Our call to care for God’s creation is unceasing, and we as disciples are especially reminded of this call in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Earth Day will be celebrated this month on April 22 and is another opportunity to discuss with children our responsibility to care for God’s creation. Using resources responsibly and helping to care for the planet is the responsibility of all disciples, regardless of our age. Even the youngest disciples can help to be stewards of creation. One of the ways to encourage this stewardship is by teaching young disciples about creation in order to develop wonder, awe, and gratitude for God’s gifts.
In the story of Genesis, we learn that God gave us many gifts, including the gifts of light and water. Share the story of creation from a children’s Bible (Genesis Chapter 1). After you read, reiterate the things that God made, and that they were good. Then, download the God’s Gifts Together Activity Activity to share with early childhood or primary-aged children. This activity will appeal especially to Catholic kids who are inclined to naturalist and visual-spatial activities. In this activity, they will learn that God’s gifts of light and water work together to create something special: a rainbow! The activity includes a printable lesson plan to share with catechists or families.
The season of spring brings a return of daylight hours and an increased opportunity in many parts of the country to spend more time out of doors. Explain to the children that when light shines through water, it makes a rainbow. Spring showers will provide an opportunity for disciples to spot rainbows if they are on the lookout for them!
Gather crayons, markers, or colored pencils for the children to use. Distribute an activity sheet to each child. Ask the children to share their experiences of seeing rainbows in the sky after a rainstorm. Have volunteers identify each picture shown. Then, invite children to color the sun, the cloud, rain, and rainbow. (You may want to review the colors of the rainbow in advance). Hang completed activity sheets on a class bulletin board or send them home with the children as a reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. To conclude the activity, pray a prayer of thanks to God for the gifts of creation. And, encourage the children to watch for rainbows.
If you wish, extend this activity into the fine arts or science subject areas. Discuss the properties of rainbows, use the activity as a starting point to talk about colors or prisms, or conduct a simple experiment to make a rainbow with the children!