Jonah Sunday School Lesson for Children
Hide and Seek
(The Story of Jonah and the Whale)
The following Jonah Sunday School lesson for children is a free sample Sunday School lesson. There are many more Sunday School lessons available on The Resource Room.
"Nothing in all creation can hide from him." Hebrews 4:13
The Book of Jonah
Printable Bible Verse Cards:
Print out the cards onto card stock, cut them apart, and send one home with each child. (Printable patterns available to members on The Resource Room.)
Your children will learn about Jonah and how he tried to hide from God. They will learn that they can't hide anything from God. When they do something wrong, instead of trying to forget about it, or hiding from it, God wants them to tell him about it, and to ask him for forgiveness.
1. Make a Book of Emotions
What you will need: Paper, Crayons or Markers, Stapler
What to do:
2. Cut the pages apart, make a cover for the book, and staple everything together.
3. In class have the children draw a picture from the story of Jonah on the cover, and color the pages.
2. Make a Jonah and the Whale Picture
What you will need:
Paper (Card Stock)
Crayons or Markers
What to do:
1. Before class print out the whale coloring sheet and the Jonah paper dolls.
(Printable patterns are available to members on The Resource Room.)
2. Cut a slit along the top of the whale's mouth.
3. Cut out the paper dolls and glue them back to back so you have a smiling Jonah on one side and a scared Jonah on the other.
4. In class have the children color both the happy and scared Jonah, the whale, and background.
5. In class encourage your children to use the Jonah dolls to tell the story to their family and friends. They can place the scared Jonah in the whale's mouth when he's being swallowed by the whale and have the happy Jonah come out of his mouth when the whale spits him out. Jonah's arms can be folded inward so he fits in the whale's mouth.
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1. Print out the emotions faces.
(Patterns available to members.)
2. Cut them out and color the faces (or print them on different colors of paper).
3. Glue the faces to separate pieces of paper or glue a craft stick to the bottom of each face so that you can hold them up. Have them ready to show the class during the lesson.
Have you ever played "Hide and Seek"? It's a fun game isn't it? It's fun to try and find a really good hiding place and see how long it takes someone to find you. It wouldn't be very fun, though, if every time you hid somewhere the person looking for you knew exactly where you where, would it?
Our story today is about a man who tried to play hide from God, only he wasn't having any fun. This is how it happened.
One day God told Jonah that he had a special job for him to do. God told Jonah that he wanted him to go to the city of Nineveh and warn the people there that he would destroy them and their city if they didn't stop being bad. How do you think Jonah felt when God told him that? (Let the children respond and then hold up the sad face). (Instead, you could have the faces all lined up and have one of the children come up and pick the one that best describes what Jonah felt like at this point and throughout the lesson .) Jonah wasn't happy to hear this. He started to pout. Can you make a pouting face? Jonah was also mad that God had asked him to do this. (Hold up the mad face.) Can you make a mad face?
He probably said to himself, (Make a pouting face and fold your arms together as you say what Jonah might have said.) "What? God wants me to go to Nineveh? This must be some kind of mistake. Those bad, bad people? There is no way I'm going to Nineveh. I wouldn't make it out of that city alive." He was scared (Hold up the scared face.) of that city and the people who lived there. Can you make a scared face?
Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah decided that he would go as far away from Nineveh as he could. He hoped God would pick somebody else to go and warn the people. (Hold up the hopeful face.) Can you make a hopeful face?
Jonah got on a ship that was going to the farthest city he could find. He was really tired, and once he got on board, he went to the very bottom of the ship to hide, and curled up to take a nap. (Hold up the tired face.) Can you make a tired face?
Soon Jonah found out that he couldn't hide from God and that God doesn't forget about anything. God knew exactly where Jonah was. God wasn't happy with Jonah at all. He caused a huge storm to come up. The sailors were afraid that their ship would sink (Hold up the scared picture again). They started throwing everything they could get their hands on into the sea to lighten up the ship. They all started praying to their Gods to save them, but the storm kept getting worse. Finally when they realized that Jonah wasn't helping, they went and got him and told him to start praying to his God. But Jonah knew what the problem was; and he knew that there was only one thing to do. God wouldn't stop the storm until Jonah obeyed (did what he asked him to do) him. So Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard. As soon as Jonah hit the water the storm quit and all was calm. The sailors were so surprised that the storm had stopped. (Hold up the surprised face.) Can you make a surprised face?
Jonah began to sink into the sea, going down farther and farther into the depths. But God didn't want Jonah to drown, he just wanted Jonah to obey him. God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah and take him down to the bottom of the sea. How do you think Jonah felt now? (Hold up the scared face.) He must have felt very scared and alone. He prayed and asked God to forgive him for disobeying him. He probably felt ashamed for not listening to God. (Hold up the ashamed face.) Can you make an ashamed face?
