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Ideas and activities for your 8 year old

What will you give? Prompting children to give and be generous. http://momistheonlygirl.com

What will you give?

Can you believe the stores are decorated for Christmas already? I don’t really want to think about it yet, but the grandparents have been asking what types of things to get the boys. It got me thinking about this coming holiday from another perspective.

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What are they going to GIVE?

Have you thought about asking your kids what they want to GIVE? I remember asking Cutie Pie (when he was five) what he would give if he could give anything at all.

This was his (5 year old) response…

“A brontosaurus and LEGOs to a boy with no toys.
To my friends I would give pets.
To a stranger, a piece of paper because I don’t know them and they could do a lot of different things with paper.”

What ideas do your kids have to give? Have you asked them?

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

What’s round like a top? (but isn’t really)

My boys have been doing a lot of building and experimental building. Read:  coming up with ideas to build and then using only specific materials to build with!

Their building materials of choice? Both LEGO and K’Nex! The materials were selected after they chose what they were going to try to build.

Their creations? Mainly spinning tops! (or spinners and I used to call them)

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

Spinning tops building

Both boys sat down and thought out their basic design (ages 7 and 9). They started trying very hard to create round objects that would spin, but discovered in their testing phase that square objects look round when spun. This opened a variety of ways to build their spinning tops!

When using LEGOs, the boys tended at first to grab the more round pieces, but as they tested more and more of their creations, they started to shift towards the square pieces as they seemed more stable when they spun.

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

Spinning tops testing = discoveries

Also through their testing of their tops, they discovered the need for the top to be balanced, or it wobbled. They seemed to be able to build in a more balanced way on the square (and even sometimes rectangular) pieces. “It has to do with math, mom.”

It was interesting watching them go through a little scientific process to narrow down both their building materials and technique. Their structures got pretty complex, but also heavy and they soon realized the tops wouldn’t spin very well if they were heavy, either.

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com

We had a little photoshoot on the dining room floor trying to capture the designs they made while spinning and then a still-shot so you can see the actual creation. (This also led to them switching some colored pieces in so they looked ‘cool’.)

They had so much fun making these spinning and taking pictures! We’re sharing just a few here (the ones that came out! Its hard to take pictures of spinning things!)

boy-designed and built spinning tops at http://momistheonlygirl.com
This is the spin top in the title image.

 

Action:

Give this activity a shot with your kiddos! Offer the activity suggestion and see what creations they come up with!

What are your kids’ favorite building toys, and what do they build?

 

Wisdom from an unlikely hero at http://momistheonlygirl.com

An Unlikely Hero’s Wisdom

Cutie Pie absolutely loves the How to Train Your Dragon book series by Cressida Cowell. Last night we were reading Book 12, How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, and this line jumped out at me…

Maybe we are lucky that we are not Kings and Heroes, because we do not have to make the choices that Kings and Heroes have to make.

On one of the first pages of the book we read about Hiccup. He was a “swordfighter, a dragon whisperer, and the greatest Viking Hero who ever lived.” It also describes him as “an ordinary boy who found it hard to be a Hero.” Read more

Simple Valentine at http://momistheonlygirl.com

Fill in the Blanks Valentine

Last winter I posted here about a fun fill-in-the-blank activity I did with Cutie Pie. What I didn’t post was that in first grade, he came up with a fill-in-the-blank Valentine for his teacher! I wish I had kept a copy of what he made her, but it was a simple, cute and creative little gift that his teacher truly appreciated!

Simple fill-in-the-blank Valentine at http://momistheonlygirl.com

We started by me asking a few things he liked about his teacher. (She told funny jokes. She had red hair. She liked minions. etc) Then I asked what he liked about school. And finally I asked about what things are in his classroom.

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Carnival of the Animals lion mane craft http://momistheonlygirl.com

Carnival of the Animals – Lion Mane craft

Listening to the music and hearing the roar of a lion, meow of a cat, or the almost irritatingly slow melody of the can-can, as if a tortoise were dancing it. The beautiful melody as the cello makes us think of the swan….

This month we had the privilege of hearing Carnival of the Animals played at our local OrKidstra concert! (You can hear movements of it here.) So today we’re making lion manes!

Carnival of the Animals lion's mane craft http://momistheonlygirl.com Read more

What did you write about today?

Cutie Pie had a wonderful teacher for second grade and developed his imagination from the get-go. Mrs. P. had a very structured day in school, so for homework four days a week she assigned journal writing. They weren’t given writing prompts, but rather could write about whatever they wanted, fact, fiction, copied text from cereal boxes…as long as they wrote something in their own handwriting.

