Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Lesson Set

Overview of the Workshops:

  • ART: Stuffed and painted fish, Focus: Grace
  • COOKING: Fish pizza, Focus: Repentance
  • DRAMA (Puppets): Act out story, Focus: Events of story, application to today
  • GAMES: Review games, hide and seek, fishing game, Focus: Forgiveness
  • VIDEO: Jonah (Greatest Adventures Series), Focus: Events of story
  • COMPUTER: Elijah and Jonah CD, Focus: Compassion for others

Scripture References:

Jonah, “Jonah and the Fish,” Little Kids’ Adventure Bible, pages 273-276.

Memory Verse:

"When I was in trouble, I called out to you and you answered me.” Jonah 2:2

Bible Notes:
Little Kids’ Adventure Bible:
Life in Bible Times: Jonah’s Trip, page 273
Life in Bible Times: Cargo Ships, page 274

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

Resources:

The Children’s Illustrated Bible, Selina Hastings, DK Publishing, 1994.

Themes:

God is with us always. God loves everyone. God forgives us when we truly repent.

Music:

  1. “Forever,” Chris Tomlin, Big Songs for Little Kids, Brentwood Records, 2002.
  2. “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” WOW Worship, Integrity Music, 1999.
  3. “Ocean Floor,” Audio Adrenaline, Worldwide, Forefront Records, 2003.
  4. “Jonah’s Theme,” RPM, Volume 2: TV Bible Tunes, One Way Street, Inc., 1996.
  5. “Jonah, Jonah,” Apologetix, Spoofernatural, Parodudes, Inc., 2000.
  6. “I Will Call Upon the Lord,” Acoustic Worship, Brentwood Music, Inc., 1998.
  7. “Your Love Goes on Forever,” Sonic Flood, This Generation, Integrity Music, 2005.
  8. “Yes I Will,” Bebo Norman, Try, Essential Records, 2005.


Objectives and Life Application (K-3):

  • Children will retell the story in their own words.
  • Children will describe a prophet. (one who tells God’s message)
  • Children will begin to understand that God is with us always.
  • Children will begin to understand that God wants us to obey.
  • Children will begin to understand that God forgives us when we repent.
  • Children will understand that God loves everyone.
  • Children will understand that God wants us to love and welcome everyone, also.
  • Children will memorize.


Objectives and Life Application (4-6):

  • Children will retell the story in their own words.
  • Children will locate the story in their Bibles.
  • Children will identify the book of Jonah as an Old Testament book of Prophets (minor).
  • Children will discuss the following terms in relation to the story: prophet. (one who tells God’s message), evangelism (telling others about your faith), grace (undeserved favor), repentance (turning away from sin and toward God – an inward change that is reflected by outward actions), forgiveness, obedience.
  • Children will locate the following cities on the map: Nineveh, Joppa, Tarshish.
  • Children will understand that God is with us always, even when we try to run away or are disobedient.
  • Children will understand that God wants us to obey.
  • Children will that understand that God forgives us when we truly repent.
  • Children will understand that God loves everyone and wants us to welcome everyone also.
  • Children will memorize Jonah 2:2.

 


Background Information:
The book of Jonah is one of the minor prophets of the Old Testament. The books of the Prophets are divided into major and minor prophets. This has nothing to do with the importance of the books, rather it simply designates the length of the book. The books of the Prophets are not in chronological order in the Bible. The major prophets come first, followed by the minor prophets.

The book of Jonah has been traditionally believed to be written by the prophet himself perhaps during the same time as I and II Kings or perhaps after the exile.

Jonah, although a very short 4 chapters, has much to teach us about God and ourselves. His story teaches us about the importance of listening to God’s word and obeying it. We learn that we can never run away from God – no matter what, God is with us. We learn that God is the God of second chances. We learn that God desires most of all to be in relationship with all God’s people. God is merciful and forgiving when we repent. Outward actions are important, but God truly looks on the heart. God wants us to have a heart of compassion and love and mercy toward everyone – not just those who are like us.
Ultimately Jonah’s story is one of God’s grace.

A Brief History
The reigns of King David and Solomon, from 931-722 B.C. were the glory days of Israel. But toward the end of Solomon’s reign, things started to unravel. Solomon’s massive building projects created huge tax burdens on the populace. Bureaucracy grew, as did the people’s discontent. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom was divided and two nations were formed – Judah to the south with the capital of Jerusalem and Israel to the north with Samaria as its capital. Then a series of northern and southern kings reigned.

Israel – Northern Kingdom
Jeroboam, the first King of Israel (northern kingdom) set up a rival religious system, including multiple worship centers and even statues of golden calves upon whose back the invisible God supposedly rode. They developed their own priestly system and feasts. As a result of this departure from God’s commands, many of the godly people in the northern kingdom left and headed to Judah. Each subsequent northern king departed further and further from the worship procedures of the united kingdom. In fact, the Bible records that not a single northern king was a good king – they all “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The primary failure of the kings and the people was idol worship, primarily of Baal (male) and Asherah (female). The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and the people were deported.

Judah – Southern Kingdom
Judah fared better than Israel, although ultimately their fate was similar. A series of kings ruled over Judah. Some were good, but many were apostate. All of the kings came from the line of David. The most evil of the kings was Manasseh who adopted the pagan practice of child sacrifice to the god Molech. (Manasseh is believed to be the king who had Isaiah killed.) Judah survived 135 years after Israel fell, but eventually fell to the Babylonians in 586 B.C.

Prophets
Prophets are spokespeople for God. They serve as “God’s mouth” to speak God’s word to the people, to be God’s messenger. The Hebrew word in the text is nabi -- one who speaks for another. During times of apostasy, God raised up prophets to bring his Word to the people and call them back to repentance. Prophets retained their own personalities, communicating God’s message in their own unique and individual ways. How did prophets hear the voice of the Lord? The Bible records four ways through which God communicates with his prophets:
1. External voice
2. Internal voice
3. Ability to see specific realities not apparent to others
4. Visions

No matter the source of the prophet’s communication, it was recognized as the “word of the Lord.”

Upon entering the Promised Land, God promised that he would raise up prophets to speak for him. The people were to listen to and obey these messengers God sent. But how would the people know if the prophet was truly from God? God gave them several key points of discernment:
1. Prophets would come from among their own people – not foreigners.
2. Prophets would speak in the “name of the Lord.”
3. Prophets would predict events that came true (prophecy is not just foretelling of the future, however it was an important way to discern a true prophet – if what they said came true then they could be trusted. Prophets often foretold a near future event along with a faraway future event – if the near future event came true, they could be trusted about the far future event).
4. Signs and wonders were not the true test of a prophet.
5. A prophet’s words must always agree with what God’s Word teaches.

Most prophets took the “word of the Lord” to the kings in an attempt to convict them of their wrong ways and lead them back to the correct path. Sometimes they were successful, at other times the situation became confrontational. Throughout Israel’s history, we find a repeating pattern – a falling away from faithfulness, judgment, repentance and return to faith.

Israel during the time of Jonah
Jonah, whose name means dove, was a prophet from Galilee, son of Amittai (2 Kings14:25). He lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (793 – 753 B.C.). Assyria dominated the world at that time. Ninevah was the capital of Assyria, located on the banks of the Tigris River. It was a great city and highly fortified. (The walls of Ninevah were so deep that three chariots could ride side by side on the top of the walls!) The Assyrians were noted for their engineering feats, their mighty and aggressive military and their harsh and cruel treatment of their enemies. Jeroboam II was a powerful king who took advantage of the political situation at the time and the multiple conflicts between Assyria and Israel’s neighbors. Jeroboam II restored the original borders of the Northern Kingdom during his reign. Jonah prophesied about these events and perhaps because of this positive message, Jonah was a popular prophet. This was the golden age of the Northern Kingdom. But Jeroboam II did not follow God’s ways and the people developed a sense of complacency and superiority over their pagan neighbors. They gloated over their victories and their favored status with God. They looked forward to the time when God would destroy the surrounding wicked nations, leaving Israel to bask in God’s light. This was the national attitude when the word of the Lord came to Jonah.

