Use these five creative ideas to help kids learn about God’s rescue with Jonah from the big fish.
Big Fish Puppet Give each child a business-size envelope, and have him or her seal it shut. Help each child cut one end off the envelope, about one-half inch from the edge. Then demonstrate how to cut out a triangle mouth from the other end. Set out markers, glitter glue, crayons, and other art supplies, and have children decorate their fish.
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Have each child put one hand and arm in the envelope to make the fish come “alive.” Then show them how your fish puppet can “swallow” the fingers of your other hand!
EXTRA IDEA! Use the puppet fish to get household chores “gobbled up” and done with a smile. On slips of paper, write down (or draw a picture of) household tasks, such as clearing the table, making beds, sweeping the floor, or watering flowers. Place the slips on the floor, and have children wear their puppet fish to “swallow” tasks they would like to do. Talk about how Jonah was swallowed by a fish when he didn’t do the task God set before him.
Fish Food Set out tuna salad, bread, and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Have chil-dren cut the bread with the cookie cutter, then spread tuna salad on each piece of bread. Point out that when you turn the heart-shape on its side, it looks like a fish. (The pointed end is the face, the rounded end represents the fins.) Have children place a gummy bear on each fish snack to represent Jonah in the belly of the great fish.
Hug-and-Seek Play this variation of Hide-and-Seek to help children learn that we can’t hide from God and that God loves us. Have family members hide while you count to ten. Each time you find a family mem-ber, give him or her a hug and say, “God sees you and so do I.” Then have that person help you find the others. As you find each person, give group hugs and say together, “God sees you and so do we.”
Runaway Game Use this game to help children re-member that even though Jonah ran away, God forgave him. Have family members form a circle and put their hands behind their backs. Choose someone to be “Jonah,” and give Jonah an object such as a plastic ball or small toy. Jonah will carry the object around the outside of the circle, while family members say, “Jonah, Jonah disobeyed. God forgave him anyway.” At the end of the phrase, Jonah will put the object into another family member’s hands, and that person will chase Jonah around the circle. If Jonah makes it back to the open spot in the circle without being tagged, the person holding the object will be Jonah.
Fish Bank Set out construction paper; mark-ers; glue sticks; and a clean, empty two-liter bottle. Lay the bottle on its side, then have family members work together to decorate it so it looks like a fish. As you work, talk about how hard it might be to go to a faraway place to tell people about God’s love. Place the completed “fish bank” on the table. Encourage children to look for spare change or to donate a portion of their allowance and add it to the fish bank each week. When the fish bank is full, send the money to a missionary, along with letters of encouragement.