Surviving versus Thriving: How are our 4-H Families Feeling?

We all have felt like we are just surviving in life, it is a natural feeling. It isn’t always the picture perfect image from a storybook we have for our family, but for some this is not just a temporary stop on the journey of life. For some families, this is a way of life day in and day out that causes stress, anxiety and other health concerns on both caregivers and children. Do we as 4-H volunteers know i our families are surviving or thriving when they come to meetings?  According to www.TalkSooner.org, there are several characteristics of a Thriving Family, but we will focus on two of those: quality family time and positive supportive adults for caregivers and children.

4-H club meetings can provide both of those supportive characteristics for our families. What better time to get a family to be focused on each other and experiencing quality family time then engaging Cloverbuds and caregivers in an activity that has them working together at a club meeting.  An activity that allows for creativity and flexibility is a win-win for engaging caregivers and children in collaboration. Designing your family shield is a good activity that includes writing and drawing components.  A family shield can be printed or downloaded from the following link. https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/Education/learning-resources/lessons-activities/greco-roman-myths/coat-of-arms.pdf. The shield should have four sections and a banner across the bottom where you can list your family name. Caregivers and children should complete one section on the shield for each of the following prompts:

  • People we Love (Make a list)
  • Family Fun (Draw a picture)
  • People that we can Count on (Make a list)
  • How our Family Communicates (Pictures or a list)

4-H volunteers should be a positive adult role model that supports youth in their club and encourages children to explore their interests and learn new skills. As 4-H volunteers you can also be that supportive adult that a Cloverbud caregiver might need in their life to move their family from surviving to thriving. Engage caregivers in the Cloverbud experiences during your club meetings on a quarterly schedule or provide time for them to talk with another 4-H volunteer while at the club meeting. I think you can agree that we all can use another supportive adult in our lives and someone else “in your corner” when life throws you a curve ball.

Source: TalkSooner.org. (n.d.). About the thriving families campaign and the Northwest Quadrant. Retrieved on November 15, 2022, from https://talksooner.org/thrivingfamilies/

Take Time to be Mindful

We live in the age of technology and distractions are everywhere – video games, cell phones, television, hand-held devices, and more. With the constant bombardment of technology, our children can easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed.

Teaching our children to be mindful and present in the moment can help them to gain control over their emotions and give them the tools they need to control impulses.  Practicing mindfulness can lead to greater self-awareness, aid in the development of coping skills, improved emotional intelligence, and greater empathy for others.  Taking the time to learn mindfulness skills at an early age will benefit our Cloverbuds throughout their lifespan.

Cloverbuds need to know that it is okay to take time for yourself.  It is okay to take time out and just chill.   Here are some activities that you can use to help your Cloverbuds calm themselves and just be present in the moment.

Deep Breathing – Cloverbuds can either sit on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair.  If they are comfortable, they may close their eyes or just stare at the floor or the table without really focusing on anything in particular.  You might want to play soft music or nature sounds in the background.  Tell them to take a deep breath through their nose and then softly breathe out through their nose.  Have them focus on the breath going in and out.  You might want to have them breath in to the count of three and breath out to the count of three, as you quietly count to three in the background.  Deep breathing helps the child to become more aware of their thoughts and should help to calm them.  Do this for several minutes to help the children relax.

Shake it Out – Sometimes children may become frustrated or anxious and don’t know how to deal with their feelings.  It can be helpful to just stop where they are, breathe deep, and quietly shake their arms or legs for a few minutes to shake out the anxiety or frustration.  This helps them to focus on calming themselves so they can move forward.

Attitude of Gratitude – Have your Cloverbuds take a few deep breaths to center themselves.  Then go around the group and have each child name something for which they are thankful.  Children will learn to appreciate what they have and be thankful for the small things.

Explore Nature – Take your Cloverbuds on a nature walk.  Ask them to walk quietly and think about what they hear, see, and smell.  Find a quiet place to sit and talk about what they experienced.  What did they notice that was new or different?  Help them to develop a deeper appreciation for nature and the world around us.

Make a Stress (Sensory) Bottle – You will need a water bottle for each child, glitter, baby oil or vegetable oil, food coloring, small objects (buttons, small toys, beads, sequins, rocks, etc.) to drop in the bottle, funnel (to make it easier to add water and oil to the bottle), hot glue gun (to seal the lid).  Give each child a bottle filled about two-thirds with water.  Add food coloring (optional) and gently shake to mix.  Fill the remainder of the bottle with oil.  Ask your Cloverbuds to choose a few of the items to drop into the water.  You might want to help them if they decide to add glitter.  Once the child has added their objects, use the hot glue gun (adults should do this step) to seal the bottle.  When a child is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, they can sit quietly and gently move the bottom upside down and right-side up to watch the items gently floating in the water.  This helps them to focus and calm themselves.

