Autumn provides plenty of inspiration for Sunday-school themes. For young children, however, it’s best to keep things simple. Focus on the bounty God gives each harvest season and on spiritual "fruit." The first theme is the most familiar to young children while the second theme may be entirely new. Approach both in engaging ways.
Define Harvest Time
Begin by explaining what harvest time is. Show children different kinds of vegetable or fruit seeds, then explain that the seeds need soil, sun and rain to grow. Tell the children that the next time it rains, they might thank God for giving plants something they need to provide people with food. Explain that when fruits and vegetables are fully grown, they're harvested or picked. This is a time to thank God for taking care of everyone. Read Deuteronomy 8:7-10, which talks of God satisfying hunger and other needs.
Give each child one paper plate, a pair of safety scissors and a stick of glue, along with pages from magazines showing fruits and vegetables. Let the children cut the food photos from the magazine pages and paste them onto paper plates to illustrate the bounty God has given them.
Wreath of Praise
On colored construction paper, draw images of common fruits and vegetables. On each piece of produce, write “Thank you, God, for (name of item).” Older children can write in the name of the fruit, vegetable or other thing for which they are thankful. For younger children, write this information for them. Cut out the center of a paper plate, leaving a wreath shape. Give each child a paper-plate wreath and some images of produce. Let the children cut out the images and paste them onto the wreath.
Fruit of the Spirit
Explain that the Bible talks about a different kind of fruit that is an outward sign of love for God. As Child Bible Lessons puts it, “It is important to God that we develop the fruits of God's spirit because these are the qualities of His nature.” These qualities are called “the fruit of the spirit.” Read Galatians 5:22-23, which is a list of the “fruits.” Give the children pictures or stickers of fruit, along with a sheet of paper with a list of the spiritual fruit from Galatians written on it. Let the children create their own poster by pasting fruit pictures onto a piece of construction paper alongside the names of the spiritual gifts.
Water-Free Apple Bobbing
For pure fun, bring the traditional game of apple bobbing to the classroom without the water. Tie string to the stems of apples and hang or hold them so they're level with the children's faces. Allow each child to try to take a bite from an apple with her hands clasped behind her back.