Finding joy in nature
Finding joy in nature
Get outside and enjoy a summer storm, analyzing snowflakes, viewing a sunrise/sunset, going for a quiet walk or observing a caterpillar.
Discussion point: Includes talking points for each activity.
The busyness of our lives combined with a separation from nature can cause us to forget that there is incredible joy to be experienced in the quiet, beauty and fascination of nature. The goal of this activity is to create some time and space where you can help your children find awe in God’s creation. Suggestions include watching a summer storm, analyzing snowflakes, viewing a sunrise or a sunset, going for a quiet walk or observing a caterpillar go through metamorphosis.
Cozy up as a family and watch a summer storm from the safety of your living room. It seems as though people have one of two reactions to storms – either fear or fascination. When your children are thoroughly aware that God makes the thunder and lightning, it can be very calming for an otherwise fearful child. To add more excitement or drama, put on some suspense-filled classical music to listen to as you watch the “light show.” Read the verses listed below and thank God that He is in control of all aspects of the wind and weather.
Job 37:2-5, 10-12
“Listen! Listen to the roar of His voice, to the rumbling that comes from His mouth. He unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of His roar; He thunders with His majestic voice. When His voice resounds, He holds nothing back. God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding… . The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them. At His direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever He commands them.”
“But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding. When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses.”
Pack a breakfast picnic and find a quiet place to eat and watch the sunrise. Listen to the sounds of nature waking up around you. Take turns naming and identifying sounds. As the sun comes up, imagine that God is painting a picture in the sky for all to enjoy. Talk about how creative God is and how much fun He must have mixing the colours every day. Paint your own sunrise pictures at home and add a verse from below to the picture. You can also cut out black shapes, making silhouettes of your family, to add to the foreground of the paintings.
Job 38:12 [The Lord said]
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place… ?”
“Those living far away fear Your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy.”
This activity is seasonal; however, you can use an ice shaver to make “fake” snow when there is no snow on the ground. Using a large plastic bowl, scoop up fresh snow and bring it indoors to play with. Seat your children around a table and place a cookie tray in front of each child. Have fun making and decorating mini-snowmen. As you read Psalm 147:16-18, have your children act it out using their snow piles. They can spread snow, hurl down hail and then breathe on the snow to melt it. Honour God as the One who owns the storehouses of hail and snow.
“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that all men He has made may know His work, He stops all men from their labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.”
“He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down His hail like pebbles. Who can withstand His icy blast? He sends His word and melts them; He stirs up His breezes, and the waters flow.”
On a clear night, go outside and lie on a blanket and look at the stars. This experience is intensified if you can view the stars in a rural, versus urban, setting. The darker your surroundings, the brighter the stars appear. A quieter setting also adds to the awe and magnificence of a starry night. Spend time praising God and talking about how amazing it is that He knows each star by name. Packing a bedtime snack and a story is a fun way to round out your family’s evening.
“Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away.”
“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”
“This is what the Lord says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is His name.”
Take a walk with your children and encourage them to look for living things. Whenever you do find a living creature, ask it some questions such as, “Who made you?” and “Who made the world?” Your children can answer for the wild creatures saying, “God did!” Ideally, walk somewhere that will have a few wild animals to see. If you do not have easy access to the country, even in city parks there is a multitude of creatures to see if you walk slowly and watch for them. Be sure to observe the respect rule: If God made it, we don’t hurt it. Children find bugs and other creepy crawlies just as cool as larger living organisms.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
Butterflies ’n’ bugs
Many observatories and museums have bug and butterfly exhibits that you can visit. If you are adventurous, you can even purchase a caterpillar and watch it go through metamorphosis in your home. The Painted Lady butterfly is an easy one to care for. One potential source is Educationalscience.com. For a video version of the process of metamorphosis, search online or check out your local library. Talk about how amazing it is that God made so many different creatures.
“And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”