Sunday School Lesson

Jonah and the Big Fish

Jonah 1-4
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, but Jonah tried to run away from God. Through games, drawing their own comic strip, a DIY Big Gulp of Jonah toy, and a Jonah in a Big Fish puppet, kids learn that God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone. Use this lesson to lead kids to respond to God’s compassion and grace.

Lesson Overview

1

Get Them Curious

Prepare kids for an exciting
learning journey.

Opposites

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 1

Play an opposites game to get kids ready for the lesson on Jonah and the Big Fish.

2

Screen Time

Show kids a video on the
Bible story.

Jonah and the Fish

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 2

Jonah and the Fish, by Saddleback Kids

3

Make it Stick

Help kids remember the
Bible story.

Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 3

Kids create a 9-frame comic strip to re-tell the story of Jonah and the Big Fish.

4

Dig Deeper

Help kids grasp
the big idea.

Big Gulp of Jonah

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 4

In this Jonah and the whale craft and game, players try to get Jonah into the mouth of a whale.

5

Walk the Talk

Help kids live out
the
big idea.

Captain’s Order

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 5

Players are crew on a ship and must obey the captain’s orders!

6

Take it Home

Send kids home with a concrete action plan and fun midweek activities.

Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet

Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home-01

Make your own Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet at home.

Big Idea

God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone.

Key Verse

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

Live it Out

We should respond to God’s love and grace.

This Sunday School Lesson requires some advance preparation. For a consolidated summary of preparation, supplies and free printables required, please scroll to the bottom of this lesson.

1. Get Them Curious – Opposites

In this game, players stand in a circle with a leader in the center. The leader will shout out commands while doing a specific action and everyone in the circle must do the opposite of what the leader says and does.

Explain the commands and actions:

When the leader says this (and does this)…Everyone else must do this…
Up (Stand up)Sit down
Down (Sit down)Stand up
Left (Turn to the left)Turn to the right
Right (Turn to the right)Turn to the left
Clap (Clap your hands)Stamp your feet
Stamp (Stamp your feet)Clap your hands
Quick (Run quickly on the spot)Run in slow-motion on the spot
Slow (Run in slow-motion on the spot)Run quickly on the spot
Laugh (Laugh out loud)Rub your eyes and cry out loud
Cry (Rub your eyes and cry out loud)Laugh out loud

Players must continue doing the action until the leader gives the next command.


For example:

  • When the leader says, “Up”, the leader will stand up. Everyone else must sit down.
  • When the leader gives the next command, “Quick”, the leader will run quickly on the spot. Everyone else must stand up and run in slow motion on the spot.

Players who do the wrong action are out.
The last person remaining is the winner and becomes the next leader.

Play as many rounds as you like.

 

Discuss: Can anyone guess the title of today’s Bible story?

 

Say: Let’s watch a video on Jonah and the Big Fish.

 

Pray: Dear God, thank you for our Opposites game! Please help us learn what this game has to do with today’s lesson and teach us how you want us to live it out! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

2. Screen Time – Jonah and the Fish

This is our favorite YouTube video on Jonah and the Fish: https://youtu.be/WOSadLyqshg

Before you begin, tell the children to pay attention to the various events in the story.

3. Make it Stick – Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip 

Remember to download Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip Printable:
Jonah Comic Strip
(This printable has 9 pages; each page describes 1 scene.)

 

Discuss: What Bible story did we just watch?

Show Slide 1 (Sunday School Lesson Title & Bible Reference):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide1

 

Say: Let’s create a comic strip to re-tell today’s story.


Part 1 – Create 9 Frames of Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip

Divide your class into 9 small groups (3-5 kids per group).

Give each group:

  • 1 page of the Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip Printable
  • Some markers

Kids must work in groups to create 1 frame of the comic strip to illustrate that scene.

If you have fewer kids in your class, assign more than 1 scene to some groups.

 

Part 2 – Use the Comic Strip to re-tell the story of Jonah and the Big Fish

After all the groups have finished creating their comic strips, have kids put up all 9 frames in the correct order.

Starting with the first frame, have each group take turns to re-tell (in their own words) that part of the story.

 

Bible Spot It

4. Dig Deeper – Big Gulp of Jonah

Remember to download Big Gulp of Jonah Printable and prepare all necessary materials in advance.

Jonah and the Whale Craft Printable

 

Show kids a sample of the Big Gulp of Jonah toy that you have made.

Jonah and the Whale Craft Printable Assembled

Tell kids they will be making their own Big Gulp of Jonah toy.

