The Journal of Extension -

April 2017 // Volume 55 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // v55-2iw5

Choose and Tell Cards: A 4-H Cloverbud Resource for Promoting Public Speaking and Life Skills

Choose and Tell is a curriculum for 4-H Cloverbud members that introduces them to public speaking and life skill enhancement (communication and social interaction). Choose and Tell consists of activity cards analogous to a deck of cards. Activity card titles include Wash and Comb Your Hair, Plant a Seed, and Floss Your Teeth. The activities are fun and engaging and involve 4-H Cloverbuds practicing demonstrations and illustrated talks in a group setting. The activities are designed as a springboard for advisors to help 4-H Cloverbuds gain confidence in speaking and sharing in front of other youths.

Jill Stechschulte
Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development
County Extension Director
Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County
Wauseon, Ohio

Scott D. Scheer
Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio


Choose and Tell is a curriculum consisting of activities to provide 4-H Cloverbud members aged 5–8 years old with an introduction to public speaking and life skills development (communication and social skills). The Choose and Tell curriculum is fun and engaging, with the children practicing demonstrations and illustrated talks while learning activities in a group setting.

Choose and Tell consists of 54 cards (five introduction, background, and direction cards and 49 activity cards). Each Choose and Tell activity is printed on one card, resulting in a deck of activity cards. Children select an activity card and practice with a buddy to prepare for providing paired demonstrations to other group members. The paired demonstrations take about 5 min each. Choose and Tell activities are fun and developmentally age appropriate.

The Choose and Tell topics are meant to be relevant and useful for the Cloverbud age group. Participants develop public speaking skills and the life skills of communication and cooperation. The activities are designed as a springboard for advisors and volunteers to assist in helping 4-H Cloverbuds gain confidence in speaking and sharing in front of other youths.

Research Background

The Choose and Tell curriculum provides children in a safe setting the opportunity to speak in front of others while cooperating with their fellow members through paired presentations. Life skills such as communication and cooperation are critical for helping youths become successful, contributing citizens (Ferrari, Hogue, & Scheer, 2004; Hendricks, 1996). Research with 4-H alumni has shown that involvement in 4-H significantly influences the development of abilities such as public speaking, cooperation, and social skills more than involvement in other youth development organizations does (Maass, Wilken, Jordan, Culen, & Place, 2006).

It is not typical for 4-H members of Cloverbud age (5–8 years old) to be engaged in demonstration-type activities until they are in the program for older 4-H members, where the skills needed for public speaking are developed. However, research indicates that greater developmental impacts for long-term outcomes are more likely to occur in childhood than in adolescence (Bronfenbrenner, 2005). As a result, Choose and Tell was designed to help the younger 4-H members in Cloverbuds begin to practice and become involved in demonstration-related activities.

Implementing Choose and Tell

Directions for using the resource are provided on two of the cards. The deck is divided into four sets according to level of difficulty from easy to difficult. Each level has a corresponding symbol: easy (happy face), medium (horseshoes), intermediate (star), and difficult (clover). The specific Choose and Tell activity titles are listed by level in Table 1.

Table 1.
Choose and Tell Activity Titles by Level of Difficulty

Level of difficulty Activity name
Easy Fold a Towel
Make a Coin Bank
Make Trail Mix
Make a Snack Wrap
Make a Turkey Hand Print
Set a Place at the Table
Make a Root Beer Float
Paint with a Straw
Make Ants on a Log
Wash Your Hands
Clean a Pair of Eye Glasses
Wash and Comb Your Hair
Medium Floss Your Teeth
Make Nachos
Paint with a Marble
Make a No-Sew Fleece Scarf
Read a Compass
Plant a Seed
Make a First Aid Kit
Make a Paper Airplane
Paint a Rock Friend
Frost a Cupcake
Make a Plant Watering Jug
Make a Bird Feeder
Make a Paper Bag Puppet
Make a Pancake in a Bowl
Make a Dirt Cup Snack
Intermediate Make an Ankle Bracelet
Make a CD Case Picture Frame
Make a Clover Bug
Make a Colorful Bracelet
Say the 4-H Pledge
Lead the Pledge of Allegiance
Make a Clay Animal
Make an Origami Dog Card
Make Frozen Fruit Pops
Paint with Glue and Sand
Blow Up a Balloon
Tie a Shoelace
Make a Find It Bottle
Difficult Make a Button Bracelet
Wrap a Gift
Use a Yo-yo
Make Butter
Tie a Square Knot
Play Stick and Hoop
Make a Flower Pen
Make a Pom-Pom Animal
Make Salt Dough

The directions comprise six steps:

  1. Plan on one Choose and Tell card for every two Cloverbud members. Gather the necessary supplies for the activity on each card.
  2. Organize members in pairs. Assign an adult or teen to work with the pairs of members.
  3. Distribute one Choose and Tell card and the supplies that go with it to each Cloverbud pair. Have the adult/teen assigned to the pair read the card and demonstrate the activity.
  4. Have each participant try the activity while the adult/teen reads each step from the card.
  5. Once both Cloverbud members master the activity, ask them to work together to explain the process. Encourage the children to use their own words. Practice until they are comfortable giving "paired" demonstrations.
  6. Finally, ask the children to take turns giving "paired" demonstrations in front of a small group or the entire club.

The directions are meant to serve as a guideline, and modifications can be made at the discretion of the adult club leader.

Program Evaluation

Initial evaluation findings for Choose and Tell have been positive. 4-H Cloverbud volunteers who have used Choose and Tell completed an observational instrument designed to measure the influence of the curriculum on the children. The observational instrument has been used to evaluate other 4-H Cloverbud program curricula (Scheer, Yeske, & Zimmer, 2011). Content validity was established through the use of a panel of experts (i.e., Ohio 4-H youth development professionals) with specialization in preadolescent education and 4-H Cloverbuds. Quantitative findings from the observations of 43 volunteers indicate that life skills (content learning, social skills) improved for children who completed Choose and Tell activities.

Qualitative results from the adult volunteers who implemented Choose and Tell indicate overwhelmingly supportive feedback. For example, one volunteer described the program as providing "great ideas that can be used with Cloverbuds and also adapted for other groups" and providing opportunities to "have older youth work on teaching skills with younger members." Another volunteer also recognized the program as providing "great ideas" and added, "Anything that makes our advisor's job easier is a great thing!"

We will continue to evaluate Choose and Tell as it is used throughout Ohio to determine its effectiveness.


By using Choose and Tell, 4-H Cloverbuds have the opportunities to enhance positive relationships with caring adult volunteers and to master skills through activities they select. Choose and Tell helps Cloverbud members improve their communication skills, make friends with other members, and build mastery as they experience, share, process, and generalize.


Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ferrari, T. M., Hogue, C. A., & Scheer, S. D. (2004). Parents' perceptions of life skills development in the 4-H Cloverbud program. Journal of Extension, 42(3), Article 3RIB6. Available at:

Hendricks, P. (1996). Targeting life skills model: Incorporating developmentally appropriate learning opportunities to assess impact of life skills development. Ames, IA: Iowa State University.

Maass, S. E., Wilken, C. S., Jordan, J., Culen, G., & Place, N. (2006). A comparison of 4-H and other youth development organizations in the development of life skills. Journal of Extension, 44(5), Article 5RIB2. Available at:

Scheer, S. D., Yeske, Y., & Zimmer, B. (2011). Implementing and assessing 4-H educational activity kits for children. Journal of Extension, 49(2), Article 2IAW2. Available at: