Helping Youth Find Their Spark

What is a spark and why would you want to search for it? A spark is something that you love to do, something that gets you excited, something that you are good at or something that energizes you. Maybe you have already identified a spark in your life, as most of us have many sparks that get us excited and ready to jump into action. Cloverbuds might have already identified a spark through school, sports, or family experiences. 4-H provides another opportunity for them to have new experiences and participate in new events that can help them discover new sparks! Sparks are interests, skills, talents, and special qualities that can emerge while youth are experiencing 4-H after school programs, 4-H community club events, or special interest clubs.

Cloverbuds can identify possible sparks by choosing from a list of topics or answering questions that require them to choose a thoughtful answer. For example, having them respond to, “Do you like to play indoors or outdoors?” or “Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?”. Exposing youth to new ideas outside of their normal home and school environments are a great way to identify additional sparks. Sparks help youth set goals and expand their support network as they identify friends that have similar sparks. Most youth need one to three spark champions (caring adults that support the identification of sparks) who will continue to make connections and encourage them to further develop their sparks.

Club meetings are a great place to start the process of identifying sparks. Give members a sheet of blank copy paper and some markers or colored pencils. Have them close their eyes and think about an activity that they love doing and picture themselves doing that activity. After 30 seconds have youth open their eyes and draw that activity they were imagining. Once members have finished drawing have a group conversation about why they chose that activity.  You might have some suggestions about other ideas they could explore given their interests. Your role as a 4-H volunteer is very much a role of SPARK CHAMPION!

Sources:

Extension Foundation. (n.d.). 4-H Thriving Model of PYD. Retrieved June 27, 20222, from https://helping-youth-thrive.extension.org/what-are-sparks/

Building Resiliency in Cloverbuds

Children need to develop resiliency skills starting from birth. Serving as a Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer puts you in a prime position to continue building resiliency skills among the Cloverbud age youth in your program. Resiliency can be described as the skills developed by overcoming a stressful or adverse situation/ event. Youth face many challenges at home and in their personal lives that strengthen their resiliency and allow them to emerge from those situations stronger.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child includes factors children identified as helping them overcome hard times in their lives.  The most often cited factor is a consistent, caring, and supportive adult role model. This role model could be a parent, caregiver, or another adult that they interact with often – maybe even that Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer! Can we build resiliency skills in our Cloverbuds? Absolutely! And you might not even know it, but you are improving those skills at every meeting. Give youth an opportunity to take a risk in a safe space within the club. This could be as simple as trying a new way to make the craft for the week. If the result is less than ideal, you have provided the safe space for them to learn and grow. Managing emotions can be nurtured by creative play and games that Cloverbuds might undertake at a club meeting. It might be that member that wants to win the game or finish their project first every time. Providing a space where youth feel comfortable asking for help if they don’t understand or need assistance with an activity builds resiliency.

Rename yourself the Strength Builder for Buckeye 4-H Club of Clover County because you are more than just a 4-H volunteer to those youth in your care. Make your own name tag, cape and dress the part, members of your club will be looking for the hero at the next 4-H meeting.

 

Source: Young, K. (2020, August 17). Resilience. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

Growing Chia Pets

Growing plants is an activity that has success happening right before your eyes! Plants need five things to grow: light, water, air, nutrients, and the proper temperature. Light is absorbed by the plant causing it to produce food that is utilized by the plant for growth. We all need food and water so make sure you are providing adequate water to the plant. Air is vital to provide carbon dioxide for making that food and making sure our environment is an acceptable temperature for growth. Most plants are not excited about frosty mornings, so covering outside plants is a must for those with flowers, bushes, and vegetables until May 15. Nutrients are the last thing that is necessary for plant growth and is typically provided in the soil and absorbed into the plant through the roots.

What is a “chia pet”? As advertised on television, chia pets are round, clay objects that grow grass resembling hair. The best part is we can give them “a haircut”, and then watch it grow to be cut again. We still need to provide all the necessary ingredients to grow our “hair” but can find many of these items around the house or at the local store.

Supplies needed: small Styrofoam cup, knee high pantyhose, potting soil, grass seed, markers, googly eyes and glue.

  1. Place grass seed in the bottom of the pantyhose (make sure you are covering a good section to make its head full of hair).
  2. Now add 1 ½ cups of potting soil on top of the seed.
  3. Tie the pantyhose tight around the soil, making it round like a human head.
  4. Decorate your cup (which is your flowerpot) and then fill it ½ full of water.
  5. Turn your head upside down (so extra pantyhose is hanging down) and place the pantyhose full of soil and seed in the cup.
  6. You can add eyes, ears, nose, etc. to make your chia pet come alive!
  7. The pantyhose acts as the roots of the plant. In just a few short days, your chia pet will start growing hair.
  8. Make sure that you provide sunlight and add water as needed to help your “hair” grow!

Setting Your Goals

All of us have had to set goals for personal or professional reasons in our lives. Some might be in a habit of setting goals; others might be doing them out of necessity.

WHY are we talking about setting goals for Cloverbuds?  A study from Brown University (Pressman et al., 2014) concluded that routines and habits in children take root by the third grade. This means that habits like household chores and responsibilities are unlikely to vary once a child reaches the age of nine.  As a Cloverbud Volunteer, you are in a great position to start teaching the useful habit of goal setting. When encouraging them to set goals, think about the age of the child and their abilities. Younger Cloverbuds are more likely to respond to a picture of their goal versus words, but older Cloverbuds might be able to read and will find it fun to write out their goals for the year.

Setting one goal is the ideal place to start.  Encourage youth to think about something they want to do (go to the zoo, play at the park) or something that they would like to learn (ride a bike, make cookies) to help them started. At this age, their minds are full of creative thoughts. A great place to start is with a blank sheet of paper with the wording “I would like to…”  This gives them the option to write or draw a goal they might have for the future.

We feel much satisfaction from accomplishing our goals, so plan a way to celebrate!  Celebrating achievements is vital to instilling joy and excitement of a job well done.  That joy and sense of accomplishment is what drives us to set another goal!

Explore STEM with Cloverbuds

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at an early age fosters growth in the curiosity and creativity of young minds. These young minds are the basis for the next big discovery and the world depends on STEM innovations. STEM exploration includes interactive and hands-on activities, and let’s be honest, learning through play is more fun! It is never too early to start building the skills that youth will need for their careers and future success as adults. I encourage you to take the opportunity to allow Cloverbuds to “explore” through “doing” and spark the thought process that leads young minds to understand there is “more than one way to complete a task successfully”. To get you started here is an activity to use at your next meeting to explore STEM.

Rain Cloud in a Jar

A great way to demonstrate how rain arrives to us through clouds.

You will need a few supplies:

– food coloring

– water

– clear jar (pint or quart)

– shaving cream

– plastic pipettes or eye droppers

– small glass

  1. Mix a few drops of food coloring into water in the small glass and set aside.
  2. Fill the glass jar ¾ of way with cool water.
  3. Fill the glass jar the rest of the way with shaving cream creating your “cloud”.
  4. Now we are ready to make it rain!
  5. Kids can now use the pipettes to squirt the colored water into the top of the shaving cream.
  6. Once the cloud gets heavier with liquid, colored rain will make its way through the cloud and start falling onto the ground (bottom of the jar).

Clouds are formed from billions of water droplets. When those droplets get heavy enough, gravity pulls them down as rain.

Source: Activity retrieved August 29, 2019 from thestemlabratory.com