Finally, after three days of being in the dark, stinky, belly of
the fish, the fish came up to the top of the sea and spit Jonah out
on the shore. How do you think Jonah felt then? He was probably happy and surprised to be out of the fish. (Hold up the happy
face and surprised face.) He was also probably a little embarrassed by the way he looked. (Hold up the embarrassed
face). Can you make an embarrassed
Then Jonah obeyed God and went and told the people to stop sinning. They believed Jonah, and God saved them.
Jonah sure did cause a lot of trouble for himself didn't he? You know, when you think about it, we're not so different from Jonah. We may never run away and hide at the bottom of a ship and get swallowed by a huge fish, but sometimes we do try to hide from God when we are scared, ashamed, embarrassed, or just don't want to do what he says.
Have you ever done something wrong and then tried to cover it up or go hide in your room and hope that your mom and dad wouldn't get to mad when they found out? If you did, you were acting just like Jonah. It doesn't do any good to hide does it? Sooner or later you have to face up to what you did.
You may be able to hide things from your parents and friends, but you can't hide them from God. The Bible says, "Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done."
When you are scared about something, instead of running away and hiding, God wants you to come to him and ask him for strength to face up to your fears. And when you do something wrong, instead of trying to forget about it, or hiding from it, God wants you to tell him about it, and to ask him for forgiveness. The Bible tells us that, "If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong." 1 John 1:9 So instead of trying to hide your sins from God, tell God what you did wrong and he will forgive you.
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Father, Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that when we do something wrong we can come to you, confess our sins, and be forgiven. We thank you because we don't ever have to hide from you and be alone and lost in our sins.
Games and Activities
1. Play "Pin Jonah in the Whale" Bible Game
What you willl need:
Crayons or markers
Scissors and Tape
What to do:
1. Before class tape two pieces of cardstock together and draw a large whale shape covering the entire sheet. (See diagram to the left.) Also draw a picture of Jonah that will fit inside the shape of the whale and make copies or use clipart. (A pattern for this craft is available to members.)
2. In class have your children color the pictures of Jonah.
3. Tape the whale picture on a wall so that your children can reach it easily.
4. Blindfold the children and have them take turns trying to tape Jonah inside the whale. Once a child has taped up his or her Jonah, take off the blindfold and show the child where his or her Jonah picture ended up on the whale.
2. Play "What did the Big Fish Eat?" Game
This big fish has swallowed many things including Jonah. Your children answer questions and then reach into the fishes mouth and pull out a piece of paper with a picture of something the fish has swallowed. They will be amazed and entertained by all the different things he has eaten. The child who pulls out the picture of Jonah wins.
What you will need:
Dinner-sized Paper Plates
Hot Melt Glue or Stapler
What to do:
1. Print out the Fish Fin Patterns and cut them out. (Printable patterns available to members.)
Watch a "View it and Do it" Video to see how to make this craft:
2. Place the fin patterns on a paper plate as shown in the diagram, trace the patterns, and cut them out. (Turn the side fin over and trace it a second time to make the opposite side fin.)
3. Glue the tail to the top of one of the paper plates so that the fins are curving downwards. (This paper plate will be the top of the fish.)
4. Glue the two side fins to the same paper plate on the sides of the plates as shown in the diagram below.
5. Cut a slit at the edge of the paper plate just behind both fins as shown in the diagram.
6. Glue the paper plate with the fins on it to the other paper plate starting at the back of one side fin and ending at the back of the other side fin (Green in the diagram below).
7. Bring the top paper plate over top of the bottom paper plate at the fins. Glue it together at the overlapping area. This will make the mouth open.
10. Fold the bottom part of the top fin over about a 1/4" from the bottom. Glue it to the top of the fish.
11. Stuff the fish with some crinkled up scrap paper. Have your children paint the whale craft. Let dry.
11. Glue on some googly eyes.
12. Print out the pattern for the things that go in the whales mouth. (Printable
1. What did God want Jonah to do?
2. What did Jonah do?
3. Why didn't Jonah want to go to Nineveh?
4. What happened when Jonah was on the ship?
5. What did the sailors do when the storm came up?
6. Where was Jonah when the storm came up?
7. What did Jonah say when the sailors asked him to start praying?
8. What happened when Jonah was thrown over board?
9. How many days was Jonah inside the fish?
10. What do you think Jonah did when he was inside the fish?
11. What did Jonah do after the fish spit him out?
12. Did the people of Nineveh listen to Jonah?
13. Was Jonah happy about that?
14. Finish the Bible verse, "God is slow to anger and abounding in _______________? Love
15. Give an example of how we are like Jonah sometimes?
16. Give an example of how someone might try to hide from God today?
17. What does God want us to do when we do something wrong?
18. What does God do when we are sorry and ask for forgiveness?
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3. Play "Swallow Jonah" Game
Before class make milk jug whales and Jonah bean bags - For directions to this craft and links to other crafts go to Danielle's Place. Have the children stand facing each other and throw the bean bag back and forth trying to catch Jonah in the milk jug whales.
