Giving Thanks: Cloverbud Edition

Gratitude is an important foundation to the Ohio 4-H program, and it is easy to adapt for any age group. Gratitude means you have a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. This is a wonderful skill to instill in our 4-H members, and it’s as simple as saying, “Thank You!”

Here are some easy ways to start helping our youngest members say thank you:

  1. End every meeting with Thank You – As your Cloverbud meeting comes to an end, take a few moments to reflect with the members what they learned that day. Maybe have some of the members share what they learned or what their favorite thing was. Bring attention to anyone who may have helped them during that meeting – did you have a guest speaker, did parents help with the craft, or did another member bring snacks? Once the helpers have been identified, tell the members on the count of 3, we are going to say “Thank You” all together. Lead a countdown and thank those people you identified. This is a simple activity, but it helps connect everything from the lesson and immediately recognizes those in the room.
  2. Write a Club Thank You Note – Is there something your club or Cloverbud group has done that has received attention? Maybe the club won best decorated club booth, received an award at the fair or project judging, or received recognition from the Extension Office. Take time to write a thank you note expressing your appreciation for being recognized. If your Cloverbud club has members of all ages, help an older member write the thank you card and then pass it around for all members to sign their name.
  3. Send a Postcard – While Cloverbuds may be our youngest members and still developing those foundational life skills, this is a great way to let them take ownership of a thank you card. Make a post card with most of the Thank You message typed up and leave a few blanks for the members to write in their own message. See the picture below of an example we used for our county fair. Cloverbuds should be encouraged to share what the experience or gift means to them, and then say thank you in their own words. It also helps them identify the important parts of a thank you note that they can include when they are able to write one on their own.

Whether your club year is coming to end or you are starting a new 4-H year, November is a wonderful time to practice saying Thank You. If you need a few suggestions, write a thank you note to your county Commissioners for supporting your local program, the state 4-H office for their continued support, or your Extension office for the work they put into your county 4-H program.

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

Ohio – The Buckeye State!

Government…it’s on everyone’s mind these days.  There is no better time to teach our Cloverbuds about our Great State of Ohio.

Did you know that Ohio’s Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, has an Ohio Activity Book available for download from his website?  This activity book is FREE and features information about the Ohio Burgee (flag), the Seal and Motto, State Flower, State Bird, and more!  There are coloring pages, word searches, crossword puzzles, and other puzzles and games.  What a wonderful way to learn more about our Buckeye State!  As a 4-H Cloverbud Volunteer, you can have your Cloverbuds download the book, assign them a page or two to complete with their adult, and then have a virtual Zoom meeting with the Cloverbuds to discuss what they learned.  You could also have easy trivia questions ready for them to answer.  Click here to download the Ohio Activity Book.

The Ohio Activity Book pairs nicely with one of our Click It, Print It, Do It! activities.  Check out the instructions for making the Seal of Ohio using dried beans and seeds.  Click here to download the lesson plan. 

For an easy virtual meeting, have your Cloverbuds download the activity book, ask them to complete (along with their adult’s help) a few pages, and then have a Zoom to discuss what they learned.  Next, have them download the instructions for the Seal of Ohio activity and ask them to have their adult help them to complete that activity before the next meeting.  In reality, the activity book has many pages and could be used for several lessons and meetings.

Teach our Cloverbuds about Ohio History and learn fun facts about the Buckeye State in the process.  And, who knows?  Someday maybe one of our Cloverbuds will be elected Governor of the Buckeye State!

Utilizing Children’s Books to Have Tough Conversations

Are you wondering what to say to your children about racism in the United States?    What is too much to say?  What is not enough?  Do not wait for children to bring this up to you.  We, as a society, need to be proactive in helping build a positive awareness.

Children recognize differences in people at a very young age.  They are not too young to be exposed to diversity.  Start the conversation early and continue the conversation as children are growing.

The 4-H program is for all who are interested.  As parents, volunteers, supporters, educators, we should have confidence in ourselves, as well as in the children we work with, that we can handle these tough conversations and situations.  Our role should be to be honest with our children and specific in our answers so the future generation can continue to confront and handle racial injustices that are still evident in our society.

But, where do you start?  Utilizing children’s books is a perfect way to begin the conversation.

We all love children’s picture books.  They have so many important lessons built into their stories.  Use diverse characters in books.  Children want to be able to see themselves in books, and this allows an opportunity for further discussion.  In addition, when they see characters that are different from themselves, they become more accepting which will stay with them as they grow into adults.

Ask building questions.  Use this opportunity as a chance to learn what the children know, what they do not know, and what they might be thinking about race.  Then, most importantly, you can help them learn more by asking additional questions and preparing yourself for additional conversations in the future.

It is never too early to have this conversation.  If the topic is racism, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, being a good citizen, helping others, or any other topic, starting these important conversations can be done using children’s books.  Incorporate children’s books into every 4-H Cloverbud activity and meeting.  We want our 4-H members to grow into caring, competent, contributing citizens.  As 4-H parents, volunteers, and supporters, we have an opportunity to have important conversations, so our children are ready to take on the world and make the best better.