Jonah’s story is outlined in the four chapters as follows:
1. God calls Jonah; Jonah disobeys.
2. Jonah submits.
3. Jonah completes his mission.
4. Jonah’s motives are contrasted with God’s motives.

Forty years before the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom, Jonah heard the word of the Lord. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach his word there. God had seen the evil ways and wickedness of the Assyrian nation. God wanted them to be in relationship with him. Now Jonah was willing to take God’s message to his own people, but when it meant going to the chief enemies of his people, that was another story entirely. Jonah left and traveled to the seaport Joppa (modern day Jaffa) and bought a ticket to Tarshish – in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh! In Old Testament times, people believed that a god was confined to the territory in which the god’s worshipers lived. So, when Jonah hopped on board a ship heading far away from Israel, he hoped to escape God’s reach. But Jonah soon learned that God is not confined by earthly territory. We cannot hide from God. God pursues us wherever we may go. A huge storm blew up threatening the lives of everyone on board the ship. The sailors cast lots and discovered that Jonah was the source of their trouble. Jonah confessed that he was running away from his God-given task. The sea grew rougher and rougher. Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard, but they resisted, instead trying to row to shore. But the sea was too rough. Finally the sailors cried out to God asking for mercy and forgiveness. Then they threw Jonah overboard. And the sea became calm. Meanwhile, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish where he stayed for three days and three nights.

Now much attention has been focused on the problem of Jonah. Is it a true story? Did it really happen as described? What fish is large enough to hold a man? How could he survive for that length of time inside a fish? Many interpreters think the story of Jonah is simply an allegory or parable. Jesus himself referred to the story of Jonah at least two times in his ministry. He contrasted Jonah’s stay in the belly of the fish with his own death and burial in the tomb and ultimately with his resurrection. Jesus’ statements assume the historicity of the story. And there are descriptions of survivors who have been swallowed by whales or large fish who are forever scarred by gastric juices. Certainly the God who raised Jesus from the dead is capable of keeping Jonah alive inside a fish. But regardless, the message of Jonah is true!

Sometimes the book of Jonah is called the “Gospel of the Second Chance.” While inside the belly of the great fish, Jonah calls out to God in a thankful prayer. “When I was in trouble, I called out to you. And you answered me. When I had almost drowned, I called out for help. And you listened to my cry… And I will sing a song of thanks. I will do what I have promised. Lord, you are the one who saves.” (Jonah 2:1, 9) And God had the fish spit (or vomit) Jonah out onto dry land.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah for a second time, “Go to Nineveh and announce the message I give you.” This time Jonah obeyed. He went to Nineveh and preached that God would destroy that great city in forty days. And amazingly, the Ninevites listened and believed! They responded to Jonah’s message by fasting and wearing sackcloth and ashes as a sign of humility and repentance. Even the king took off his royal robes and dressed in sackcloth! He ordered everyone to stop their wickedness, turn to God and pray for mercy. These outward signs reflected an inward change and a hope for God’s mercy. This is what true repentance means. Repentance is not simply mouthing the words, “I’m sorry.” Rather repentance means making a true turnaround in behavior, a turning away from sin and a whole-hearted turn toward God.

God heard the repentant cries of the Ninevites and he had compassion on them. He didn’t destroy them. Now we might think that Jonah would rejoice over the success of his mission. Not so! Instead, Jonah was angry! He told God that this is exactly why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He knew God was compassionate, tender and kind, slow to anger and full of love! He knew that God didn’t really want to destroy the Ninevites. Here we see the true condition of Jonah’s heart. He obeyed God outwardly, but his heart still wasn’t in it. In his heart he still resented the enemies of his people. He secretly hoped that they wouldn’t listen to his message so that God would destroy them! After all, it isn’t fair! How can God allow a happy ending for these mean and wicked people? In fact, because of his prejudice and hatred of the Assyrians, Jonah would rather die than see this ending.

God then taught Jonah a final lesson. As he sat pouting outside the city, in the hot sun, God sent a vine to bring him shelter. But then, less than a day later, a worm ate the vine and it dried up. Jonah sat sweltering in the blistering heat, crying out to God once again to let him die in his anger and frustration over everything that had happened. It wasn’t fair that good things should happen to this undeserving people. It wasn’t fair that Jonah, who obeyed God, was now left sitting in the heat without shade. God then explained that if Jonah can care so much about a simple plant that he had nothing to do with growing, then surely he can understand how much God cares for the people in Nineveh, the people he created and loves. God is the one who made the vine. God is the one who created the people of Nineveh. God cares about everyone. God desires that all of creation should return to him, be restored and blessed. God used a pagan nation and Israel’s greatest enemy to teach a powerful lesson about the right way to respond to God’s message. God teaches Jonah and us that our hearts should be set on God himself, not on the gifts that God provides.

Lessons from Jonah
This little story will provide many opportunities for discussion! Use the following reflection and discussion topics/questions to help the children understand more about the nature of God and the meaning behind the events of the story. Elementary children are concerned with matters of justice and fairness. They struggle with getting along with others who seem “different” than they are. They (like the Israelites), are clique-ish. This story sends us a powerful message of God’s love for everyone.

1. God wants us to obey. In his book, Twelve Prophetic Voices: Major Messages from the Minor Prophets, Mariano DiGangi makes this comparison. “Anyone who refuses to fulfill the Lord’s orders joins Jonah in buying a ticket to Tarshish.” In what ways are we like Jonah? How often do we secretly wish evil on our enemies? Do we really want God to forgive them? Do we believe that we deserve special treatment from God because we feel we are “better” or more deserving than others? Do we truly want God to love and care for people we don’t like or who are different than we? Are we kind and welcoming to others? Are we nice to people at school? Do we welcome the new kid in class? Do we stand up for someone who is being picked on? Do we come to church on Sunday, but act totally different the other six days of the week? Do we cheat, lie, steal? Do we gossip and say mean things about others?

2. God wants more than our obedience. He wants us to become like him, to have a heart of compassion and love toward others – even those we don’t like, or who don’t like us. (Older children should think back to our study of the Beatitudes this year – loving our enemies, being kind to everyone).

3. God is always with us! Even when we try to run away, God is with us. God never leaves us. Sometimes it takes a difficult situation to make us see and feel God’s presence. God uses those dark times to turn our hearts back to God. Sometimes God asks us to do something that is hard. Surely it must have been very difficult for Jonah to go to the homeland of his enemies to preach about God. Even though it is not always easy to follow God, God promises to be with us and to help us accomplish those difficult tasks.

4. God gives us second chances! Even when we mess up, disobey, or do wrong things, God is willing to forgive us when we are truly sorry, when we repent! Remember, repentance means a turning away from the wrong things we are doing and putting our whole hearts toward God.

5. We get disgruntled or angry when good things happen to people who don’t deserve them. Like Jonah, we sometimes wish people would be punished for their wrongdoings. But God’s ways are not our ways. God uses all circumstances to bring about his purpose and plan for good. When we repent, God rejoices! God is glad to have us back and welcomes us with open arms! (think about the story of the Prodigal Son) We are called to be like God and be welcoming and happy for others too!

6. We all have done wrong things and deserve to be punished. Grace means undeserved favor. It is a free gift of God’s love. There is nothing we can do to earn it or buy it. We just accept the gift and live our lives showing how thankful we are for God’s mercy.

