Jonah and the whale is one of the first Bible stories children learn. The story has some valuable lessons that even preschoolers can understand:
- You can’t run away from God.
- God sees everything – even in the ocean
- God knows everything – even what’s inside a fish’s belly.
- God can do anything – stop a storm or make a fish spit something out of his mouth
- God loves us even when we don’t do what we should.
- God forgives us when we are sorry for not doing what we should.
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Jonah and the Whale Activities
When the story of Jonah in the Bible is told, we usually refer to it as , “Jonah and the whale”. Although the Bible doesn’t specifically say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, people usually say whale because that’s one of the most probable animals.
Read or tell the Bible Story of Jonah and the Whale
Read or tell the story of Jonah using the story below or a children’s Bible such as My First Hands-On Bible.
- The Bible Story of Jonah and the Whale
Jonah was a prophet. A prophet is a person who shares a message from God.
God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people to stop doing all the bad things they were doing or He was going to destroy their city. But Jonah didn’t want to go and tell the people of Nineveh the Lord’s message. He thought the people of Nineveh were so bad, he wanted God to destroy the city. As a matter of fact, he refused to go. He found a ship going in the opposite direction, hopped on board, and tried to run and hide from God.
But God sees everything and while Jonah was on the ship a storm came. Jonah knew God was causing the storm because God was angry with him. Jonah told the men on the ship to throw him overboard and then the storm would stop. The men didn’t want to throw Jonah overboard but the storm kept getting worse so finally, they tossed him into the sea, and immediately the storm stopped.
Even though Jonah was disobeying God, God still loved him and protected him by sending a big fish to swallow him and keep him from drowning. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights. Then Jonah prayed to God from inside the belly of the whale and the Lord heard him and caused the fish to spit Jonah safely up on shore.
Again God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time he went. He gave the people the message God told him to give them and to Jonah’s surprise the people of Nineveh, including the king, actually listened and we were sorry for what they were doing. Since they were sorry, God was no longer not going to destroy their city.
But this made Jonah mad. Even though God gave Jonah another chance when he was sorry, he didn’t want God to give the people of Nineveh another chance when they were sorry. So he went outside of the city to see what would happen.
As Jonah sat there pouting in the sun, God made a plant grow over him so he would be so hot. This helped Jonah not to be so grumpy anymore – in fact, he was happy again. But the next day God made a worm that ate the plant and when the sun got hot again Jonah became grumpy again and started complaining.
Jonah cared more about the plant than he did about the people and animals of Nineveh. God told him the people and animals were more important than the plant and that He was going to have compassion for them.
- The Bible Story of Jonah and the Whale Activity Cards
Teach the lesson of Jonah with this free download which includes 16 story cards, a printable version of the story of Jonah from above, as well as activity suggestions that will promote thinking and memory skills as well as reinforce the story.
- Memory Verse
- A memory verse for Jonah and the whale is:
- The eyes of the Lord are everywhere. Proverbs 15:3a KJV/ NIV ( the ‘a’ means just the first part)
- A memory verse for Jonah and the whale is:
- Easy Jonah and the Whale Craft
- This Jonah and the Whale Craft from Meaningful Mama is a perfect easy craft for reinforcing the lesson of Jonah. and the Whale.
- Play Where’s Jonah?
- This game is like hide in seek in reverse. One person is Jonah and everyone else shuts their eyes while Jonah hides.
- Watch the Veggie Tale Movie of Jonah
- This Veggie Tale version is a fun family night movie the whole family will enjoy.
- What’s Inside the Whale Activity
- Be sure to check this What’s Inside the Whale Activity post for making this simple whale along with super fun activities to play with it.