What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

The world appears much larger to youth once they enter elementary school! They are exposed to numerous extracurricular activities that provide a wide range of opportunities to help children develop their skills and identify their interests.

Once children start school, it’s natural for adults to begin asking, What do you want to be when you grow up? Their answers are often not surprising. They typically respond with teacher, doctor, astronaut, a professional athlete, just to name a few. Just by those responses, we know that youth naturally are thinking about their future careers through imagination, exploration, and role-playing. However, as adults, we know there are so many more careers in the world!

So, when should career education truly begin beyond role-playing? Many experts have embraced the developmental approach, which recommends career education beginning as early as kindergarten, while gradually becoming more of a focus as youth get older. Having access to different careers and the concept of work helps youth recognize the connection between what they’re learning and why that knowledge is valuable.

Here are some ways to incorporate career awareness into your Cloverbud program:

  • Read books that showcase various careers. This not only increases reading literacy but allows the opportunity to expand their knowledge about work. Check out 4-H Cloverbud Reading Adventures for career-related, literacy books and activities.  For example, Ada Twist, Scientist or What Do You Do with An Idea?
  • Talk to your Cloverbuds about your own work and explain what you do.
  • Find ways to incorporate less obvious careers into your conversations with your Cloverbuds. For instance, it was someone’s job to design and construct the home in which they live or the job of someone who changed the oil in their family vehicle.
  • Capitalize on the skills and abilities your Cloverbuds are developing. For example, do they enjoy drawing? Find ways to incorporate art into your Cloverbud activities. Invite local artists (graphic design, fiber artists, etc.) to share their talents with your Cloverbuds.
  • Check out the lessons included in Cloverbud Investigators Cloverbud Career Detectives. Each lesson allows Cloverbuds to explore science-based activities with a career twist!

There are many opportunities for Cloverbud volunteers to take advantage of a child’s natural curiosity and begin laying the foundation of positive attitudes and habits toward careers and work.  Ask your Cloverbuds, What do you want to be when you grow up?  You might be surprised at their responses!

References

Alexander, J., & Hubbs-Tait, L. (n.d.). Career exploration in elementary school. NC State Extension Publications. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/career-exploration-in-elementary-school

Learning-Liftoff-Staff. (2019, April 1). Should career education begin earlier for kids? Learning Liftoff. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.learningliftoff.com/should-career-education-begin-earlier-for-kids/

Yes, You Can Teach Science!

For many people, the word “science” seems to conjure up memories of complicated equations or dry lectures from high school or college classes. We sometimes question our ability to understand science concepts ourselves, much less try to teach them to young children. Nowadays, when there is so much focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), it may seem like an even more daunting task when you hear about coding, robotics, and all the other high-tech concepts students are learning.

But let’s go back to the basic definition of science. According to Merriam-Webster, it is “knowledge about the natural world that is learned through experiments and observation”. Do you remember when you were a child and you first saw a baking soda volcano? You probably weren’t intimidated by that, you just thought it was cool that mixing ingredients could cause such a huge reaction.

When working with Cloverbuds, it’s important to capitalize on their natural sense of wonder about the world. Whether they realize it or not, their instinct to figure out how things work, to take things apart, and gets their hands dirty are all scientific investigation. The next time you start to do a project with your Cloverbuds, talk about the steps of the scientific method:

  1. Identify the problem:  How can I make a machine to move a marshmallow across the room?
  1. Predict what will happen (make a hypothesis):  I could make a catapult out of popsicle sticks and rubber bands to shoot the marshmallow.
  1. Perform an experiment:  Design and test the catapult.
  1. Look at your results:  Did my catapult work the way I thought it would?
  1. Draw conclusions:  Next time, I will build a better base for my catapult.

Teaching STEM doesn’t have to be intimidating. Letting your Cloverbuds participate in short, hands-on activities.  Teaching them to think through the steps involved is the best way to make science fun and engaging.

For activity ideas beyond the Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities, check out 10 Minute Science  or the Ohio 4-H STEM Blog

Fall Fun in the Great Outdoors

Fall is in full swing which makes it a fun time to explore the outdoors.  The sights, the sounds, and the crisp air makes taking a walk outside so much more exciting for children.  The foliage in many areas has just peaked or is almost ready to peak.  Weather in your area will affect the timing, but whether the leaves are still on the trees or partially on the ground, the colors are beautiful.  Wildlife is moving in the cool fall air and many trees are in the process of dropping their fruit.  A walk in the fall provides youth the opportunity to see and touch so many things in nature that are not as easily accessible to them at other times of the year.

