Activity time: 7 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of "The Summer's Day" by Mary Oliver, or another poem. "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a more difficult poem, yet with a lovely sound and rhythm children may appreciate.
- Optional: Blank paper, pencils, and crayons or markers for all participants
Preparation for Activity
- Choose a poem children can understand as a poet's praise, awe, and/or gratitude for the natural world. Familiarize yourself with the poem, so you can read it smoothly and with expression. You might introduce Mary Oliver as a contemporary poet whose works often point out the wondrous aspects of the natural world and how marvelous it is that we can notice and enjoy it. In the Hopkins poem, the speaker praises God by admiring amazing things in nature that are speckled, freckled, or just kind of odd.
Description of Activity
Reading , listening to, or writing poetry can be a spiritual practice, especially for those with verbal facility and those who learn best by reading or hearing.
Read the poem you chose aloud. Invite children to enjoy the sound of the words, as well as listen for the meaning of the poem.
Then, ask children for any responses:
- What do they think the poem is about?
- How did the poem make them feel?
- Did any word or few words stand out for them?
- If they felt confused by the poem or some words in it, did that bother them? Or did they enjoy that little bit of mystery?
- Can hearing a poem be a way to grow spiritually? How?
- Could writing a poem be a way to grow spiritually? How?
- How is experiencing a poem by yourself different from reading or hearing one with others?
If you have time, distribute blank paper, pencils, and crayons or markers. Invite children to illustrate or respond to the poem in a drawing, or write their own poem about how nature can be amazing.
Including All Participants
Children who have difficulty sitting still to listen may benefit from having access to fidget objects (Session 2, Leader Resource 2).