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

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Fall is a wonderful time of year with the cooler temperatures and leaves changing colors, but it also means there is more time spent indoors. For Cloverbud members, it’s important to find fun and educational activities to keep them busy so you don’t hear those dreaded words…. “I’m bored!”

Have you considered the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) as a topic for a meeting?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Read a story – There are many books about preventing litter or recycling. A favorite is: The Wartville Wizard by Dan Madden
  • Invite a guest speaker from your Community Action group or local Recycling Facility to talk about the importance of recycling and reducing waste
  • Make a craft out of items that can’t be recycled, for example Tops or Light Catchers made from old CDs. Search for other ideas or make your own! Creativity is part of the fun.

Craft 1: CD Spinning Top

Supplies Needed:

  • Old CDs
  • Plastic Bottle Caps
  • Marble
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  • Hot Glue Gun

Directions:

  1. Decorate the top of your CD, allow kids to use markers and stickers to make it as creative as they want.
  2. Turn the decorated CD over and use a hot glue gun to glue a marble into the center hole of the CD. This step is best done by an adult when working with younger kids.
  3. Turn the CD right side up and glue a plastic cap to the top of the CD. This step also needs to be done by an adult when working with younger kids.
  4. Allow the top to dry! Then use the plastic cap to spin your top.

Craft 2: Light Catchers

Supplies Needed:

  • Old CDs
  • Ribbon
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Tacky glue
  • Decorations –Silk Flowers, Markers, Stickers

Directions:

  1. Decorate the top of your CD, allows kids to use markers, stickers, or glue on sequins. Remember that the back will be attached to ribbon, so they don’t need to decorate that side.
  2. If silk flowers are being used, use a hot glue gun to glue the flower into the center hole of the CD. This step is best done by an adult when working with younger kids. Allow the glue to dry before attaching to the ribbon.
  3. After the CDs are all decorated, use hot glue to attach the backside side of the CD to the ribbon. Leave some space at the beginning and end of the CD strand and between each CD.
  4. Hang the ribbon in a spot where it can catch light or in an area that needs brightening up!

Working with Food Allergies in the 4-H Club Meeting

Food allergies can be very serious, especially among children. With so many young children being diagnosed with food allergies, it is very important that all understand what to look for.  According to the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), one in every 13 children is being diagnosed with a food allergy and every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room.

FARE states that there are eight major food allergens which causean estimated 90% of all allergens.  These foods include: egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts(almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios), soy, fish, wheat, crustacean shellfish(crab, lobster, crayfish, and shrimp).  These are the allergens which typically cause the most serious food allergy reactions but there are more than 170 foods known to cause allergic reactions.

If your county utilizes online enrollment, please encourage 4-H parents to put any kind of health consideration into 4-H Online when completing their child’s enrollment.  Health forms for camp must also be fully completed.  This is the first, and sometimes only, way to find out this information. Volunteers need to be aware of any food allergies which put children at risk.

Think about club meetings and snacks.  Make sure all parents know of any foods that must be avoided.  This needs to be enforced at the club meetings so there is never a chance of an allergic reaction.

A great option would be to serve fruits or vegetables at the meeting.  Typically, these are not common allergens among children.  This would also promote healthier eating at club meetings.  Cloverbuds love to help make food. What are some snacks that are appropriate for them to help prepare?  Some fun ideas include a relish tray, fruit tray, hummus, ants on a log, guacamole, or animals made out of fruit/vegetables.  Have fun and be creative.  Don’t know where to begin?  Check the library or do a search on line.  And be mindful of serving healthy drinks as well such as water, 100% juice, or unsweetened tea.

For more information on food allergies, please visit www.foodallergy.org.

It’s Time to Talk

As a 4-H Educator and an uncle, I often get to interact with Cloverbuds. Just this past year I had one niece graduate Cloverbuds to start her first year in 4-H project age, and three nieces and nephews start their first year as Cloverbuds. One thing I often hear about and engage with is how much Cloverbuds love to talk. They love to share and tell stories. However, I often catch myself wondering how myself and others are modeling talking and having meaningful conversations?

In today’s world we see youth somehow shift from being extremely social and talkative to being closed off teens or young adults, struggling with social skills and not being able to have meaningful conversation with others. We also see adults who can’t even get through a conversation about religion, politics, beliefs, or even different thoughts without getting upset and ending the conversation or turning from constructive to toxic. What changes? How do we shift from being excited to talk to others and tell stories to having social anxiety or not being willing to talk to others, even when they think differently than us?

