opportunities that may not have come to mind otherwise. The file may suggest where not to go as well.

Tracking Down the Family Tree

Finding ancestors and relatives is an excellent vacation sport. Look in phone directories. Write to the old country. Some rainy day, or on a long holiday drive, share with your child what you know about his grandparents and great-grandparents.

You might come to a historical marker or museum that connects you with your ancestors. (A railroad museum could lead to talk about your grandfather, who helped build the railroad. A marker about an iron furnace could lead to talk about your father, who worked in a steel mill.)

Hobbies to Enjoy

A hobby can be almost anything you really enjoy to relax, have fun, and use your talents. Here are just a few of the many types of hobbies: sports and games, collecting objects, singing or playing musical instruments, traveling, arts and crafts, camping, photography, sewing, cooking, and woodworking. What do you think your family would enjoy doing together?

A talent scout looks for, or “scouts,” for people who are talented in sports, music, or other abilities. Be a talent scout in your family to find out what its talents are. Then try out together.

If one of your family members already has a hobby, then he could spend an evening telling the rest of the family about it and showing them what he has done.

Let’s Explore...Our Community

Organize a Fourth of July Parade in Your Neighborhood

Talk to a friend or two in your neighborhood about forming a local parade. Have your child make up an announcement of the time, date, and place. Leave the announcements at neighborhood homes.

  • Make a banner from an old sheet.
  • Decorate bikes and wagons with streamers.
  • Decorate baby carriages with red, white, and blue.
  • End up the parade at a local park or someone’s backyard for popsicles or some other treat.

Safety Note: Children should wear safety approved and properly fitting bicycle helmets when riding bikes.

Welcome a New Family: New Neighborhood Kit

Lots of people move in the summertime. Is a new family moving into your neighborhood? Your family can help make them feel welcome. Perhaps the children would like to make a New Neighborhood Kit.

  • Decorate a shopping bag.
  • Put in a list of phone numbers they might need, maps, or brochures about the area.
  • Put in small toys for the children.

Offer to watch their children while they move in. Cold drinks will be welcome, too.

See the Sights at Your Local Museum

Many of us make sure to stop and see the sights when we travel, but how many of us have stopped to see the sights in our own area? Most communities have a museum or historic home, mill, or furnace. Take the time to go there with your family. Find out about the history of your local community. Perhaps your town was on the “under-ground” railroad before the Civil War. Perhaps a battle was fought near there during the Revolutionary War, or perhaps oil was discovered near your town, or the first coal mine dug near by. Learn together what brought people to your community. Enjoy seeing where history was made.

Write a Letter to Congress

The summer is a good time to make a visit to the state capital or to Washington, D.C. If you can’t do that, consider making a visit to your state representative or senator’s local office. Even if the legislator is not there, his or her office staff will be glad to greet you and will have pamphlets and information to give you.

When you get home, your child can write a thank-you letter to the representative.

Maybe you as a family have a special concern for some issue that is before Congress or the state legislature, or one that the president has spoken about. Encourage your child or the family as a whole to write your opinions on the matter. Politicians are glad for the feedback from constituents. You will be encouraging your child to take an active part in government.

Is everyone getting involved?

Visit Your Municipal/Township Office

Take the family on a visit to your government office. A good time to go would be when you need to register your bicycles. Then your child could see the local police officer inspect his bike. He could give the officer the information needed to register the bike.

While you are there, take a look at the meeting room where your government body sits. Look at the road maintenance equipment. See where other borough or township business is conducted.

Do you pick up dog licenses here?

Are traffic tickets paid here?

Do you come here for a building permit?

Are the police located here?

Does the water company have offices here?

Are the playgrounds run from here?

The people in the office will be glad to answer your questions. There may be brochures or other information that will be useful to you.

Let’s Explore...The Foods We Eat

It’s Popsicle Time!

Yogurt Popsicles


  • 1 carton plain yogurt, low-fat
  • 1 (6 oz) concentrated unsweetened fruit juice
  • Optional: dash of vanilla or honey


Mix well and freeze in molds. Three-once cups work well as molds.

