A happy 4-H member’s smile is contagious in this face-friendly clover costume.
While Walmart has already jumped to Christmas season, many parents are still scrambling to figure out their children’s costume for October’s Halloween party. Now, all of us have the cutest pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, but none of our children want to dress up as pumpkins anymore! Gone are the simple days of our generation when white sheets with eye holes were the extent of our Halloween attire.
With the hectic schedule of the world and the complicated costumes of today, here are a few guidelines to follow when helping children choose Halloween costumes (and keep them safe safety during the spooktacular holiday season).
This little pumpkin has comfortable walking shoes for trick or treating.
If it Fits, it Flies Past Inspection
While cute or scary may be what the children are striving for, well-fitting costumes should be the goal for all parents. Ill-fighting costumes are a disaster waiting to happen. Costumes that hang loosely become a distraction. Capes, gowns, or any material in length that drags the ground can be a tricky thing to maneuver at any age so be sure to trim above the ankle. Speaking of ankles, shoes that are too high can cause unexpected hospital visits so keep shoes low to the ground and comfortable to walk in. Children (and parents) do a lot of walking to collect their candy treats. Shoes that are too large or too small can cause blisters and cranky children, all things to avoid on a fun night.
Can You See Me Now?
One of the scariest things about Halloween is not what you can see but what you can’t see! Not being able to see children in costume in poorly lit areas of the neighborhood can be scary for adults. Parents, remedy this by using inexpensive reflective paint or tape to make children’s costumes visible or giving them glowsticks to wear or flashlights to hold.
Be sure to think about if your children can see well in their costumes. Masks can be difficult to wear if they don’t fit well. Be sure that eye and breathing holes are extra-large. If a costume can be complete without a mask, consider skipping it and use makeup. If costumes are come with hats, scarves, or capes, secure them down with velcro to keep from hitting others.
Does my Makeup Look OK?
Children love face paint and makeup, and hair dye appears to be the latest trend. Halloween seems a good fit for these outlets, but use them with caution. More and more children are sensitive to pigments found in everyday items – makeup included. Your children may be going for the spooky look but not at the risk of it being itchy and painful. If your children will be using face paint, makeup and/or hair dye, do a simple test run at least a week before use to ensure there are no allergies to the ingredients.
Accessorize Everything…Or Not
Makeup that does not obstruct children’s view is essential to their safety.
You’ve probably heard that “accessories make the outfit,” but in the case of Halloween and children, accessories can be highly overrated. Parents usually end up carrying the accessories that went with their children’s costumes before the night is over. But if children insist their outfits are not complete without a Ninja sword or Katniss Everdeen’s bow and arrow, be sure they are easily distinguished toys. Those accessories should be soft and flexible.
Spooktacular Adventure Awaits!
Whether you get into Halloween with costumes or not, these tips are good reminders for all of us to look out for children and keep them safe. Enjoy the upcoming holiday seasons!
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills to your children or to volunteer your time to work with children in your area, please contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Cooking with Florida Produce
Knowing how to cook and being comfortable in the kitchen is an important life skill that has enduring benefits. Leon County 4-H hosted a culinary day camp with a unique twist: educating youth about Florida produce and local agriculture. In addition to teaching culinary techniques and nutrition, youth learned foundational cooking skills and took things a step further by building connections between local farms and their kitchens.
Teaming up with Fresh from Florida Kids
Chef Paula Kendrick co-led the camp. featuring Florida-grown produce. The importance of nutrition and incorporating healthy foods into the diet was an ongoing theme during the camp. Lessons on how to read food labels, the importance of whole grain and limiting sugar intake were also featured. A salsa cooking competition using local products ended the camp. Chef Paula is from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Fresh from Florida Kids.
Local Farm Highlighted
A visit to Full Earth Farm in Quincy helped youth see how a small local farm operates. Owners Katie Harris and Aaron Suko warmly welcomed the group to their farm and gave them a tour. Florida seasonality, composting benefits and how local farms provide fresh produce to businesses and homes in our area were tour highlights. The group left with a box of fresh summer squash to deliver to their next stop – Damfino’s Cafe and Market. Damfino’s sources local products for their menu items. Owner Lucy and Chef Max spoke to the group about their restaurant’s mission of connecting the local community to local farmers.
During the camp, youth were eager to try all the recipes and many of the campers tried new food items for the first time. Fresh herbs from the 4-H garden were used in a number of the recipes. Rosemary was added to honeydew sorbet, and basil was added to sautéed summer squash.
Healthy Eating is Best Learned in the Kitchen
Chef Paula Kendrick shared, “The students got to visit a Florida farm, eat at a local Florida farm to table restaurant and learn how to handle and cook fresh Florida produce. I love helping them to make that farm to table connection while teaching them about Florida agriculture. Cooking is one of the best ways to actually get them to try new things and to understand the importance of healthy eating and nutrition.”
For more information on healthy living 4-H projects such as cooking, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.