2nd grade writing prompts, both a list of prompts and printable worksheets with writing prompts found at http://momistheonlygirl.com

The need for creative writing prompts

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Toy Train ideas at Mom is the Only Girl http://momistheonlygirl.com

Got a train lover?

(UPDATE: These links are not commission-based or affiliate-based, but are provided solely for reference. Please see the note at the bottom of the post.)

Have you got a train loving child and your short a Christmas gift or two? Or maybe you’re looking for ideas for a birthday present? Here are a few train toy ideas based on what my train-loving seven-year-old boy adores (or used to when he was younger)!

Toy train idea suggestions at Mom is the Only Girl http://momistheonlygirl.com

 

LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train Building Set  

This LEGO train toy set is big, making it easy for little hands to grasp, and has a learning component to it with numbers on the sides of the cars. My oldest had a hard time putting the cars in any order other than the correct number sequence! My youngest, just loved pushing it around the track! Of course, these pieces can be built into other objects as well. Great imagination builder!

 

Motorized engine train set with Lego Duplo Compatible

This train toy set isn’t LEGO but it’s compatible with DUPLO pieces. My youngest adored this set, and still some days pulls it out (he’s seven!) This set has basic wheel pieces that can be built upon, as well as pieces that assemble into a bridge. The engine has a button that, once pressed, makes the train go around the track.

 

Fisher Price Thomas the Train set

My sons still pull these wooden trains out to play with. These are wooden tracks and trains that we plan on keeping until we have grandchildren! The wooden trains are relatively inexpensive and are sturdy. The wooden tracks are sturdy as well, and you can purchase both the tracks and the trains/cars non-brand name as well as purchase expansion packs and pieces so this set can grow easily with your child. I, personally, loved putting these tracks together when the boys were very small. Their little hands could grasp the trains, but their minds couldn’t figure out how to build a complete track!

 

Playhut Thomas the Train

There are also bigger train items you can purchase for your little train lover! We had this fabric trainhut for a few years, handed down to us from a friend. My boys loved it! We had picnics in it, pretended we were engineers, packed it full of pillows and read, and of course set up our wooden trains and tracks in it! This was quite durable, considering it was made of lightweight fabric!

 

Power City Trains
This is a terrific option for a child who loves trains, but needs something slightly different than wooden trains or LEGO trains. These trains and cars are battery operated, with plastic track. Sweet Pea has several of these kits and always asks for more. They are not very expensive and make a great starter to see if your older preschooler/kindergartener is ready for something more than Thomas (but of course we all love Thomas!).

 

LEGO City Trains
My youngest can’t get enough of trains. The fact that LEGO has (a few) train sets just puts it over the top. Of course, the price is a little much, but it is for all LEGOs. (This one at the time of posting is $124 through Amazon.) This represents just one of their train sets. My youngest loves LEGO train kits because he can build per the instructions, or use his imagination and build what he likes. These trains are pretty sturdy once built, although they are made of LEGO, and can come apart easily. The tracks are also pretty sturdy and there are additional pieces available to purchase or small packs available. Sweet Pea has always has excellent fine motor skills when it comes to LEGO play, so he graduated to a LEGO train set right after playing a couple of years with the wooden set.

 

Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine Up & Down Coaster

Sweet Pea and Cutie Pie both loved riding on one of these when we visited the local recreation center every Friday during their preschool years when they would open their doors to children inviting them to come and play with their toys! I know this is a little more than most have space for, but definitely an awesome train gift for a little one!

 

These are just a few options of train toys you will find for your train-loving child! There are oh so many more if you do a quick search, but these definitely represent my child’s favorites!

 

*I am linking to these items because my family and I enjoy them, not because we endorse them or receive any commission based on your click-throughs or purchases. None of these links are provided based on commission. Please use your own discretion when purchasing through these links.

What's in the box? -a sense of hearing Christmas game using simple home materials {shared from Mom is the Only Girl http://momistheonlygirl.com}

What’s in the box? – a sense of hearing {Christmas} game

When my boys were smaller we used to play a sense of hearing game called ‘What’s in the cup’ or some other derivative I would come up with when we were ready to play it. (I’ve written about this here and here.) This year I’m calling it ‘What’s in the box?’