As a 4-H professional or volunteer we have to be conscious of not just what we talk to our Cloverbuds about, but how we model having positive and meaningful conversations. Here are some tips for having positive conservation with Cloverbuds:

  1. Take time to have one-on-one conversations with each Cloverbud (even if it’s a 2-minute interaction) every time you have a meeting. This shows them that it’s important to take time out of your life to chat with people and hear about their lives.
  2. Share information about yourself to model how they can talk about themselves and then ask questions that encourage them to share information. (example: I really like cows, they’re probably my favorite animal. What’s your favorite animal?)
  3. When they do share information about themselves, always give them positive reinforcement by saying things like:
    • Really?
    • Wow, that’s so cool!
    • No kidding!
    • Tell me more!
  4. Challenge Put-Downs or Hurtful Comments. At a very early age youth begin to put down themselves and others. It is important that we begin shutting down the negative comments youth make. When a Cloverbud says they don’t like someone or themselves, start pointing out that was it the other kid or themselves they don’t like but what they or the other kid did/said.
  5. Get on their level when talking with them. If you can, crouch or sit down to be at the same eye level as them and look them in the eyes. Have them focus on you when speaking.

At the end of the day, it’s our goal to model positive behavior and that also means discussion. So make sure that even when you are speaking to Cloverbud’s parents or other adults that you are trying to reflect positive conversation skills so they learn. Take time in a meeting to actually setup a time for Cloverbuds to just talk to each other and ask each other questions about their lives. This way, as they get older, they naturally have a curiosity to get to know the people around them.

Cooking with Cloverbuds: Apples, Apples, and More Apples!

Everyone loves apples!  And fall is a great time to check out all the varieties of apples available.  Cloverbuds will have their favorite but bring in different kinds of apples for a tasting party.  Before you show them the apples read the story The Little Red House with No Doors and No Window and a Star Inside. Here is a link to the story: https://www.ncagr.gov/agscool/commodities/redhouse.htm

See if they can guess the answer to the riddle before you finish the story.  After you show them the star inside the apple, let your Cloverbuds taste the other varieties of apples you brought and let them decide which kind is their favorite by making an apple graph.

Below are some other apples activities and recipes to enjoy.

Activity 1:  Apple Science

When apples are exposed to air they start to turn brown. Try experimenting with kitchen ingredients and see which items will work so apples do not turn brown.

You will need: milk, baking soda mixed with water, vinegar, lemon juice, 6 small bowls, knife for cutting the apples and of course apples.  In small bowls put each of the ingredients and leave one bowl with nothing.

Cut up your apples and place them in the bowls. Pour each ingredient over the apples and wait and see what happens. (While waiting you could read a story about How Apples Grow by Betsy Maestro or choose any book about apples.) Check on your apples and see which item worked best. Discuss with your Cloverbuds why they think one worked better than another.

Activity 2: Apple Art

Use your apple star and dip in paint to have Cloverbuds make apples creatures. You will need paint, construction paper, markers, paper towels for clean-up, and plastic bag paint shirts to protect clothes.

Activity 3: Apple Snacks

  • Apples sandwiches – Cut apple in round slices so you can see the star. Cut out the middle with the seeds. Spread with peanut butter, hazelnut spread or cream cheese. Fill with raisins, chocolate chips, coconut or whatever snack you would like.
  • Apple Pie in a Cup – Layer in a cup diced apples, graham cracker, and whipped topping. Don’t forget the caramel topping.
  • Yogurt Delight –Layer apples in a cup and top with yogurt. You can add sprinkles too.

Let the fun begin as you explore the world of apples with your Cloverbuds!

Autumn Activities for Cloverbuds

It seems like summer flew by and we are looking towards autumn. This is the time to enjoy some of those last outdoor activities before the weather turns really cold.

Start Simple.

Activities do not have to be complicated and require a lot of planning. Just doing things together is important. What might you do?

  1. Visit a pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin to paint or carve
  2. Rake up a pile of leaves to play in – Remember to think about safety and make sure that the pile is deep enough if your children are going to jump in it.
  3. Take a walk – visit a local park or your own backyard and enjoy the sights of autumn. Ask your child to describe how nature looks different at this time of year.
  4. Pick apples together. Eat them plain or make a salad or dessert from what you bring home.

Fall is also a great time to try new science activities or get a little crafty. Try these activities:

 

How Do Leaves Change Colors

from https://www.123homeschool4me.com/why-do-leaves-change-color-science_52

 

Supplies:

Glass jars

Coffee Filters

Leaves

Rubbing Alcohol

On your nature walk collect a variety of leaves. Sort the leaves by color into the glass containers. Cover with the rubbing alcohol and grind the leaves up.

