Spring is in the air and children are excited to go outside and explore. However, many clubs still need to conduct their meetings virtually because of current restrictions. With a few modifications, you can still offer some great outdoor related activities in a virtual setting. Read on to learn how you can modify some of the Nature Fun activities from The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (2016, pgs. 85-89).
Preparing for a virtual lesson takes a little bit of communication and preparation by both the volunteers and the members. Get your members excited and prepared for the meeting by sending a message a few days prior. Let the members know the topic you plan to cover and the supplies you need them to have ready when they log onto the virtual meeting.
The Magic Can activity allows children to use their sense of hearing to listen for noises they may hear when an item from nature is being shaken in a can. Since members will be unable to pass the can around and shake it individually, you can shake the can for them. The children will need reminded to use their ‘listening ears’ and quietly listen to the sound so everyone will have a chance to hear. Ask the members to give you a thumbs up once they think they know what item from nature is in the can. You can call on members to share their guess before showing the group what is in the can.
The Sounds of Nature Hike activity can be adapted using audio recordings of nature. Check online for videos or audio recordings of nature. You can share the audio from your electronic device during your meeting and allow the members to listen to sounds. Ask your members to close their eyes, turn on their ‘listening ears’, and listen quietly to the sounds. Once everyone has had a chance to listen for a little while, the members can share the sounds they heard. You can replay the audio to point out specific sounds that were mentioned. When searching for sounds of nature, be sure to find a variety of recordings to share such as birds, moving streams, waves of the ocean, etc. This activity can enable you to share how sounds of nature may vary depending on where you live.
The Leaf Rubbings activity can be done virtually as well. Ask your members to gather 3-5 leaves prior to the meeting. They should have the leaves and a piece of paper and some crayons when they join the meeting. This activity may be easier to use a little later in spring when leaves are more readily available. Members can each share the leaves they found and use them for the leaf rubbing drawing. Members may be able to identify the tree species their leaf came from or find it exciting to see that other members have the same type of trees near their house.
The Nature Scavenger Hunt activity can be turned into a nature hike show and tell activity. Ask your members to take a hike through nature prior to the meeting and bring 5 things to the meeting that they found in nature. Remind them not to bring anything back that may be an animal’s habitat as they do not want to disturb it. Allow each member to share the items they found on their hike and tell where they found it. Some items may be very common while other items in nature are unique to certain environments (open, dry area vs. a dark, moist area). Ask the members to each share two things they saw on their nature hike, but were unable to bring back with them (i.e. bird, bird’s nest, squirrel, insect, etc.). If they are able, encourage youth to return the items they collected back to nature after your meeting is complete. The original Nature Scavenger Hunt activity can be shared with members to complete on their own prior to your meeting as an interest approach activity or after the meeting as a follow-up application activity.
The attention span of Cloverbud members during a virtual meeting may drop quicker than an in-person meeting. Your virtual meeting may only last 30-40 minutes. Depending on the number of members you have and how much you want to accomplish, you may feel like this is not enough time to complete your lesson. It is okay to provide an activity for the member to do prior to the meeting as an interest approach to the lesson you are going to teach during the meeting. Another option is to provide them with an activity to complete at home after their meeting, reinforcing what they learned. Encourage members to share with you what they completed during their application activity.