7. Evangelism means to share the gospel (good news) with others. Like Jonah, God calls all believers to go into the world to share God’s message of repentance, forgiveness and new life. Jesus in the New Testament, lamented over the people who resisted his message of grace and mercy. Today, too, many resist the word of Jesus, one far greater than Jonah. Our responsibility as believers is to shine brightly in a dark world, so that others may see God’s light through us. By living like Jesus and telling others about what God has done in our own lives, others will see God’s love. God will use us to bring others to him.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  • What is a prophet? (someone who speaks for God, God’s messenger)
  • What did God tell Jonah to do? (go to Nineveh 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 Nineveh? (didn’t like them, they were his enemies)
  • How did God feel about the people of Nineveh? (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 Nineveh? (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?

 

Sources:

  • IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Walton, Matthews and Chavalas, Intervarsity Press, 2000;
  • Richard’s Complete Bible Dictionary, Lawrence O. Richards, Word Bible Publishers, 2002;
  • Bible Teacher’s Commentary, Lawrence O. Richards, Cook Communications, 2002;
  • An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books, David Howard Jr., Moody Press, 1993;
  • Disciple: Remember Who You Are Study Manual: The Prophets, Abingdon Press, 1996;
  • Who’s Who in the Bible, Comay and Brownrigg, Bonanza Books, 1980;
  • New Dictionary of Theology, Ferguson and Wright, Intervarsity Press, 1988,
  • State Street Church Sunday School; Silverdale UMC, 2003;
  • Twelve Prophetic Voices: Major Messages from the Minor Prophets, Mariao DiGangi, Victor Books, 1989;
  • New Invitation Bible Studies, Summer 1990, 1993, 1997, Abingdon Press; Bible Zone #8, Abingdon Press, 1997.

This lesson set created and copyrighted by State Street UMC, Bristol, VA, 2005. Permission granted for non-commercial, local church use, provided credit is give to the source.

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Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

The children will each make and decorate a stuffed paper fish to serve as a reminder of how plentiful God’s grace is.

Important note for Art workshop leaders:
In the Art workshop, the Bible lesson is reinforced through creative and hands-on experiences. The children may make something that they can take home to help remind them of the monthly theme or they may work together as a team to make something for the church to display.

 

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.


Preparation and Room Set-Up:

  • Review background information, teaching tips and lesson materials.
  • Gather necessary supplies
  • Cover the tables with the old tablecloths
  • Review the Music CD. Plan to play the music as the children arrive, work on their art projects and during journal time.

Supplies List:

  • Music Cd
  • Tablecloths
  • White paper cut in 2’x 2’ pieces (two for each child)
  • Newspaper or paper towels to stuff the fish
  • Stapler and staples
  • Paint (watercolors or acrylic)
  • Paint brushes
  • Water cups
  • Paint pens


Please start on time!

Time guidelines:
Welcome and introductions 5 minutes
Bible Study 15 minutes
Making stuffed fish 25 minutes
Journals/Closing 5 minutes



 

Presentation

 

Opening- Welcome and Introduction:
Welcome all children and introduce yourself. Make sure each child is wearing a nametag. Give the children a simple one or two sentence synopsis of what you will be doing during the workshop.

Opening Prayer: You may have a prayer of your own or pray something like this…
Dear Lord, We thank You for each and every day that You give us. We thank You for the ability to enjoy this beautiful world. As we learn about Jonah today, help us to think of ways that we can make this world a more beautiful place by teaching Your ways to others. Amen

Important Teacher Notes:

Each workshop begins with the Bible story. One of the 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 Background information to help you introduce the story.

Remember, that as the rotation progresses, the children will become 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 can then fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background information. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that the 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.

Jonah Story Cards
Use the Prophet story cards to help you tell the story of Jonah and to review the last rotation’s story of Elijah. Create the story cards by enlarging the appropriate images from the Blankenbaker book and copying onto cardstock.

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:


Bible Study: K-3


Introduction:
Many of you have probably heard the story about a man named Jonah. You probably remember the fact that he was swallowed by a big fish. That seems hard to believe. Well, Jonah wasn’t just any man, and the fish didn’t just happen to be in the ocean where Jonah was swimming, either. Jonah was one of God’s prophets. Who can tell me what a prophet does? (speaks for God to others and sends messages for God) Jonah lived in Galilee. Jonah followed God and was a strong believer. God saw that there was a city whose people had turned away from Him. In fact, they were the enemy of Israel and Jonah’s people. They worshipped idols and felt like things on earth were more important than knowing God and following His commands. That made God very sad, because He wanted His people to know and love Him. God knows what will make His people the most happy because He created all of us. The city was named Ninevah. Ninevah was a huge city, the capital of Assyria. The king of Assyria lived there. God knew that the people there did what the king told them to do, so if Jonah could change the king’s heart then he could save the city from their evil ways. God called on Jonah to go to Ninevah and try to convince the king and his people to turn to God.

Before reading the scripture…
Ask the children to listen for a few key points in the passage. You may choose to assign each child a different one to listen for.

1. What happens to the ocean when Jonah is on the boat?
2. What do the sailors say and do?
3. How long does Jonah stay “at sea” when the ship has left him?
4. What does Jonah say to God?
5. Does Jonah follow God’s command?
6. Do the people of Ninevah follow God’s command?
7. How does Jonah feel after he delivers God’s message?
8. What is God’s response to both the people of Ninevah and to Jonah?

Jonah lived a very long time before Jesus was born. Where do you think we would find the story in the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament? (Old Testament) Let’s find his story in our Bibles now. Help the children turn to “Jonah and the Fish” on page 273 of the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible. This story is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture or use the attached story from the Illustrated Children’s Bible to tell the story. Be sure to point out the title and memory verse in the children’s Bibles. Have them locate and read the following note:

Little Kids’ Adventure Bible:
Life in Bible Times: Jonah’s Trip, page 273

Memory Verse: Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with Bible bookmarks place their red ribbon bookmark here. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse with the Bible 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)

Discussion Questions:

  • What 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)
  • Did God give up on Jonah when he ran away, and go choose someone else to preach His word? (No, God kept trying to show Jonah how He should behave and what he should do)
  • Did God give up on the people of Ninevah when Jonah didn’t want to go talk to them?
  • What can we learn about God from this story? (God loves everyone, grace, mercy, forgiveness)
  • How can we show people around us that we forgive them? (give them a second chance at being a friend)


There’s a word You should all remember…GRACE…It means that God loves and protects us without us doing anything. It is a wonderful gift that He gives each and every one of us.

How do we tell and show others about the good news of God’s grace and love?
How can we show others who are different than us that we are all God’s people?


Bible Study - Grades 4-5:


Introduction:
Many of you have probably heard the story about a man named Jonah. You probably remember that he was swallowed by a big fish. That seems hard to believe. Well, Jonah wasn’t just any man, and the fish didn’t just happen to be in the ocean where Jonah was swimming, either. Jonah was one of God’s prophets. Who can tell me what a prophet does? (speaks for God to others and sends messages for God) Jonah lived a very long time before Jesus was born. Jonah lived in Galilee. Jonah followed God and was a strong believer. God saw that there was a city whose people had turned away from Him. In fact, they were the enemy of Israel and Jonah’s people. They worshipped idols and felt like things on earth were more important than knowing God and following His commands. That made God very sad, because He wanted His people to know and love Him. God knows what will make His people the most happy because He created all of us. The city was named Ninevah. Ninevah was the capital of Assyria, the most powerful nation at that time. The Assyrians were known for their cruelty and harsh treatment of prisoners and other nations. God called on Jonah to go to Ninevah and try to convince the king and his people to turn to God. How would you feel if God asked you to go and spend time with someone who had treated you terribly? Let’s find out what Jonah does…

Jonah lived many years before Jesus was born during the time of the divided kingdom. He prophesied in the northern kingdom, Israel. Where do you think we would find the story in the Bible? The book of Jonah is a very short book. It is found in the Prophets section of the Old Testament. There are two divisions of books of Prophets: major prophets and minor prophets. Minor prophets are short books, Major prophets are longer books – it has nothing to do with the importance of the prophet’s message. Jonah is a minor prophet because the book is short – only 4 chapters long. Even though the book is short, God’s message in it is very BIG!