What's in the box? A sense of hearing experiment with Christmas items for an extra challenge! (at Mom is the Only Girl http://momistheonlygirl.com)

Sense of hearing Anytime version:

Basically, I’d put a few objects in a container and they would shake and tilt and tip it trying to use their sense of hearing to figure out what the object was. Usually familiar objects were used…paperclips, LEGOs, beads. These items would be placed in a plastic container – think old butter containers with lids taped on!

Sense of hearing Christmastime version:

At Christmastime this game had a fun twist built in to it. The day after we brought out the Christmas items and decorated, I would place smaller items in unbreakable, covered containers and the boys would try to guess what they were. I would use things like extra ornament hangers, a small (unbreakable) ornament, a candy cane (which they would later have as a special treat).

The twist – I have a few special boxes that I had planned on using to help tell the Christmas story (think the three wise men) and most recently used these in our little sense of hearing game! These boxes are made of wood! Think it changes the sounds the boys would hear if the containers were plastic?

The added challenge of using somewhat unfamiliar items usually only seen, touched, and possibly heard ups the ante for children my kids’ ages (seven and just about nine.)

Since I’m using wooden boxes this year, we haven’t done the written portion of the experiment I wrote about here, as it is just too cumbersome trying to involve numbers and recording hypotheses and still keep this a quick activity, although it is a definite possibility if I prepare this activity ahead of time.

Bonus:

We’ve also played this game placing the items in a sock (or stocking at Christmastime) and tried guessing what the object was by sense of touch only, turning it into a sense of touch game!

Red Cardinal Craft http://momistheonlygirl.com

Cardinal Bird Craft

Yesterday I shared the love my family has for the book Stranger in the Woods: a Photographic Fantasy, by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick, and a picture of the red cardinal bird we made based on the red cardinal in the book. Today, I’m sharing how we made the cardinal!

Stranger in the Woods Cardinal craft http://momistheonlygirl.com

Please check this book out as a possible gift for your little ones. It is such an endearing story and the photographs in it are beautiful!

 

Here’s how we made the Cardinal from Stranger in the Woods:

 

Cardinal Bird Craft

Supplies:

paper plates (red if possible)
red paint (if plates are not red)
glue
red streamers or construction paper
orange construction paper
white and black construction paper (or google eyes, or black crayons)
scissors

Instructions:

Red Cardinal Craft how-to http://momistheonlygirl.com

    1. Get/make red paper plates. We didn’t have red paper plates the first time we made these, so we painted our white plates red and they came out fine.
    2. Make your feathers for the tail. Make several feathers out of red construction paper for the tail. Sweet Pea had the idea to use red streamers, but we didn’t have any. Simply cut out red construction paper into triangles and fringe one edge. You can get creative with this part, or just make them very simple, depending on what you want your bird’s tail to look like.Red Cardinal Bird Craft Stranger in the Woods http://momistheonlygirl.com
    3. Make the face. You’ll need to add an orange (or black) triangle for the beak. Have it ready for the next step. Make eyes for the cardinal or have google eyes ready.
    4. Get gluing! Once the paint is dry, fold your paper plate in half, matching up the curved edge. The fold line is the top of the bird.
      ~ Glue your red tail feathers into place for the tail. It’s important to fold first! You could simply glue one feather right at the fold and fold that, also make sure to glue it only in that spot. You could also glue a feather or two on to each side of the fold. That’s the tail!
      ~ Then glue the front of the bird only, sticking the folded orange triangle on for the beak.
    5. Finally, make the wings. (By this step you should have just two small spots glued, one in the front by the beak and one in the back by the tail.) Take one sheet of red construction paper and accordion fold it width-wise. Make a small slit in the paper plate about an inch from the fold (that’s the top of the bird). Thread the wings through! I found this easy to do with my rotary cutter or my Xacto knife. (This is definitely for a parent to do!)
    6. Cardinal Bird Craft how to http://momistheonlygirl.comRed Cardinal Bird Craft for Stranger in the Woods http://momistheonlygirl.comWe punched a hole in the top center of the bird (making sure it balanced) and hung it in front of the window!

Red Cardinal Bird Craft for Stranger in the Woods http://momistheonlygirl.com

A beautiful, kid-made red cardinal, just like in Stranger in the Woods!

For me, its not about the finished product, the process, or the boys following directions. Its about spending time together having fun working towards a common goal! When our projects turn out this cute its a bonus!

Bonus: This summer we made these as white birds with rainbow tails, using different colored curled ribbon for the tail. So many ideas for this paper plate bird/cardinal craft!  Wish I had gotten a picture of those – they were very pretty!

