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Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Youth is looking at hands under black light for dirt left after hand washing lesson

Looking for spots missed during hand washing by using black light and glow germ lotion that fluoresces under black light.

It’s hard to believe it is August already, with that we are getting ready to go back to school. Going back into the large group gathering requires a reminder to wash your hands often. You and your child will be around so many people and exposed to all kinds of germs. Regular hand washing helps you avoid getting sick and spreading your germs to others.

The CDC recommends that we wash our hands:
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone who is sick
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet or after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet or been ill
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,
• After touching an animal, animal/pet feed or treats, or animal waste
• After touching garbage

Take a moment to sit down and talk with your child about hand washing and the importance of washing their hands, especially when they get home from school.

Try this activity written by Tennessee 4-H to help youth see where they may be missing germs. This simple activity uses items you probably have in your kitchen. Begin by coating hands with a tablespoon of cooking oil. Next, sprinkle the oily hands with ground cinnamon. Have your child wash their hands using the steps outlined below. Once they have finished washing, have them smell their hands to see if they can still smell cinnamon. If they washed their hands correctly, the cinnamon smell and brown color should be gone from their hands.

A. Hands coated with cinnamon before hand washing
B. Quick wash like youth often do missing in between fingers, top of wrist, around nails
C. Thoroughly washed hands (all clean even between fingers)

Here are the steps we teach youth when they take our 4-H hand washing classes:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
2. Apply soap and rub your hands together to make a lather. Make sure to get in between your fingers, under your nails, and on the top of your hands. Youth often miss these areas when we do a lesson on hand washing during 4-H events.
3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds—about the same amount of time needed to sing the Happy Birthday or ABC Song twice.
4. Finish by rinsing your hands with warm running water.
5. Dry hands with a clean towel or let air dry if a towel is not available.
6. Use the towel to turn off the water faucet to prevent re-contamination of your clean hands on a dirty faucet knob.

Have a fun and germ free day! 4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both children and parents can participate in common interests. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Teaching Mindfulness to Children

Mindfulness is the act of creating awareness of your surroundings, emotions, and physical self in the present moment. It helps you connect to the world around you, while providing cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. Practicing mindfulness is not just for adults. Children can reap a multitude of benefits from learning and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness equips children with the ability to adjust and deal with conflict encountered in their daily lives. It can also help children foster an optimistic outlook in life, react to stress in a healthy way, and develop a positive self-concept.

The practice of mindfulness is foreign to many adults, making it tricky to teach young children. The best thing to do is keep the message simple and model the behaviors you are teaching. Being taught by an adult that models mindful behaviors daily will assist kids in mastering the techniques. Below are a few mindfulness activities you can do at home as a family or in a group learning environment, such as a 4-H club meeting.

Zen Garden

A zen garden is a miniature landscape made with items such as moss,

Zen garden created during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp

rocks, and water features. Zen gardens are filled with sand and contain a small rake that you can use to create designs in the sand. The motion of raking the sand creates a sense of calmness. Zen gardens are often found on desks in the workplace because they are known for building focus and reducing stress. Building a zen garden is a fun and easy activity you can do with kids. Use a shoebox lid as the base and collect various stones and other items from outside to fill the box. Small rakes and sand can be purchased at a local craft store.

Mindful Safari

Taking a nature walk around your neighborhood or park is a simple way to exercise your mindfulness skills. Make it exciting by telling them you are going on a “mindfulness safari” and the goal is to see how many different birds, insects, and animals you can find on your journey. By searching for these items, you are fostering an awareness of the world around you. Similar to the mindful safari activity, you can take children on a “sound hunt.” This activity teaches kids to increase their awareness of the sounds in their environment. You can make the “sound hunt” more challenging by asking them to distinguish which sounds are close and which sounds are far.