Insert “handles” when partially frozen.

Do not use honey in beverages and uncooked foods for infants under the age of one year. Honey may contain botulism toxins.



  • 1 (4 oz) chocolate pudding mix
  • 31/2 cups milk (skim)


Prepare as for pudding. Sweeten to taste. Freeze in molds or paper cups and insert “handles” of wooden sticks or spoons.

Hobo Stew

Here’s a cookout recipe that each family member can create to his own liking.


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 carrot per person
  • 1/2 potato per person
  • 11/2 lbs green beans
  • Salt and pepper


  • Fire materials
  • Aluminum foil
  • Long-handled tongs


Start the fire early so lots of good coals are produced. Have child wash the potatoes and peel the carrots. Give each family member half a carrot, half a potato, several green beans, and some meat. Each one can cut up his vegetables as he wishes. Make a “well” in the center of the meat and put in the vegetables. Pass the bowl of chopped onion and the salt and pepper, and let each add what he wishes. Wrap up the stew tightly in aluminum foil. Place on the hot coals for 20–30 minutes. Remove the packets from the coals and let cool before eating.

Close adult supervision is needed around a fire.

Make Cooperation Soup or Cooperation Salad

  • Read the story “Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown. Then make cooperation soup or cooperation salad.
  • Everyone helps decide which vegetables or fruits to use.
  • Everyone helps wash fruits and vegetables.
  • Everyone helps peel and slice fruits and vegetables.
  • Everyone gets a chance to stir.
  • Everyone gets a chance to eat.


  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • peas
  • green beans
  • corn
  • onions
  • summer squashes (green or yellow)
  • winter squash (pumpkin)

Vegetable Salad

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • carrots
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli

Fruit Salad

  • bananas
  • oranges
  • melons
  • apples
  • grapes
  • raisins
  • pineapples

Toasting Taffy Apples

Try this for a nice end to a campout meal. These are sometimes called crying apples because you can hear the apples “cry” as they cook.


  • apples
  • brown sugar


Put the apple on a pointed green stick. Cook the apple over the hot coals of the fire, turning so it cooks evenly on all sides. Soon its skin will look ready to peel. Peel the apple, and cool it in a pan of brown sugar. Hold the sugared apple over the coals. The sugar will melt and make a hard coat around the apple. Mmmmm, good. Turn the stick slowly so that the sugar cooks evenly.

Caution: You should peel the apple for your child, as it will be hot. It does not matter if the apple is thoroughly cooked to be enjoyed by your child.

This activity needs adult supervision

Let’s Explore...Plants and Animals

Early Morning Birdwatching

Early morning is a wonderful time to watch the birds. They are all up and about their activities. Borrow a pair of binoculars, gather up your family, and head for the nearest park, forest preserve, or vacant lot.

Find a comfortable spot to rest and wait quietly for action. It will not be long before the birds are busy.

Insect Zoo

The habits of insects are best observed if you can keep them alive in captivity. You can do this by having an insect zoo.


Cut a circle of grass sod to fit the bottom of a 1- or 2-quart jar. Put a grasshopper in the jar and cover it with wire screening or a jar lid punched with holes. Water the grass when it becomes dry. (The grass is your grasshopper’s food.)


Use a large jar. Cover the lid with cheesecloth held with a rubber band. A layer of earth can go in the bottom. You will need to take enough ants from the hive for them to reproduce a colony in the jar.

Grow Your Initials in the Lawn

Plant food will do wonders for plants. See for yourself how grass grows better when well fed. Use water- soluble plant food. Mix it in the watering can as directed on the box.

Now lay a string on the grass in the shape of your initial—for example, a big S for the Smith family. Soak the string slowly with plenty of the plant food solution. The grass will grow faster, thicker, and greener where you put the plant food. In about a week, you’ll be able to read your initial in deeper, darker, green on the lawn. Then the initial will begin to blend with the rest of the grass unless you give it more plant food every two weeks.

You can also make designs, such as a star or circle, in the same way.