If your youth has attended 4-H Camp Timpoochee or Cherry Lake with the UF/IFAS 4-H Camping Program, they’ve had the chance to play GaGa Ball. You’re probably wondering what kind of name is GaGa ball. It’s not just a made-up name. GaGa ball has a rich history. GaGa is translated from Hebrew as “touch-touch”. It’s said to have originated in Israel, and it has become a popular game at camps around the United States. GaGa Ball is a version of dodgeball and is just as fun.
GaGa ball is not only fun to say, but it is really easy to learn. First, you need a place to play. GaGa ball is played in a GaGa pit. Here’s just one of many articles on how to build your own GaGa Ball Pit. Next, you need a ball. GaGa balls are not specific, although a heavy duty dodgeball is recommended. The rules of the game vary place to place, but we play by the following rules at 4-H Camp:
- You hit the ball with your hands only.
- If the ball hits you below the knee, you are out.
- If the ball bounces of the wall and hits you below the knee, you’re out.
- If you hit the ball out of the pit, you’re out.
- If you hit someone in the face, you’re out
- If the game is going slowly, the leader can call “Hands-In”.
Hands in means everyone who is already out can put their hands over the wall of the pit and try to get those still in the pit out.
Rules can be made and altered to fit the group that is playing the game although the first two rules are staples of the game.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
GaGa ball is a great way to expend extra energy during day camps, but it also is a great way to build and practice life skills. First off, youth are put in situations in every game where they have to practice decision making, discipline, resiliency and many other life skills 4-H strives to instill in our youth. Of course they have to practice their conflict resolution skills as there will inevitably conflicts that arise from their competitive natures. Most importantly, playing GaGa ball helps kids practice a healthy lifestyle. GaGa ball teaches many important lessons, and is a bunch of fun. So when you hear someone say, “Let’s play GaGa ball!”, give it a try and embrace the challenge.
Learn more about the history of GaGa Ball
DID YOU KNOW that the sunniest place in Florida is Apalachicola? It sees an average of 241 days with sun…just one of the many reasons I love calling the Florida panhandle my home. I’m not exaggerating when I say I love being outdoors in the sun – going to the lake, fishing in the bay, kayaking down the creek, mowing the grass, picking blueberries, reading a book – I don’t want to imagine living anywhere else.
Along with my love of the sun comes the need for protection from its harmful rays. I’ve had my share of sunburns and learned the hard way how uncomfortable they can be. Sunburns happen quickly on summer days when the sun is closer to the earth – within the first 15 minutes of exposure. So check out these home remedies and tips to soothe your scorched skin when you’ve overdone it in the sun.
SOOTHE YOUR SCORCHED SKIN
- Take a cool shower or bath to calm your skin.
- Pour apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or cool milk on a soft cloth and gently apply to your sunburned skin.
- Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to a cool bath.
- Chill cucumbers, mash them into a paste and apply to a sunburned face.
- Drink lots of water to re-hydrate your body.
- Take an over the counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or naproxen.
RE-MOISTURIZE and RE-HYDRATE
Once you’ve soothed your aching skin, be sure to frequently re-moisturize your skin with aloe vera gel, petroleum jelly, coconut oil or lotions containing aloe vera or dimethicone. My brother, who is quite fair complected, even keeps aloe vera gel in the refrigerator. If your skin peels or blisters, leave it alone and allow it to heal! Never pick at or further peel your sunburn and certainly don’t pop blisters. Re-moisturize, cover your skin, allow it to heal and continue to drink plenty of water.
In 4-H, we believe in living healthy and equipping our youth with the knowledge and skills to prepare them physically, emotionally and socially to meet life’s challenges. To learn more about participating in 4-H healthy living projects, visit the Florida 4-H Projects Page or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.
4-H members play the stacking game at a club meeting.
Summer is here, and I’m picturing long and lazy sunny days at the lake or beach. In Florida, the warm, sunny days of summer also bring afternoon thunderstorms and the possibility of tropical storms and occasional hurricanes.
What to do on rainy summer days?
During the summer months, the days of sunshine may be interrupted with periods of rainy weather. For children, rainy weather often means long hours spent inside the house. While some children welcome rainy days to spend time curled up with a book, reading for hours at a time will not occupy every child.
For parents looking for indoor activity options for children beyond movie marathons and video games, using household items already on hand can provide fun alternatives to endless screen time.
STEM CHALLENGE AT HOME
A fun activity that only requires string, rubber bands, and sturdy plastic cups will challenge your children to work together and think creatively to problem solve. The “Stack ‘Em Up: Introduction to Engineering Activity” challenges children to think like engineers. The activity is best done with 4 to 6 children. This is a great activity for children to enjoy when the neighborhood group converges on your house for a rainy afternoon! A complete instruction guide for this activity is included in the links below this article.
HOME KITCHEN CHALLENGE
A number of popular television cooking shows involve challenge competitions with special or limited ingredients. Parents can adapt this concept to help their children develop basic cooking skills while also giving them an opportunity to be creative and problem solve. This “do it yourself” at home cooking competition, adapted from PBS Kids, offers an easy fun way to engage children in creative kitchen fun:
• Divide the kids (or kids and adults) into 2 or 3 teams of 1 – 2 people.
• Gather a set of cooking items for each team – utensils, measuring instruments, bowls, etc.