These are just a few of the techniques that you can use to teach mindfulness to your Cloverbuds.  Other options might include simple yoga poses, coloring, drawing, reading a story together, or just talking about what is going on in their lives.

For Cloverbuds (and the rest of us), mindfulness is about learning it’s okay to take a few minutes for yourself and just sit quietly.  Mindfulness is about centering yourself and finding relief from the chaos.  Mindfulness is about being present and appreciating the world around us.  Mindfulness is about remembering to just breathe.

 

Starting Conversations with Cloverbuds

School has started and children are adjusting to back-to-school routines.  The beginning of a new school year brings additional responsibilities, activities, anxiety, and stress.  As a trusting adult in a Cloverbud’s life, we can help our Cloverbud youth learn to manage change and talk about how they are feeling.

It can be hard to find out what is causing stress and anxiety in children. One way to begin the conversation is by using a children’s book.  When children see themselves in a book, they connect at a deeper level with the story.  Check out the Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Reading Adventures for many books with activities, snacks, games, and crafts ready to go. One book that could be used to start a conversation is The Rainbow Fish, Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Reading Adventure.

Another great technique is to simply chat with the child. Pay attention to the conversation. Sometimes it is difficult for Cloverbuds to identify the word they are feeling but they know something is different.

As you finish your 4-H year and prepare for the next, take time to reflect with your Cloverbuds.

  • What is your favorite memory from this year in 4-H?
  • What do you hope to get better at this next year?
  • What is the best thing about 4-H?
  • What do you like most about yourself?
  • What are you most excited about learning in 4-H next year?

Encourage them to find ways to seek additional opportunities to lower their stress.  Some suggestions are playing with friends, being outside, reading a book, or counting to ten and taking deep breaths.

Links for children’s books about managing stress:

Sources:
Dayton Children’s https://www.childrensdayton.org/the-hub/news-and-blog
Kids Health https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/anxiety-tips.html?ref=search
Dayton Children’s on Our Sleeves https://www.childrensdayton.org/onoursleeves

Cloverbuds Back to School: Create a Healthy Living Routine

August means it is time to get ready to go back to school and time for a new routine at home. Cloverbud members can help parents, siblings, and themselves determine what that routine looks like. An easy thing to do is to decide what clothes to wear the next day.  Set them out the night before so getting dressed is not such a chore when the school bus is approaching.

In addition to creating a morning routine, you can help your Cloverbud prepare for the school day.  Parts of the school day may be stressful for your Cloverbud.  Talk to them ahead of time to identify what those stressors are and how to address them. Are they worried about lunch time? Have them accompany you to the grocery store to pick out healthy snacks they can pack in their lunch. Cloverbuds can pack lunch the night before, so they know what to expect the next day. Is there an item they are worried about getting opened? Perform a trial run at least one time at home or talk through who may be available during lunchtime to help them open that tricky juice box.

CLICK HERE for ideas to become a MyPlate Champion. Visit https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids for more information.

A new school year is also a great time for youth to identify healthy goals. They could work on becoming a MyPlate Health Champion by eating more fruits and vegetables or playing outside at recess and after school instead of playing video games. The United States Department of Agriculture has a website for children devoted to MyPlate that includes easy activities to familiarize them with eating healthy or making better health choices. A fun activity that might help at the grocery store is MyPlate Grocery  Store Bingo.

Print a few of these cards or challenge your child to make their own and take them with you to the grocery store. Cloverbud members can look for these items at the store while walking the aisle. If you have older children, they can help by selecting an ingredient or two to try out in a new recipe.

Back to school time does not have to be stressful for everyone. Use this year to focus on creating a new routine or trying something new as a family to alleviate some of the stress. Begin with easy steps such as buying more fruits or vegetables on your next grocery trip, having a sit-down family dinner, or talking through “what to expect” those first few days of school. Even one small change can make a difference, and it may ripple into big changes down the road.

Resources:

 

Making Snack Time Fun and Healthy

Have you ever made Ants on a Log or Teddy Bear Toast?  Snack time is a favorite for most Cloverbuds, so why not make it fun and healthy at the same time!  Young children may be a picky when it comes to food.  Making snacks together at a meeting can make the snacks more appealing and aid in the discussion of MyPlate and the importance of eating healthy.