Help the children locate Jonah in their Bibles. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their green ribbon bookmark to locate the books of prophecy and move forward from there.

This book is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture using the bold headings to direct the children to the different parts of Jonah’s story. Basically there are four key parts:


1. God calls Jonah; Jonah disobeys.
2. Jonah submits.
3. Jonah completes his mission.
4. Jonah’s motives are contrasted with God’s motives.

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

Memory Verse: Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with their own Bibles highlight the verse with the Bible highlighters.
“When I was in trouble, I called out to you. And you answered me.” Jonah 2:2

Discussion Questions:

  • What 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)
  • Did God give up on Jonah when he ran away, and go choose someone else to preach His word? (No, God kept trying to show Jonah how He should behave and what he should do)
  • Did God give up on the people of Ninevah when Jonah didn’t want to go talk to them?
  • Did Jonah please God because he did what God asked him to do, but didn’t show compassion to the Ninevites? (No…God was pleased with the Ninevites because they had changed their hearts and their actions, but Jonah needed to change his heart toward the Ninevites to completey please God)
  • Did God get angry with Jonah when Jonah got angry? (No, He simply used the plant, something that Jonah could relate to, to teach Jonah a lesson)
  • Where was God throughout the story? (everywhere…there wasn’t anywhere to hide form God)
  • How do we show forgiveness in our lives?


There’s a word you should all remember…GRACE…It means that God loves and protects us without us doing anything. It is a wonderful gift that He gives each and every one of us.

  • What can we learn about God from this story? (God loves everyone, grace, mercy, forgiveness)
  • How do we tell and show others about the good news of God’s grace and love?
  • How can we show others who are different than us that we are all God’s people?
  • How can we change our attitude toward others who are different than us or who are not easy to get along with?
  • How can we show people around us that we forgive them? (give them a second chance at being a friend)


Jonah’s Stuffed Fish
Each child will make a stuffed paper fish and decorate it by painting it and writing the memory verse on one or both sides.

Supplies Needed:

  • White paper cut in 2’x 2’ pieces (two for each child)
  • Newspaper or paper towels to stuff the fish
  • Stapler and staples
  • Paint (watercolors or acrylic)
  • Paint brushes
  • Water cups
  • Paint pens


Preparation:

  1. Cover all tables with old tablecloths.
  2. Write the memory verse on the board.
  3. Set out supplies.
  4. Cut out the fish for the K-3 graders and staple together, leaving one side open for them to stuff the fish.


Directions: Complete steps #1-3 before class for K-3!

  1. Draw an outline of a fish on a piece of paper approx. 2’ long x 1’ high.
  2. Place another piece of paper under and cut both fish out so that the edges line up.
  3. Have the children write the memory verse on one side of the fish, and a word or two that describes what they learned from the story on the other.
  4. Staple the edges together with approx. a .5 inch border all around the fish, leaving one side open.
  5. Crumple the newspaper or paper towels into small balls and stuff the fish.
  6. Staple the remaining edge together.
  7. Allow the children to decorate the fish with watercolor paints or acrylic paints.


Journal Questions:
Grades K-3: Write the word GRACE. God loves us no matter what we do or how we mess up.
Grades 4-6: Make an acrostic poem from the word GRACE.
(Acrostics: Using each letter in the word GRACE, have the children come up with descriptions of what grace is. You may want to do this as a class and have the children write down the community acrostic poem. Then children may want to create their own.

For example: G - God’s love
R – reaches everyone
A – always is with us
C – can’t earn it, it’s free!
E – everywhere we go!

Clean up: Gather all supplies and encourage each child to clean his/her own work area.

Closing:

Gather the children together before leaving. Review the meaning of grace. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.

Dear Lord, We are so glad to know that You will never leave us. You are always by our side. Even when we make mistakes, You love us unconditionally, and want us to try again. May we always remember Jonah and the grace and compassion You showed the people of Ninevah. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Release children only to parents or by prior permission of parents. Make sure parents sign their children out on the classroom clipboards.


 

Resources:

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

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Cooking Workshop

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will exploring the concepts of repentance, forgiveness and obedience while making a Whale of a Pizza.

 

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.


Supplies List:

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Butter knife
  • Pastry brush
  • Rolling pin
  • Pizza crust
  • Pizza sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • One half cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Green pepper sliced
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Flour for dusting work surface
  • Small can of sweet corn
  • 1 Black olive
  • Small pieces of note paper (1 for each child)
  • Pencils
  • Matches or candlelighter
  • Metal container (coffee can or aluminum pan)
  • Large glass of water
  • Paper plates


Preparation and Room Set Up:

  • Review the Background Information, Behavioral Covenant, Teaching Tips and Lesson plan.
  • Gather all necessary supplies for activities.
  • Prepare the Jonah story cards by enlarging the appropriate images from the Blankenbaker book and copy 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.


ALLERGY NOTE: Be aware if any children have severely allergy to peanuts and other nuts. Check ingredient labels to make sure nuts and nut oils are not included in any cooking activities if you do.

Important Note for Cooking Workshop Leaders:
Children LOVE to cook and create various concoctions in this workshop. But occasionally the cooking activity does not have as obvious or concrete a connection with the lesson as do some of the other workshops. Help the children make that connection by intentionally discussing the way the activity relates to the lesson of the day. Discuss during preparation, eating and clean-up times.

Time Guidelines:
Welcome and Introductions 5 minutes
Bible Study 10 minutes
Whale of a Pizza 30 minutes
Reflection/Closing 5 minutes



 

Presentation

 

Opening-Welcome/Introduction:

Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure everyone is wearing a nametag. Please include the shepherd in introductions. Give the children a simple one or two-sentence synopsis of what you will be doing during the workshop.

Prayer: Please begin your class with prayer each week. Pray your own or use the prayer printed below.
Father, We thank you for this day and this time we spend together learning about you. Guide us to be obedient to you. Help us to share the forgiveness you have for us with others. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

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.

Note: The pizza has to bake about 30 minutes so begin the cooking promptly as the children arrive. The Bible Study can be done while the pizza is in the oven.

Whale of a Pizza
(adapted from Bible Food Fun: A Step-By-Step Cookbook by Leslie Wright, ISBN 0-8423-3685-0)

Directions:

  1. Have the children wash their hands and put on aprons.
  2. Let everyone participate.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°.
  4. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pizza dough into a large oval.
  5. Cut out a large fish with the butter knife.
  6. Place the crust on greased baking sheet (or cover the baking sheet with parchment paper – makes clean up MUCH easier!)
  7. Drain sweet corn well.
  8. Mix tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  9. Spread pizza sauce all over crust.
  10. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly, add extra to head and tail.
  11. Decorate the fish with sweet corn, pepperoni, green pepper and tomatoes in alternate rows from top to bottom. (to look like fish scales)
  12. Use a sliver of olive for the mouth.
  13. Use an end slice of olive for the eye.
  14. Brush the scales lightly with oil and bake following crust directions.


As you are preparing the pizza, discuss the following:

Have the children think about the past week.

  • Did you do what your parents told you to do?
  • Why or why not?
  • What is the word we use for doing what we are told? (obedience)
  • What happens if you do not do what you were told?
  • How did you feel?
  • Did you tell your parents you were sorry?
  • What happened?

Introduce the story:
(Use the story cards from the Elijah lesson to review the history of the time and to introduce Jonah to the children. Children may also color the cards during discussion or as the pizza bakes.)

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….


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

Memory Verse: 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

Memory Verse: 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

Reflect:

  • What 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?