Make a cone shape from the coffee filter and place the tip in the container. Allow to sit long enough to absorb the liquid. It may take a little while to absorb the liquid. As the liquid travels up the coffee filter, it separates into the colors that were inside the leaf.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT…

Plants create the oxygen that we breathe through photosynthesis. They turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. We breathe the oxygen. The plants use the glucose to grow. Photosynthesis means “putting together with light”. Chlorophyll is used for photosynthesis and gives plants their green color.

Sunlight is an important part of photosynthesis. In the winter when the days are shorter, plants are exposed to less sunlight. Because of this lack of sunlight, plants go into a resting state. They use the glucose that they stored over the summer to live through the winter. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves and we start to see the fall colors like orange and yellow which have been in the leaves all along.

Leaf People

This is a simple activity that you can get creative with.

Collect a variety of leaves of different shapes and sizes. You can also collect small twigs and other natural materials to use. Have on hand craft supplies such as google eyes.

Using glue, glue dots or double sided tape, attach the leaves to a piece of paper create people (or even a favorite animal). The leaves might be all the parts of the person – head, body, arms and legs. You can also use the leaf as the head/body and use twigs as arms and legs. Just allow your child to be creative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images from MyMommyStyle.com, handsonaswegrow.com, fun-a-day.com, smallhandsbigworld.com

Fall is a great time to explore activities with your Cloverbud age youth.

Cloverbuds….Moving to the Next Level

Finally!  It’s an exciting time for a Cloverbud when they are ready to take 4-H to the next level and become engaged in 4-H projects like their older siblings or older club members.  How can you, as a volunteer, help them to be successful during this time of transition?

First of all, does your club have some type of “ceremony” acknowledging this milestone?  This ceremony could be a graduation activity, a special induction or initiation ceremony, or something else that is appropriate for your club.  In addition to some type of acknowledgement activity, you might want to plan a meeting with the Cloverbuds and their parents to explain the different types of projects and the opportunities that are available to members who are eight and in the third grade and older.  Take time to explain that projects are primarily self-directed but there is help available.  Let them know your expectations in terms of project completion and project deadlines.  Help them to be realistic in project selection for their first year.  Encourage them to take one or two projects, rather than several, so that the member and the parent do not become overwhelmed and discouraged.  Lastly, check in with them throughout the project year to be sure that they are on target and meeting their goals.

It might be helpful to assign an older 4-H member to serve as a mentor for the younger member.  The older 4-H member should have similar project interests and be willing to assist the younger member with their project work.

Celebrate and enjoy this momentous occasion along with your Cloverbuds, as they move to the next level!

Focus your Head, Heart, and Hands on the 4th H at the Fair!

Although fairs might have a reputation for deep fried foods and rides, there are plenty of ways to make a day at the fair healthier for you and your young child.

Here are some suggestions:

HEAD

  • Plan ahead. Before you head to the fair, offer your child a healthy meal or snack.  Fresh or frozen fruit is a good choice, since it might be difficult to find at the fair.
  • Seek out healthier food options at the fair. Most fairs offer some or all of these items. Although some contain added sugar or a fair amount of sodium, they are healthier choices than corn dogs, fries, and elephant ears.
    • Corn on the cob
    • Roasted nuts
    • Dipped fruits
    • Pickles
    • Popcorn
    • Turkey leg (often big enough for the whole family!)
  • Don’t be fooled! For example, before you order a “fruit smoothie” ask if it has real fruit in it or if it comes from a mix.
  • Avoid smoking areas and ask that tobacco and e-cigarette policies be enforced so children won’t breathe secondhand smoke.

HEART

  • Getting your heart rates up by walking depends on comfortable feet. You and your child will see and do more at the fair if you both wear the right shoes.  Athletic shoes might be better than sandals, as you might need to walk through gravel, dirt, grass, straw, or even mud.
  • Help your child identify one thing he or she really loves about the fair, and spend plenty of time making the most of that experience. It might be a ride, a game, a certain barn, or a petting zoo. If it involves a sweet or fried treat, choose a reasonable serving size or consider splitting it among several people. For example, one funnel cake can serve up to 4-6 people. After the treat, enjoy some lower sugar and lower fat items at the fair.

HANDS

  • Carry a water bottle so your child can stay hydrated without loading up on sugary soda with empty calories. Save money by refilling the water bottle at the drinking fountain. For a fun beverage, order a hand-shaken lemonade with half the usual sugar.
  • Slap on a hat and spread on plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned, even when the day is a little cloudy.
  • Avoid spreading disease by not eating in the barns, washing hands (yours and your child’s) before you eat, and washing hands after touching animals. If you can’t find hand-washing stations with soap and water, use hand sanitizers.

