In honor of Earth Sunday, this activity reminds us that the cycles of creation continue, even while our lives are seemingly disrupted. The natural rhythms of nature remind us to honor our own need for balance in the midst of this challenging time.
Begin the time with your children by playing a rhythm game. Clap a simple rhythm and ask your children to repeat it. Do this a few more times, varying the rhythm each round. Explain what rhythm is in music: the repetition of the same pattern of beats. Then tell the children rhythm is also a word we use to describe other patterns that repeat. God’s creation has many rhythms. Ask the children what rhythms they see in creation. If they need some prompting, you could share a few ideas: seasons, the migration of birds or even the life cycle of a plant.
Next, read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Ask your children to notice the rhythms in the reading. When you have finished reading, have them share their observations. Then ask them why they think it is important for certain things to happen at certain times, especially in creation. Why do you think things have to stop sometimes? (Give an example or two, such as, “Why does the sun set each day? Why doesn’t it rain all the time?”) Explain that these rhythms are part of God’s creation. They need to exist for creation to have time to work and time to rest. This pattern reflects God’s own practice in the creation narrative (six days of creation followed by a day of rest).
Now for the “choose your own adventure” part of the activity! Depending on the interests (and attention spans) of your children, you may choose to finish the lesson in one of the following ways:
Head outside to observe the current state of the natural world in your area. Look for signs that creation is resting or working. You can even make this a weekly activity, noticing the changes in nature as evidence of its rhythms.
Look closely and you’ll see an egg hiding in this bird’s nest. This nest and its contents remind us of one of the rhythms of nature. The adult bird busily prepares the nest and lays the egg. While the egg appears to be resting, we know that inside of the baby bird is busy growing and will soon join the world, continuing the cycle of life.
Reflect on your family’s rhythms since the pandemic began. Discuss how your rhythms have changed. Evaluate whether or not your rhythms are supporting your well-being, just like the rhythms of nature support creation. If you find your rhythm needs some adjustment, talk about ways you can make changes. In the midst of challenging times, true rest is often hard to come by. Consider adding a centering practice to your family’s routine, such as yoga or meditation. A wonderful resource for both of these is Growga. This organization offers free online yoga for kids and adults, as well as audio relaxation activities. (Learn more here.)
JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.