“The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.” (Psalm 89:11, ESV)
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV)
A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I spent the majority of the day outside because it was just gorgeous- warm and sunny with a crisp breeze. It was that kind of day that continuously beckoned us outside, even if we tried to avoid it! Most days like that we would decide to take a walk together as a family. However, on this particularly inviting Saturday, I decided to do an idea I created inspired by a previous article in Deeply Rooted Issue 1: Four Ways to Raise Creative Children (p. 83, 2014, Rogers). I decided that on this day, my son who lives in a cookie cutter home in suburbia would get a chance to explore nature around him. Living in a suburban home shouldn’t be an excuse for me to not have my child discover and explore on a regular basis. We grabbed a Mason jar, headed out the door, and began an activity that we will frequently enjoy from here on out. We walked along the sidewalk in our neighborhood, the same walk we have taken many a time with my son relaxing lazily in his stroller, me walking briskly to escape the heat and “get our walk in”. This time it was different. This time my son walked with us, and this walk was filled with treasures. It was no longer, “Oh see the pink flowers over there?”, while breezing past, it was instead, “See that?! Wow! What is that? What color is it? Go pick one of those and put it in our jar so we can look at it more closely later!” A simple rock became a treasure. A stick? Oh, forget about it! If you have boys, you know that a stick is the BOMB! We collected different colored leaves, flower buds, etc. On our walk we met a neighbor who allowed us to pick one of his petite, purple flowers. We didn’t log a lot of miles, but we sure logged a lot of memories. I hope that you, too, will experience (no matter where you live) an adventure of your own with your children- no matter the setting, treasure is there to be found!
One of the greatest parts of this activity is when you get home and pour all the goodies onto your table for observation! This easily becomes at-home science, mathematics, and Bible projects:
Science: You should ask your child questions about the characteristics of each of his or her findings (i.e. color, shape, weight, amount). He or she is using much needed skills to observe and discuss with you the different qualities of each item. You should also have him or her compare items (i.e. “Which do you have more of, rocks or leaves?” “Which is heavier, the little flower or the mulch?”)
Mathematics: Ask your child to categorize his or her findings (categories could be as simple as rocks, leaves, flowers, etc. to as complicated as red leaves, green leaves, small rocks, large rocks, etc.). If your child seems developmentally ready, have him or her create a graph of his or her findings.
Bible: Emphasize the importance of knowing that God created all things for our enjoyment and His glory. With your child, look through a concordance for verses about earth and creation. Take this time to read the story of Creation in Genesis- reiterating how and when all of your child’s findings were created by the Lord.
Have your kiddo take pictures of his or her findings or show a friend! Get excited and he or she will, too! The most important thing to remember is to make it fun and focus on the fact that you are viewing God’s creation. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)
What You Need:
1. A Mason jar (Or some other sturdy container for the different things you gather with your child)
2. Comfy shoes (Remember that you may be trekking over grass, rocks, etc.- though it might be nice to whip those shoes off to feel the grass between your toes!)
3. Time (This is the hardest to acquire, yet the most important. You don’t want your child to feel rushed. You want to be able to meander along enjoying discussing all of your beautiful findings.)
4. A journal to draw and write down observations (optional dependent on child’s age)
5. Graph paper and crayons for a mathematics graphing project (optional dependent on child’s age)
6. Bible and concordance
As your children collect their treasures, you will soon find that the treasure you receive is time spent with them. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127, ESV)