Preschoolers love the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. The story describes an unwilling messenger of God and the events associated with his eventual acceptance of God's plan. When God instructs Jonah to warn the wicked inhabitants of Nineveh to repent from their sins, Jonah attempts to run away. Jonah boards a ship that sails in the opposite direction of Nineveh. The ship's crew throws Jonah overboard after a storm threatens to sink the vessel, and Jonah is swallowed by a whale. God provides an escape from the whale's belly for Jonah and an escape from destruction for the people of Nineveh. The story teaches preschoolers that God wants them to listen to him.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Coloured paper
- Children's Bible
- Children's book about Jonah
- Blue or grey tempera paint
- Paper lunch bag
- Black marker
- Shredded newspaper
Print and cut out fish name tags before the children arrive. Use the template from the DLTK website (see Resources) to print out the name tags onto coloured paper. Make a hole at the top of each fish with a hole puncher. Measure a length of string that enables the child to wear the name tag around his neck. Thread the string through the holes and write the children's names on the tags.
Read the story, "Jonah and the Whale." You can read the story from a children's Bible or select a children's book like "Jonah and the Whale" by Mary Josephs, or "The Whale and Jonah: A Story of Obedience and Forgiveness" by Deedra Scherm.
Talk about the story, and encourage the children to imagine Jonah's feelings after he was swallowed by the big whale. Explain that when God's children listen and obey, it not only makes God happy, but makes them happy as well.
Help the children make a painted paper-bag whale. Prior to the activity time, print a template for the whale's flippers and blow spout from the DLTK website (see Resources). Cut out the templates and trace onto blue construction paper. Cut out a pair of flippers and one blow spout for each child's whale. Let each child stuff a paper lunchbag with shredded newspaper, leaving approximately 7.5 cm (3 inches) at the top unstuffed. Gather the top 7.5 cm (3 inches) and close the bag with a rubber band. The top of the bag is the whale's tail. The children paint the whales with blue or grey tempera paint. Demonstrate how to cut slits on the dotted lines of the rectangular paper that makes a blow spout. Make a small hole on the top of each whale. Let the children roll the rectangular paper around a pencil and secure with tape to form a tube. Insert the paper tube into the hole to form a blow hole and anchor the tube with tape. The children attach the whale's flippers with tape or glue to the whale's underside. Draw eyes with a black marker.
Enjoy a whale snack. Submerge a gummy fish into blue jelly. Another snack option is cutting tuna sandwiches into whale or fish shapes. Mix a blue powdered drink beverage to serve with the snack.
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