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.

Hopping Into Spring With Some Fun Activities!

As we begin to feel hints of warmer weather, we are all starting to see the signs of spring!  Here are some activities you can do at home, at club meetings, or even virtually.

Spring Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of things that your child can find outside or items that remind you of spring.  Send that list to your youth and challenge them to go on a nature walk around their neighborhood and find these items.  They can bring their favorite or most unique item to a club meeting in person or virtually to talk about what they found and what they like about it.

Potato Stamp Pictures.

Take a potato and cut it in half (an adult can help with this).  Then cut an in indented fun spring shape in each half i.e., a flower, a tree, leaf, star or any fun shape.  Then dip the potato into paint and make a fun picture onto  paper.  Youth can do this virtually as an activity or in person, everyone has their own potato and can throw it away when they are done.

Learning Egg Hunt

Get some plastic eggs and in each plastic egg put a question about 4-H, the project area your Cloverbud is interested in, or even a fun spring question. Examples: what is the 4-H motto, what season comes after winter etc.  Along with the question, put in a prewrapped piece of candy or a goody (be aware of any food allergies that your Cloverbuds may have). Now send your Cloverbud on a hunt for the eggs.  Have everyone meet back in the group and read their question. They cannot have their goody until they answer their question correctly.  In 4-H we like to help others, so they can get help from the group. The objective of this activity is to assist them to learn in a fun way.  If you are meeting virtually, have the guardian/parent prepare the plastic eggs with the question you provide.  Give the youth 5 minutes to collect the eggs. Then have youth take turns reading their questions to the group and answering them, again with help from the group if needed.

Spring Story Time

Ask each child to share their favorite spring books. For those that would like to read, have them read their story to the group.  A fun spring book is the Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. An extra activity is to challenge your youth to find a caterpillar and watch its evolution to a butterfly.  Youth can talk about what they observed at the next meeting.  For a snack, make a hungry caterpillar with apple slices for the body, a cherry tomato or strawberry for the face, raisins for the eyes and fruit roll ups or the legs and antennas.

Another book about spring is The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.  Encourage youth to get some seeds to plant in a cup or do this at a club meeting, (even just grass seeds) and watch them grow.  Other books about spring include: Goodbye Winter. Hello Spring by Kenard Pak, Spring is Here: A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, and The Hike by Alison Farrell.

Paper Plate Animals

Use paper plates and construction paper to make a rooster, sheep, or rabbit. You can use your imagination to make other animals, too. For the rooster, fold your plate in half.  Cut out a comb and wattle from red construction paper (or color white paper with a red crayon) and a beak from yellow paper (or color white paper yellow).  Glue on a googly eye or just use a black marker or crayon to make an eye.  Have youth google why roosters have wattles? 

To make a sheep: Fleece is made out of cotton balls you glue onto the plate. Cut out a face and ears with black construction paper or color white paper. Finally cut out eyes to glue on the face. Have youth google why do sheep have fleece?

You can even make a rabbit with cotton for the fur.  Make eyes, nose and whiskers with construction paper or color white paper.  Have the youth google why do rabbits have whiskers?

Crack Some Fun Spring Jokes                                                                                                                                                                                        

Q: Can February March?

A: No, but April May!

Q: What season is it when you are on trampoline?

A: Spring time!

Q:What flowers grow on faces?

A: Tulips

Q: How excited was the gardener about his plants?

A: So excited he wet his plants!

Q: Name bow that can’t be tied

A: Rainbow

Take some time and do something fun outside.  Enjoy the warmer weather!

Reading Adventures – Connecting Cloverbuds to Literacy

Recently I spent time with my grandson who is in kindergarten.  When I asked him what his favorite subject is, he responded with reading!  Oh how happy this grandma was to hear those words! Being an avid reader myself, I understand the importance of reading and the love of curling up with a good book.

