Time and Finger Painting

As we go throughout our lives, everyone has the same amount of time in the day. Each of us is given 24 hours  to juggle and figure out how to best utilize this precious resource.  Some of us like to sleep, others get up and exercise, and some rock kids to sleep from a bad dream or a teething issue in the middle of the night.  At the end of the day, 24 hours is the same amount of time for all of us and if we utilize our time to our best ability, each day is a success!

As a mother of four children, I sometimes let them play on devices and screen time so that I can have some quiet, uninterrupted ME time.  Maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m a slacker of a mom, or maybe I’m just a normal mom that needs to decompress from the daily activities from work or life.  It’s not always the BEST use of their time but it allows adults to have some time to process daily events.

The COVID pandemic reinforced the idea that time spent with youth is precious and important.  Taking the extra time to engage with youth is vital for their development.  It is also satisfying to take the time to have fun and engage with children and be an active participant in what they are doing.

Here is a simple Cloverbud activity that is important, fun and exciting, and has no “time stamp” on it.  Youth can take minutes or hours to paint a picture with pudding!

STEM ACTIVITY: 

Pudding Finger Paint is a fun and safe way for children to make a colorful (and tasty) painting.  I love hands-on activities for kids that let children explore and use their creativity. Pudding Finger Paint is a safe way for children to make a one-of-a-kind art project.

SUPPLIES:

  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Food Coloring
  • Muffin Pan or Small Bowls
  • Spoon
  • Plastic Tablecloth (optional), cookie sheet, or waxed paper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare the Vanilla pudding according to the directions on the package.  After the pudding has cooled, divide it evenly into a 6-cup muffin pan or six small bowls. (You can use ready-to-eat vanilla pudding as well).
  2. Add 4-6 drops of food coloring to each cup or bowl.  Stir until the food coloring has blended with the pudding and it has changed color.
  3. Use the pudding to finger paint on a hard surface such as the kitchen table.  Use a plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table or floor to contain the mess and make clean up easy or use a cookie pan or a sheet of waxed paper as the base for the painting.
  4. You could also use a large piece of paper (or cardstock) for the base of the project so the child can take it home or give to another family member or friend.

Enjoy!

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!

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!

Celebrate the Snow!

It’s the perfect time of year to celebrate the snow.  A fun, simple craft that your Cloverbuds can complete is making a snow globe.

Let’s get started:

Collect the following simple supplies:

  • A small jar for each child. This can be a baby food jar, a pickle jar or a mason jar.
  • Glitter in silver, white, blue or a combination of all. You can add the reflective snowflake confetti if you like.
  • Water resistant glue and distilled water. Using distilled water ensures that all the minerals and bacteria are removed making sure that you don’t end up with water that can get cloudy.
  • Something to put in your globe. Choose something simple like a small figurine or a toy.  I like collecting items from outside.  Small pine cones, acorns, pretty rocks are all good too (and free!).

What to Do:

  1. Fill the bottom of the jar with glitter.  Be generous, but not overwhelming.  About ¼ of the way full is a good guideline.
  2. Glue the figurine to the bottom of the lid making sure you keep them centered.
  3. Fill the jar with the water leaving approximately ¾ of an inch of air space at the top.
  4. Run the glue around the perimeter of the inside of the lid to form a waterproof seal when you screw the lid in place. Allow to dry for a bit so your glitter doesn’t stick to the glue.

Turn it upside down and enjoy!

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!

No-Sew Sock Bunny

Spring has arrived and so have the sights and sounds of baby chicks and baby bunnies.  Whether you are looking outside, walking through the holiday/seasonal section at the store, or viewing the live animals for sale at your local farm store, bunnies are easy to find.

A No-Sew Sock Bunny is an easy craft for Cloverbuds.  It also provides the opportunity to share additional information about the benefits and responsibility of owning and caring for your own animal.

Supplies Needed:

  • Cup
  • Funnel
  • Permanent Marker (fine point tip)
  • Ribbon
  • Rice
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Sock

Steps:

  1. Use the cup and funnel to pour rice into the sock up to the bottom of the heel. Use a rubber band to seal off the sock and keep the rice inside.
  2. Use a rubber band to section off the head from the body of the bunny.
  3. Depending on the length of the sock, part of the unused sock may need trimmed to shorten the ears of the rabbit. Use the scissors to cut the sock into two ears above the head and trim each ear to have a curved tip to the ear.
  4. Cut a piece of ribbon and tie it around the neck of the bunny to hide the rubber band.
  5. Use the permanent marker to mark one small dot for each eye and mark an X for the mouth of the bunny.
  6. Make a tail using a small rubber band to section off a small part of the back of the bunny’s body to form a round tail. You can also glue part of a white cotton ball to the bunny as an alternative tail option.

*Adjustments may be necessary based on the size of sock utilized for the craft.