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!

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!

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

Autumn Activities for Cloverbuds

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

Start Simple.

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

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

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

 

How Do Leaves Change Colors

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

 

Supplies:

Glass jars

Coffee Filters

Leaves

Rubbing Alcohol

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

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

THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT…

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

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

Leaf People

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Sound Science: Craft Stick Kazoos

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

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

Materials needed:

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

Steps:

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

Photo 1

Photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Sources:

Pumpkin STEM

Early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been proven to better equip children in understanding STEM concepts.  Fun, hands-on learning, through age-appropriate material can inspire enthusiasm and confidence while developing STEM skills and encouraging future interest.  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (available through OSU Extension Offices or https://extensionpubs.osu.edu) is bursting with activities to explore STEM education.  Add a twist for the fall by incorporating pumpkin-themed activities as described below.

Pumpkin Science

Prior to this activity, cut a medium size pumpkin in half.  Remove the seeds and gooey fibrous strands from one-half.  Separate the seeds from the strands.  Wash the seeds and allow them to dry on a paper towel.  Place the fibrous strands in a container.  Have the children look at the other half of the pumpkin.  Explain that a pumpkin is a squash.  Talk about the parts of the pumpkin.  Bring out the container of fibrous strands.  Place one-half cup of the substance in a blender.  Add one cup of water.  Blend the mixture until it becomes a liquid.  Following the Flubber recipe in The Wonder of Water lesson, substitute ¼ cup of the pumpkin mixture for ¼ cup of cool water.  Use 2-3 drops of red or orange food coloring instead of drink mix.  Extend this activity by using the seeds that were set aside to make a Seed Mosaic as described in the Super Seed Fun lesson.

Pumpkin Technology

Children can “go beyond” this lesson at home by working with their parents to color a pumpkin online at https://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/Pumpkin.aspx or carve a pumpkin at http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/halloween/games/carving/

Pumpkin Engineering

Discuss fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the fall in Ohio (Fall Festival: A Harvest of Fun lesson). Talk about or visit a local pumpkin patch.  Play a pumpkin patch game.  Build a pumpkin catapult using a plastic cup, sturdy tape, and a plastic spoon.  Turn the cup over.  Tape the spoon handle to the bottom of the cup.  Place an orange pom-pom into the bowl of the spoon.  Set a pan a few inches away to serve as the pumpkin patch.  Press on the spoon bowl.  Watch the “pumpkin” soar into the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin Math

Choose three different size pumpkins.  Discuss ways the pumpkins are alike or different.  Have the children stand first in front of the largest, then smallest, and last the medium size pumpkin.  Ask them which pumpkin they think weighs the most.  Talk about tools that can be used to measure the height, width (circumference), and weight of the pumpkins.  Help the children use a ruler, measuring tape, and scale to determine the measurements.

Conclude this celebration of Pumpkin S.T.E.M. bounty with a pumpkin themed book from your local library and a tasty pumpkin seed snack.