After the pizza has finished baking and is cool, serve it and discuss the following:

  • 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/Journal Time:
Use the following closing activity instead of journals for this session.

Closing:

Gather the children and give each one a piece of note paper and pencil. Encourage the children to think about something they have done for which they would like God’s forgiveness. Remind them that this should be something they sincerely wish to change. Tell the children that no one will read their papers. They may want to fold their papers for privacy.

Wait quietly as the children work. Or do the activity along with the children. Have children come up one at a time with their papers. Light a match and burn each of the children’s papers in the metal can. Add only one paper at a time, allowing it to burn before adding the next. Have large glass of water on hand in case flames become too large.

Give each child an opportunity to burn or destroy their statements of sin.

Then say: The Lord is merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. We can be confident of God’s forgiveness and love.

Close with the Lord’s Prayer.


(Activity adapted from New Invitation Bible Studies, Abingdon Press, Summer 1997.)


A lesson from State Street UMC

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Drama (Puppet) Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will make puppets and act out the story with them.

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.


Preparation and Room Set Up:

  • Review the Background Information, Behavioral Covenant, Teaching Tips and Lesson plan.
  • Copy the drama puppet script for Grades 4-6.
  • Gather the supplies to make the puppets.
  • Preview the Rotation Music CD. Play the music as children arrive and during journaling.

Supplies List:

  • Construction paper or craft foamie sheets
  • Poster board (for great fish)
  • Markers
  • Sock (add googly eyes) to make worm puppet
  • Craft sticks
  • Tape


General Tips for Drama Workshop Facilitators

  • You may wish to organize costumes or puppets ahead of time to cut down on a flurry of activity and possible hurt feelings. Have props ready ahead of time. This is especially important for the younger children. The older children often are very creative with props and costumes.
  • You will want to limit the amount of time the children are allowed to dress-up. (They can easily spend the entire class time selecting costumes!)
  • Be sure that all children are involved in some way. Some children are intimidated by the prospect of being on a stage. Offer them alternative roles as well as the children who do not have main parts. They can always be “sound effects” or “crowds” or stagehands to help change scenery, or video camera operators (for the older children). Remember as well that children can draw the backdrop for the drama on the blackboard or videotape the plays (older children).
  • To eliminate competition, you may wish to place the names of characters in a hat and have children choose their parts.
  • Be sure to explain the activity to the children and ask for questions.
  • Even though videotaping the activities may seem unnecessary, videotaping seems to encourage better behavior from the children.
  • Have fun and make this fun for the children!
  • The purpose of the drama workshop is not to create a polished performance. Through the activity, children will explore the story in depth. Feel free to pause and discuss details as they arise, add more information (using the Background information and resources) and answer questions along the way. 

Time Guidelines:
Welcome and Introductions 5 minutes
Bible Study 10 minutes
Jonah’s Fishy Adventure 30 minutes
Reflection/Closing 5 minutes



Presentation

Early Arrival Activity:

Have children begin work on the puppets as they arrive.

Opening-Welcome/Introduction:

Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure everyone is wearing a nametag. Please include the shepherd in introductions. Give the children a simple one or two-sentence synopsis of the day’s activity.

Prayer: Please begin your class with prayer each week. Pray your own or use the prayer printed below.
Dear God, Thank you for this day and for everyone who is here today. Be with us now as we learn about another of your prophets, Jonah. AMEN.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

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.

Jonah Story Cards
The Jonah Story cards (see attached) can be used as a visual reminder of the different events of Jonah’s story. Several key cards from Elijah (previous rotation) are also included for review. Prepare the cards by enlarging the appropriate images from the Blankenbaker book and copying onto cardstock.
Introduce the Story:
We’ve been studying prophets this summer. What is a prophet? (God’s messenger, someone very close to God) Last month we talked about the prophet Elijah. Let’s review some of what we have learned. (Use the Prophet Story Cards to review key events in Elijah’s story:
1. Samuel anoints the first king of Israel.
2. Israel worships idols.
3. Israel is divided into two kingdoms (northern – Israel, southern Judah)
4. Israel has good and bad kings.
5. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel worship idols.
6. Elijah confronts King Ahab.
7. Elijah has a contest on Mt. Carmel.
8. God sends Elisha to help Elijah.

Many years passed. God raised up another prophet for the northern kingdom of Israel. This prophet’s name was Jonah. Now at that time Assyria was a very powerful nation. They had strong armies who tried to take over lands and people. The people of Israel worried that the Assyrian army would take over their land too. The capital city of Assyria was called Ninevah. It was a huge city with great walls surrounding it. The people in Ninevah did not worship the one, true God. So, the people of Israel looked down on the people of Ninevah. They thought they were better than them. They also didn’t like them because the Assyrian army was very cruel. The people of Ninevah were their enemies.

But, God wanted to teach his people a lesson. And so he called a new prophet, named Jonah to show his people that God loves everyone – no matter where they live or what they do. Let’s find out more about the story now.

Bible Study: Grades K-3
Where would we find a story in the Bible that takes place many years before Jesus was born? (Old Testament) Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate “Jonah and the Fish,” page 273-276 in the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible. Read or paraphrase the story as the children follow along in their Bibles (or use the attached excerpt from the Children’s Illustrated Bible). Be sure to point out the bold headings. Rising Kindergarteners have just received their Bibles and will need lots of help using them. Have shepherds help them and consider pairing older children with the younger ones. Use the Jonah Story Cards to help tell the story.

Help the children locate and review 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

Memory Verse:

Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with Bible bookmarks place their red ribbon bookmark here. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse with the Bible 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)

Reflect:

  • What 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?

Bible Study: Grades 4-6
Jonah lived about 700 years many years before Jesus was born. Where would we find the story of Jonah in the Bible? (Old Testament) Jonah is one of the minor prophets. This means that his book is a short book of prophecy. Long books of prophecy are called major prophets. Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate Jonah in their Bibles. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their green ribbon bookmark to locate the books of prophecy and move forward from there.

This book is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture using the bold headings to direct the children to the different parts of Jonah’s story. Basically there are four key parts:
1. God calls Jonah; Jonah disobeys.
2. Jonah submits.
3. Jonah completes his mission.
4. Jonah’s motives are contrasted with God’s motives.

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

Memory Verse:

Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with their own Bibles highlight the verse with the Bible highlighters.
“When I was in trouble, I called out to you. And you answered me.” Jonah 2:2

Discussion Questions:

  • What 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?


Jonah’s Fishy Adventure
(Adapted from a puppet activity and script written by Amy Crane and previously posted at rotation-org called, “Jonah Puppet Lesson Plan: Runaway Jonah.” 2001)

Supplies:

  • Construction paper or craft foamie sheets
  • Poster board (for great fish)
  • Markers
  • Sock (add googly eyes) to make worm puppet
  • Craft sticks
  • Tape


Advanced Preparation:

  1. Gather props and puppets.
  2. Preview script (attached at end of lesson)
  3. Copy script for Narrator.
  4. Gather supplies to make stick puppets of cats, dogs, cows, sea creatures and a vine or tree. Use construction paper and markers and then tape to craft sticks. Make a worm puppet out of a sock. Make a large fish (big enough to “swallow” Jonah).
  5. Use the cardboard boat in the classroom for the boat. Children can crouch behind the boat inside the puppet theatre or use the stage in the classroom. 


Characters (puppets):
God (narrator)
Jonah
King of Ninevah
Repentant people
Sailors

Props:
Cardboard boat
Blue fabric (~2 yards to serve as “waves"

Stick Puppets (created by children):
Cats, dogs, sheep, goats, large fish (big enough to “swallow” Jonah), worm, tree

Directions:

  1. Gather children together and explain the activity.
  2. Help children make the stick puppets from the construction paper and poster board.
  3. Assign parts. Teacher or older student can read the narration of the script (written from God’s perspective).
  4. Be sure to pause often in the drama allowing children to act out the story and insert their own dialogue. Encourage them to be creative. The purpose is not to have a polished performance; it is to help the children explore the events of the story and the emotions and actions of the characters.
  5. If time allows, perform the drama more than once, allowing children to switch roles.


