Learn by doing: Activity-based learning with 4-H cloverbuds

Basing 4-H cloverbud programs in specific learning activities is a great way to expose them to a multitude of opportunities.

The goal of the 4-H cloverbud program is for youth aged 5 to 8 to experience different projects within 4-H. By utilizing an activity-based learning format, volunteers can accomplish that goal.

What is activity-based learning? Well, that’s simple—it’s learning that occurs around a singular, hands-on, fun activity that lasts no more than 20 minutes. Keeping the program activity-based helps focus youth and helps them build their content skills, as well as focus on promoting healthy development.

Focusing on a specific activity like exploring different feed ingredients during an animal science activity will allow cloverbuds to use their senses to learn. Youth can touch, smell and even in some cases taste different feed ingredients that they might feed to their animal. The learning is directed by an adult volunteer or older teen leader and the Experiential Learning Model can be fully utilized. Youth can experience learning about feed ingredients; they can share what they already know about different feed and compare to what they eat; the volunteer can ask them questions to help them process what they just learned and observations that they made; they can generalize the information; and think of ways that they can apply their new knowledge.

By keeping lessons activity-based, volunteers can expose youth to various content areas that are interdependent of one another, allowing them to incorporate various means of learning that are common among various project areas.

Remembering the key concepts of youth development for children aged 5-8 years old will also be very helpful as you develop activities. Iowa State University 4-H Youth Development’s “How Kids Develop (Ages and Stages of Youth Development) " outlines characteristics and applications for each age group that volunteers can use to help their activities be more impactful and age appropriate.

Some key characteristics of youth aged 5 to 8 are:

  • Youth learn best if they are physically active.
  • Thinking is concrete.
  • Youth are easily motivated and eager to try new things.
  • Youth are naturally curious and want to make sense of their world.

Cloverbuds are an exciting group to work with. Keeping lessons activity-based and not too long is key in helping them explore and gain knowledge.

To learn more about the resources Michigan 4-H Life Skill development has to offer, please visit the Michigan State University Extension Life Skills page. 

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