Today’s kids are constantly bombarded with environmental messages. However, some of these messages-if from questionable sources-can promote an idolatrous worship of nature. Help your kids understand the real reason for Christians getting involved in environmental issues-it’s their God-given task!
Gather the following supplies: one blindfold for every two students for the Hug-a-Tree activity or individual lunch bags each with a different-texture nature item inside-such as a smooth leaf, a thistle, a pine branch, garden soil, a feather, a rock and a piece of animal fur-for the Creation Mysteries activity; Bible; newspapers; paper grocery bags; paper; and crayons or markers.
If a wooded area isn’t available to your group, go on to the Creation Mysteries activity.
Form mixed-age pairs. Take the group to a place with several trees.
Say: Blindfold your partner and lead him or her to a tree-any tree. Have your blindfolded partner hug the tree and feel it very carefully to learn about the tree. Then lead your blindfolded partner back to me, spin the partner around three times and take off the blindfold. Trade places and repeat the process.
Afterward, see how many kids can identify the tree they hugged.
Ask: How did it feel to hug a tree? How did you feel when you did or didn’t recognize the tree you hugged? Explain. What do you like about trees?
Say: Trees are part of God’s gift to us, and we need to take care of them. God put trees in the first garden on Earth. Today we’re going to talk about what happened in that garden and the important job God gave to us through Adam.
2. CREATION MYSTERIES
If you did the Hug-a-Tree activity, go on to the next activity.
Form a circle. Have kids pass around the bags with the nature items inside. Have kids take turns feeling what’s in the bags, without looking. Afterward, let the younger kids tell what they think each bag contains. Then spread the mystery items out on a table.
Ask: What can you learn about things without using your eyes? Which was your favorite thing to touch?
Say: God has given us the very important job of taking care of all these things. Let’s take a trip back to Earth’s beginning to learn more about our God-given task.
3. THE WORLD GOD MADE
Say: Let’s make the Garden of Eden-where God put the first people he ever made.
Have kids volunteer for the following parts: narrator, Adam, two people to stretch out on the ground as a river, two “generic” trees, the tree of life and the tree of having the knowledge of good and evil. All the other kids will be birds or animals. Have volunteers stay in their seats until the narrator reads aloud the Bible passage.
Say: Listen and be ready to take your place in the garden as you hear your part in this Bible story.
Have the narrator read aloud Genesis 2:15-20, pausing and cueing kids to perform their assigned parts.
Ask: What do you think the Garden of Eden was like? What job did God give Adam? Have you ever helped take care of a garden? What do you like about gardening? dislike about gardening?
Say: I think Adam enjoyed taking care of the garden and watching over all the animals. But soon Adam and Eve disobeyed God and did something he told them not to do. God made them leave the garden. Then more and more people were born and they began to spread all over the Earth. Now we have the whole world to take care of!
Ask: Do you think we’re doing a good job taking care of the Earth? Why or why not?
4. CLEAN SWEEP
Say: Let’s see how well we’re taking care of God’s world. We’re going to go on a look-and-listen walk. I want you to be totally silent-no talking at all. Listen for all the sounds you can hear, and look around for any garbage or pollution. Pick up any garbage to throw away later. Don’t talk until we’re back here again.
After a two-minute walk outside, bring kids back inside and discuss sights and sounds. Ask about the natural and the human-made sounds. Talk about natural beauty and human-made pollution.
Ask: How do you think God feels when he sees how people have messed up his beautiful world?
Say: Let’s play a game called Clean Sweep to help us understand how God feels.
Have kids count off by threes. Have groups 1 and 2 form a big circle. Give each child in the circle a sheet of newspaper. Give each child in group 3 a paper grocery bag. Have kids in group 3 get on their hands and knees in the middle of the circle.
On “go,” have groups 1 and 2 tear their newspapers into little pieces and throw the pieces into the circle. Have group 3 keep the circle clean by picking up all the paper and putting it in the bags. Call time after one minute and see if group 3 was able to keep the circle clean.
Afterward, have everyone gather the paper shreds.
Ask: How did you feel when you threw all that garbage into the circle? How did you feel trying to keep the circle clean? How is this game like or unlike what’s happening in the world? Explain. Do you think God feels the same way the kids in group 3 felt? Why or why not? How does being a Christian make a difference in the way we feel about keeping the Earth clean? How do you help care for the Earth? What else can you do to help care for the Earth?
If kids haven’t already mentioned these things, bring them up: recycle, walk or ride a bike instead of asking for a ride in a car, and use water and other resources carefully.
5. OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Give kids each a sheet of paper and a crayon or marker. Read aloud Psalm 104:24.
Have kids divide their papers in half. Have them each draw on one half a picture of their favorite thing from nature. On the other half, have them draw or write one thing they’ll do this week to help take care of God’s wonderful world.
Afterward, ask volunteers to show what they drew or wrote. Encourage kids to tell their parents about their plans.
Form a circle. Have volunteers finish the sentence prayer, “Thank you, God, for creating…” Close by asking for God’s help in taking good care of his wonderful world.