Why is reading important to our youngest 4-H members?  Being able to read and comprehend is the cornerstone of any child’s education.  Reading introduces educational foundation skills, increases vocabulary, and instills a love of books and reading in children at a young age.  Children who read are better able to make the connection between written and spoken words, not to mention the fact that reading is fun!

Reading just one book per day to a child from birth to kindergarten will result in them hearing almost 300,000 words by the time they start school.  Children will also bond with that caring adult who takes the time to read out loud.

The cool thing about books is that they can be used to begin conversations with children about sometimes difficult or challenging subjects.  Reading provides an opportunity for children to safely explore strong emotions.

Cloverbud volunteers can reinforce the love of reading by incorporating a Reading Adventure (or two!) into their annual Cloverbud activities.  Reading Adventures take popular children’s books and pair them with ideas for healthy snacks, games, and activities.  Reading Adventures are designed to be stand-alone lessons that can enhance your already dynamic Cloverbud program; or, they can be used with different chapters found in the Big Book of Cloverbud Activities.  Each Reading Adventure identifies which chapter of the Big Book can be used with that particular adventure.

Most books featured in the adventures are popular books which you may already have on your bookshelf.  If not, these titles should be readily available from your public library or from an online library source.

Check out the Reading Adventures included in this blog.  Check back often as new titles are added as they become available.  Have an idea for a book that would make a great Reading Adventure?  Send your book recommendation to williams.418@osu.edu.

Reading a book can take us places when we need to stay where we are.  And, a child who reads will be an adult who thinks.

A Long Winter’s Nap

Yaawwnnn! These cold winter days make me feel lazy and sleepy. I just want to hibernate.

Hibernate? What is hibernate?

Hibernation is how animals save energy to survive harsh weather conditions or lack of food. When hibernating, an animal’s heartbeat and breathing slows down and its body temperature drops.

We usually think of bears when we think of hibernation. They eat up during the summer, putting on the extra pounds that they will need for their winter nap. They prepare a special place to hibernate — a bed lined with leaves and twigs. When winter sets in, the bears curl up in their dens and go without eating, drinking, or exercising for as long as 100 days!

While we probably are not going to hibernate for 100 days, we can have some hibernation fun. We can “bear-ly” wait for you to try!

First, we should prepare a snack to store some energy for our body. Let’s make some energy balls.

Next step, we need to make our den. Grab some blankets and cover a table that you can fit under. Bears like cozy little spots that are not too big. Make sure the inside is dark for excellent sleeping. Put your favorite pillow and blanket in your den. You might want to bring along a teddy bear to share the fun!

We probably should do a little exercise before we go into our den. Let’s do 10 toe touches, reach up to the sky as high as you can 5 times, and of course, we must do a quick bear walk!

Although most of the time you may be sleeping, you might want to bring along something fun if you are not ready to sleep. You can even put a flashlight in your den to help you see better. Here is a coloring page for you or how about a book to read?  Can you find a book about bears?

Are you feeling sleepy yet? If not, grab a piece of paper and write the word “HIBERNATION”. Can you find the letters inside that word to make these words – bear, ate, ran, ton, not, hear, near? Can you find any other words from those letters?

Yaawwnnn! Time for that winter nap. See you this spring!

*This activity is written as a stay-at home Cloverbud activity, but creative club volunteers may want to gather supplies to have their members design a large multi bear den and complete the activities, including making the snacks.

Photo credit for Favorite Books about Bears and Hibernation graphic: pre-kpages.com

 

4-H Can Take You Places!

One of the goals of the Cloverbud program is to allow our youngest members the opportunity to see what the future holds. What projects are available in the future, how can you get involved in your county’s camp, fair and other 4-H activities?

We were looking for a creative new idea to involve Cloverbuds in their club and community; a fun way to help Cloverbuds be active and relate to the four H’s. In addition, we wanted to offer a fair activity. We have tried a variety of activities from show and tell to scavenger hunts at the fair. We encourage Cloverbuds to look at club booths to see what projects are available in the future.

