"If we bring plants and flowers into our Sunday School rooms – a relatively inexpensive undertaking – we can set an example of care and appreciation of the natural world for our children."
God the Creator: The Importance of Plants
Look at any Sunday School room, and you will likely see symbols of the Christian faith, such as crosses, stories of Jesus’ teachings in various formats, maybe even pictures of eucharistic bread and baptismal water. But a huge part of our faith – the belief in God as Creator – is often missing from our Christian formation programs.
Adding plants and flowers to a Sunday School room is an easy way to introduce to children a sense of awe and wonder in God’s creation. Even the smallest flower is an object of beauty more delicate and well-designed than anything we could create ourselves.
Plants not only supply life-giving oxygen, but also make us more in tune with the natural world. If we bring plants and flowers into our Sunday School rooms – a relatively inexpensive undertaking – we can set an example of care and appreciation of the natural world for our children. We can also illustrate the continuing work of God in creation in our world, bringing to life the scripture and theology of Genesis.
6 Tips for using flowers and plants in Sunday School classrooms
1. Pick low moisture plants: Use potted plants and flowers that don’t need a lot of water during the week. Orchids, readily available in many grocery store floral departments, need only a few tablespoons of water each week, and provide spectacular, long-lasting blooms. Boston ferns and African violets are also readily available, fairly easy to maintain, and inexpensive.
2. Get help from the community: Ask parish families to share cut flowers from yards and gardens to cut down costs. This invites participation in your program from parishioners who may not have young children.
3. Keeping flowers fresh: If using cut flowers, use scissors to trim off the ends of stems and any leaves below the water line of your vase. Fill your vase with fresh water. Consider sending flowers home with children or give to others who might appreciate them after your time together.
4. Use watering tricks: To keep potted plants watered during the week, use a pot with a water reservoir in the bottom. You might also try a watering bulb to keep plants watered. Make sure all pots for plants provide drainage for root systems.
5. Skip the foam: Don’t use “floral foam;” many of these products contain highly toxic chemicals.
6. If plants do expire, go with it: If your plants die from lack of water, it’s a teachable lesson in the importance of clean water for living things. If we don’t take care of our environment, we lose it.
Cynthia Coe is the Environmental Stewardship Fellow for the Episcopal Church, an active member of Forma, and former Director of Children's Ministries at Church of the Ascension, Knoxville.
This is an abridged version of article originally published in the magazine Episcopal Teacher.