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28. Jonah

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Materials Needed

  • partially-filled bathtub or sink
  • large sponge or plastic bowl
  • three small plastic or paper people
  • pretend money
  • grapes

Setting The Stage

The lesson you want to communicate is that when people are bad we need to help them to be good instead of being happy when they get punished. Talk about this lesson before starting on the project.


1. The adult will play the role of coordinator and everyone else will pretend to be Jonah. Have each room set up beforehand so you can move from station to station without interruptions. Make sure each child has some pretend money in a pocket.

Explain to them that they are about to experience what Jonah did in the story as recorded in the Bible in the book of Jonah. When it comes time for the children to say their lines, tell them what to say and have them repeat it.

2. Kitchen (Jonahs Home) - Adult plays God and stands on kitchen chair. Others pretend to be Jonah, who is fixing dinner.

Adult calls out: “Jonah, go to Nineveh and tell the people that I am sad they are bad.”

Children call out: “No, those people are mean.”

Adult says: “Jonah decided to go to Joppa and from there take a boat to another city called Tarshish, which was a long way from Nineveh.”

Together run to the bathroom where the boat awaits you.

Children call out while running: “I’m not going to obey God.”

3. Bathroom (Port at Joppa) - Have everyone stand around the tub or sink. Large sponge or plastic bowl is the boat. Adult, have each child pay you pretend money.

Children say: “Ticket for Tarshish please.”

Once everyone has a ticket, explain that the three plastic or paper people are Jonah and two boatmen. For the rest of this section have the plastic people act out the scene with the adult saying the lines.

Jonah: “Excuse me, here is my ticket. May I please go on the boat?”

Boatmen: “Sure, hop on.”

Jonah: “Disobeying God has made me tired, so I think I will lie down and go to sleep. God will never find me here.”

Put all three onto the sponge or bowl and push them into the middle of the water. Explain that they set sail and soon a big storm came. Have the children lightly splash waster onto the boat so that it causes a storm in the tub.

Boatmen: “Why is God sending such a storm? Someone must have done something wrong. Let’s draw straws, and whoever gets the short straw must be the one that has upset God.”

Explain that they all drew straws and Jonah got the short one.

Jonah: “Sorry men, I have disobeyed God. Just throw me over the edge of the boat into the water and the storm will stop.”

Explain that this is what they did, then drop the plastic Jonah into the water. Switch roles. The children are to pretend that they are in the water. Have the children hold their breath and swim to the bedroom.

4. Bedroom (inside big fish) - Climb onto the bed. Leave the light off and door slightly open so there is only a little light entering the room.

Explain that everybody has just been swallowed by a big fish and you are in the fish’s stomach, so you can now breathe (let breath out). Have everyone comment on what it would be like to be in the stomach of a big fish (dark, wet, smelly).

Adult says: “Now, once Jonah realized that he was inside a fish, he knew God had sent this fish to save him. But Jonah still had to stay inside the fish for three days. What do you think Jonah did for those three days?”

Allow the children to give their answers, but try to encourage at least one of them to say ‘talked to God’ or ‘prayed’ because that is exactly what he did. Have everyone get on their knees, on top of the bed, and have each child say a sentence prayer, one that they think Jonah might have said (guide them when necessary). Then have everyone go to the door and explain that God made the fish sick and the fish spit Jonah out onto the beach. Say 1, 2, 3 open the door and let everybody jump out of the bedroom and onto the “beach” ready to walk to Nineveh.

5. Living Room (Nineveh) - Walk around the living room, as Jonah would have walked around Nineveh, calling out the message over and over to the people.

Children call out: “Say you’re sorry to God. You shouldn’t be so mean.”

Everyone walks over to the couch and climbs up on it.

Adult says: “Jonah really didn’t think the people were going to say they were sorry. He was sure God would punish them instead. So he was just going to sit up on a hill and watch what God was going to do to them. You know, while he watched, God let a vine grow over him to give him shade. Let’s pretend it was a grape vine and enjoy some of the grapes.”

Bring out the bowl of grapes and eat them while discussing what God is probably going to do.

Adult says: “You know what? The people said they were sorry so God forgave them. That made Jonah angry. God told Jonah he should be happy because the people didn’t get punished. Eventually Jonah realized that was true.”

Review the lesson mentioned in Setting the Stage. Ask each child to think of one person he/she can help this week.


Have each child take a turn saying this prayer:

Dear God, help me not to be happy when (name) gets in trouble,
instead let me help (name) learn to do nice things so that (name) won’t get into trouble. Amen.

Related Topics: Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals

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