Cloverbuds made rockets during an Activity Night

Participants experimented with home-made cardstock rockets and tested how far they'd fly!

Cloverbud Life Skills & Activities

The Purpose of the 4-H Cloverbud Program

The overall purpose of the 4-H Cloverbud Program is to foster the development of life skills that are essential for the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical maturation of five to seven year old children. Specifically, this program aims to provide participants with opportunities to:

  • Develop self understanding, social skills, decision-making skills, learning skills and physical skills
  • Gain knowledge in the sciences, literature, and the arts through the experiential (hands-on) learning process
  • Develop positive attitudes about learning
  • Develop on-going relationships with caring adults and older youth who serve as positive role models
  • Explore family and community relationships
  • Develop understanding of and appreciation for social and cultural diversity

Life Skills for Cloverbuds

Life skills are abilities, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that must be learned for success and happiness. These skills are not learned all at once but are refined and reinforced throughout life.

Even so, there are certain milestones that must be reached along the way before a child will be ready to meet the challenges presented in the next phase of development. For five to seven year olds, who will transition from middle to late childhood by the end of their 4-H Cloverbud years, it is particularly important to make major strides in the development of the four life skills described below:

1. Self-Understanding

Each child is unique. Each has different interests, personality traits, skills, learning styles and temperaments. In order to expand and refine an understanding of “who I am,” five to seven year olds need to try new things to test themselves, build their base of experiences and begin to master skills. A positive but realistic self-concept is the most important ingredient of emotional health. To foster its development, Cloverbud Leaders need to:

  • Nurture creativity and curiosity
  • Provide positive and specific feedback rather than generalized praise
  • Provide correction quietly, one-on-one, in a caring and consistent manner
  • Help members identify their own successes
  • Help members to see and appreciate how they are alike and different from other people

2. Social Interaction

Between the ages of five and seven, children increase their desire to be with other children. As they develop friendships with their peers, they become less self-centered and their need to be connected to others in a group strengthens. Experiencing a warm feeling of belonging frees them to relate comfortably with others. To enhance this social development, leaders should:

  • Organize small group activities through which cloverbuds can talk and work with one another
  • Use dramatic play to help members understand how other people might feel or react
  • Provide opportunities for building communication skills, including listening skills
  • Help members learn how to cooperate, share and resolve conflicts
  • Take time to listen and visit casually with each young person

3. Decision-Making

The ability to make wise decisions and take positive action are key to the development of independence. Children need to know that they are capable of charting their own path and influencing others, but they also need to understand how their decisions affect themselves and others and be willing to accept responsibility for their actions. Appropriate leadership experiences help children learn the step-by-step processes of decision-making, recognize cause-and-effect relationships and develop a sense of responsibility. To initiate this learning process, Cloverbud Leaders should:

  • Create an environment in which it is safe to test decisions and make mistakes
  • Help children think about how things that are important to them influence the decisions they make;
  • Give Cloverbuds opportunities to lead simple tasks and then progress to more difficult ones
  • Encourage members to overcome obstacles on their own
  • Motivate youth to accept responsibility and praise them when they complete leadership tasks

4. Learning to Learn

We all learn in a variety of ways: through seeing and observing, manipulating materials and experimenting, listening and reading. Five to seven year olds are concrete thinkers. Ideally, they need real experiences on which to base their learning, but can expand their capacity to learn in other ways. Activities that involve the use of all five senses (or at least several of them) enhance learning. After working with the same group of children for a while leaders will be able to recognize their different learning styles and though guided reflection can help them to understand how they learn. When children are enabled to learn in their own way, learning becomes easy and is viewed as fun. This “learning is fun” attitude is the basis for life-long learning.

Mastering physical skills: Five to seven year olds are full of energy and need activities that are just that – active! Learning experiences that enable members to practice both small muscle (writing) and large muscle (ball catching) skills that can be completed successfully by beginners, will use up some of that energy while fostering physical development. When doing crafts, expect the work place to get messy and be aware that for this age group the process is more important than the product.

Cloverbuds Now –4-H’ers Forever!

Information taken from the NYS 4-H Cloverbud Leader Handbook,
Cornell Cooperative Extension, 6/2003

Updated by CCE Livingston County 4-H Educators

Last updated July 26, 2019