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Changes - The Natural World
To reflect on the way in which natural life does, and must, change.
Rehearse the presentation with a group of children beforehand.
Dress the 'farmer' and his 'wife' in suitable clothes. It may help to dress each 'generation' of children in a different, distinctive way, e.g. all children from the same generation wearing the same colour neckscarf.
Start with some children moving in a circle around one boy in the middle. The children are singing 'The farmer's in his den'.
The children then sing 'The farmer wants a wife...' A girl from the audience joins the 'farmer'.
They sing 'The wife wants a child...' Another child from the audience joins the couple.
Repeat, singing 'The wife wants another child...' Another child joins in.
The singing stops, the circle opens and the children who were dancing go to sit down, leaving the four members of the 'family' standing alone. Then the farmer and his wife stand back and the children say 'Now we're grown up, WE want some children of our own!'
Four children join them.
The two original children stand back near the 'parents'.
The four children say 'Now we're grown up, WE want some children of our own!'
Eight more children come onto the stage. Their four 'parents' stand back.
The eight children say 'Now we're grown up, WE want some children of our own!'
Leader: 'Wait a minute! We're getting a bit crowded here!'
The leader asks the children to think about what will happen when all the eight children want children, and when their children want children...
(The next part could also be dramatized if there are children who are good at acting).
Ask the original farmer and his wife to step forward. We have seen their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Something to be really proud of. It must have been good to watch all these children growing.
But the farmer and his wife must be pretty old by now. In real life they might even be dead!
Ask the children to think how sad all those children and grandchildren will be when the farmer and his wife die. But what happens if they never die? And if all the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren never die?
Thinking of it another way, what would it feel like in this school at the moment if no one who had been here had ever left? A bit overcrowded, perhaps... Think for a moment about what the world would be like if everything that had ever lived had never died and was still here. It would be as if time had stood still.
And what would it be like never to grow up, to be at school forever? What if it were always Christmas, or never Christmas, or always the summer, or always the lesson you really don't like?
Explain that the natural world is full of change. We all change, we all grow, we all live in bodies that grow up, grow old and eventually die. Sometimes that's sad, like the feeling of watching leaves wither in autumn; sometimes it's happy, like trees bursting into leaf in spring. That's life. Let's make the most of all the different changes it has to offer.
This can be used as well as (or instead of) the music, with a group of children each reading a verse.
Thank you for all the people that we know in our lives and all the people that are important to us.
Help us to get through hard times when things change and die; when we lose people we love, or pets that grow old or ill.
Help us to be happy when things go well, or get better; when new babies and animals are born; when we celebrate our birthdays; when life is sunny.
Help us to keep the people that we love alive in our memories.
Help us to know that even when things change you are always there beside us.
The song 'Turn, Turn, Turn...' recorded in the 1960s by Judith Durham and The Seekers is based on the reading in Ecclesiastes. There are also other versions of this song available.
- Gather together examples of things changing in the natural world - caterpillars becoming butterflies; trees in full leaf becoming bare trees in autumn; mountains being worn away by rivers. Look at how local landscapes change, using local photographs as reference.
- Look at some family trees (be sensitive about children who may have unusual family backgrounds - the family tree could also be presented as a web of people who are important to the child). Ask the children if there are any characteristics that are passed on in their families, like names or hair colour. For older children, ask whether they would like to have children of their own, and what they would like to pass on to them.
- If the children have done work on Easter recently, remind them of the story of Jesus' resurrection and how the disciples felt him with them even when he was not physically there. Relate this to remembering people who are still important to us, even though they have died.