Links for diverse children’s books:

 

Recognizing our Emotions

Many people have difficulty dealing with emotions. As caring adults (4-H advisor, parent, guardian, etc.) we should talk about emotions with the children in our care. Emotions are those instinctive reactions to one’s given circumstances. In children you might see tantrums, crying, pouting, breaking things, or the silent treatment, among others. Sometimes as parents we want to jump in and fix things just like we did when our children were babies. To build our child’s resiliency skills, we need to step aside and be the supportive person “outside their box” as they are dealing with their emotions “inside their box”.

Triggers are those actions or events that when they happen, the individual responds with a strong immediate reaction. Triggers cause a sudden change in our emotions and our body becomes overwhelmed with reacting to the event. Sometimes referred to by parents as “pushing my buttons”, these words or actions bring about an instant reaction. Personally, one of my triggers is when someone scrapes a metal fork on a glass plate. My immediate reaction is to plug my ears. Self-awareness is an important skill for parents to develop in their children. It allows them to recognize emotions, triggers, and responses.

Self-Awareness: Circle of Identification

Here is a very simple activity that can be done with crayons and paper. You might also use cardstock or light-colored paper, especially if you encourage the child to take the paper home. This activity is most effective if you have a small group of children or a large group of children with several adults (i.e. 1 adult for each 3-4 children).

  1. Preprint a circle divided into 3 equal sections on the paper. Have extra copies depending on time available, but 2-3 copies per child is recommended.
  2. Give each child one paper and share the following instructions, one at a time, allowing all children to complete each step before moving on to the next step.
    1. Explain what an emotion is (angry, embarrassed, happy). In one of the sections of the circle, instruct the children to draw a picture of an emotion they have experienced.
    2. Define a trigger and give examples. In a different section, have them draw a picture demonstrating something that might trigger the emotion they selected in the first space.
    3. In the final space, have them draw a picture of how they deal with that emotion.
  3. You can use another sheet and redo the activity using another emotion.
  4. In summary, talk with them about the value in being able to identify their emotions, identify their triggers and evaluate their reaction to that emotion. This is key to really understanding the concept of self-awareness which allows youth and adults to handle both good and bad situations in life.

As caring adults, we can model feeling words by defining the exact emotion you are experiencing at that time. Avoid reactions like foul language, yelling or aggressive physical reactions, because you are modeling these as appropriate reactions to certain emotions. We can all agree that resiliency is a vital skill for youth and adults.  Building the concept of self-awareness is a step to preparing youth (even at a young age) for future success.

Sources:

Pincus, D. (2020, September 1). My Child is Out of Control: How to Teach Kids to Manage. Medium. https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-out-of-control-how-to-teach-kids-to-manage-emotions/

Sadowski, K. (2020, August 31). 8 Tip to Help Your Child Gain Control of His/Her Emotions. Medium. https://www.nspt4kids.com/parenting/8-tips-to-help-your-child-gain-control-of-hisher-emotions/

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!

It’s Slime Time!

We are all fascinated by slime!  There are so many different colors, textures, mixtures, and ingredients used to make slime. A classic favorite that has been around for quite some time is Oobleck. Oobleck was cool before slime was cool! Take some time with your Cloverbuds to make some Oobleck.

Make sure you have a space that can get messy, gather all the ingredients, and wash your hands before you begin.

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Small bowl
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1.5 – 2 cups of cornstarch
  • Spoon – optional
  • A few drops of food coloring – optional

Instructions:

  1. Pour water into a small bowl.
  2. Begin adding cornstarch to the water. You can stir with a spoon at first, but you’ll need to use your hands as the mixture thickens.
  3. As you are mixing the cornstarch in you may add the optional food coloring.
  4. Once you’ve added 1.5 cups of cornstarch, add the remaining amount a little at a time. You may not need it at all.
  5. You are looking for a consistency that is liquid and solid at the same time.
  6. If you find you’ve added too much cornstarch, add a little water to thin it out.

Oobleck is a great tool to use when teaching hands-on science concepts. Once you have created your Oobleck, take some time to play with it.

Discuss the following science concepts:

  • Is it a solid? Or is it a liquid? – Answer: It acts as both!
  • What is a solid? – Answer: matter that retains it’s shape when not confined.
  • What is a liquid? – Answer: a substance that flows freely.
  • What other things can be both a solid and a liquid? – Answer: water/ice, rock/lava

Store your Oobleck in an air-tight container. Be sure to tell your Cloverbuds not to eat their Oobleck!

Cloverbuds in the Kitchen

During this time of virtual learning and meeting remotely, it may feel difficult to keep Cloverbud members engaged during club meetings or find activities they can do virtually. A great activity for Cloverbuds is to encourage them to help with a simple recipe. A club favorite is making chocolate chip cookies which teaches younger members kitchen basics, such as measuring, as well as how to follow directions.

