(updated March 2020 with new resources)
This week we found tulips pushing up in our yard, had wind blow our gas grill across the deck, and went puddle jumping (more like mud slogging) with friends! Spring is on its way here, and I couldn’t be more excited!
In spite of pollen, tornadoes, and poison ivy, spring is my favorite season. I don’t like being cold. I’d rather be outside than inside. And now that I have an inquisitive, nature-loving boy, I’m enamored by all there is to learn in the great outdoors.
I read a book this week filled with nature activities to help children connect with the world outside. In the foreword it highlighted a key point – we must teach children to love nature, not just know about it.
I couldn’t agree more. Reaching the heart, the affections, the will, is what creates long-term connection and appreciation, not just knowing and understanding facts.
Nature Points to God
The same is true when teaching children about God. Children don’t need to simply know more about God, doctrine, and the faith. They need to respond from their hearts to who God actually is. They need to wonder at his greatness and creativity. They need to trust and love him in a deeper way as they grow.
Spring is a great time to use nature to help children both understand God better and relate to him directly. Romans 1:19-20 says,
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (ESV)
Nature teaches us about God. It shows what he is like! As children learn to love and enjoy nature, they can also learn to love and enjoy God.
- The sun rising and setting demonstrates that God is faithful. His faithful extends to his children as well. Their hearts can begin to trust God to do what he says.
- God waters plants that no one ever sees. He is kind and good. Children can expect God to interact with them in kind and good ways.
- Storms and winds are strong. They remind us that God is powerful. No problem a child has is too difficult for God!
- God feeds the birds. And his children are even more important than birds. God sees them and will provide for them! Children can rest in his care.
Nature Sparks Wonder and Amazement
When you stop and consider how nature works, it really is quite impressive. God didn’t just create flowers. He created over 400,00 kinds of flowers. Some are annuals. Some are perennials. Some like shade. Some like sun. He imagined and created bulbs, seeds, stems, cells, leaves, petals, and nectar. All with a simple word from his mouth.
In other words, God thought of everything! He didn’t any need help when creating the world. He imagined every detail (including things we can’t even see) and brought it to be. How many times do we fail when trying to do something new? We forget a detail. Or don’t get it perfectly the first time. But not God.
God made unique animals too. Like the frogmouth (that’s not really a frog at all), the glass frog (that has a transparent abdomen), and the panda ant (whose color mimics a panda and is really a wasp). Take any day of creation, and you can easily help a child see God’s excitement, creativity and enjoyment of all the things he created.
And how about considering what it takes to keep it all working together day after day? God is like a great conductor. He directs weather and planets, provides food and nourishment, all without ever missing a beat. It reminds me of Colossians 1:16-17.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (ESV)
Children are naturally drawn to what inspires and amazes. Everything is novel to them. They wonder at what we, as adults, see as commonplace. All it takes to move this wonder and amazement from nature to the Creator is helping them see the God behind it all.
It can be as simple as a statement, “God knew monarchs would need food so he made milkweed just for them. God even cares about butterflies!”
It can be an exclamation from your own heart wondering at the kindness of a personal God. “I’m so glad God thought to make daisies. I think he knew they would be my favorite flower. I’m sure he smiles every time I find one!”
It can be praise that responds to something observed about God. “God is so smart! I can’t even remember the names of some people I’ve met, but God knows the names of every star, in every galaxy!”
Lead your kids on a nature scavenger hunt. (Or bring the nature objects to them if you’re in a classroom setting.) Have them observe each object and imagine how God made it and cares for it. As you talk, help children see the God behind the creation using the ideas above. Then ask, “What do you think God enjoys about (object) .” Imagine together how each object could praise God. Ask children what they want to say or do to praise God, and then let them do it! (An adaption of this idea is included in the devotional, God is My Creator!)
Download a FREE nature scavenger hunt list now!
Enjoying God My Creator! Activity Guide
This FREE Activity Guide is designed for parents or teachers to use to teach children about their Creator, God. It has 70+ multi-sensory, multi-age, play-based activities. Each one teaches children ages 3-11 to acknowledge and enjoy God as Creator. Most of the activities
- take 15 minutes or less to teach
- use common items
- include adaptions (if needed) for different age groups
God is My Creator! Children’s Devotional
This four-week devotional parallels the activities found in the Activity Guide and is designed to fill your child with wonder and amazement as they think about God as Creator. Daily activities are also included to help your child internalize the truth and then respond to God personally.
The first week of this devotional covers the ideas outlined in this post
- God thought of everything! He didn’t need any help.
- God made things we can’t even see.
- God’s excitement, creativity and enjoyment of his creation can be seen as he created everything in the beginning.
- God is the conductor of the world. He keeps it all running smoothly.
- Nature teaches us about God! It shows what he is like!
Children will internalize truths and respond by
- Imagining what it would take to create something new
- Praising God for his imagination and power
- Drawing pictures for the days of creation
- Trying to name all the stars he can see
- Doing a word search with names of unusual creatures
- Thinking of things God does every day to run the world
- Telling God how powerful and wonderful he is
- Thinking of things in nature and telling what they teach about God
- Going outside and enjoying God’s creation
- Thanking God for showing us himself in nature
- Going on a nature scavenger hunt (similar to the idea shared above)
- Imagining God caring for and enjoying his creation
- Imagining God’s creation praising him