Family Time, Winter: Child Ages 7-8

This publication provides winter activities for families with children between the ages of 7 and 8.
Family Time, Winter: 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.
  • Is 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 family members can be together. Turn off the TV, radio, or other distractions.

A Word to Parents of Younger Children

One of the most important traits of a strong family is the ability to provide the affection, love, understanding, and trust each member needs. Parents who have a warm, loving relationship with their children and who support and encourage them, contribute greatly to the children’s emotional, social, and intellectual development.

`Expressing the necessary affection, warmth, encouragement, and understanding presupposes that a parent and child are together enough of the time so this kind of relationship can develop. In strong families parents and children spend time together. Parents especially place a high value on the time they devote to their children. They plan their lives and schedules so that time will be available.

Family Time is designed for the family, for parents and children to spend time together doing different activities. Family Time will be mutually rewarding to both parents and children. But it is absolutely necessary that Family Time be planned for and carried out on a regular basis. Doing Family Time in the family will create a wonderful atmosphere that will enable parents and children to grow closer. As this occurs the family will become stronger.

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

Let’s Explore... Our Family

Winter Holiday Happenings

There are other winter holidays besides Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s Day. Here are some others which deserve our attention.

  • Martin Luther King Day—Talk about the dream Dr. King had. What are your dreams for this country?
  • President’s Day—Make special foods celebrating Lincoln and Washington. Talk about what their lives have stood for in this country.
  • Groundhog Day—Talk about the coming of spring. Can a groundhog really predict its coming?
  • Valentine’s Day—Here’s an occasion just right for showing your feelings for one another. Try making special valentines for each other. How about making some valentine cookies?

Jobs Done at Home

Try to think of the jobs done by men and women at home: shopping, making repairs, cleaning, painting, taking care of young children, cooking, and others. Take turns picking a job, acting it out, and having others guess what job it is.

Talk about whether you feel all the jobs can be done by both men and women.

Hold a Family Pageant

The holiday season is a time that brings us together. Why not throw in an extra surprise? Host a special holiday event.

Pick a play and present it in a 15-minute playlet. Adapt the play for your child’s age and abilities. Have a good reader read the lines while others act. Scenery isn’t necessary unless you have a future set designer who is hungry for the experience.

Include everyone in the project. If your child is shy, appoint him the director.

It needn’t be a play. Do a talent show. Everyone has a skill, be it tumbling or flute playing. Put everyone in the holiday spirit by playing traditional tunes and carols.

The Family Guest List

Who besides your family comes to your house? How many visitors come in a week? Why do they come? This is a good time of the year to find out. Make a family guest sign-in sheet to keep track of who does come.

  • Have people sign the list for an entire week, including the weekend. Then sit down together and see what you found out.
  1. How many of these people came mainly to see the grownups of the house?
  2. How many came mainly to see the kids?
  3. Who came to see both?
  4. How many were invited?
  5. How many just dropped in?
  • What does that tell you about the traffic pattern of visitors in your house?
  1. Did you get the results you expected?

Consider getting a regular guest book for your home. You will be able to remember nice things that happened to your family by looking back to see who visited and when.

Design a Housemark

A housemark is a family monogram. It uses the family name and works like a monogram. It’s important for all members to have their say about how it should be designed. The last name plus the first initials of each member can be used, too.

You could have the housemark made into a stamp and mark your books or toys.

One thing about a housemark that isn’t easy to decode is that it makes a good conversation piece.

You might want to put the letters inside a circle or other shape, or use the letters to make an unusual design.

Let’s Explore... Our Community

Organize a Neighborhood Carol Sing

Singing carols can be fun for your family and your neighbors. Let your family organize a carol sing in your neighborhood. Decide on a good time and let your neighbors know.

  • Your child can make announcements/invitations and take them around the neighborhood.
  • Decide whom to carol—shut ins, the elderly, newcomers.
  • Get song sheets (try radio stations or music stores, or sing old favorites everyone knows).
  • Invite everyone back to your house afterward for hot chocolate and cookies to end the evening.

Say Hello to a Shut-In

Winter’s ice and snow often keep older folk confined to their homes. There are so many ways to cheer up someone who has to stay indoors. Your family can find some special things to do to cheer up such a person.

  • Take turns going by the house for a visit.
  • Make a surprise bag for the shut-in. Find out what sorts of things she likes to do most and see if you can collect supplies for her.
  • Run errands for her.
  • Share a special holiday meal.
  • Do some chores around the home.

Communication Neighbors

We are dependent on the radio and television. Much of what we know about what is happening in our country comes from radio and TV. Plan a visit to your local radio or television station.

Call ahead to find out when would be a good time to visit. Most stations will be glad to take you on a tour of their facilities if you schedule ahead.

You may be able to see a radio or television show being produced. You will be able to visit a studio and see what the control room looks like. Your child will see what television technicians do and how programs are broadcast to the home.

Community Quiz

The most important part of a community is the people in it. Find out about the people in your community. Try exploring. See if you can answer the following questions about your community. If not, see if you can find out the answers.