Reflection after the Drama:

  • Were you surprised that the people of Ninevah responded to Jonah’s message?
  • I wonder if Jonah was surprised….
  • What do you think about Jonah disobeying God?
  • What do you think about God giving Jonah a second chance?
  • What do you think God was trying to tell Jonah (and US) at the end of the story? 


Modifications for Younger Children:
Teacher will be the narrator. Have the shepherd help direct the children to act out the actions. Simplify the dialogue and have children echo it back to the narrator.

Reflection/Journal Time:
The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for K-3 and blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.

Journal Questions:
Grades K-3: Draw a picture of Jonah inside the fish. What was he doing?
Grades 2-5: How was Jonah similar to Elijah? Different?

Closing:

Gather the children together in a circle. Review with them one word or concept that they learned during today’s session. (obedience, repentance, love, mercy, are some suggestions) Encourage them to come back next week and to bring a friend, especially a friend who does not have a church home. Remind them to bring their Bibles. Ask for prayer requests and close with prayer. Perhaps one of the children would like to pray? Or ask the children to pray out loud or silently one at a time. Have them say “Amen” when they are finished so the next child can pray.

Clean-up: Encourage the children to help you clean up. Place all props and other materials in the prop closet or the storage cabinet.

Release children only to parents or by prior permission of parents after signing out on class clipboards.


 

Jonah’s Fishy Adventure
(Adapted from a puppet activity and script written by Amy Crane and previously posted at rotation-org called, “Jonah Puppet Lesson Plan: Runaway Jonah.” 2001)

[Bracketed statements in italics are suggestions for puppet play action. Reader should pause to allow plenty of time for children to act out the narration and add dialogue.]

Let me tell you about Jonah. He is one of the people I called to be a prophet, to be my messenger to share my word with the world.

Jonah is good and true and faithful. Be he can also be a bit stubborn. One day I told him to go to Ninevah. It was a large city, the capital of Assyria. But it was full of evil. I told Jonah to go there and tell the people that I was angry because they were behaving so wickedly.

Do you think Jonah hopped up and headed to Ninevah to do what I asked? No, not Jonah. He ran away. He actually headed in the opposite direction – to Tarshish in Spain!

[Place the cardboard boat with the puppets behind it so they appear to be onboard the ship. Puppets act out Jonah deciding to make a run for it and head to Spain. Rock the boat to show the storm. Add blue fabric “waves.”]

I sent a great wind! The ship was tossed and rocked by the storm. The sailors were terrified and prayed to all sorts of gods (but not to me.)

[Puppets act scared. Start praying. Jonah is sleeping in the bottom of the boat.]

Finally someone found Jonah sound asleep. Jonah confessed that he was running away from me, the one true God who made land and sea.

[Act it out]

Jonah told them to throw him overboard and then the storm would stop. But the sailors didn’t want to hurt Jonah. They tried to row the boat through the storm, but it was too hard for them. Finally, they picked up Jonah and threw him out of the boat. Immediately, the wind stopped and the sea grew calm. The sailors were amazed at my power. They promised to worship me and serve me!

[Act it out]

Jonah sank down into the sea. Seaweed caught him and pulled him down deep. I sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. For three days and nights he stayed inside the belly of that smelly fish. He sang and prayed. He asked me to be with him. He thanked me for saving me – “When I was in trouble I called out to you and you answered me.”

After three days, I ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto dry land. And it did.

[Jonah leaves fish. Reacts to being on land again]

Once again I spoke to Jonah. “Go to Ninevah. Proclaim the message I have given you.”

This time Jonah obeyed.

[Act it out. Jonah goes through town yelling, “In forty days Ninevah will be destroyed!”]

The people of Ninevah believed Jonah’s message. They tore their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes to show how sorry they were. The king repented too. He commanded that everyone – people and animals should fast to show that they were truly sorry.

[People and animals – stick puppets – run around apologizing. King commands that everyone must behave from now on.]

I saw that the people were truly sorry for what they had done. I saw that they had repented – turned away from their evil ways. So I did not punish them.

Jonah wasn’t very happy about this. In fact he was downright angry!

[Jonah yells at God, saying he knew God would forgive everyone because God is patient, gently, kind, loving, merciful, forgiving, etc. Jonah stomps off, saying he is better off dead. He goes to edge of town and sits down to wait]

Jonah ran away again. He sat down and waited. He wanted to see if I would destroy the city of Ninevah. I sent a vine to grow up to shade Jonah from the hot sun.

[Tree pops up. Jonah is happy to have it.]

The next day I sent a worm to eat the vine.

[Worm chews tree and it disappears. Jonah complains about missing the shade and again wishing he were dead.]

“What right do you have to be angry,” I asked Jonah.

[Jonah continues to grumble and pout and wish he were dead.]

So, patiently, I explained to Jonah:
“Why are you complaining about this tree?
In one day I made it grow up.
In the next day I made it die.
Did you do anything to help it live or die? So why should you feel sorry for it?
And as for the people of Ninevah…. I made them too: the grownups, the children, the animals. And I love them. Shouldn’t I be able to forgive them if I want?”


 

A lesson from State Street UMC G.R.E.A.T. Adventure

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Games and Bible Skills Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will review the events of the story by playing Jonah Spin. They will also, if time allows, make an origami whale.

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.

Important Note for Games Workshop Leaders:
The purpose of the games workshop is two-fold: to develop Bible skills and to reinforce that knowledge by having fun with games. The games are not frills and fluff! Playing games helps to cement the knowledge and reinforce the skills you introduce during the Bible lesson. Please do not skimp on the games portion of the lesson! Use the time guidelines above to keep your lesson on track. Remember -- children are spending 4 weeks on this story, so if you can’t cover every single aspect of the story, it’s ok!


Preparation and Room Set Up:

  • Review background information, teaching tips and lesson materials.
  • Gather necessary supplies.
  • Prepare the game materials – see below
  • Prepare the Prophet Story cards by copying onto cardstock the images from the Blankenbaker book.
  • Review the Music CD. Plan to play the music as the children arrive, play games and during journal time.

Supplies List:

  • Game wheel spinner (instructions for making a game wheel spinner created by Paul Derden for State Street UMC: link)
  • Question list
  • White board and markers to keep score

Time Guidelines:
Welcome and Introductions 10 minutes
Bible Study 15 minutes
Game 20 minutes
Reflection/Closing 5 minutes



Presentation

Opening-Welcome/Introduction:

Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure everyone is wearing a nametag. Please include the shepherd in introductions. Give the children a simple one or two-sentence synopsis of what you will be doing during the workshop.

Prayer: Please begin your class with prayer each week. Pray your own or use the prayer printed below.
Dear God, Thank you for this day and for all who are here today. Be with us now as we learn more about your great love for us. Give us open hearts and open minds as we learn and play together. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

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:
We’ve been studying prophets this summer. What is a prophet? (God’s messenger, someone very close to God) Last month we talked about the prophet Elijah. Let’s review some of what we have learned. (Use the Prophet Story Cards to review key events in Elijah’s story:
1. Samuel anoints the first king of Israel.
2. Israel worships idols.
3. Israel is divided into two kingdoms (northern – Israel, southern Judah)
4. Israel has good and bad kings.
5. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel worship idols.
6. Elijah confronts King Ahab.
7. Elijah has a contest on Mt. Carmel.
8. God sends Elisha to help Elijah.