 

thankful garland

Thankful garland

Just a quick idea to share with you as you contemplate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Tradition Thankful Garland

A few years ago we made what we call Thankful Garland. Every day in the month of November we wrote one thing we were thankful for on a strip of paper and made a paper garland with them as they were written. (Make a loop with the first paper and staple, then make more loops stringing the paper through the first and stapling those until a garland is formed.)

We left this hanging over the doorway into the family room until we took our Christmas decorations down, making sure to read it when we did as a great reminder of what we are thankful for and reasons to be thankful for Jesus’ birth!

 

giant google eyes on door

Oh those eyes…

Last year we actually decorated for Halloween. It’s my least favorite ‘holiday’ of the year, but my kids absolutely love pretending to be something else for a day, so I try to have fun with it.

So when I say decorated I don’t mean the spooky stuff. I mean large white google eyes on the door! These are so fun, in the spirit of halloween, and best of all simple to make! (I saw these a couple of years ago pinned by Maker Mama. Hers are a little heftier and could probably do better than mine outdoors, please check hers out! I changed a couple of things up to be more kid-making friendly.) Read more

While Mom is away

In early September I posted this picture on Facebook. I’m sure some of you were wondering how to respond, and indeed I didn’t expect anyone to! (Don’t worry, Dad’s fine, now!)

 

While Mom is Away

The Separation-Anxiety Inducing Situation

In the midst of the first days of school, my dad was in the hospital for minor surgery. Since he is by himself now, I went to help him out. This required me to be away from my boys, overnight, for more days than they wanted…especially Sweet Pea.

Read more

pretzels, Oreo cookies make spider cookie

Simple Spider Cookies

spider-shaped cookies made from Oreos and pretzels

Sweet Pea’s kindergarten teacher had some great ideas for Halloween last year. I admittedly am not that into Halloween, so to search out ideas for this particular upcoming holiday has not been high on my to-do list, but has been requested by the boys. So this year, I have a couple of things in mind. Simple things where they can get their hands dirty! Read more

Free Online Summer Reading Clubs

In past years Cutie Pie has taken part in the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading club. I didn’t realize until this year that there are several other programs like this to help promote summer reading! (Ahem, I mean other than the public library, but we all go there regularly in the summer, right? Seriously, we do! Every week!)

I’ll share just a few of the free Summer Reading Clubs with you today. It’s not too late to begin if your child has been on break a week or more already!

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Summer Reading

Summer break begins for us this coming Tuesday. I know many of you are already well into your summer breaks and I hope you are having fun! If you’re doing anything super fun, let us know in the comments!

In anticipation of the boys being home for ten weeks while my husband and I trade off working and keeping the boys occupied (which is totally new territory for us) I have been trying to get organized so the summer weeks don’t waste away before our eyes! Read more

Playing in a new space

I posted a little while ago about playing a game by other rules. What if we extend this idea to playing with other things in different ways? What about playing in a new space with an old toy? Will it lead to discovery and exploration? You bet ya!

Playing in a New Space

New Play Space Suggestion

The other day Sweet Pea asked if he could play with the Legos in the dining room. He wanted to make a train on the table. At first I wasn’t so sure ~ we always play with the with the Legos on the floor laid out on a blanket. This was a new space for Legos and I wasn’t really keen on the mess to follow. However, he had a very good idea, so why not? Read more

Inflating Balloon Experiment

I’ve seen this experiment several places, so I take no responsibility it. We’ve also done this experiment a few times before and each time it gets my boys’ attention. Most recently, I’ve seen this in the book Child’s Play by Leslie Hamilton, listed as Magic Balloon.

You’ll need a balloon, small pop bottle, baking soda, vinegar and a funnel.

Use the funnel to put about 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the balloon. Use it again to put 1 to 2 inches of vinegar into the pop bottle.

Secure the mouth of the balloon to the mouth of the pop bottle by making sure the baking soda is the the bottom of the balloon and then folding the balloon over so the baking soda doesn’t fall into the balloon. Work with only the mouth of the balloon. Yes, I know, this takes some coordination!

Hold onto the balloon tightly while your child lifts the baking soda-filled part of the balloon, letting the baking soda fall into the vinegar.

What happens? Gas is formed by mixing the baking soda (a base) with the vinegar (an acid) and the gas fills the balloon!

Can you tell there are two underlying themes this week? If you guessed ‘what we did this summer’ and ‘balloons’ then you are right!

If you liked this experiment you may also like: Balloon Rocket!

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