  • Which door of the nearest hospital do you go through if you are in a hurry to get into the hospital?
  • Where can you take old cans or newspapers?
  • How close is the nearest firehouse?
  • How many businesses, stores, or farms are run by women in your area?
  • If you want to buy or give away used books, toys, or clothes, where can you go?
  • What is the best spot in your area to see at least two kinds of transportation at the same time?
  • Does the nearest jail really have bars?
  • When is the farmer’s market open?
  • Where can families go in your area if their houses are destroyed by storm, flood, or fire?

Family Community Team

One of the best ways to organize a task is to divide it into parts. Children can do part of a whole job. Then they can complete it. Have your family think of jobs that can be done together (like preparing a meal or cleaning the house). Have your family think of jobs to help the community, church, or school. Then plan a community activity that your family can do as a team.

For example:

  • Organize and run a carol sing (see above).
  • Plan for a spring park cleanup.
  • Shovel walks or driveways for your church or a shut-in neighbor.

Let’s Explore... The Foods We Eat

Potato Latkas

Traditional potato latkas can be made by your child as part of the Hannukah celebration.


  • 3 potatoes, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • oil to fry latkas


In a bowl, combine eggs, potatoes, onion, salt, and flour. In frying pan heat 1/4 inch oil. Drop 3 tablespoons of batter per latka. Cook each latka until brown, turning once. Drain on absorbent paper. (Serve with warmed applesauce flavored with cinnamon.)

Festive Wassail


  • 2 cups apple juice or cider
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Simmer on range for 10 minutes. Remove spices. Serve warm in mugs on a cold winter evening.

Holiday Meatloaf


  • 1 lb. chopped meat
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard


First, wash your hands! Then put all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix them with clean hands until they are blended together. Put into roaster and bake the loaf at 400° for 50 minutes.

Holiday Sugar Cookies


  • 3/4 cup shortening (part butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Mix well shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Chill at least one hour. Heat oven to 400°. Roll 1/8 inch thick on floured board. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Decorate. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Nuts and Bolts


  • 5 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning sauce
  • 1 cup Corn Chex
  • 1 cup Rice Chex
  • 2 cups Cheerios
  • Nuts (optional)


Melt butter or margarine in electric frying pan or large frying pan over low heat. Mix cheese, sauce, and salt. Add the cereals and stir until well coated. Drain on paper towel and store in a cool place.

Let’s Explore... Plants and Animals

Plant a Pineapple

Next time you have a fresh pineapple, save the top. Take the top off the pineapple with all the leaves and a core from the fruit. The core should be cut or twisted out, not cut straight across. Peel off a few of the short bottom leaves so you have a stem about an inch and a half long. Let the top dry for a day before planting.

Fill a pot with soil. Plant the core so that the stem bottom is covered with soil. Add a little water every day or enough that the soil stays slightly moist. Keep in a sunny spot. In a week or two, the top will start to sprout.

Grow Herbs on the Window Sill

All winter long your family can enjoy freshly picked herbs from your own indoor garden. Keep your own herb garden on or next to a windowsill.

  • Good herbs to start with are chives, parsley, mint, and dill. You may want to try marjoram, sage, savory, and thyme.
  • You can get packets of herb seeds or little potted plants at a grocery store or garden shop. Use a large tray or leakproof box.
  • Write the names of the herbs on labels to tell you which is which.
  • Water your herb garden every four or five days. When the plants have grown 4 or more inches, you can usually start to pick leaves. Cut chives off with scissors about an inch above the soil.

Observing Birds

Hang a bird feeder you have made or bought close to a window where you can observe the birds coming to feed. Go to your local library or bookstore and get a book on the types of birds which are in your area. Help your child look through old magazines for pictures of some of the birds feeding at your window. Make up a sheet of paper so that you can list the different types of birds which come to feed. Start a new list each week or month to see if the same type of bird feeds regularly.

Encourage family members to draw pictures of the birds which do come to feed.

Comments: The birds will begin to depend on your feeder. See that it is replenished with food as necessary and that it is safe from cats, squirrels, and other animals that might hurt the birds.

String-Along Meals

A very simple way to provide a meal for the birds is to put food on a string. The birds will reward you with a circus act, swinging like acrobats as they try to eat the food.

Unshelled Peanuts

Using a piece of string about 16 inches long, thread one end through a large embroidery or darning needle. Tie several knots in the opposite end. Then thread a dozen peanuts onto the string by sticking the needle through the center of each shell. Tie to a fence post, tree branch, or clothes line.


Thread one end of the string. Tie a short piece of wood onto the opposite end. Cut one slice from the side of the apple. Placing the apple on a cutting board, pull the string through.


Tie a bone that still has some meat on it to a tree limb high enough so dogs and cats can’t reach it.

Grapefruit Shell Birdfeeder

  • Materials
  • bacon fat
  • birdseed
  • thin wire or strong string
  • grapefruit


Cut grapefruit in half and have a feast on the fruit. Cut three pieces of wire or string about 8 inches long for each half. Poke three equally spaced holes in the side of the grapefruit to put the wire through. Melt bacon fat, mix in birdseed, pour into grapefruit shells, and let harden. Then attach a wire to the branch of the tree for a birdfeeder.