Use the recipe below and write each step out on a note card.  You can number them on the back in order to make sure the steps are correct. Once you have all the steps written, lay the cards out and ask the members to read the cards with you. Remember that some of the words may be new to younger members and they may need your help reading.  After reading all the cards, ask the members to put the steps in order. Use the cards to match the ingredient to each step. If you have Cloverbuds in the kitchen with you, this is a step that will keep little hands busy while waiting to mix the cookies.

After all the steps are lined up and the ingredients matched, have Cloverbuds help you add the ingredients and make the cookies. If you are using this activity while meeting in person, you can have each member take turns adding an ingredient.

While cookies are baking, you can talk to Cloverbuds about MyPlate https://www.choosemyplate.gov/, the importance of proper nutrition, and why cookies should only be a treat in our daily diets.

If your members have the “My 4-H Cloverbud Year” activity book, here are some suggested phrases they can record for this activity:

  • We made chocolate chip cookies.
  • We learned to work together.
  • We learned to share.
  • We learned how to take turns.
  • We learned to measure ingredients.
  • We learned to read new words.
  • We followed directions.

Helping Your Children during the COVID-19 Crisis

It is a very different time right now. The COVID-19 virus has changed, for many of us, how we are living and working. Our Cloverbud age children are adapting to learning at home through online methods. They are missing their teachers, classmates and the routine of the classroom. Many parents are trying to work at home and help their children with the learning process. As everyone adjusts to these rapid changes, it is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance.

The Centers for Disease Control reminds us to remain calm and reassuring when talking to children. Children pick up on both what you say and how you say it. The CDC also reminds parent and other caregivers that language blaming others should be avoided. Everyone should avoid making assumptions about who gets the virus. It can make anyone sick regardless of race or ethnicity.

The National Association of School Psychologists suggests ways to be a role model for children and provide this guidance.

  1. Consider how you talk about COVID-19 and social distancing – These are topics that may be hard for children to understand. You can remind your child that you are doing everything you can to keep your family and other loved ones safe and healthy. Your children know that they miss their friends but may not understand why they cannot see them right now. You can explain that your family is following the guidelines of health experts who know that we must stay away from others to keep healthy.
  2. Focus on the Positive – One of the advantages of this time is that many of us are together as a family more than usual. You can play games together, sing, organize belongings, go outside or anything else your family enjoys. Use this as a time to reconnect.
  3. Establish and maintain a daily routine – Research shows that keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of comfort and well-being. Having this routine can help your child feel in control when other things are out of his or her control.
  4. Offer lots of love and affection

Another suggestion is to monitor television viewing. Watching constant coverage of the COVID-19 virus situation can cause stress for both you and your children. Some of the information may not be developmentally appropriate for your child and cause anxiety and confusion. If your Cloverbud has access to the internet or social media, remind them that the stories he or she sees may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Your child may have questions about the current situation. Let your child know that you are willing to listen to him or her. You can let your child’s questions guide your conversation. It is important to provide age appropriate truthful information. Your Cloverbud needs brief, simple facts. You can give them examples of how to stop germs from spreading. Let them know that you and other adults are working hard to keep them healthy.

In the interest of helping your child stay healthy, the CDC recommends telling he or she to stay away from anyone who is coughing, sneezing or sick. Remind your child to cough or sneeze into his or her elbow or a tissue (and make sure to throw tissue in the trash). Teach your child good hand washing habits.

Finally, remember to take care of yourself. Parents have a lot of responsibility right now and are also adjusting to rapidly changing situations. Do those things that help you destress – read a book, take a bubble bath, listen to your favorite music, pet your dog or cat. Taking care of yourself will help you take care of your child.

Sources:
Russell, W. T. (2020, March 16). 10 tips for talking about COVID-19 with your kids. Retrieved from PBS News Hour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/10-tips-for-talking-about-covid-19-with-your-kids
Sievering, K. (2020). Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19. Retrieved from National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19
Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019. (2020). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcommunity%2Fschools-childcare%2Ftalking-with-children.html

 

 

 

Learning the 4-H Pledge like Do-Re-Mi…

Let’s start at the very beginning , a very good place to start.  When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you are in 4-H we start with Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

What does it all mean?

I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking” – HEAD stands for decision making, planning, organizing, problem solving and using knowledge throughout life.

 

 

“My HEART  to greater loyalty”– HEART stands for strong personal values, positive self-concept, ability to show concern for others, cooperation, and communication.

 

 

 

My HANDS to larger service”– HANDS stands for volunteering , community service, workforce development, science and technology literacy and useful skills.

 

 

 

 

“and my HEALTH for better living for my club, my community, my country and my world”- HEALTH stands for healthy lifestyles, character, ethics, stress management and disease prevention..

 

How can we teach our youth the pledge?

  • Say the pledge at each meeting after The Pledge of Allegiance
  • Recite one line at a time
  • Teach the hand motions
  • Give your youth an opportunity to lead the pledge during a meeting
  • Offer the Cloverbuds an opportunity to recite the pledge at the county project fair