Breathing

Breathing exercises are an important tool children can use to practice mindfulness. Learning how to control your breath and increase awareness of your breathing can help clear your mind in times of distress. You can practice breathing anywhere and no equipment is needed. Have kids sit on the floor or lie down. Instruct them to close their eye and take a huge breath in, filling up their lungs. Count to three and have them release. Breath activities can be completed sitting or lying down on your back. It is a good practice to have kids place their hands on their belly to feel the breath as it enters and leaves the body.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating teaches children to understand when they are hungry and when they are full. It is important to eat without distractions, such as the television or your phone. Provide them with a variety of snack items. Ask them to look, listen, touch, smell, and taste the food in steps. They should pause after each step to reflect on what their senses are showing them about their food. First, look at what colors and shapes the item has. Next, listen to see if your food is making any sounds. Then, feel your food and describe the texture. Smell the item and define the scent. Finally, taste the food while paying attention to how the food feels and if the flavors change.

Yoga & Balancing

 

Practicing our “downward dog” pose during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp.

Yoga is a great way to practice concentration, balance, and connection. Kids enjoy trying different yoga poses and stretches. A variety of free educational videos are available online that you can use to help guide you and your child through yoga sequences. Breathing techniques can be coupled with yoga and balancing. If kids do not have a yoga mat, a towel can be used. Practicing yoga shows kids that mindfulness does not always mean you are still or quiet.

Mindful Drawing

It is important to keep distractions to a minimum while drawing. This can be achieved by putting on relaxing music or simple sounds, such as rain falling or waves crashing. There are a variety of different drawing activities you can do with kids to practice mindfulness. If you have different sounds available, you can select a sound and instruct them to close their eyes and think of what that sound looks like to them. Then, have them open their eyes and draw what they heard. You can repeat this activity a few times with different sounds.

Body Appreciation

This activity works best in a group learning environment. Have kids break up into pairs and instruct them to take turns tracing each other on a large sheet of paper. Once everyone is finished, they will focus on their own bodies and write or draw what each body part does for them. For example, they can write “my head helps me think” or “my legs help me run.” Finally, they will write positive words on their body such as “I love to read.” This activity makes kids reflect on all the important ways their body helps them each day. It teaches them to appreciate and love their body.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journals are a simple mindfulness activity kids can complete every day

When we feel and express gratitude to people in our lives, it creates loving connections, builds trust, and makes us feel joyful. Gratitude can be shown by giving someone a hug or telling them how much you appreciate them. Gratitude journals can easily be made at home or you can print off a pre-made template. This version is simple and is a great start for kids: https://researchparent.com/gratitude-journal-for-kids/

For more information on how your family can learn more healthy activities such as these mindful ones, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what 4-H programs are offered in your area.

Sea of 4-H Green at the Florida State Capitol

Last year, 520 youth and 170 adults from 34 Florida counties told the 4-H story filling the state capitol with 4-H advocates. Youth educated their representatives, senators, and legislative aides on how 4-H has made an impact in their lives while experiencing the political processes of state government.

A sea of green will flood the Florida’s state capitol Thursday, April 4, 2019, as Florida 4-H members, faculty, volunteers, and families participate in the annual 4-H Day at the Capitol event.

4-H Day at the Capitol Group Photo 2018

2018 attendees on the steps of Florida’s historic capitol building.

4-H Day at the Capitol

  •  Who:  All 4-H Members, Friends, Family and Alumni
  •  When:  April 4, 2019
  •  Where:  Tallahassee, FL
  •  Cost:  $15 (includes lunch and a 4-H polo)
  •  Registration:  February 1-28, 2019 in 4-H Online

Schedule

  • 7:30-8:15am – Check-in
  • 8:30am – Opening Assembly
  • 9:00am – Group Photo
  • 9:15am – Meetings with Representatives and Senators begins
  • 12:00-1:00pm – Lunch Available for Pick-up (Chik-Fil-A)
  • 1:00-1:30pm – Closing Assembly

Each county is encouraged to make appointments with senators and representatives and should schedule their day how it best suits the group.  For detailed information on the schedule and to prepare for the event, be sure to read the The 4-H Day at the Capitol Guidebook.

Places to Visit/Things to do

Close to the Capitol, you’ll find several things to do to fill in the rest of your day.