• Choose an adult or older child to be the judge and/or the announcer/assistant. The judge can also decide on the “Secret Ingredient” that will be revealed to the contestants. Consider making it a fruit, a raw vegetable like carrot, cucumber, or celery, a grain item such as bread or cracker, or a spice like ginger or cinnamon.
• Set up individual or team “cooking stations”. Your cooking competition may be preparation only – without a stove, microwave, or oven.
Plan in time for taking turns cooking if your items will need to be heated or if appliances such as blenders or stand mixers will be used.
To add an additional layer of challenge, parents can decide to limit each time to one preparation method for individual teams or across all teams.
• Decide ahead of time how many additional ingredients competitors may “shop” for in the kitchen.
• Designate a separate spot for the judge or multiple judges to taste the food. This station should be equipped with a plate and eating utensils, and a palate cleanser like water or crackers. For more fun possibilities, create scoring cards with categories for taste, originality, good humor or sportsmanship, and presentation.
• Use a timing device like a kitchen or cell phone timer to add in the time element to the challenge. The suggested competition time is 20 minutes. The 20-minute time should include the child’s recipe planning time. Decisions will need to be made quickly!
• When time’s up, have each team present their creation to the judge, including a verbal description of flavors and the preparation technique. The judge(s) can taste each one and fill out the scorecards.
• Need ideas for prizes? Consider awarding a new cooking utensil like a colorful spatula with a certificate or card declaring the winner(s) “Master(s) of the Grand Spatula!”
• Want to involve additional older children or adults? Designate reporters to videotape and interview the contestants. Extend the fun by watching all the videos once the competition ends or before the winners are announced.
WHEN IT RAINS, GROW CREATIVE FUN FAMILY TIME AT HOME
The next time the summer forecast calls for rain, be prepared with these “rainy day” activity ideas. For more ideas, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
How to Create a Cooking Challenge for Kids
How to Host a Cooking Competition for Your Kids
Stack ‘Em Up Activity
Florida 4-H members judge beef rounds at the UF/IFAS Animal Science Department meat science clinic. Photo Credit: Brian Estevez, UF IFAS Escambia County
Florida 4-H provides learning opportunities, camps, contests, shows and events in a multitude of areas for its members. The 4-H meat science project allows youth to learn about the different cuts of meat including quality factors that affect the safety and taste of the meat products we consume. The project culminates each year in April at the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest. The 2018 contest is April 21, 2018 at the Meat Processing Center at the University of Florida. The UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences also hosts a Livestock/Meat Judging Clinic on January 12-13 in Gainesville to prepare 4-H and FFA members for the contest.
What is 4-H Meat Judging?
Many Florida 4-H members are already in the production of meat products through exhibiting market steers, swine, sheep, and goats at livestock competitions. Through participation in judging contests and other leadership contests, agents, leaders, and youth learn valid, science-based information to consider when evaluating and making decisions, as well as learning proper meat storage and handling procedures. This knowledge and expertise to purchase safe, nutritious meat products gives future agricultural and food industry leaders a broader view of the livestock industry.
The 4-H Meat Judging Contest is composed of three areas, retail cut identification, carcass, wholesale, and retail placing classes, and oral reasons. 4-H members have to identify 50 retail cuts, including the species, primal, retail name, and cooking method. Youth then have to rank eight placing classes (carcass, wholesale, and retail classes). Finally youth have to give two sets of reasons on the placing classes that they have ranked.
This project area helps youth improve life skills, such as decision making, communications skills and confidence, but it also provides them a very practical skill they can use every time they visit the grocery store or butcher shop. Youth learn how to examine a cut of meat to determine which will be of the highest quality and flavor. Whether they cook for themselves or others, this useful skill will be perfected over time.
Another exciting aspect of the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest is the opportunity to attend National 4-H Meat Judging Contests. The first place senior team earns a trip to Kansas State University to participate in the National 4-H Meat Judging Contest as part of the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City. The second place senior team earns a trip to Denver to participate in the National Western Roundup Meat Judging Contest as part of the Western National Livestock Show.
In addition to the meat judging contest, Florida 4-H offers the Hog and Ham program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest:
The Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program is a statewide 4-H program which takes the participant through the total process of pork production from beginning to end. Youth select a feeder pig and grow it to harvesting weight, all the while keeping records on feed amounts and costs, health care, expenses, weights, etc. Youth harvest the hog and process it into wholesale or retail cuts. The project concludes by participating in a retail comparison project, completing a record book, and presenting a demonstration or illustrated talk to the other participants.
The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest was created to further enhance the 4-H meat project by allowing youth to demonstrate their food and fire safety, meat selection, and outdoor cooking skills. Youth grill one of four proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or whole turkey breast), or shrimp. Youth are judged on their food and fire safety and meat palatability. Four regional contests throughout Florida are held between April and July, with a state contest held in the fall. Over $18,000 in scholarships were provided for winners in 2017.
The Florida 4-H meat judging contest is a fun event that can enhance your knowledge of the agricultural and food industries. The Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest, in conjunction with the Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest, provides a well-rounded animal science education to all Florida 4-H members!
For more information about getting started (either as a youth member or as a volunteer), contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.