Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will watch the video “Jonah The Greatest Adventure-stories from the Bible.”
For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.
Preparation and Room Set Up:
- Read the Background information, Teaching Tips and Lesson.
- Preview the video prior to class time.
- Prepare popcorn and drinks before children arrive.
- Prepare the Jonah story cards by enlarging the appropriate images from the Blankenbaker book and copying onto cardstock. Add them to the cards from the Elijah lesson. These cards will help the children grasp the “big picture” of the time of the prophets. They will also begin to sequence some of the key events that took place during the time of the divided kingdom.
- Video: “Jonah - The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible”, Turner Home Entertainment, Running time: 25 minutes.
- NIrV The Little Kids’ Adventure Bible, Zonderkidz, 9780310921424.
- NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers Bible, Zonderkidz, 9780310715474.
Important Note for Video Workshop Leaders:
Children love this workshop! Often the video is a direct correlation with the Bible story and creates a concrete, visual image in the children’s minds. They refer to this image over and over throughout the rotation as they visit other workshops. Some videos may take some liberties with the story-you may need to point out these discrepancies. As much as possible sit down with the children and watch the video together. Feel free to pause the video to discuss something that you especially want them to note.
Welcome/Introduction 5 minutes
Introduction of story 5 minutes
Video-Jonah 25 minutes
Discussion Questions/Bible Notes 10 minutes
Journal 5 minutes
Opening-Welcome and Introduction:
Have the children sit in the theatre seats. Welcome the children and introduce yourself and the shepherd. Please make sure you are wearing your nametag and the children have picked up their nametags.
Opening Prayer: (Please pray your own or you may pray the following)
Dear Jesus, Please guide us to be good listeners and obey your word. Amen
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Video: “Jonah - The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible”
Turner Home Entertainment
Running time: 25 minutes
Introduce the video:
We’ve been studying about prophets this summer. During this rotation we will learn about one of the most well-known Old Testament prophets. Who has heard about Jonah? God wanted Jonah to go the wicked and violent city of Ninevah to tell the people there about God and to try to get them to repent – to turn away from their wicked ways. Will Jonah obey God’s command?
Start the movie and hand out the popcorn and a drink.
Once the movie is finished, have the children throw away their trash and move to the table for Bible study and discussion.
Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.
Remember that as the rotation progresses; the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.
Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.
Introduce the Story:
This summer we’ve been learning about prophets. What is a prophet? (God’s messenger) Let’s think back to the time of the prophets. Samuel, the boy who heard God’s voice calling him in the middle of the night, was the last of the Judges (the rulers of Israel). Then the people decided they wanted to be like other nations and have a king for a leader. So Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. Next came King David, the greatest king of Israel and then Solomon who built the Temple. But after King Solomon, things started to fall apart for Israel. The nation of Israel was divided into two parts – the northern kingdom called Israel and the southern kingdom called Judah. Then a series of good and bad kings were in charge. What do you remember about the bad king from our last rotation? (King Ahab – married to Queen Jezebel, worshiped idols, tried to stamp out worship of the one, true God). What was the number one sin of the people? (they broke the first two commandments – they worshiped other gods and idols) When things got really bad, God sent his prophets to try to get the people to return to him, to stop making and worshiping idols and to put God first in their lives again. Sometimes God had other messages for his prophets. In the case of the prophet Jonah, God wanted to teach his people about how much God loves everyone – even the people who didn’t live in Israel.
Jonah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during a time when things were going pretty well. The people of Israel were looking forward to a time when God would restore their kingdom and make them a great nation again, while punishing all the people who didn’t follow God’s ways. But God had a different message for the people of Israel. Let’s see what God had in mind….
Read and discuss the following notes. Have the children with their own Bibles highlight the memory verse using the highlighters provided. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.
Bible Study: Grades K-3
Where would we find the story of a prophet who lived many years before Jesus? (Old Testament)
Help the children locate the story “Jonah and the Fish” on page 273-276 in the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible. This story is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture or use the attached excerpt to tell the story.
Read and discuss the following Bible notes:
Little Kids’ Adventure Bible:
Life in Bible Times: Jonah’s Trip, page 273
Life in Bible Times: Cargo Ships, page 274
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review it with the children at this time. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their red ribbon to mark the memory verse. Have the children with their own Bibles highlight the verse with the highlighters. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.
”When I was in trouble, I called out to you and you answered me.” Jonah 2:2 (page 275)
Bible Study: Grades 4-5
Where would we find the story of a prophet who lived many years before Jesus? (Old Testament) Jonah is a book of Old Testament prophets. Because it is a short book, it is called a Minor Prophet. The longer Prophet books are called Major Prophets.
Help the children locate Jonah in their Bibles. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their yellow Prophet bookmark to find the beginning of the Prophets and move forward from there. This story is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture using the headings listed in the children’s Bibles or use the attached excerpt to tell the story.
Read and discuss the following Bible notes:
NIrV Adventure Bible:
LIfe in Bible Times: Jonah’s Trip, page 1073
Life in Bible Times: Cargo Ships, page 1074
Let’s Live It: Jonah’s Vine, page 1075
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review it with the children at this time. Children with their own Bibles should use the Bible highlighters to highlight the memory verse. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.
”When I was in trouble, I called out to you and you answered me.” Jonah 2:2
- Who is a prophet? (someone who speaks for God, God’s messenger)
- What did God tell Jonah to do? (go to Ninevah to preach to the people there)
- Why did Jonah run away? (he didn’t want to do what God asked)
- How did Jonah feel about the people of Ninevah? (didn’t like them, they were his enemies)
- How did God feel about the people of Ninevah? (loved them, wanted to save them)
- What happened to Jonah? (thrown overboard, swallowed by giant fish)
- I wonder what Jonah thought about while inside that great fish?
- What did Jonah do inside the fish? (prayed in thanksgiving to God, promised to obey)
- What happened after Jonah preached in Ninevah? (people repented, God showed them mercy)
- How did Jonah feel about that? (angry)
- What can we learn about God from this story? (God loves everyone, grace, mercy, forgiveness)
- How do we show forgiveness in our lives?
- How do we tell others about the good news of God’s grace and love?
- How can we change our attitude toward others who are different than us or who are not easy to love?
Reflection and Journal Time:
The last ten minutes should be reserved for Journal Reflection Time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals, pencils, and the journal question for the day. Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with the children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each session. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate. Journal Stickers are color coded for each age level. Please be sure to use the correct stickers.
Grades K-3: Draw a picture of your favorite part of the story.
Grades 4-6: What is your favorite part of Jonah’s story? Why?
Children may elect to color the Prophet Story Cards instead of Journal Questions.
Gather the children together. Review with them one word or concept that they learned in today’s lesson. (prophet, faith, forgiveness, repentance, God’s love for everyone) Encourage the children to attend again next Sunday for another workshop. Ask them to invite a friend, especially one who does not belong to a church. Remind everyone to bring their Bibles. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.
- The Children’s Illustrated Bible, Selina Hastings, DK Publishing, 1994.
- What the Bible is All About for Young Explorers, Frances Blankenbaker, Gospel Light, 1998.
A lesson from State Street UMC
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