While the world watches the effects of climate change unfold on the news and in our communities, our young people, in particular, are inheriting a planet marked by increased instability and a murky future. As youth group leaders, teachers, parents, and community advocates, we love the young people in our midst and want the best for them and planet Earth.
In order to help facilitate learning about faith and climate change, spirituality and the environment, four unique devotionals for young people have been read and evaluated with main takeaways and advice for usage. Enjoy!
#LiveLent : Care for God’s Creation for Kids (A 40 Day Challenge, The Church of England)
This booklet would be a great fit for families looking to use simple, daily devotionals with their children as they grow in their faith and learn about the environment. It’s a well-designed booklet to open in the morning and return to at dinner time for timeless lessons and educational creativity. The booklet is really designed to be an on-ramp for kids to explore environmental questions for the first time, and to have the mentors in their lives ask them to reflect on their faith.
It’s worth noting that there’s a limited ‘human scope’ (i.e. Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism) but for kids at the age who would be reading this (i.e. Elementary school-age), this lays some groundwork. There are, though, lots of prayers for those impacted by climate change and they serve to bridge the nature-human divide for children beginning their eco-theological journey!
- Main Takeaway: Excellent devotional for the family to read through with young children learning about the environment & climate change
- Key Details: There’s a free app to download and activities designed for churches + family. Each week has a theme based on the days of creation, a bible passage, and a prayer to use throughout the week. Each day also has a theme and a challenge.
What’s So Amazing about Polar Bears? Teaching Kids to Care for Creation
This thorough curriculum designed for elementary school-aged children has 6 extensive lessons that can be used as a resource for Sunday school, VBS, outdoor camp, etc and provide the teachers or leaders with amples activities, scriptures, songs, and questions for reflection.
Each lesson has an ecology theme with a scriptural background for study, reflection, and discussion. There are fun facts relevant to the topic, experiential activities to engage the children, suggested music and reuses for further study, lists of supplies needed, and a concluding prayer. There are enough activities for each of these sections to last an entire 8 hour day; thus, the individuals using these resources have a buffet of options from which to choose, and ultimately craft their own lesson accordingly.
While the book mentions oil spills and environmental degradation, as far as I can tell, there isn’t a single mention of the phrase ‘climate change’ - perhaps this is to avoid the emotional reactions or adverse adverse reactions of some to that reality, but the phrase is noticeably avoided.
- Main Takeaway: Thorough resource booklet for Sunday School / Youth Group for leaders to craft their own lessons for environmental exposure to children
- Key Details: The book is split up into 6 sections with a verb/noun followed by “for/of God’s Creation.” The titles are as follows: Amazement for, Respect for, Keepers of, Care and Repair of, Consumption of, and Living in.
I Love God’s Green Earth: Devotions for kids who want to take care of God’s creation
This devotional differentiates itself from the others in that it offers 90 unique days of devotions for children. Each devotion includes a scripture passage, scientific facts about the day’s topic, a connection between the scripture passage and the science, jokes and riddles, and also a clear action step for the reader
This is the kind of devotion a child or young person might have at their bedside and read first thing in the morning or before bed at night. It’s designed for the science-curious young person looking to connect their faith to their love of creation, and express an independence in their spiritual journey.
Based on the writing style, the book is designed for someone roughly in middle school, with some wiggle room for those younger and older as well. The topics for each day move well beyond introductions to the environment. Rather, they include electric cars, atoms, twisters, and air pollution, all of which serve to engage the young person deeply and inspire a curiosity about the natural world.
- Main Takeaway: Morning / Nighttime devotional for a middle school-aged individual interested in connecting faith to climate change and/or science
- Key Details: Devotional divided up into a 90-day reading journey with unique messages for each day that cover a wide range of scientific topics
Teaching Kids to Care for God’s Creation: Reflections, Activities, and Prayers for Catechists and Families
This unique devotional is unlike the other books which are divided into days or specific lessons, whereas this text by Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark constructs the lessons into specific questions, like, “What does my faith teach me about how to live?” Or “What does science teach?”
Each chapter starts with a reflection for the catechist (person providing religious education for the children) followed by suggestions for faith formation, such as questions that can be asked of the children, activities to engage in, and a prayer at the end. In addition, there are suggestions for families to continue the education at home, though there aren’t any learning goals listed for chapter
This book is structured in a similar manner as “What’s So Amazing about Polar Bears? Teaching Kids to Care for Creation'' but contains significantly fewer resources and instructions. This book would probably serve youth group leaders or the a parent with prior knowledge who seeks assistance with lesson planning or devotions but is very familiar with the topic.
- Main Takeaway: Resource booklet for Sunday School / Youth Group, but lacks the thoroughness of What’s So Amazing about Polar Bears?; Could be useful for informal settings
- Key Details: Designed with key questions in mind and crafted to allow maximum agency for the teacher or leader to guide the lesson