 

You will need for each child:

  • Big Gulp of Jonah Printable
  • Scissors
  • 1 Paper cup
  • Sticky Tape
  • 1 piece of String (about 18 inches long)
  • Clothes Peg, Eraser or Crushed Aluminum Foil (or anything to give Jonah some weight)

How to make the Big Gulp of Jonah toy:

1. Cut out Jonah and the top and bottom pieces of the Whale.
2. Paste the top piece of the whale on a paper cup, then the bottom piece (see picture above).
3. Paste Jonah onto a clothes peg or eraser or small piece of crushed aluminum foil (or anything to give Jonah some weight).
4. Paste one end of the string to the bottom of the paper cup; paste or tie the other end to Jonah.

 

How to Play
Hold the whale in your hand.
Try to swing Jonah into the mouth of the whale.

 

Discuss:

  • Which did you enjoy more? Making or playing with the Big Gulp of Jonah toy?
  • Was it easy to get Jonah into the mouth of the Whale?

Say: In today’s video, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, but Jonah did not want to go.

 

Read Jonah 4:2

 

Say: This was part of Jonah’s prayer after God decided not to punish Nineveh.

 

Discuss:

  • What does this verse tell us about God?
  • Why did Jonah refuse to go to Nineveh initially?

Say:

  • Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh initially because he knew that if the Ninevites were to repent after hearing his message, then God would not punish them.
  • Jonah felt that the Ninevites deserved to be punished, and he wanted God to punish them.
  • But God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone.

Show Slide 2 (Big Idea): 
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide2

Have everyone read the slide.

5. Walk the Talk – Captain’s Order

In this game, players are crew on a ship and must obey the captain’s orders!

When the captain shouts out an order, everyone must quickly respond with a corresponding action.

 

How to Play
Designate a playing area to be the ship.
Identify the bow (front), stern (rear), port (left) and starboard (right) sides of the boat.
Assign one player to be the captain.
The captain will shout out one order at a time. (See table below)
Everyone must obey the order by doing the corresponding action.
Continue doing the same action until the captain gives the next order.
Players who fumble in obeying the command, or the last player to obey the captain’s order, is out of the game.
Play until only 1 player remains. That player becomes the next captain.

 

Captain’s Order

Players Must Do This

Captain’s Coming

Stand tall, salute and say, “Aye aye Captain!”

Scrub the deck

Get down on their hands and knees and scrub the deck.

Bow

Run to the front of the boat

Stern

Run to the rear of the boat

Port

Run to the left of the boat

Starboard

Run to the right of the boat

Man overboard

Toss a life buoy into the sea and look for the missing person

Climb the rigging

Climb a rope ladder

Hit the deck

Lay facedown on the floor

Man the lifeboat

Grab a partner, sit down and row the lifeboat together (in the same direction and in sync)

Discuss:

  • Did you enjoy this game? Why or why not?
  • How did you feel about obeying the captain’s orders? Tell us more.
  • How do you think Jonah felt about obeying God’s instructions?
  • When Jonah eventually obeyed God, what was the result?

Say:

  • In today’s Bible story, Jonah did not obey God’s instructions the first time.
  • But when he finally did, the people of Nineveh repented and God decided not to punish them.
  • God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone.

Read Jonah 1:17, 2:10.

 

Discuss:

  • In today’s story, did God punish Jonah even though he did not obey God the first time?
  • How did God show compassion to Jonah? Why do you think God did this?

Say:

  • When Jonah refused to go to Nineveh, God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah.
  • After 3 days and 3 nights, the fish spit Jonah out onto dry land.
  • God had shown compassion and grace to Jonah.
  • God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone.

Show Slide 3 (Key Verse): 
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide3

Have everyone read the slide.

 

Discuss:

  • What does this verse tell us about God?
  • How do you think God wanted Jonah to respond to his compassion and grace?
  • How do you think God wanted the Ninevites to respond to his compassion and grace?

Show Slide 4 (Live it Out): 
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide4

Have everyone read the slide.

6. Take it Home – Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet

Say: Let’s recall all that we have learned today. Can you remember the title of today’s Bible Story?

Show Slide 1 again (Sunday School Lesson Title & Bible Reference):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide1

Have everyone read the slide.

 

Say: Can you remember today’s big idea?

Show Slide 2 again (Big Idea):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide2

Have everyone read the slide.

 

Say: Can you remember today’s key verse?

Show Slide 3 again (Key Verse): 
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide3

Have everyone read the slide.