Ants on a Log is a simple recipe with three ingredients: celery, peanut butter, and raisins.  Clean the celery and cut it into approximately three-inch pieces.  Fill the grooved center of each celery slice with peanut butter to fill your “log”.  Now, add your raisins or “ants” and your Ants on a Log is ready to eat.  Be sure to provide each youth with their own supplies including a plastic knife they can use to spread their own peanut butter.  Have a picky eater in your group who does not like one of the ingredients or a member with a food allergy?  Check out some alternative ingredients at https://www.healthylittlefoodies.com/ants-log/.

Teddy Bear Toast is a simple recipe with four ingredients: Bread, peanut butter or butter, bananas, and blueberries.  Toast a slice of bread.  Spread peanut butter or butter on the toast.  Peel a banana and cut three ½ inch round slices of bananas – place one in the center of the toast as the nose and use the other two as the ears, one in each of the upper corners of the toast.  Wash three blueberries and place one in the center of the nose and use the other two as eyes.  Place them just above the nose in the peanut butter.

Continue your lesson by teaching about MyPlate and the 5 food groups that will help keep your members healthy.  Check out free activities at https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids.  For example, you can have the members color their own MyPlate based on the five food groups and then ask them where the ingredients from their snack come from on the plate.  Help your members make the connection from their healthy snack to healthy choices to fill their plate.

Educating Cloverbuds about the importance of MyPlate and eating a variety of healthy foods will give them a firm foundation for healthy nutrition throughout their lifespan.

 

 

 

Cloverbuds and Social Emotional Learning: Now and for the Future

Youth’s social and emotional learning (SEL) skills are receiving increased attention, especially because of concerns about a loss of socialization opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic and overarching concerns about youth mental health. Social skills cannot be learned by reading about them in a book – they must be learned by doing, in situations where you interact with others, which makes Cloverbud meetings and activities an ideal learning environment.

There is no doubt that these skills are important for Cloverbud-age youth. How youth thrive may depend on whether they possess a variety of SEL skills. Being able to concentrate on SEL skills assumes a foundation having basic and safety needs met.

Social emotional learning, as conceptualized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, consists of five overarching competencies (see the CASEL Wheel). The Ohio Department of Education also uses the CASEL SEL competencies. These five SEL competencies represent very broad areas.

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making

In addition to being important for Cloverbuds now, research indicates that SEL competencies have become increasingly important during the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence because they have been consistently linked to two primary developmental tasks of adolescence—academic achievement and social competence. In the most recent study, researchers studied five more specific indicators of social emotional development. The descriptions of these five skills are below.

  • Prosocial Behaviors: being able to take another person’s perspective, offer support, and help when others are in distress.
  • Cooperation: the ability to work well with peers, teachers, and other adults for a common benefit or goal.
  • Self-Control: being able to control and regulate attention and impulsive behavior in order to pursue and achieve long-term goals.
  • Emotion Regulation: identifying and managing emotions.
  • Work Habits: the ability to work hard and independently, to turn in work on time, to follow group rules, and to put forward one’s best effort to achieve goals.

This study found that there were distinct profiles of children’s SEL skills during middle childhood (measured in Grade 4). The researchers found that about half of the children displayed consistently high scores across all five SEL skills, while others were strong on some, but weaker on others, and still others were low on all skills. The other major finding was that these patterns were linked to distinctive peer and academic outcomes in early adolescence (measured in Grade 6), with the those displaying all five skills faring better. In contrast, the youth who exhibited prosocial and self-control skills were at risk of poor academic competence; the high cooperation/work habit youth were at risk of poor social functioning. Those with overall low SEL skills demonstrated the highest risk in poor academic and social functioning in early adolescence.

SEL and Cloverbud Volunteers

What does this mean for Cloverbud volunteers? A key takeaway from this research is that it is important to help youth achieve a variety of social emotional skills, not just any one skill. Children in the Cloverbud age group are learning social and emotional skills, but they are a work in progress – they are still mastering them. Small group activities help them learn how to get along with others and be social. As you work with Cloverbuds, how you set up activities and the interactions that occur between you and the members and between the members with each other will provide many opportunities to reinforce these skills. Encourage them to work with and talk to each other. These practices will create a positive social climate.

