The 4-H youth program helps 5- to 19-year-olds learn life skills through practical learning methods. The name 4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health; the four areas that the organization tries to develop in young people. While the program attempts to prepare its members for life by giving them valuable skills, there is just as much play as there is work at 4-H.
Getting to Know Each Other
When a new 4-H is set up or a lot of new members join, it is important that everyone feels comfortable. Playing games that have everyone interacting will ease the nerves of any newbies. Balloon Tag is a great way of doing this. In this game each person has a piece of string tied to their ankles with a balloon on the end. The objective is to pop balloons while protecting your own. The winner is the last person with an inflated balloon. Candy Toss is a game that has children sitting in a circle with five pieces of candy each. Children take turns telling the group something they have experienced or accomplished; whoever in the circle who has not done the same thing passes over a piece of candy to the current speaker in the circle. The free candy will be a big appeal in this game, but the kids will also get to know each other and find out things they have in common.
Word searches can be fun but also educational by making the answers on a subject the child will not know about, for example all of the different kinds of sheep. A prize for the fastest to the finish the word search, crossword or quiz helps to keep the kids interested. But solo games don’t necessarily have to be about handing out sheets of paper. A science experiment that has the kids put two celery sticks in food dye and watch the celery turn a different color is fun, but also teaches them about science. Having the kids learn how to sew a pillow then have a go themselves can teach them a new skill; a prize for the winner will keep things interesting.
Teaming the kids up to have fun together is what 4-H is all about. Pair the kids up and have one partner spin the other around five times and then have him try to walk in a straight line, then the partners can swap roles. Another group game involves splitting everybody into two groups. One person from a team has to walk towards the other team but cannot look away and has to try not to smile. All the while the awaiting team are trying their best to make the straight-faced child snicker. The Picture Game involves lining everybody up. The person at the back end is shown a picture and must draw it on the person’s back in front of them with their finger. This pattern continues until the person in front has to draw this pattern onto a piece of paper. The kids then get to see how close they were to the original picture.
Setting up games that get the kids thinking about solutions to tasks you set for them is a good way to get them all working together. Split them into groups and set them the task of getting one member of the team to the other side of the room without that person touching the floor; carrying is forbidden. Give prizes to the group that achieves this first.