Stake a Claim

This is a quiet game. In a quiet game you use your eyes and ears more than your legs. Each family member needs a rope or string about four feet long to make into a circle. Stake your claim by putting the rope circle on the ground anywhere you like. Then look carefully at everything inside your circle. How many different things can you discover? You do not have to know their names. You will be surprised at how many things are happening on that little bit of ground. Later you may want to look in the library for books that you could use to identify some of the things you have seen.

If your family likes to play games, you might see who can find the most things inside their circle.

Making Plaster Casts

You can make a record of some of the animal tracks you see by making a plaster cast. This works best after rain when the soil is moist and holds the print of the track.


  • plaster of Paris
  • water
  • strip of cardboard 1 1/2 inches wide
  • paper clip
  • empty tin can
  • brush sponge
  • stick for stirring

Warning: Read plaster of Paris directions carefully and follow safety guidelines. Wear safety goggles.


Brush away all twigs, small stones, or dirt on the ground around the tracks. Sponge up any water in the tracks.

Surround the tracks with the strip of cardboard, fasten in place with a paper clip, and push the cardboard halfway down in the mud.

Put about a cupful of water in the can. Slowly add dry plaster to the water, stirring until the mixture is thick and smooth like pancake batter. Pour the plaster slowly over the tracks inside the cardboard from one end to the other.

In fifteen minutes, the plaster will harden enough for you to pick up the cast. While the cast is still damp, scratch the name of the animal, the date you found the tracks, and your initials on the back of it.

After two days you can remove the cardboard and scrape away the mud.

Let’s Explore...The World of Crafts

Keep Your Favorite Flowers by Drying Them

Always start with blooms that have not been watered or rained on for at least two days. Choose flowers that are not too old or about to fade. The method to use depends on the type of flower you wish to dry.

  1. Strawflowers, alyssum, baby’s breath, larkspur, golden rod, and weed flowers.
    Take off the foliage gently. Tie the stem together in a small, loose bunch. Hang with a string on a line in a dry, dark, warm but airy room or closet. Test after a week or so and then every few days. When flowers feel completely dry, they are ready to arrange in a bouquet.
  2. Asters, daffodils, Queen Anne’s lace, marigolds, roses, zinnias.
    Take off the foliage. Take a large, flat box. Cover with a half inch of sand, cornstarch, or laundry borax. Arrange flowers on the bed so they don’t touch one another. Now slowly drift more cornstarch, sand, or borax over the flowers so each is covered with at least 1/4 inch of the material. Keep the box in a dry room or closet. After at least a week, check one or two flowers to see if they are dry. Replace covering again until all are dry. The sand, cornstarch, and borax can be used again after the flowers are ready to put into a bouquet.

Wax Paper Pictures


  • tissue paper (different colors)
  • wax paper
  • thread (different colors)
  • iron
  • newspaper


Start with a sheet of wax paper. Cut or tear paper shapes out of tissue paper and arrange on the wax paper. You can place some tissue paper on top of other pieces for more shades of color. Interesting lines can be made by laying colored or black threads on the pictures. Experiment!

When the design is ready, carefully lay a second sheet of wax paper over the design. Cover this sheet with a plain piece of paper or newspaper. Iron the sheets together with a warm iron. Remove the newspaper and trim the edges of your picture.

Can other things be added to the picture? Leaves, ferns, etc.?

For safety, an adult should use the iron for this activity.

Collecting Spider Webs


  • dark construction paper
  • white spray enamel
  • scissors
  • piece of old cloth
  • turpentine and newspapers for cleanup


After locating a suitable web, spread the newspaper to protect the bush and other plants. Chase off the spider (they are friends and eat many harmful insects).

Spray web from every angle, coating both sides with white paint. Carefully ease the construction paper to the back of the web. Try to touch the paper to the entire web all at once if your can. While holding the paper use the scissors to snip the supporting portions of the web to free it.

Use turpentine and rags to remove any paint from your fingers and the scissors.

After the web has dried, you can frame it or put it in a nature scrapbook.

An adult needs to supervise the use of turpentine.