4. Sing a Song and Act Out the Story
Young children will love this game. As you sing the following song, have the children act it out one at a time. Set up a big appliance box in the front of the room that looks like a whale. Set up the box so that the children can enter it from one side. Add a fin to the top and back of the box, and maybe a blow hole with water coming out. Draw eyes on the sides. Cut out teeth and have them hang down from the top of the entrance to the box. As you sing the following song have a child enter the box. At the end of the song the child who is in the box pretends he is being spit out of the fishes mouth, and another child enters the box. Keep singing it until all the children have had a chance to be Jonah.
If you have a refrigerator box, cut the flaps off of one end of the box. If your box isn't very long, you can open up the flap and tape them open. You may have to use some cardboard on the inside corners to reinforce the flaps. Tape the other end of the box closed.
This will keep your whale from collapsing when the children are playing in it. Cut a fin from another piece of cardboard and glue it to the back of the box. You can cut out the mouth shape, but you don't have too. You can just paint the inside of the mouth black. Cut two triangular shapes for the side fins and glue them on. Paint the whole thing gray or black and white.
Jonah Goes Out
Sing to the tune of "I'm a little Teapot"
One day God told Jonah, to go out
he began to pout,
and took another route.
When he got on a ship they, threw him out,
he hit the water,
and swam about.
Along came a big fish, maybe a trout,
he swallowed him whole,
there is no doubt.
Then after three days, in that trout,
It took a big burp,
and spit him out.
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5. Review the Story with a Toss Game
Before class decorate a large coffee can. Wrap a wavy blue bulletin board border around the bottom of the can for the water. Glue a whale picture to to the top part of the can.
Before you start, give each child a piece of paper (old newspaper or scrap paper). Tell them to pretend that they are sailors on a boat and the waves are crashing up against it. They are afraid the boat is going to sink and start throwing things overboard to make the boat lighter. They ask Jonah to pray to his God to save them. Jonah tells them he is the reason for the storm and tells them to throw him overboard.
Tell the children to roll up their papers into balls and pretend they are Jonah and throw him overboard. They should aim for the decorated coffee can and try to get Jonah into the can.
(This activity and other ideas were sent in by Marisa Anthony). The children in my Toddler class (age 2-4) liked this - very easy to do.
5. Play "Find Jonah" Game
Print out the Fish Cards and Picture of Jonah onto card stock and cut them out. Have the children color them as an opening activity. Write one of the following activities on the back of each card.
Hide from God, Be a fish and swallow Jonah, Be a fish a spit Jonah out, Get thrown overboard, Pout, Pray in the belly of the fish, Take a nap, Your on a ship in the middle of a storm, Throw everything overboard
1. Make Stuffed Fish
Give each child a large sheet of white bulletin board paper or similar paper. Have them fold the paper in half and draw a large fish shape. Cut out both layers so that they have two fish that look the same. Have the children paint or color the fish and then staple all the way around the edge of the fish leaving an opening so that they can stuff the fish with wrinkled up pieces of newspaper. Staple the fish closed and staple a string on it so that they can be hung from the ceiling.
2. Play "Swallow Jonah" Game
Before class make milk jug whales and Jonah bean bags - For directions to this craft and links to other crafts go to the Bible Themes - Jonah Page. Have the children stand facing each other and throw the bean bag back and forth trying to catch Jonah in the milk jug whales.
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Danielle's Place of Crafts and Activities
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We would love to hear your comments about this lesson. If you have done this lesson with your class we would love to hear how it went, if you changed anything, added anything, what age you taught and was it appropriate. Any comments that would help other teachers would be greatly appreciated and posted here for everyone to read.
