Conducting Nature Fun Activities Virtually

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.

 

Reference:  Glover, C., Longo, M., Mendenz, B., Millhouse, C., Williams, R., Woods, D.,  Zimmer, B. (2016).  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.  Columbus, OH, The Ohio State University.

Showing Gratitude

Teaching children about gratitude can sometimes be a challenging endeavor, but rewarding none the less.  Little research has been done to assist in understanding how children define gratitude and at what age they truly begin to comprehend what gratitude is and how it can be shown.  A study of parents of first through third grade students shared some insight into how their children define gratitude including: inspiration for the gratitude, forms of gratitude, and ways in which they could come to an understanding of gratitude (Halberstadt et al., 2016).

The parents in the study shared three main inspirations in which their children are grateful: for what they have, for what they have been given, and for what exists with or without their presence.  The children showed their gratitude by recognizing that they had received something, feeling happy when receiving something, or by showing appreciation.  Parents believe their children could come to an understanding of gratitude by learning from other’s perspectives, a comparison of what they have to those less fortunate.

This year has provided many challenges to each of us and our Cloverbud members have had many unexpected changes.  Yet, there is still so much to be grateful for as we look around.  Help your Cloverbud members understand what things they can be grateful for this year.

  • In advance of your meeting, ask your members to gather 3-5 things they are grateful for so they can share with them with the group. This will help keep your members engaged virtually.
  • Gather some things you are grateful for that you can share with your members as well.
  • Begin your lesson asking the members what gratitude is or what it means to be grateful. Show the things you are grateful for this year.
  • Remind the youth that even when times are tough, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives. Take turns having the members share the 3-5 things they gathered to share.
  • Children will often times think of the material things they use daily, but remind them of other things provided for them such as food, shelter, clothing, and good health. Maybe they are grateful for the sunshine that allows them the opportunity to play outside, the rain to help our crops grow, or the hug from a loved one to make them feel special.
  • Ask the members how they can should gratitude for those who have provided these things for them to appreciate. (Ex. hug, say “thank you”, a smile, etc.)
  • Ask your members to pick one thing they are most thankful for and show gratitude for it. Have each member write a thank you note or draw a thank you picture and give it to the person they want to show gratitude or appreciation.  Ask each member to send you a picture so they know you have completed the activity.
Reference:  Halberstandt, A.G., Langley, H.A., Hussong, A.M., Rothenberg, W.A., Coffman, J.L., Mokrova, I., Costanzo, P.R. (2016). Parents’ understanding of gratitude in children: A thematic analysis. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 439-451. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.01.014

Creating Holiday Cards for Community Service

This time of year is often known for being the season of giving!  So, why not take this opportunity to teach your Cloverbuds about giving by helping them create their own holiday cards to give to others.  For example, cards can be taken and distributed to residents of a local nursing home or tucked into a local food bank’s distribution boxes before delivery!

Supplies Needed:

  • Cardstock and/or construction paper
  • Markers, colored pencils and/or crayons
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Stickers
  • Old magazine or cards
  • Stencils
  • Glitter

Steps:

  1. Fold the cardstock or construction paper into the desired card size.
  1. Encourage members to use their creativity to decorate the cards by drawing and coloring a picture, tracing a picture with a stencil, cutting pictures out of old magazines or old cards. Add a little something extra with ribbon, glitter or other decorating items you have around.
  1. Have some sample phrases written out and available for members to use on or in their card such as “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Seasons Greeting”, “Happy New Year” or another greeting of your choice. Some members may still be learning to spell and this might help them.
  1. Be sure your Cloverbud signs their name to their card.

This activity can be fun for the members creating the cards and fun for the individual receiving the cards.  It is a great way for young members to realize that their kindness may bring cheer to someone else!