Many years passed. God raised up another prophet for the northern kingdom of Israel. This prophet’s name was Jonah. Now at that time Assyria was a very powerful nation. They had strong armies who tried to take over lands and people. The people of Israel worried that the Assyrian army would take over their land too. The capital city of Assyria was called Ninevah. It was a huge city with great walls surrounding it. The people in Ninevah did not worship the one, true God. So, the people of Israel looked down on the people of Ninevah. They thought they were better than them. They also didn’t like them because the Assyrian army was very cruel. The people of Ninevah were their enemies.

But, God wanted to teach his people a lesson. And so he called a new prophet, named Jonah to show his people that God loves everyone – no matter where they live or what they do. Let’s find out more about the story now.

Bible Study: Grades K-3
Where would we find a story in the Bible that takes place many years before Jesus was born? (Old Testament) Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate “Jonah and the Fish,” page 273-276 in the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible. Read or paraphrase the story as the children follow along in their Bibles (or use the attached excerpt from the Children’s Illustrated Bible). Be sure to point out the bold headings. Rising Kindergarteners have just received their Bibles and will need lots of help using them. Have shepherds help them and consider pairing older children with the younger ones. Use the Jonah Story Cards to help tell the story.

Help the children locate and review 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

Memory Verse:

Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with Bible bookmarks place their red ribbon bookmark here. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse with the Bible 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)

Reflect:

  • What 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?


Bible Study: Grades 4-6
Jonah lived about 700 years many years before Jesus was born. Where would we find the story of Jonah in the Bible? (Old Testament) Jonah is one of the minor prophets. This means that his book is a short book of prophecy. Long books of prophecy are called major prophets. Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate Jonah in their Bibles. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their green ribbon bookmark to locate the books of prophecy and move forward from there.

This book is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture using the bold headings to direct the children to the different parts of Jonah’s story. Basically there are four key parts:
1. God calls Jonah; Jonah disobeys.
2. Jonah submits.
3. Jonah completes his mission.
4. Jonah’s motives are contrasted with God’s motives.

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

Memory Verse:

Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with their own Bibles highlight the verse with the Bible highlighters.
“When I was in trouble, I called out to you. And you answered me.” Jonah 2:2

Discussion Questions:

  • What 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?

GAME -  Jonah Spin

Supplies:

  • Game wheel spinner (instructions for making a game wheel spinner created by Paul Derden for State Street UMC: link)
  • Question list
  • White board and markers to keep score

Directions:

  1. Divide children into two teams.
  2. Each team will need a Bible.
  3. Team with the youngest person goes first.
  4. Have one person from Team One spin the wheel to determine the amount of points for their question.
  5. Ask a question from the Question List.
  6. IMPORTANT: Teams must confer together before answering. This is more welcoming to visitors and new attendees.
  7. Once the team has decided on the correct answer, the player who spun the wheel gives the answer. If correct, the team is awarded the points from the wheel. If incorrect, the other team has a chance to steal. Play passes to the next team whether the question is answered correctly or incorrectly. Teams may use their Bibles to look up answers!
  8. Continue playing until all questions are answered.
  9. Team with the most points wins.


Modification for K-3: Reword questions into True False to make the game easier.

Question List:
1. Jonah was a Judge. True or False? (False)
2. What is a prophet? (someone who is close to God, is God’s messenger)
3. The story of Jonah is found where in the Bible? (Old Testament)
4. The book of Jonah is a book of Law. True or False? (False)
5. A minor prophet is a prophet who is less important than a major prophet. True or False? (False)
6. Jonah was a prophet to which kingdom, north or south? (north)
7. What was the northern kingdom called? (Israel)
8. Israel’s kings were all wonderful, godly men. True or False? (false)
9. The main sin the people of Israel had was ____? (idol worship)
10. God called Jonah to go and preach to whom? (the people of Ninevah)
11. Where is Ninevah? Show on the map. (capital of Assyria)
12. What did Jonah do? (ran the opposite direction)
13. Why did Jonah run away? (he didn’t like the people of Assyria, they were enemies)
14. Where did Jonah try to run? (Tarshish – in Spain)
15. What happened while Jonah was on the boat? (storm blew up)
16. What did the sailors do? (they were afraid, they wanted Jonah to pray to his God, they threw him overboard)
17. How did God save Jonah? (he was swallowed by a giant fish)
18. What did Jonah do inside the fish? (he prayed, he thanked God for saving him from drowning)
19. What is our memory verse? (When I was in trouble I called out to you and your answered me. Jonah 2:2)
20. How long was Jonah inside the fish? (three days and nights)
21. What happened then? (the fish spit Jonah out onto dry land)
22. What message did God give Jonah? (go to Ninevah and preach to them about God)
23. What did Jonah do? (he went)
24. The people of Ninevah didn’t listen to Jonah. True or False. (False)
25. What did the people do to show they were truly sorry? (they fasted, they put on sackcloth and ashes, they asked God’s forgiveness)
26. What does repentance mean? (to be truly sorry, to turn away from your sin)
27. Did God destroy Ninevah? (no)
28. Why didn’t God destroy Ninevah? (God loved them, they were sorry for what they had done)
29. How did Jonah feel when God forgave the people of Ninevah? (he was mad because God forgave his enemies, he wanted God to destroy them)
30. What did God do to shade Jonah from the sun? (grew a plant)
31. What happened to the plant the next day? (a worm ate it)
32. What lesson did Jonah learn about God? (God loves everyone, not just the people of Israel, God is merciful and forgiving, God wants us to forgive others too)

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY - Origami Whale

(Instructions found at: https://www.enchantedlearning....rafts/origami/whale/
If time allows, children may make an origami whale to remind them of the story.

Supplies:

  • Origami paper or colored copy paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
  • Instructions from the origami site

Directions:

  1. See attached instructions for folding the whale.
  2. Children may also cut out a small person shape for Jonah to slide inside the mouth of the whale.

Reflection/Journal Time:
The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for K-3 and blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.

Journal Questions:
Grades K-3: God forgave the people of Ninevah. Draw a picture showing how Jonah felt.
Grades 4-6: Jonah was angry because God forgave the people of Ninevah. When is it hard for you to forgive someone?

Clean-up: Encourage the children to help clean up. Put away all game supplies.

Closing:

Gather the children together. Review with them one word or concept that they learned during today’s session. (repentance, forgiveness, trust, obedience, love are some suggestions) Encourage them to come back next week and to bring a friend, especially a friend who does not have a church home. Remind them to bring their Bibles. Ask for prayer requests and close with prayer.


Resources:

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 Stree UMC

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Video Workshop

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. 

Supplies List:

  • Video: “Jonah - The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible”
    Turner Home Entertainment
    Running time: 25 minutes


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.

Time Guidelines:
Welcome/Introduction 5 minutes
Introduction of story 5 minutes
Video-Jonah 25 minutes
Discussion Questions/Bible Notes 10 minutes
Journal 5 minutes



Presentation

 

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

Memory Verse:

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

Memory Verse:

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

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  • 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.

Journal Question:
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.

Closing:

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.


 

Resources:

  • 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

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

 

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet!

Computer Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Uses the software Elijah and Jonah (Sunday Software).

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Preview the software.
  • Turn on the computers and monitors. Turn sound down.
  • Go to http://sundaysoftware.com/site/elijah-jonah/ and make a copy of the "General Outline & Highlights" portion (pgs 3 & 4) of the Teacher’s Outline and Guide to Elijah-Jonah CD document. Add it to the "Navigation Handout" shown at the end of this lesson. Make a copy of this document for each computer. Review other material in this document from Sunday Software.
  • You may want to demonstrate how to navigate the program for the first couple of pages.

Supplies List:

  • Elijah and Jonah (Sunday Software).

