Our kids have daily and weekly chores. And they have an allowance. The two are connected, but not contingent upon one another.
In our family when you start first grade you begin to take on personal and household responsibilities. Every morning, after you wash up and get dressed but before you come downstairs for breakfast, you have to make your bed. That's the daily chore. And there are weekly chores, too.
In first grade the weekly chore is refilling all the canisters of toilet paper in the bathrooms. In second grade you do the toilet paper plus take the recycling out to the garage every evening.
This year, the first grader took over the toilet paper job, so we added folding and putting away her own laundry to the third grader's chore list. These jobs have to be done automatically, without help, and without a fuss.
The allowance begins in first grade, too. $1 a week that year, then $2 a week in second grade, on up. Allowance is given out on Friday afternoons before Shabbat dinner. And at the start of first grade I make you a special wallet to keep your new pile of cash safe and organized.
The kids decide how to spend their allowance money. Most often they use it to buy toys or candy or other things we don't buy them: rolls of patterned duct tape, BeyBlades, keychains, Tic Tacs, that kind of thing. They stand in the store thinking carefully about whether or not it's worth it to spend all their money on something, evaluating the price versus how much they want it, and they see how expensive things really are. Often they decide not to get anything and instead to keep saving.
This weekend Roxanne, who is just about to start third grade, decided to spend all of her allowance money. Spending all your money at once only happens when there is something really special to buy, something you won't regret later when your sister has $8 and you're flat broke.
So what did she buy? Cross-stitch supplies. She chose 13 colors of floss, a pack of plastic bobbins, a two-pack of rings to hold the bobbins, a pack of needles, a hoop, a piece of 14 count monk's cloth, and a book of cross-stitch patterns. Total cost? $28.
I don't cross-stitch so this didn't come from me. She learned at camp this summer and she really got it. She can follow the patterns independtly and she is so happy that she gets to teach me a needleart.
When we got home I helped her wind the bobbins and I put all her things together in a bin. I used a cross-stitch font to make a special label for the top, too.
When she isn't reading, or eating, or reading some more, she's cross-stitching. Right now she's making herself a bookmark with the word "READ" on it.
A kit like this would make an excellent gift for the right 8-year-old. When doing crafts with kids I always recommend buying real, high-quality materials. I think most kids would need some instruction to learn the basics of cross-stitch, but after that would be able to stitch to their hearts content independently. And there are some really wry, sarcastic patterns out there that I think this snarky 8-year-old will appreciate immensely.