It’s easy to see how these SEL skills will help Cloverbuds get along in the world now and in the future. However, because they are more self-centered, it will be a while before Cloverbuds are totally able to see something from someone else’s perspective. Developing self-control allows them to share with others and to stay focused. Rules help establish group norms while teaching work habits, self-control, and emotion regulation. These rules should be focused on safety and well-being. If corrections are needed, the best practice is to start by getting the child’s attention by using their name, restating your expectations, and giving a specific instruction on how they can correct their behavior. When giving directions, start off by saying, “Soon, but not yet,…” and keep the number of steps simple.

In addition, you can teach these skills directly. For example, The Big Book of Cloverbud Activities has activities titled “My Feelings”; these activities help Cloverbuds learn to recognize and label emotions. Activities must take into account children’s developmental stage. For example, there is a gradual shift from the ability to recognize and name different emotional states (what does an angry face look like, and how is anger different from or similar to sadness?) to understanding that different people can have different emotional reactions to the same situation because of their own personal experiences and preferences (I feel angry when X happens, but my best friend feels sad).

These skills can also be embedded in many other activities. For example, many games involve waiting to take a turn. A game of “Freeze Frame” (play some music and when you pause, they are to freeze in whatever pose they are in when the music stops) can work on managing impulsivity. Another great way is to use books to introduce SEL concepts. Fortunately, there are many such books available (for example, see the Denver Public Library and the Deschutes Public Library for lists).

Developing SEL skills is not a one-shot deal; it’s a process that unfolds over time. As a Cloverbud volunteer, you get to be part of the process!

References

Collaborative for Academic, Emotional, and Social Learning. (n.d.). What is the CASEL framework? https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/what-is-the-casel-framework/

Denver Public Library. (n.d.). Books for social, emotional, and academic learning. https://kids.denverlibrary.org/blog/k-3/books-social-emotional-and-academic-learning

Deschutes Public Library. (n.d.). DPL Kids: Social emotional learning (SEL) picture books. https://dpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/362500057/1258121077

Ferrari, T. (2021, January). Using books to discuss mental, emotional, and social health. Cloverbud Connections. https://u.osu.edu/cloverbudconnections/2021/01/18/using-books-to-discuss-mental-emotional-and-social-health/

Jones, S. M., & Doolittle, E. J. (2017). Social and emotional learning: Introducing the issue. The Future of Children, 27(1), 3‒12. https://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/FOC-Spring-Vol27-No1-Compiled-Future-of-Children-spring-2017.pdf

Ma, T.-L., Zarrett, N., Puente, K., Liu, Y., Vandell, D. L., Simpkins, S. D., & Yu, M. V. B. (2022). Longitudinal links between profiles of social emotional behaviors in childhood and functioning in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 42(6), 765–792. https://doi.org/10.1177/02724316221078829

Matheis, L. (2021, December 2). Rebuilding children’s social skills during COVID. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/special-matters/202112/rebuilding-children-s-social-skills-during-covid

Ohio Department of Education. (2019). Social and emotional learning standards. https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Social-and-Emotional-Learning/Social-and-Emotional-Learning-Standards

U.S. Surgeon General. (2021). Protecting youth mental health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory. https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/youth-mental-health/index.html

Caring for Others

Cloverbud aged children often focus on themselves as they are forming their self-concept. As young Cloverbud children (5 – 6 years old) become 7- to 8-year-olds, they start to increase their awareness and concern for others; in particular, they can have empathy toward others. Empathy results from an increase in their emotional understanding skills as thinking abilities develop and through social experiences.  In the 4-H Cloverbud program we can help members learn to care for others and grow their empathy skills.

Certainly, it’s a good thing to care for others and be kind, but why is empathy and caring for others important for Cloverbuds? By learning to care of others, children benefit in many ways:

  • Contributes to their overall healthy development
  • Builds positive relationships with other kids and adults
  • Feel a sense of accomplishment
  • Increase their self-esteem and confidence
  • Creates a sense of belonging

As Cloverbud volunteers and advisors, how can we promote a caring attitude with our Cloverbud kids? Here are some strategies to use:

  • Model caring behavior for them to see (share, offer compliments, hold a door open)
  • Talk about your feelings to encourage them to do also (“I am tired from a busy day, but happy to be with you,” “I feel sad because a family member is sick.” – fosters empathy)
  • Thank the children when they show care towards you and others (positive reinforcement)
  • Make kindness and caring a foundation for your Cloverbud club
  • Listen to children and where they are at without passing judgement

We can all make our community a better place to live. It starts with our children and the Cloverbud program is great place for kids to learn and practice caring for others and kindness.

Cloverbuds and Mental Health

When it comes to taking care of our children, it is easy to identify their basic physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter.  What children need to satisfy their mental and emotional needs may be less obvious.  Why is mental health important?  Good mental health enables our children to develop their emotional and social skills and to develop other critical life skills.

As a Cloverbud volunteer you play an important role in the emotional and social development of your Cloverbud members.  Select activities that are age-appropriate for your Cloverbuds.  For example, if your Cloverbuds are all five years old, select activities that use pictures and have minimal writing.  Most five-year old children are just learning to read and write and may become frustrated with activities that are focused on these skills.  Give plenty of positive reinforcement and encourage them to problem solve together.  Keep instructions short and simple, giving no more than a step or two at a time.  Show them what to do as well as tell them.  Know the ages of your Cloverbuds and choose activities accordingly.

How can Cloverbud volunteers help Cloverbuds to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence (both of which play an important role in a child’s mental health)?  Utilize these simple suggestions:

  • Praise them. Give positive reinforcement for following directions, cooperating with others, and being attentive.  Be encouraging if a Cloverbud is struggling with an activity.  Encourage them to work together cooperatively.
  • Know your Cloverbuds and be realistic about their capabilities. Choose activities that can be successfully completed.  Challenge them but not to the point where they become frustrated and give up.
  • Children value honesty. Let them know it’s okay to make a mistake.  Making mistakes help us to learn and grow.  Adults make mistakes, too, and it’s okay to admit that.
  • Provide a safe environment. Do not tolerate bullying or “picking on” others.
  • When it comes to discipline, be firm but fair. Do not allow unacceptable behaviors to disrupt your Cloverbud meetings.  Focus on the behavior and not the child.
  • Make Cloverbud meetings fun! Allow them to interact appropriately and allow time for play.  Keep activities simple and short to allow for their short attention spans.

Successful Cloverbud meetings teach children about working together and having fun.  Finishing a challenging task and developing new skills reinforces self-confidence and helps children to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Developing self-confidence and positive self-esteem are critical components of a child’s mental health.  Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to develop a positive outlook on life.  Cloverbud volunteers play an important role in helping our Cloverbud children to develop a firm foundation for positive mental health.  Take time to reflect on how you can be a positive influence on your Cloverbuds.

Need help with planning a successful Cloverbud meeting?  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities is full of lessons that are designed to facilitate the healthy emotional and physical development of our Cloverbuds.  Contact your Extension Office for information on how to obtain a copy of The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.

MyPlate Activities for Cloverbuds

Happy birthday, MyPlate! MyPlate is 10 years old this year. It’s a good reminder to think about how MyPlate concepts can be incorporated into Cloverbud activities.

What is MyPlate? MyPlate is a nutritional food guide that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help people become more aware of what they eat and to assist them in making better food choices. The MyPlate icon shows the five food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy. It features a simple picture of a plate, which offers a visual cue that is easy to relate to, with sections of a plate representing how much of each food group people should consume relative to the other groups.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes the importance of an overall healthy eating pattern with all five groups as key building blocks. Each food group includes a variety of foods that are similar in nutritional makeup, and each group plays an important role in an overall healthy eating pattern.

Why emphasize healthy eating patterns? Because we know diets early in life can shape food habits into adulthood, our Cloverbud members are at the ideal age to foster good habits. However, recent studies show there is a cause for concern.

Current intakes show that from an early age, dietary patterns are not aligned with the Dietary Guidelines. Five- to 8-year-olds are generally within the range of recommended intakes for protein, fruits, and grains (although this is achieved with refined grains, not whole grains), but below in vegetables and dairy. Vegetable intake is especially low in children, and increasing vegetable consumption tends to be particularly difficult. In addition, most diets exceed the recommended limits for added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

A recent study found that diets of children in the U.S. have improved modestly but remain poor for most. This improvement in diet quality is promising. However, another report found that more than a third of U.S. children and adolescents consumed fast food. Other researchers have examined sugar-sweetened beverages and junk foods. The results of these studies are cause for concern because fast food,  sugar-sweetened beverages, and junk food have been associated with higher caloric intake and poorer diet quality. These dietary patterns contribute to overweight and obesity, as well as increasing the risk for chronic diseases later in life.

MyPlate Activities for Cloverbuds

4-H volunteers have the opportunity to help children meet guidelines for healthy eating by regularly incorporating healthy living activities into 4-H club meetings. If you’re looking for activities for Cloverbuds, the “Making Healthy Food Choices” in The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (4-H 710GPM) is a great place to start. The Food and Nutrition Service has the Serving Up My Plate curriculum. The MyPlate website also contains activity sheets than can be downloaded. Here are some more to try.                              