I cut out 24 of the fish and taped Jonah onto the back of 6 of them (during the summer we've only had about 6 children in our 3 through kindergarten class). After the children have colored the fish, hopefully not knowing Jonah is taped to the backside, they will play the game where the children take turns picking up a fish to find Jonah. But I've added a little extra to the game. If they find a fish with Jonah taped to the back, they get to take a small handful of the little cheese flavored fish crackers out of a bowl. And then at the end of the class, each child gets a small bag of the fish crackers to take home. Ann Keeler, St. Paul Lutheran Church, TX
I first want to say that I love this site, it's such a blessing. I used the Jonah and the Whale story last week and the kids loved it! I teach Sunday School for 4 & 5 year olds. The entire lesson was easy and simple enough for them to understand and they especially loved trying to "find" Jonah. Stacy Linder
Talk to the children about how/why we pray -- we fold our hands to help us become still. We bow our head and close our eyes to help us become quiet and to help us think only of God. A prayer is how we talk to God. God wants us to pray -- to talk to him, etc. Marisa Anthony.
I DID THE WHALE AND JONAH YESTERDAY AND IT WAS SUCH A HIT! THANK
YOU AGAIN. PEGGY MITCHELL
I used this lesson for my Wednesday night class this past week. I only had 4 yr. olds this week and they loved it! I made the big fish and had the children answer questions for a chance to pull things out of the fish's mouth. They thought this was wonderful. (My daughter who is in the class still wants to pull things out of the fish's mouth at home.) I also printed out pictures of the whales and Jonah pictures and used as a memory game. The child who found Jonah "won" the game. They really had a good time with this.
I have always ran out of material in the past, but this lesson was great! Thanks so much! Tina McFall
I first want to thank you for your wonderful site and all the lessons and ideas. I used the lesson on Jonah with a class of about 10 aged 3 to 12 years of age. We were having problems getting anyone to take on the responsibility of teaching a class. I used most of the ideas given in the lesson and for a craft, we made Jonah necklaces out of pony beads. We put on a gray bead to remind us that the people of Nineveh had sinned,. A red bead said that God had told Jonah to tell the people to Stop sinning. A blue bead reminded us that Jonah disobeyed and was thrown into the water for his sin. White reminded us that Jonah repented and went to Nineveh where the people also repented. Green represented the growth in the lives of the people. Yellow showed Jonah told the people all about heaven. The kids loved this craft and are still wearing their Jonah necklaces months later.
I just wanted to let you know that I plan every Sunday school lesson from Danielle's Place and the Resource Room. It is wonderful that the lesson and everything is right there. I have all preschoolers and most of them can do these activities (except for the cutting). They especially loved the Jonah/Whale made out of a milk jug - The Jonah's I made were just a rectangle rice bag, with a picture of Jonah glued on it... WHAT A HIT. I even sent a copy of the directions home w/ the parents. Michele
I taught the lesson on Jonah a few weeks ago in children's church. The lesson went well. The children enjoyed deciding which emotion Jonah may have had. For an activity, I combined the two games "Find Jonah" and "What did the Big Fish Eat?". I made the big mouth paper plate fish from the "What did the big Fish Eat?" game, wrote the activities from the "Find Jonah" on slips of paper, folded them and put them in the mouth of the fish along with a picture of Jonah. I asked questions from the list of Jonah questions. When a student answered correctly, he pulled a slip of paper from the fish's mouth and acted out what was written on the paper. The other students tried to guess what the student was acting out. I asked a question to the person who guessed correctly, if he answer correctly; he pulled a slip from the fish's mouth and acted out what was written on the paper. The student who pulled out the picture of Jonah won the game. Corliss
Yesterday I taught my 2-3 yrs Sunday School class about Jonah and gathered some ideas from your Hide and Seek lesson. I would like to share with you some of the extras I added in. We had the story but I told it very interactive for them. When Jonah entered the boat, for instance, I had them enter the boat. My helper was Jonah who went downstairs to sleep in bottom of the boat. The kids were sailors. I told how God sent a storm and we did sound effects and scared faces and such. Then we decided to go wake up Jonah and ask him to pray to his God to save us all. So we marched downstairs for pretend and woke up Jonah and they helped me ask Jonah to pray. Later we all became Jonah's and plunged off our sheet (boat) and swam in water while I whisked the sheet up. Then I told them they were sinking and not to be afraid because God would save Jonah. God sent a great big fish to swallow Jonah up. And I got everyone in under the sheet and now I told the story from under the sheet-we are in the fishes' belly. Then when we got to the part of fish spitting Jonah out, I whipped the sheet off and they jumped back onto our story time rug. We marched and jogged off to do what God had asked us to do. I put in some applications as I told the story. Later we used the Jonah and the fish and made them into stick puppets and as we retold the story, they could put the Jonah into the mouth of fish. We got out tubs of water and they got to predict what things that I gave each of them would sink or float. One was a person and we named him Jonah. We