 

Say: How can we live out today’s lesson?

Show Slide 4 again (Live it Out): 
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide4

Have everyone read the slide.

 

Discuss: In today’s story, God showed compassion and grace to Jonah and the Ninevites. Does God also show compassion and grace to each one of us? How?

 

Read Romans 5:8

 

Discuss: According to this verse, how did God show His love for us?

 

Read 1 John 1:8-9

 

Discuss: How should we respond to God’s compassion and grace to us? Why?

 

Say: Like Jonah and the Ninevites, we all have sinned and need God’s forgiveness. The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us.

 

Read Matthew 22:37-39

 

Discuss:

  • Besides confessing our sins, what else does Jesus want us to do?
  • What are some practical ways we can do this?

 

Give each child a copy of Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home Handout and the Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet Printable.

Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home-01  Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home-02

 

Jonah Puppet

 

Say:

  • God is compassionate and gracious. He wants to show His love to everyone.
  • For those of us who have not yet asked God for forgiveness of our sins, it is not too late to do that now!
  • For those of us who have already put our trust in Jesus, there is more that we can do. God wants us to love Him and everyone around us!
  • Let’s write down your personal response to God in the Live it Out section on the first page. Then spend some time on your own talking to God about these things.
  • The other pages are for you to do at home. Tell me next week about what you did at home!

 

Give everyone some time to write down their Live it Out action plan before ending the lesson with this closing prayer:

Pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for today’s Bible lesson on Jonah and the Big Fish. Thank you that you are compassionate and gracious, and you want to show your love to everyone. Thank you that Jesus died for our sins. We confess that we have done wrong things; please forgive us. Please help us love you with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds. Please also help us love everyone around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Emoji Bible Stories

Lesson Preparation and Supplies

Here’s a summary of all the preparation, supplies and free printables required for this lesson.

1

Get Them Curious

Prepare kids for an exciting
learning journey.

Opposites

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 1

Play an opposites game to get kids ready for the lesson on Jonah and the Big Fish.

No preparation needed.

2

Screen Time

Show kids a video on the
Bible story.

Jonah and the Fish

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 2

Jonah and the Fish, by Saddleback Kids

Ensure that you can play this YouTube video:
Jonah and the Fish, by Saddleback Kids (Video URL: https://youtu.be/WOSadLyqshg)

3

Make it Stick

Help kids remember the
Bible story.

Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 3

Kids create a 9-frame comic strip to re-tell the story of Jonah and the Big Fish.

Download and print 1 copy of Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip Printable:
Jonah Comic Strip

(This printable has 9 pages; each page describes 1 scene.)

 

For this activity, you will need to divide your class into 9 small groups (3-5 kids per group).
For each group, you will need:

  • 1 page of the Jonah and the Big Fish Comic Strip Printable
  • Some markers

(If you have too few kids in your class, assign more than 1 scene to some groups.)

 

Download Slide 1 (Sunday School Lesson Title & Bible Reference):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide1

4

Dig Deeper

Help kids grasp
the big idea.

Big Gulp of Jonah

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 4

In this Jonah and the whale craft and game, players try to get Jonah into the mouth of a whale.

Download Big Gulp of Jonah Printable:

Jonah and the Whale Craft Printable

Make 1 Big Gulp of Jonah toy in advance.
(Follow the instructions in “Dig Deeper” section above.)
You will need to show kids your sample toy.

You will need for each child:

  • 1 Big Gulp of Jonah Printable
  • Scissors
  • 1 Paper cup
  • Sticky Tape
  • 1 piece of String (about 18 inches long)
  • Clothes Peg or Eraser or Crushed Aluminum Foil

Download Slide 2 (Big Idea):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide2

5

Walk the Talk

Help kids live out
the big idea
.

Captain’s Order

Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish 5

Players are crew on a ship and must obey the captain’s orders!

Download Slide 3 (Key Verse):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide3

 

Download Slide 4 (Live It Out):
Sunday School Lesson - Jonah and the Big Fish Slide4

6

Take it Home

Send kids home with a concrete action plan and fun midweek activities.

Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet

Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home-01

Make your own Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet at home.

Download Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home Handout. You will need to print 1 copy for each child.
Jonah and the Big Fish Take it Home-01

 

Download Jonah in a Big Fish Puppet Printable. You will need to print 1 copy for each child.
Jonah Puppet

 

It would be good to tell parents about the Take it Home Handout. Encourage them to do the suggested family activity with their child.

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