  • Governor’s Mansion
  • Knott House
  • Riley House and Museum
  • 4-H Day at the Capitol Scavenger Hunt
  • Florida Historic Capitol Museum
  • Museum of Florida History
  • Big Bend Farm
  • For more information, check out Explore Tallahassee

Resources

For more information on 4-H Day at the Capitol or 4-H in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.

Ghoulishly Good Practices for Halloween

From candy to pumpkins to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and adults alike. However, it can pose dangers.  To help make this year’s trick-or-treat a safe and fun time, follow these simple safety tips complied by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

CREATIVE COSTUMES:
Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.

Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. The makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant allergies on the big night.

When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are “flame resistant”.

If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by the accessories if he/she stumbles or trips.

Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

Review with children how to call 911 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

PUMPKIN CARVING TIME:
Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then adults can do the cutting.

Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFETY:
To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

Adults should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

Wet leaves and debris should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

Restrain pets so they do not jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

TRICK-OR-TREAT TIME:
A responsible adult should always accompany young children during their neighborhood trick-or-treating.

Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and adults.

If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters to:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Do not assume the right of way. Motorists may have a hard time seeing Trick-or-Treaters.
  • Just because one car stops, does not mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TIPS:
A good, healthy dinner prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage children from filling up on Halloween treats.

Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books, stickers, or pens and pencils.

Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween to prevent overindulging, which will lead to a stomachache and ruin the night’s fun.

Make sure the Halloween night is fun and safe with the suggested tips above.  These tips will help guarantee you all a ghoulishly good time.

Source:  American Academy of Pediatrics

Happy Halloween!

Growing 4-H in Schools

Students in Mrs. Peacocks 5th grade science class explored the Laws of Motion during 4-H National Science Day.

Students in Mrs. Peacocks 5th grade science class explored the Laws of Motion during 4-H National Science Day.

It’s day two of National Volunteer Week, and today our 4-H volunteer spotlight is on Mrs. Kim Peacock. Kim is a 5th grade science teacher at Blountstown Elementary School in Calhoun County.  Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Kim about her experiences with 4-H in the classroom.

When I asked her what advice she has for someone who is thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer, she responded, “I would definitely encourage them to do it. Especially teachers. If you can have 4-H programs in your classroom, you really should. It’s ok not to know anything about the topic going into it, because that’s what school is for – learning. And it’s ok to learn along with our students sometimes.

4-H has really made a difference in my students’ lives. We’ve done so many things. An Ag Adventures field trip where they learned about local ag commodities like corn, cotton, and peanuts; National Youth Science Day, where we built and launched rockets right there at school, and embryology projects where we learned about the embryonic development of baby chicks and hatched eggs in our classroom. I probably never would have done any of these things on my own, so first and foremost is the exposure to new and different things that I think makes a difference. But beyond that, I’ve seen my students gain confidence, show curiosity, and get truly excited about math and science without even realizing it.

These are the things they will remember when they leave school. These are experiences they will never forget, and if nothing else, it makes me feel good to know that despite what life may throw at them in the future they will always have these happy childhood memories to hold on to. Any opportunity that comes my way to add a 4-H project to my classroom in the future, I’m going to take it. It’s a no brainer. This is good stuff, and our kids deserve it.”

Although our traditional programs revolve around clubs, 4-H also offers opportunities for volunteers and teachers to provide 4-H opportunities in school settings both during and afterschool.  These programs are a great way for youth to get a “taste of 4-H” before committing to longer term involvement in a club.  4-H Afterschool clubs also provide access to 4-H to youth who might not have transportation to evening or weekend club meetings.  For more information about 4-H school programs, read this previous blogpost on 4-H Opportunities for Schools.  If you are a teacher or community member that would like to make a difference at our local school,  think about sharing your talents with us!  You can fuel the extraordinary efforts of our youth by joining us as a volunteer.   To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.  Happy National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

4-H school programs include not only science, but public speaking, ag awareness, and even money management to help youth learn "soft skills" that employers seek.

4-H school programs include not only science, but public speaking, ag awareness, and even money management to help youth learn “soft skills” that employers seek.