Let’s Explore... The World of Crafts

Seed Catalog Cards

Cut out pictures that have significance for the holidays from your seed catalogs (and gift catalogs) before you throw them away. Paste them (using a glue stick or school paste) onto blank pieces of paper. Then write your own personal message and use them for gift cards or thank you notes.

Stamp Printing with Odds and Ends

Do you need pretty paper to wrap a gift? It is easy to decorate a plain piece of paper by stamping a picture on it.


  • stamp pad
  • paper
  • odds and ends for stampers


Choose a stamper. Almost anything will do: paper clip, spool, key, button, cookie cutter, apple slice. Experiment!

Press the stamper down on the stamp pad, then press it down on your paper. Lift the stamper, and there is your design.

Use your stamped papers to make beautiful book covers, napkins, gift boxes, placemats, letter paper, etc.

Lace Balloons


  • balloons
  • plaster of Paris or white glue
  • string (lots)
  • tin cans or bowl
  • scissors


Cut string into 18-inch pieces. Blow up balloons. Mix a watery solution of plaster of Paris. Dip strings into solution, or glue, and wrap around balloons. Let dry 24-48 hours, then pop the balloons. Remove balloon bits. These make a nice Christmas or New Year’s decorations.

Tin Can Lanterns


  • empty tin cans (washed, label removed, and sharp edges pinched smooth)
  • hammer, nail
  • old towel
  • candles (shorter than the tin can being used)


Fill can with water and freeze until solid ice has formed. Lay can sideways on folded towel. With the hammer and nail, pound holes around the can in various patterns. Make holes no closer than 1/2 inch to the bottom.

Put can in the sink until the ice has melted. Dry the can. In the bottom of the can melt a little candle wax and stand candle inside. Light the candle, turn off the lights, and look at the design the lantern makes on the walls and ceiling.

God’s Eye Weaving

To the Pueblo and Mexican Indians, the God’s Eye was a sacred decoration that brought good fortune, luck, health, and long life. Once you have learned the technique, you can make many variations. They make good gifts too.


  • Two sticks of the same size (popsicle sticks, twigs, cotton swabs, pencils)
  • yarn, thread, or string


Take two sticks the same size and knot them together to make a cross with arms of equal lengths. Make the knot tight so the arms aren’t wobbly. Hold the sticks in one hand and hold the yarn in the other. Weave the yarn over one leg and then under, around, and over the same leg. Go to the next leg and weave around it in the same way, over the leg, under, around, and over. You will soon get the rhythm. Pull the yarn snug towards the center. You can change yarns by knotting two yarn ends together. Finish off by tying the end of the yarn around the leg of the cross.

Let’s Explore... Other Fun Things

Winter Window Decorating

Window Menorah

Draw a menorah on a piece of blue construction paper. Cut it out and replace with gold cellophane taped to the back. Cut out nine flames and replace with red cellophane. Now cover the flames with taped-on blue paper. Then, each night, remove one more flame cover, starting from the left. (It will look like the right from outside.)

Snow Scenes


  • glass paint or whitening
  • water
  • (Bon Ami, optional)


Mix ingredients together with enough water to make a pastel-like consistency. Paint on the window with a brush. This can be easily washed off with water. Paint holiday snow people scenes. Some families make snow people for each member of the family, including pets. Make the family bringing in the tree, or Santa’s sleigh.

Shadow Acting

This activity might be new for your family so be sure to try it some evening. First you need a screen. The simplest way is to stretch a sheet across a doorway. Behind the sheet, place a lamp, or other light. Now have someone walk between the light and the sheet while the rest watches his shadow on the sheet. Adjust the light so a good clear shadow is obtained.

There is no limit to the possibilities. With a few simple costume tricks, the shadow can change the whole personality. If two persons can fit behind the screen, you may act out a rhyme or skit. You may make some animal shadow pictures with your arms, hands, and fingers, or make simple cardboard figures and let them walk across the stage.

Start a Collection

Make a collection of things that your family likes. Collect buttons, bells, menus, maps, or puppets. Put snapshots in an album, arrange dolls on a shelf. Decide on something the whole family can join in collecting.

Sometimes when you collect things you find a story too. What event or person is honored on the stamp? What animal lived in that shell? Where was that photograph taken?

Visit libraries and bookstores for information about your collections. Meet other collectors in your town. Share your collection with friends and neighbors.

The Who-Am-I Game

Two family members sit across from each other. Family member No. 1 has a piece of paper and pencil. Family member No. 2 has a way of timing a minute. No. 2 asks No. 1: “Who Are You?” No. 1 responds each time with an answer. (I am a mother, I am seven years old, I am a student.) No. 2 asks again “Who Are You?” as many times as he can in a minute. After the minute is up, No. 1 writes down as many things as he can remember that he said. Then let the other person do the same thing.

Add other things you can think of. Help each other. Sort them into kinds of things.

  • Those which describe a relationship (like son, sister)
  • Those which describe qualities that you have (messy, kind)

Make a sign with “I Am” in the center and write all the words around the center. Using different color magic markers makes it look super. Post signs where the family can see them.

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