Notes for Computer Workshop Leaders:
This workshop can always use extra hands, especially for the younger children. Ask the shepherds to sit with the children at a computer station and help with navigation, reading text and discussion. At the 10:45 session, use your shepherds and the 5-6 grade helpers. You might also want to pair older students with younger ones. As much as possible, try to sit with your students as you go through the software together. The lesson is not what’s on the computer. It’s what you and the students do with what’s on the computer. Guide your students through the content, share yourself and facilitate their sharing with each other. Model your enthusiasm for the Word of God. Please make sure that children take turns at the mouse and keyboard. If necessary, use the timer in the room to help the children switch roles.

Time Guidelines:
Welcome/Introduction 5 minutes
Bible Study 10 minutes
Software exploration 30 minutes
Journal/Closing 5 minutes



Presentation

Opening-Welcome and Introductions:

Gather the children together in the chairs with their Bibles. Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure you are wearing your name tag and that the children have picked up their nametags. Always begin each class with introductions. Remember that workshop leaders rotate often, and the children may not know you. Please include the shepherds in introductions. Tell the children that today they will learn about one of the most well-known prophets in Israel’s history.

Opening Prayer: Please open class with prayer each week. You may pray your own prayer or use the prayer below: Dear God, We praise you and we thank you for all you do for us. Be with us today as we learn more about you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children do 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 activities.

Jonah Story Cards
The Jonah Story cards can be used as a visual reminder of the different events of Jonah’s story. Several key cards from Elijah (previous rotation) are also included for review. Prepare the Jonah Story Cards by enlarging the appropriate images from the Blankenbaker book and copying onto cardstock.

Introduce the Story:
We’ve been studying prophets this summer. What is a prophet? (God’s messenger, someone very close to God) Last month we talked about the prophet Elijah. Let’s review some of what we have learned. (Use the Prophet Story Cards to review key events in Elijah’s story:

1. Samuel anoints the first king of Israel.
2. Israel worships idols.
3. Israel is divided into two kingdoms (northern – Israel, southern Judah)
4. Israel has good and bad kings.
5. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel worship idols.
6. Elijah confronts King Ahab.
7. Elijah has a contest on Mt. Carmel.
8. God sends Elisha to help Elijah.

Many years passed. God raised up another prophet for the northern kingdom of Israel. This prophet’s name was Jonah. Now at that time Assyria was a very powerful nation. They had strong armies who tried to take over lands and people. The people of Israel worried that the Assyrian army would take over their land too. The capital city of Assyria was called Ninevah. It was a huge city with great walls surrounding it. The people in Ninevah did not worship the one, true God. So, the people of Israel looked down on the people of Ninevah. They thought they were better than them. They also didn’t like them because the Assyrian army was very cruel. The people of Ninevah were their enemies.

But, God wanted to teach his people a lesson. And so he called a new prophet, named Jonah to show his people that God loves everyone – no matter where they live or what they do. Let’s find out more about the story now.

Bible Study: Grades K-3
Where would we find a story in the Bible that takes place many years before Jesus was born? (Old Testament) Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate “Jonah and the Fish,” page 273-276 in the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible. Read or paraphrase the story as the children follow along in their Bibles (or use the attached excerpt from the Children’s Illustrated Bible). Be sure to point out the bold headings. Rising Kindergarteners have just received their Bibles and will need lots of help using them. Have shepherds help them and consider pairing older children with the younger ones. Use the Jonah Story Cards to help tell the story.

Help the children locate and review 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

Memory Verse:
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with Bible bookmarks place their red ribbon bookmark here. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse with the Bible 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 4-6
Jonah lived about 700 years many years before Jesus was born. Where would we find the story of Jonah in the Bible? (Old Testament) Jonah is one of the minor prophets. This means that his book is a short book of prophecy. Long books of prophecy are called major prophets. Let’s find the story of Jonah in our Bibles now. Help the children locate Jonah in their Bibles. Children with Bible bookmarks can use their green ribbon bookmark to locate the books of prophecy and move forward from there.

This book is too long to be read in its entirety. Paraphrase the scripture using the bold headings to direct the children to the different parts of Jonah’s story. Basically there are four key parts:

1. God calls Jonah; Jonah disobeys.
2. Jonah submits.
3. Jonah completes his mission.
4. Jonah’s motives are contrasted with God’s motives.

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

Memory Verse:
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize one verse. Locate the verse and review with the children at this time. Have children with their own Bibles highlight the verse with the Bible highlighters.
“When I was in trouble, I called out to you. And you answered me.” Jonah 2:2

Computer Exploration:

Jonah’s Story
Software: Elijah and Jonah CD by Sunday Software http://sundaysoftware.com/site/elijah-jonah/

Tthrough all the content and play the games. Jonah’s story contrasts with Elijah’s story (that we did last month). Each story portrays unbelieving populations in different ways. Elijah is compassionate; Jonah is not. The Kings also react differently to the Word of God, brought to them by the prophets. Prayer is key in both stories to discerning God’s will.

Study notes are imbedded throughout the program. Tell the children to watch for these and pause to discuss them with their partners. Follow the handout for specific instructions.

Mini-games are also imbedded in the program. Children may play the “Smoochie Spittin’ Game” for a few minutes, but be sure that they play the ending games to review content: the matching game and the “Wormie Game.” The two “Screenshot Handouts” should be used for discussion and can be used at the end of class during Journal Reflection time.

Directions:

  1. Gather children into pairs at the computer stations.
  2. Demonstrate to the children how to open the program – double click on the Elijah-Jonah desktop icon.
  3. Have children view the opening preview – (music to Jaws and spitting Jonah out) -- it’s cute!
  4. Click on Jonah (to the right).
  5. Follow the navigation handout!
  6. The story content is narrated. However, some of the notes are not and will require individual reading. Be sure to pair readers with non-readers or have adults available to help non-readers.

Bring Group together for discussion:
Review handouts together.

Reflection/Journal Time:
The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for K-3, blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.

Journal Questions:
K-3: Draw a picture of the prophets Jonah and Elijah. How were they the same? How were they different?
4-6: Compare Jonah and Elijah. How were they the same? How were they different?

Closing:

Gather the children together. Review with them one word or concept that they learned during today’s session. (worship, one true God, run away, compassion, mercy, love are some suggestions) Encourage them to come back next week and to bring a friend, especially a friend who does not have a church home. Remind them to bring their Bibles. Ask for prayer requests and close with prayer.

Release children only to parents or by prior permission of parents after signing out on class clipboards.


Jonah Navigation Handout

Add to the material below, the directions shown at Teacher’s Outline and Guide to Elijah-Jonah CD under "General Outline & Highlights." You may wish to edit this document to fit the age of children visiting your workshop. Make a copy of the resulting document - one per computer station.

Directions: Follow the instructions below to guide you through the software. Be sure to stop and answer the questions and do the activities listed. Fill in the blanks on the worksheet.

  1. Double click on desktop icon to open program.
  2. View introduction.
  3. Click fast or medium for computer speed.
  4. Click Jonah (on the right).
  5. Listen to the narration.
  6. Click the large green arrows in the circles (near the bottom or center of the screen) to move page left or right.
  7. Click the circle with double arrows or the green triangles to advance each frame.
  8. Discuss Study Notes and fill out handouts.


Page by Page Highlights and Discussion

Page 1 - Opening Questions: Pay attention to these – they are the key questions that will be asked and answered in the program!
Who is God for or against?
Does God care about those who don’t worship him?
How are we supposed to act toward those who don’t follow God?
How far are we supposed to do to carry God’s message to others?

Page 3 – Chapter 1: The Story Begins... Add the rest of the material from the site mentioned above.


Resources: 

  • The Children’s Illustrated Bible, Selina Hastings, DK Publishing, 1994.
  • What the Bible is All About for Young Explorers, Frances Blankenbaker, Gospel Light, 1998.
  • Elijah and Jonah CD by Sunday Software http://sundaysoftware.com/site/elijah-jonah/

 


A lesson from State Street UM

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability and updated links.

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