Cooking with Cloverbud Science

Kids love to experiment, so what better way than by using kitchen science? The best part about beginning kitchen science is a lot of ingredients are already available as common items in the kitchen. Children will be able to:

  1. Experience scientific method

When looking at scientific method, there are basically five points to take a look at:

  • Observe/Question: What do you want to find out?
  • Hypothesis: Predict what will happen.
  • Experiment: Conduct you experiment.
  • Draw Conclusions: What happened? Was your prediction correct?
  • Share Results: What did you learn? Share with your fellow Cloverbuds
  1. Explore the differences between a mixture, solution and a reaction

A mixture is when two or more items are combined and no reaction takes place. A solution is a type of mixture that is formed when one substance dissolves in a liquid with no reaction.  A reaction occurs when two materials are combined and a reaction occurs or something happens.

Materials list for each Cloverbud: ¼ t salt, ¼ t pepper, ½ t sugar, ¼ c water, 1 t baking soda, ¼ c vinegar, three small cups, small stick for stirring, small snack baggies and one sandwich size zip lock bag. Prepare one baggie for each dry ingredient.

Activity 1

  1. Have the Cloverbuds predict what will happen if they put salt and pepper together in a small cup.
  2. Have the children mix salt and pepper together in the small cup.

Did anything happen? Can you still see the salt and pepper? Did your prediction come true? What is a mixture? What other ingredients could you use to make a mixture?

Snack mixes make great mixtures because you can still see what ingredients you used.  You can use any snack ingredients such as pretzels, cereal, veggie chips, peanuts, or corn chips. A fun activity is to have several different snack items available and let the Cloverbuds make up their own recipe and name for a snack mix.

Activity 2

  1. Have the Cloverbuds predict what will happen if they put sugar and water together.
  2. Have them stir the sugar and water together in a small cup.

Did anything happen? Can you still see the water and sugar? Did your prediction come true? What is a solution? What other ingredients could you use to make a solution?

Smoothies work for making a solution. Here is a simple fruit smoothie recipe: 8 strawberries 1 banana and ¼ cup milk. Put in a blender to combine.

Activity 3

  1. Have Cloverbuds predict what will happen if they mix vinegar and baking soda.
  2. Put baking soda into sandwich size zip lock bag. Pour vinegar into small cups. Place cup into plastic baggie and seal. Dump the vinegar out of the cup and watch what happens.

Did anything happen? Did your prediction come true? What is a reaction? What other ingredients could you use to make a reaction?

Because of yeast, bread making is another way to show a reaction.  Mix together 1 ½ c warm water, 1 T honey, 1 ½ t salt, 1 T yeast. Let sit 5-10 minutes until there is bubbling or a foam on the top. Next knead in 3 ½ – 4 cups flour until it is no longer sticky. Make small balls (for number of Cloverbuds) and cover for 20 minutes. Preheat oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees. Bake 15-20 minutes.

 

These are just some fun activities you can do to encourage learning by doing. Not only will your Cloverbuds have fun, but they will also be learning some science knowledge.

Sound Science: Craft Stick Kazoos

We often think of science and the arts as being on opposite ends of the subject matter spectrum. In reality, the two are much more connected than many of us realize. Music is a prime example of this concept. It is possible to enjoy the beautiful music that is produced by an instrument, while at the same time having an appreciation for the mechanics that make the music possible.

In this activity, Cloverbuds will construct a kazoo, learn to produce sound, and investigate how a musical instrument works.

Materials needed:

  • Jumbo Craft Sticks
  • Large Rubber Bands
  • Small Rubber Bands
  • Straws
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Start with a large craft stick and a large rubber band. Wrap the rubber band from end to end on the craft stick.
  2. Cut two pieces from the straw approximately 1 inch long. Place one piece of straw under the rubber band about 1 inch from the end of the craft stick. Place the other piece of straw on the opposite end of the craft stick on top of the rubber band. See Photo 1.
  3. Place another craft stick on top of the first, sandwiching the straws in between. Fasten each end of the craft sticks together with the small rubber bands. See Photo 2.
  4. Put the edge of the kazoo up to your lips and blow. Experiment with different positions and blowing at different strengths to see what happens.

Photo 1

Photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Cloverbuds have finished making their kazoos, ask questions. Why do they think the kazoo makes a sound? What would happen if the straws were closer together or farther apart? What if the straws were bigger? If time permits, let them experiment to see if their guesses are correct.

Kazoos work on the same principle as most woodwind instruments. The musician blows air into the instrument, which causes vibration of a membrane or reed (or in this case, a rubber band). The vibration inside the instrument then produces sound. Kazoos do not have buttons or valves like other instruments, so the player must use their voice to change the pitch of the sound produced.

Once your Cloverbuds have learned to play their kazoos, see if they can play a song. You can have them perform for their parents or other club members. Science and art- a beautiful combination!

Sources: