Tag: learning fun


Last week I shared information about Sparks and how valuable they can be in building child-parent relationships. I also shared my big failure when it came to one of my grandsons Sparks. Let’s have a quick review.

In my book Becoming a Present Parent  I wrote that the value of seeing your child’s Sparks is that it’s a wonderful way to get Present with your child. It’s powerful not only in helping them love learning but also in creating tighter relationships. So, what is a Spark? Simply put, a Spark is anything that a child says or does that lets you know they’re interested in something right now.

Last week I told you that over the next couple of months, I would randomly share examples of Sparks, how fun they can be, and how connecting. Today, I want to share a BIG win. This, like the fail, took place in 2012.

The Octopi Spark

Ring! Ring! “Hello.” “Grandma, I want to learn about octopuses.” When there is a “spark” you have to jump on it. Remember my elephant fiasco?

What is octopus plural?

According to Merriam-Webster, throughout history the word “octopus” has been pluralized as octopuses, octopi, and the more unusual octopodes. Any of the three options is fine proving that grammar isn’t always black and white. This is a fact that we learned while engaging in Jack’s Spark, octopuses. Jack, Maggie, Mary, and I thought you would like to know. : )

Books, books, books! We always start with books when following a Spark. My grands love books and books about octopuses were no exception.

This was the funniest thing we learned in our books – The octopus has a squirter (siphon or funnel) and he uses it to shoot backward. We practiced sucking in air, and then shooting it out as fast as we could and letting our hands shoot backward. Mary loved it, Jack was a bit unnerved, and Maggie just laughed.

Want a few more amazing facts to help kids learn about octopuses?

  • An octopus can open a jar lid to get at the food inside.
  • The octopus has a parrot-like beak – yikes and he isn’t even a bird!
  • An octopus has eight arms and no legs.
  • An octopus has no bones so it can wiggle into very tiny spaces.
  • An octopus hunts for food at night.
  • If an octopus is under attack it can squirt a cloud of black ink and get away.
  • Moray eels like to bite off octopus arms for lunch!
  • An octopus can change its color from black to white to red.
  • An octopus can change the texture of its body so it is hard to find.
  • An octopus’s home or lair is called a midden.

I love crafts that cost no money and use what I already have on hand. In this case. we used toilet paper rolls, construction paper, tape, wiggle eyes, and stickers. We created our own octopi and the grands had a grand time. No pun intended. I have given you instructions below so that you can help your kids make their own octopi. Last week I shared that you can light a Spark and use it the same as if it originated with the child.

Please notice Jack’s face. Because I jumped on this Spark he was fully involved. He enjoyed every minute we spent together.

As usual, we ended our activity with another very silly book about an octopus who almost became soup. The pictures were funny and Maggie, who is 5 ½, with cerebral palsy, laughed and laughed at the silly things that went on.

I must confess that we did not eat any octopus for lunch! We found chocolate teddy grahams, cheese, and hot dogs much more satisfying.

We had a wonderful time together laughing and learning. It was a fun Spark and we loved being together.


1. Cut the toilet paper roll in half. Measure it on your construction paper and draw a pencil line.

2. Cut eight strips (arms) from the edge of the paper to the pencil line.

3. Glue or tape the construction paper to the toilet paper roll with the arms hanging down.

4. Roll the arms on a pencil or marker so they curl up.

Books About Octopi

  • Octopuses by Michele Spirn
  • The Octopus by Mary M. Cerullo
  • Octopus soup by Mercer Meyer
  • Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieszka – I do not like this book but Maggie (5 1/2) laughed uproariously!
  • Octopuses, Squids, and Their Relatives by Beth Blaxland
  • Octopuses by Carol K. Lindeen
  • An Octopus is Anoying by Patricia Lauber
  • Gentle Giant Octopuses by Karen Wallace
  • My Very Own Octopus by Bernard Most
  • An Octopuses Garden by Stephanie Steve-Borden
  • Octopus Socktopus by Nick Sharratt
  • Have You Ever Seen an Octopus with a Broom by Etta Kaner

Watch for Sparks from your littles to your teens. Sparks will help you listen, enjoy, and bond.