There’s no better time than the summer months to explore teachable moments with hands-on activities in the great outdoors. Immersing children in an earthy setting stirs both their interest and their curiosity. When your lesson plan incorporates the outdoor setting that children are in, they effortlessly connect their hands-on experience to your teachable moment. Here are some ideas for summery teachable moments relating to nature and faith:
- Take a short walk as a class. Take the same walk a second time, instructing the class to walk very slowly and think about God and the world God created. After the walk, ask them, “When you slowed down, what did you notice about the world around you that you missed on your first walk?” (Acts 17:27)
- On a rainy day, gather children in a sheltered area to sit quietly as they watch and listen to the rain. Encourage them to ponder the ways that God’s gift of rain refreshes the earth and its creatures. (Isaiah 55:10)
- Sitting in the grass, invite children to rub their hands through the grass and thank God for all the creatures who eat grass.
- Go to a lake and sit on the shore. Pay attention to the endless waves washing up on the shore. Ponder God’s continuous love that is ours every day. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- Invite children and their parents (or older siblings) to gather at a park in town. Encourage each family to pack a picnic lunch and bring a wagon. Take a few moments to talk about hunger and reflect on Matthew 25:35: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” Divide into small groups to walk the neighborhood streets asking homeowners to donate canned goods that will be given to a local food pantry. Conclude your time together with a picnic lunch and a prayer thanking God for the people who work the fields and care for the animals that provide us with food to eat and share with others.
Add variety to Sunday morning class time by including outdoor teachable moments once a month. If you are planning a day camp, map out a progressive road trip that incorporates teachable moments at a variety of locations. If you distribute devotional resources to families, email or put together a booklet of teachable moment ideas so that parents who are planning to be away on the weekends will have tools for exploring spirituality as a family. However you do it this summer, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to creatively design, and experiment with, teachable moments for the children in your care.