Every year on June 21, we welcome summer with the summer solstice. While the season officially begins when one of the Earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun, many families informally deem the end of the school year the beginning of summer. For children attending schools with a traditional calendar, summer is a shift in schedule and activities. Even children whose schools use a year-round calendar, notice learning feels different in the summer months. The arrival of a new season makes us aware not only of the rhythms of nature but also of our lives. In this lesson, children will explore Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 noticing patterns of activity in the natural environment as well as their lives. Then, they will consider how God is active in each of these seasons.
You will need:
- A Bible
- A computer with an Internet connection connected to a television or data projector and “Crash Course Kids: Earth’s Rotation and Revolution” (optional)
- Clipboards, paper, and pencils (optional)
- Paper circles (approx. 3” diameter), markers or crayons, glue and chart paper (optional)
Greet the children as they arrive.
Once the children are seated, ask:
- What do you like best about the summer months?
- What season is your favorite? Why?
- Are there any seasons you dislike? Why?
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Provide context for the reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8):
- This reading is not a lectionary reading for this week.
- The reading comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Not much is known about this portion of the Bible. It is unclear who the author(s) are or why it was written. The Hebrew name for the book is Qoheleth, which means “teacher.” (Need help pronouncing this word?) Ecclesiastes is the Latin word that corresponds to Qoheleth.
Read aloud Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Many children’s Bibles offer versions of this text. Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible has a lovely retelling called “A Time for Everything.” There is also a picture book version of the text Ecclesiastes: To Everything There is a Season by Cynthia Rylant.
After reading, ask:
- What did you notice in this reading?
- Why do you think the author says there are certain times for things to happen?
- Do we have “seasons” in life like the earth has seasons?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect the Scripture reading to their own lives through one or more of these activities.
- Science behind the seasons: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet connection connected to a television or data projector and “Crash Course Kids: Earth’s Rotation and Revolution.” Share with the children there is science behind how the seasons change. While this information wasn’t necessarily something biblical authors knew in the way we do, they were aware of the rhythms of nature. Now we can learn why exactly these rhythms happen. Show the video. Then, discuss how seasonal changes affect our daily lives.
- Observing changes: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: clipboards, paper and pencils. This activity works best if you have a wooded area, park or natural space near your church building. Tell the children that you will be going on a walk outdoors. As they walk, ask the children to write down or draw things they see that the identify with summer. After the walk, have the children share what they noticed. Discuss what they would expect to see during other seasons (Fall, Winter, Spring). How do these changes affect the way they interact with nature? How do they make them feel? Where can they experience or see God in each of these seasons?
- Our life seasons: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: paper circles (approx. 3” diameter), markers or crayons, glue and chart paper. Share with the children that they will experience different “seasons” in their lives. These are periods of time when they are doing or learning certain things. A school year is a “season” of their lives. Hand each child several paper circles. Ask them to draw or write things they have done over the last school year in the circles. Encourage them to not only think of activities they did in school but also those they participated in outside of school (family activities, sports, music, dance, etc.) After they have completed several circles, give each child a sheet of chart paper. Ask them to glue the circles on the paper so that they form a ring (a circle of circles). Then, have them reflect on feelings they had about these experiences. Did they make them happy or sad? Where do think God was in these events?
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