I am pleased to share one of the beautiful projects created with the Earth Monastery Grant. Read on to learn how Salal + Cedar piloted a program to bring scripture and the elements of the natural word to nurture children's sense of wonder in God's creation.
What did they do?
Salal + Cedar Watershed Discipleship Ministry used their Earth Monastery grant to produce and pilot three curriculum boxes—portable, self-contained lesson material–for multi-age groups. The project was designed to bring together scripture and elements of the natural world from the lower Fraser watershed to nurture children's sense of wonder in God's creation. The pedagogy draws from three quite different sources Messy Church, Godly Play, and Forest Schools. The format for each lesson includes a scripturally based story and actions lead by an adult, a series of open-ended wonder questions and several hands-on learning and explorations stations. The three boxes explore:
- All the Birds of the Air
- Trees of Field and Forest
Most of the work was undertaken by Salal + Cedar's priest in charge, Laurel Dykstra (LD)and community member Cameron Gutjahr (CG).
Who was served?
Between Jan 1 and June 30, approximately 60 children at different 5 churches in Lower Mainland British Columbia took part in a biblically-based environmental learning experience using the curriculum boxes. Five adults contributed to and practiced with the written and hands-on materials and are able to deliver the curriculum in various settings.
They now have 3 curriculum boxes that are available for use when Salal + Cedar visits different churches on Sunday Mornings, for Messy Church programs, and when they help to animate retreats, church picnics and other events.
Samples of the work:
"This is the water of creation, the dangerous water of the flood, the water the people through into freedom, the water Jesus was baptized in, the water you were or will be baptized in, and so much more."
Water is all around us, in our bodies, in plants, animals, rivers, lakes, oceans, underground and even in the air. Water moves, it flows in streams, rivers, oceans. Water evaporates (lift hand) becomes clouds, falls back to earth as rain (make a circle with your arm indicating water cycle).
Sample Wonder questions:
- I wonder what it means to be thirsty for God?
- I wonder what you use water for?
- I wonder how we can take care of water?
- I wonder what people who don't have clean water do?
All the Birds of the Air
A long, long, long time ago the prophet Ezekiel told a story. Ezekiel said this is what God's people are like:
I will go to the lofty top of a cedar tree
And take a tender young twig from the very top
I will plan that twig high on a mountain
And it will grow tall, and sprout branches and become a giant cedar tree
And every kind of bird will come and live in it
And all the winged creatures will build their nests in the shade of its branches.
Sample Wonder Questions:
- I wonder what kind of birds you know?
- What kind of bird would you be?
- I wonder how the birds felt when they found a safe place for their nests?
Did you know there are trees at the beginning and middle, and the end of the bible?
In the very beginning of creation God said, 'Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trres of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the in it.' And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
Sample Wonder Questions:
- I wonder if you the names of some trees that grow in the forest?
- I wonder what kinds of plants are used for medicine?
- I wonder how a seed feels when it goes into the dark, dark, earth to grow a tree? Is is scared? Excited?
- I wonder if there is a tree that you love best?
What did they learn/next steps?
The materials as written proved very popular with the different host communities. Greatest success was with a Salal + Cedar member taking the key leadership/storyteller role and hosts supporting. For facilitators who have thought about faith and the environment the materials were easy to follow and adapt. For those new to the ideas or uncomfortable with adlib some more detail could help.
In the future they will refine the instructions so that the material is more universally accessible and expect to create more boxes as their ministry grows.