acted out the part of story where Jonah is thrown overboard and God sent the great fish to swallow him up. After doing that for a bit we cleaned up and got out play dough and I showed them how to flatten their play dough and make boats by turning up the edges. Then we put same Jonah figure in our boat. We acted out him getting on the boat and going to sleep. We picked up the boat and made it toss in the storm and then acted out sailors throwing him overboard. By this time I would let them fill in some blanks to the story. This age group needs lots of repetition. We have several who like to get up and move and each new thing was brought out and I had no one who was up and running around. Usually we do not have that many sit down activities, but just worked out that way. But they had so much fun they didn't seem to mind. Thanks for the great ideas and keep them coming! Lara Crane
I used the crafts and activities from "Hide and Seek" for a class of 3-4 year olds. The kids really enjoyed the Make a Jonah and the Whale picture, especially putting Jonah in the whale's mouth. I also cut out colored fishes and seaweed for them to glue on the picture. We played Jonah Goes out with a pop up tent (with a large picture of a whale stuck on the side - they colored the whale as the opening activity). Thanks for all the great ideas, keep them coming! Jenni Yee
I used the patterns and ideas for Jonah and the Whale for Joy Time in my family child care home this past week. The kids absolutely loved the whole unit. We did one activity I didn't see listed. I divided the story through a week. The first day I told the story just as far as when Jonah tried to hide from God. The children, my other teacher and I all played hide and seek. I went out on the front porch and counted, while my other teacher helped all the children hide. Then I came in and found each of them. We played for nearly 30 minutes until they began to be tired. Then we sat back down together. I asked the children "Did I find you every time?" Of course they answered "yes". "Did I ever stop looking even when I had a hard time finding you? "No". Why do you think I kept looking? (they gave various guesses) Because I love you and I don't ever want to lose you. That's why God didn't let Jonah hide and that's why He won't let you hide from Him. He'll always come looking for you, no matter how hard you try to hide yourself or your sin, because He loves you and He doesn't want anything to get between Him and you. It really made an impression on the children. Rita Neve
My nursery Sunday school class recently did the lesson "Hide & Seek". The children colored the Jonah & the whale coloring sheet and then we did the Jonah and the Whale craft. The children loved the story and several of them asked questions which I loved because that means that they were paying attention! The children loved the Jonah & the whale craft.....they loved putting Jonah in the whales mouth and then letting him fall out. At snack time we served cheese "whale" crackers, fish shaped fruit snacks and blue capri-sun pouches. Thanks for the wonderful lesson! Ella
I used the "Big Mouth Paper Plate Fish" project to go along with the Jonah story for a toddler Sunday school class, and this project was a hit! I did the project as described in the instructions, but incorporated the distressed-looking Jonah cut-out from the "Envelope Shark and Jonah Doll" project. I cut out one Jonah for eachchild and had them color him. I punched a hole in the Jonah and tied an 8 inch piece of string to it. I punched a hole in the middle of the bottom plate of the "Big Mouth Paper Plate Fish" and strung the string through the hole and tied a knot big enough sot he string could not pull through. This enables the children to pull the string and make it look like the fish is swallowing Jonah. Have Fun!! Kelly Haynes
My Sunday school class (ages 0 to 6) did a lesson on Jonah last Sunday. For our craft we made Jonah praying in the belly of the whale. I printed a large whale and the Jonah praying pattern from your site onto cardstock and cut them out (my children aren't really good at cutting). During class the children colored their whale and their Jonah. Using double stick tape, we taped snack size ziplock bags to the underside of the whale. In the bag we put some items that might be found in a whale's belly (sea weed, little fish, small sea shells and of course, Jonah praying). These turned out great and they were so easy for the children to make. Lots of parents commented on the idea. Theresa Bostickl
If a craft stick is used on a craft for a handle, example a plate with a face used for a mask. Clip a clothes pin to it instead. It is quick, requires no glue, and the smallest child can attach them. I found this idea especially helpful for 2 sided plates such as stop/go or happy face/sad face. You can use wooden or colorful plastic clothes pins. They are inexpensive and come in very handy. Randi
We did a lesson on Jonah in our 4-6 year-old Sunday school class and incorporated two of the projects and games from your lesson plan. Since the children have heard the Jonah story many times, we added the "emotion faces" to get the children involved in the story. This made them pay close attention and enjoy thinking about what Jonah may have been thinking and feeling at different times throughout the lesson. The faces were simple and cute!! We also played the"Find Jonah" game. The children colored all of the fish before we began the game, and they made them so colorful, that it made the game personal. I taped the Jonah to one of the fish and we played the game as suggested in the lesson plan. Everyone had so much fun with the game; they didn't want it to end! Thank you for your great ideas. Kelly Haynes
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