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Amazing Race’ 4-H activity teaches kids reasoning, cooperation

Published: Friday, July 11, 2014 9:42 p.m. CDT
(Heidi Litchfield –
Alex Chan, Nathaniel Greene and Anthony Wamack try to decipher a word from the letters written in the bottom of the Dixie cup that they emptied by eating the M&Ms that it was filled with during the Amazing Race held Friday at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.
(Heidi Litchfield –
Berlyn Canjura colors a tiger on the flag designed for her team, Team Tiger during the Amazing Race Friday morning at Grundy County Fairgrounds.

MORRIS – The Homes Cool Kids 4-H group decided to challenge its collective brains Friday as members used the lessons learned from the GPS segment of class and put them to work in the field as participants in their very own Amazing Race.

“Kids tend to lose reasoning skills over the summer break from school,” University of Illinois Extension youth educator John Davis said. “This helps them use those reasoning skills as well as teaches them cooperative skills.”

The home-school group children were divided into four teams of four to five people and competed to win their version of the television show “The Amazing Race.”

Home-school group leader Donna Cockream said the event is a great way to add a practical application to what the kids learn in their home-school class.

After teams were picked, team names were chosen and flags were created to represent each group.

Teams chose names like Tigers, Team Star-Spangled and Pound Cakers, while one team couldn’t come together with a single idea, so they chose to call themselves the “Indecisive” team, which they represented with a question mark on their team flag.

“I wanted to pick something that would go with our flag,” Matthew Auriene of Team Star-Spangled said as he continued to draw fireworks on his group’s flag.

Being indecisive doesn’t lend itself to getting ahead in a game where the groups had to work together as teams to get to their next stop. Team challenges included activities such as tying their hands together using only one of each person’s hands to do the tying, or stacking melting ice cubes in a given time frame.

Team Indecisive had to learn to work together as they stopped in “England” and with tied hands had to eat chocolate snack cakes representing tea cakes.

“We had to work at coordinating with everyone,” Anthony Warmack said.

Alex Chan said the hardest part was figuring out how to open the snack cakes.

The ice cube stacking took place in the cafeteria at the Grundy County Fairgrounds where the race was being held, which represented “Antarctica,” but lacked the cold temperatures to keep the ice cubes frozen.

“They are really slippery,” said Gabi Born, from Team Tiger. “They are kind of melting.”

As quick as they stacked them, they slid into a pile on the metal surface until they melted in just the right way for the team to get six of the 10 ice cubes balanced one on top of the other. They stopped at six and hoped the other three teams wouldn’t get more than six to stay in place.

At the “Germany” station, Dixie cups were filled halfway with M&Ms the kids had to eat to see if there was a letter written in the bottom. Once they emptied all the cups they had to use the letters to arrange the word “challenge.”

“The hardest part of the challenge was figuring out the word,” Nathaniel Greene said.

His teammate, Hannah Rossi, said eating the M&Ms was the hardest.

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