Eat the Rainbow of Colors. Draw columns on a large sheet of paper labeled red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, and white. See how many fruits and vegetables the group members can name for each color.

Category Match. Divide the group into five smaller groups. Give each group one of the five food groups from MyPlate. Have the group members brainstorm as many foods as they can that fit into each category. Share lists with the whole group.

MyPlate Picnic. Have each person say their name, a food that begins with the first letter of their name, and the group it fits in. For example: “My name is Theresa, I’m going to bring tomatoes to the picnic, and they are in the vegetable group.

What’s on Your Plate” Food Collage. Gather grocery store ads and old magazines. You will also need paper plates, markers, scissors, and glue sticks. Divide the paper plate to match the divisions on MyPlate. Cut out foods and fit them into the appropriate section of the plate.

Taste Test. Children may be reluctant to taste new foods, so taste testing can improve children’s dietary intake.

Eating the Alphabet. Use the idea from the book Eating the Alphabet (by Lois Ehlert): Name and illustrate a food for each of the letters of the alphabet. This activity can tie in with the “Planning a Community Art Exhibit” in The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.

Read All About It.  Build literacy skills while learning about the five food groupsPicture books can be effective when children are actively involved.  Having them answer questions about the story exercises their critical thinking skills.  There are several websites that feature selected children’s books.  Here are a few to get you started.

MyPlate Talking Points

MyPlate is not perfect–for one thing, the size of the plate matters. The specific amounts of food needed in each group vary by age, gender, and activity level; the Dietary Guidelines provides more detailed information on this topic. Some foods contain ingredients from multiple groups, making them difficult to classify.

The MyPlate icon focuses on incorporating healthful foods; however, all foods in a group are not the same. The key is choosing a variety of foods and beverages from each food group—and making sure that each choice is limited in saturated fat, salt, and added sugars, including cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, and fatty meats like sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats but not everyday foods (“sometimes foods”). 

  • Fruits – Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Focus on whole fruits.
  • Vegetables – Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Vary your veggies.
  • Grains – Make half your grains whole grains.
  • Protein – Vary your protein routine. Choose protein foods like beans, fish, lean meats, and nuts.
  • Dairy – Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. Drink fat free or low-fat milk or water instead of sugary drinks.

4-H volunteer leaders working with Cloverbuds can encourage children to make healthy food choices. Developing healthy eating habits can go a long way to ensure a better lifestyle now and in the future.

References
de Droog, S. M., Buijzen, M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2013). Enhancing children’s vegetable consumption using vegetable-promoting picture books. The impact of interactive shared reading and character-product congruence. Appetite, 73, 73–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.018
Fryar, C. D., Carroll, M. D., Ahluwalia, N., & Ogden, C. L. (2020). Fast food intake among children and adolescents in the United States, 2015–2018 (NCHS Data Brief No. 375). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db375.htm
Gold, A., Larson, M., Tucker, J., & Strang, M. (2017). Classroom nutrition education combined with fruit and vegetable taste testing improves children’s dietary intake. Journal of School Health, 87(2), 106–113.  https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12478
Leung, C. W., DiMatteo, S. G., Gosliner, W. A., & Ritchie, L. D. (2018). Sugar-sweetened beverage and water intake in relation to diet quality in U.S. children. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54(3), 394–402. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.11.005
Liu, J., Rehm, C. D., Onopa, J., & Mozaffarian, D. (2020). Trends in diet quality among youth in the United States, 1999-2016. Journal of the American Medical Association, 323(12), 1161–1174. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.0878
Liu, J., Lee, Y., Micha, R., Li, Y., & Mozaffarian, D. (2021). Trends in junk food consumption among US children and adults, 2001-2018. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nqab129. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqab129
Snelling, A. M., Newman, C., Ellsworth, D., Kalicki, M., Guthrie, J., Mancino. L., Malloy, E., Van Dyke, H., George, S., & Nash, K. (2017). Using a taste test intervention to promote vegetable consumption. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 4(1), 67–75. https://doi.org/10.14485/HBPR.4.1.8
U.S. Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov/
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 (9th ed.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/
Williams, K., Dill, A., & Lindberg, S. (2019). Changes in nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and behavior after implementation of Serving Up MyPlate and vegetable taste tests. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(7S), S31–S32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.05.589

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