Design a Monogram

Your name is one of your most personal possessions. Your initials connect you with your family history. Monograms are special forms of initials with meaning just for you. Letters can be laid on their backs, elongated, reversed, or shown in a mirror image of themselves.
It’s fun to create such a complex cluster of lines and shapes that mean “me.”
Try designing your own monogram with paper and pen. Then carve it in wood or embroider it in burlap.
(Hint: Try starting with a shape like a square, diamond, or circle.)

Weaving a Neck Scarf


  • five drinking straws
  • five 1-yard pieces of string
  • tape
  • thick yarn
  • scissors


Thread a string through each straw. Tape one end of the string to one end of the straw. Repeat this process for the rest, then lay them next to one another and tie the loose ends together. Hold the five straws in one hand with the strings down. Knot the end of the yarn to one straw and begin weaving the yarn over, under, over, under. As the straw fills up with the weaving push the yarn off the straws onto the strings below. Continue until the strings are filled with weaving. Remove the straws and knot the ends of the strings so the weaving cannot slip off.

Let’s Explore...Other Fun Things

Star Gazing

Some clear summer night, take a blanket, find an open field or lawn, lie down with your family, and look at the stars. Vacation time is ideal because you will usually be away from the overwhelming lights of the city. It is a lot easier to go star gazing when the moon is not too bright and there are few clouds.

You might enjoy getting a book out of the library that gives stories about the stars and describes how to find some of the more easily located constellations.

  • Can you see the Big Dipper?
  • Can you see Sirius, the brightest star in our sky?

Backyard Track Meet

Let your child, friends, or other family members have simple contests to see who can broad jump the farthest, run a short distance the fastest, and jump the highest. Keep a record of their accomplishments so they can try to beat their own previous records.

Before you begin, sit down as a group and plan what kinds of events all the family can participate in even though they may be unusual events like walking backward or jumping. Someone could volunteer to make awards for events or make a special treat for when the meet is all over. Certificates of participation can be made for all who come. If awards are given, make certain every child gets one.

Mystery Car Rides

To get away from all those “crummy little jobs” that seem to take over a family’s free time, try to plan some mystery car rides. Only the parent or maybe a parent and one child will pick a secret destination and the rest of the family tries to guess where the family is going.

Some suggestions

  • Drive to an airport and watch planes take off and land.
  • Visit parks, play ball, feed the ducks, play frisbee, picnic.
  • Drive to the store to purchase a new game the family can play together when you return.
  • Drive to an ice cream store for a treat.
  • Build sandcastles at the beach.
  • Drive to a roadside stand for the first strawberries, corn on the cob, or other favorite food.
  • Go for a train ride, to a carnival, to a festival.

Running an Obstacle Course

One bright summer day, set up a family obstacle course in your backyard. (If you have no bright summer day or backyard, the living room is fine, too.)


  • Turn chairs on their sides.
  • Stretch heavy string between two objects.
  • Place a board on a block or brick (teeter-totter fashion).
  • Set three wastebaskets in a row.
  • Put the ends out of a packing box large enough to crawl through.
  • Use any outdoor equipment you have.
  • Now decide how to pass each obstacle. Example: Climb over the chair, walk on top of the board, zig-zag around the wastebaskets.

Take an Energy Tour of Your Home

In one day a dripping faucet can waste 170 gallons of water. Water costs the family money. So does electricity. Take an energy tour with your family to see where your energy money goes.

  • Go through each room of the house with your child. Listen for drips and ask how the family uses water and/or electricity in that room.
  • When you have gone through the entire house, sit down and talk about ways to conserve some of the energy.
  • Let your child make up a list of “water-saving” and “electricity-saving” ideas and post them on the refrigerator.
  • Call your county extension office, your water company, or your electric company for brochures they might have on how to save energy.
  • Have your electric or gas company do an energy audit at your house. Your child can learn a lot by being able to observe what they do.
  • See what the difference is in your bill after fixing leaky faucets, adding flow restrictors, and whatever else you might do to cut down on usage. Involve the entire family.

Developed by James E. Van Horn, professor of rural sociology and certified family life educator; Ellen Y. Matten, program assistant; and Natalie Ferry, former extension coordinator of special program initiatives.