We developed a 4-H passport for the Cloverbuds with the theme “4-H Can Take You Places”. The passport allowed Cloverbuds to record their involvement in various home, club and community events. The idea was that the members would complete the activity with the assistance of their advisors and parents. The adults would verify that the C loverbud completed the activity.

The passports were printed on cardstock and distributed to clubs based on their enrollment. Cloverbuds could keep their passports as a reminder of the adventures they had in 2020. Advisors simply submitted the names of the members having completed the minimum passport activities. Those members whose names were submitted would receive a prize. The Cloverbuds could win an additional prize by completing activities at the county fair.

Then along came the pandemic. As with most things, we had to revise the passport with available activities. Gone were our day camp, the community festivals, trips to the library and even visits with grandparents. We had to accommodate activities to the restrictions that would allow members to complete them while quarantined at home.

Thankfully, we did have a junior fair program this year, so the Cloverbuds were able to visit the fair to attend some of the 4-H related events. We did not have still project displays, so sadly they did not get the opportunity to explore what projects might interest them.  About 20 Cloverbuds did submit their passports to receive their prize. The items were purchased through our county endowment funds from the 4-H supply catalog. The passport can be adapted into a club activity, being more specific to your club and community.

The original and revised passports are shown below. The format is so that they can be printed as a folded piece to look more like a passport!

If you would like to have a copy of the passport sent to you via email, please send your request to Rhonda Williams at williams.418@osu.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home for the Virtual Holidays

What an interesting year! As we conclude 2020, I would like to share some fun virtual activities that can be conducted at your next Cloverbud meeting.  Remember that not all families celebrate holidays.  Feel free to substitute winter or other words as needed.

Secret Code Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt

Choose a letter and give children 30 seconds to find an item that begins with that letter. When each child returns, have him/her hold up the item they found.  Ask them to write down the letter on a piece of paper.  After the last item has been shared, have the group read the word together.  Choose words like holiday, tree, etc.

Virtual Stand Up, Sit Down Rudolph

Play a song in the background, such as “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”.  Choose a word on which the group will stand up when they hear it.  Have them sit down immediately after hearing the word.  Continue until the song is finished.

Virtual Holiday Bingo

Prepare BINGO card template prior to the meeting and email to members, or make cards virtually together.  To make cards, have members take an 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper and fold it in half – “hamburger style”.  Fold it in half again.  Open the paper.  Now fold the paper in half – “hotdog style”.  Fold it in half again.  Open the paper.  You should have 16 rectangles.  Have children cut off the first row.  Now you have 12.  Using a pencil and a ruler (if available), have them trace along the lines.  Choose twelve holiday related words ahead of time or as a group.  Have children randomly draw a picture of each word, in each box – no “Free Space”.  Take time to color the pictures.  Tear the scrap paper (first row) into twelve pieces to cover the boxes.  Explain how to play “BINGO”.  The first person to cover a complete row or column wins.  Call out each word until someone gets “BINGO”.  For fun, instead of yelling “BINGO”, yell “HOLIDAY”.

Virtual Holiday Story Time

Ask each child to share their favorite holiday books.  For those that would like to read, have them read their story to the group.

Holiday Traditions

Have children talk about some of things that their families do to celebrate different holidays.  Discuss different cultures and customs that are celebrated in other countries.  For ideas, check out “Celebrations Around the World” in the Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities, or visit “Safely Celebrate the Holiday Season” developed by the Stark County Health Department.

#Together As Cloverbuds Calendar

Have children write down five activities that they can do at home during the month of December (ex. movie night with my family; have a paper or real snowball fight with my siblings; make cards to mail to friends).  Ask children to share their lists.  Grab a calendar.  As a group, discuss what activities they would like to do on what date.  Have them write down as many as they would like to do – dates included.  Now they have designed their own December calendar.  Remind them that each day they do the activities, one of their Cloverbud friends is thinking about them and doing the activity, too.  Take pictures to share the next time the group gets together.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

 

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!

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!

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!