Try a fall scavenger hunt when youth can explore and see so much more!  Ask youth to find different colored leaves (red, yellow, or orange); different tree fruit such as apples, acorns, hickory nuts, or walnuts; check off/write down the animals they see such a ladybug, wooly worm, squirrel, rabbit, bird, or deer.  If youth are able, have them take a gallon size bag on their hunt to bring back a few items from their adventure.  This will give you the opportunity to help them match the leaves and fruit from the same tree or compare the sizes of each object the members found.  For a little extra fun, tell them to find the smallest and the largest leaf they can find.  It will be fun for them to compare what they found with what others found.

Fall is also a fun time to for youth to explore birds as they migrate through Ohio.  Cloverbuds can make their own bird feeders and hang them where they can watch the birds.  There are multiple ways to make homemade bird feeders.  A simple and clean option is to use pipe cleaners and cereal.  To complete the activity, you will need pipe cleaners, cereal, string or ribbon, and scissors.  Select a cereal with a loophole that can be strung on the pipe cleaner.  Members can bend their pipe cleaner into a shape, such as a heart, star, or circle.  Be sure the two ends come back to meet each other.  Connect two pipe cleaners together to make a bigger feeder.  Members can string cereal on the pipe cleaner, leaving about a half inch on each end.  Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together to secure the cereal in place.  Use a piece of string or ribbon to hang the feeder outside.

Cloverbuds can also make a bird feeder using a piece of nature, a pinecone.  Ask your Cloverbuds to bring a larger, open pine cone.  You will also need peanut butter, bird seed, a dinner knife, a small bowl, string or ribbon, and scissors.  Tie a loop of string or ribbon to the top of the pine cone to hang your feeder with once it is complete.  Use your dinner knife to spread peanut butter on the open pine cone layers.  Hold the pine cone at each end and roll it through a bowl of bird seed until all peanut butter is covered in bird seed.  Members are now ready to hand their completed bird feeder outside.  Encourage Cloverbuds to hang their bird feeders where they can watch the birds from inside.  As the weather gets colder, members can refill their bird feeders or make new ones and continue watching the birds through the winter months.

References:
Cereal Bird Feeder: https://kidscraftroom.com/diy-bird-feeder-craft-kids/
Pinecone Bird Feeder: https://onelittleproject.com/pinecone-bird-feeders/

The Magic of Fall

Crisp cool mornings, bright blue sunny skies, juicy red apples, changing leaves…..fall is a great time to explore the outdoors!  If your meeting place allows, take your Cloverbuds on a nature hike.  Or encourage them to explore their backyards or take a nature walk with their family.  Take a look around – what do you see?  Many plants are reaching the end of their life cycle and it’s exciting to look for seed pods, berries, nuts, pinecones, etc.  Look for cocoons, spider webs, insects, and empty bird nests.  Remind your Cloverbuds not to eat anything they find.  Also remind them that when we are hiking in a public park we only take pictures.  Leave everything there for the next family to enjoy.

Talk with your Cloverbuds about the changing seasons.  How are the seasons different?  What is their favorite season?  What is their favorite thing about each season?  How does the weather change each season? What are some activities that they enjoy doing during the fall?

Here are some fun fall activities to share with your Cloverbuds.

Leaf rubbings are easy to do and fun to make.  Have your Cloverbuds collect a variety of fallen leaves from trees in their own yards.  Help the Cloverbuds to identify the leaves they find by using a leaf identification book from your local library.  Talk to your Cloverbuds about the different kinds of leaves and the trees that each leaf comes from.  Why are leaves important?  Why do some trees lose their leaves in the fall and others don’t?  Give each child a piece of paper and some crayons and have them make leaf rubbings.  Place a leaf on the table with the veins up.  Put the paper over the leaf and gently color over the leaf with the side of the crayon.  It may be helpful to tape the paper to the table.  Have your Cloverbuds use different leaves and colors to make their picture.

Pumpkins are found in abundance this time of year.  Use the insides of a pumpkin to make a sensory bag.  For each bag you will need a one pumpkin, one, one-gallon plastic freezer bag, the “guts” of a pumpkin, and a few small items to put in the bag with the pumpkin guts.  Small items such as plastic spiders, googly eyes, small fall themed erasers, etc., work well for this activity.  If you decide to have each Cloverbud carve their own pumpkin to retrieve the guts, be sure to have plenty of adult help.  Have an adult cut the pumpkin open and then ask the Cloverbuds to scoop out the guts.  Place the pumpkin guts and small items in the plastic bag and be sure it is tightly sealed.  Lay the bag on the table and have the Cloverbud squish the bag and look for the items inside.

Making a fall tree using the Cloverbud’s hand print as a guide creates a special keepsake for parents, grandparents, or other special person in your Cloverbud’s life.  For this activity you will need construction paper (white for the picture, any color to make the hand print), paint in fall colors (red, orange, yellow), paper plates or foil pans (to put the paint in), and sponge paint wands. 

Trace the Cloverbud’s hand and forearm on construction paper, then cut it out.  Use poster putty to secure the “tree” (Cloverbud’s hand print) to white construction paper.  Once the hand print is in place, ask the Cloverbud to sponge paint all around it with fall colors. Encourage your Cloverbud to leave little or no white around the edges of the “tree”.  Gently remove the paper hand print and any remaining poster putty.  Be sure to have your Cloverbud wear an old shirt or an apron to protect their clothing from the paint.

Some great fall books to read with your Cloverbuds are Apple Picking Day by Candice Ransom; Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak; Leaf Man by Lois Ehert; or Hello Fall! by Deborah Diesen.

So, go out and explore the outdoors,  Enjoy the crisp, fresh air, the ever changing colors, and the glory of nature that is fall!

Resources:
Hand Tree: https://fun-a-day.com/fall-hand-print-art-negative-space/
Pumpkin Sensory Bag: https://www.pre-kpages.com/pumpkin-sensory-bag/
Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities, Chapter 19

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!

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.

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!

Ada Twist, Scientist – A Cloverbud Reading Adventures Activity

The Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Reading Adventures Series incorporates literature, crafts, games, and snacks into a fun-filled program for children in grades K-2.  In Ada Twist, Scientist, we meet a precocious second grader who looks at the world through a sense of discovery.  Her need to explore and understand everything around her began with her first word at the age of three – “WHY?”.  From that time forward we are drawn into the amazing journey of this young scientist as she pokes, smells, sees, tests, tries, puzzles, and quests to learn “how it ALL works”.

The book is beautifully illustrated with experiments and materials that Ada used in her research.  To determine the cause of a pungent odor, Ada Marie conducted several investigations.  Your Cloverbuds can do their own explorations by using the “How Smart is Your Nose?” activity from The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.  Place different “identifiable aromas” in sandwich bags.  Blindfold the children and ask them to sniff the contents of the bags.  Have them ask questions to figure out the scents.

Ada also dropped tablets into 2-liter bottles which caused an explosion of colorful soda.  Although this may be a fun messy outside activity, another less messy inside experiment can also be conducted using clear carbonated water or soda, a clear plastic cup, and raisins.  Pour liquid into the cup.  Add a few raisins.  Wait for it – the raisins will begin to rise and fall as if doing a dance.  Why?  Carbon dioxide bubbles are released from the carbonated beverage.  They attach to the rough surface of the raisins and cause the raisins to float to the surface of the liquid.  Once the bubbles pop and the gas is released, they return to the bottom of the cup.  This up and down movement will continue until the soda is “flat”.  Try other foods such as pasta, corn, or candy.  How do they perform?

For an edible science snack, make fruit sorbet in a bag.  Pour one cup of fruit juice in a quart-size zip-close bag.  Seal the bag.  Place that bag into another bag the same size.  Seal the second bag.  In a gallon size zip-close bag, place 4 cups of ice and 3 tablespoons of coarse ice cream salt.  Put the small sealed bags in the larger bag and close tightly.  Have Cloverbuds shake the bags for about 5 minutes while wearing winter gloves.  Take the inner bag out and pour into cups.  Enjoy!  Why did the mixture freeze?  Salt added to ice lowers the freezing point.  The melting ice absorbs heat making the mixture cooler which causes it to freeze (Source: Science Fun with Kitchen Chemistry).

Have Cloverbuds make a picture journal of what they learned.  Encourage them to find out more about other children who sought solutions to challenges by raising questions and developing better ways to make things work in the book, Kids Who Are Changing the World.  May you never lose the wonder of “WHY”.

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

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!