Cloverbud science activities

Programs for 5- to 8-year-olds can provide them with the opportunity to explore science through hands-on activities.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development offers programming for younger youth to explore new opportunities that aim to set a solid foundation for lifelong success.  The goal of the Cloverbud program is to promote healthy development in children by enhancing life skills such as social-interaction, self-esteem, making choices and learning to learn through short-term learning experiences.

Because 4-H programs use the Experiential Learning Model as an approach to teach youth in a hands on, fun way, conducting science experiments and making various crafts is a great way to work effectively with youth between 5- and 8-years-old.

Science related activities and crafts will be described and highlighted over a series of articles. These are also fun ideas for parent-child activities during school breaks.

The first exciting science project that will be highlighted is handmade paper. This project would be awesome to do around the holidays so that youth can make hand-made gift tags or holiday greeting cards. This lesson helps youth learn what happens when water and toilet paper interact.

What you will need:

Toilet paper (use an inexpensive brand, the coarser the better)

Empty plastic water bottle

Kitchen strainer

Large dry sponge

Old newspapers

Rolling pin

Waxed paper

Food coloring (optional)


1) Make sure you have plenty of work space for this activity. Cover a table with newspaper to limit the mess.

2) Put 10 squares of toilet paper in the empty water bottle. Fill the bottle half full with water and replace the cap securely. If desired, you can add a few drops of food coloring to the bottle to create colored paper.

3) Shake the bottle 100 times. This shaking will allow the toilet paper and water to make pulp.

4) Once the mixture looks like “slush,” your pulp is ready. Pour the pulp into the strainer in a thin, flat layer. Squeeze as much excess water out of the pulp as you can.

5) Prepare a working space with layers of newspaper to absorb the water.  Without moving the layer of pulp with your hands, flip the strainer and let the pulp fall onto the layer of newspaper. Cover the pulp with a piece of waxed paper and use the rolling pin to squeeze out any excess water. Remove the waxed paper and place the sponge on the paper to absorb the excess water. You may have to repeat this process several times.

6) Once you’ve removed all of the excess water, allow the paper to dry overnight, then in the morning - Voila! Cloverbuds will have their own piece of handmade paper.

Stay tuned for more science experiments and fun!

This is Part 1 of a series. You can find Part 2 here.

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