April 17 Ė May 15, 2005

Praising Puppets


Scripture:††† Book of Jonah††


Memory Verse:†† "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.ĒPsalm 86:15


Offering:Haven House which provides a multitude of programs that have helped thousands of young people and their families overcome problems and become productive members of the community.



  • Jonah was a reluctant prophet and had trouble accepting Godís mercy and love for his enemies.†††
  • Even if we donít understand Godís purpose, we should still obey.
  • God will not give up on you even if you disobey.



The objectives of this workshop are to teach the children that God is merciful and faithful.God is hoping to forgive everyone if they will only turn to God, be sorry and obey.God is so faithful that even when we donít obey God, God thinks of a way to teach us to obey.



Welcome and Introductions:

1.     Greet the children and introduce yourself.Wear your nametag. Make sure the children are wearing nametags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you.

2.     Explain the purpose of this workshop.Example:ďToday we will learn that God wants anyone who disobeys him to be sorry so that God can forgive him.God wants to teach all of us to obey him.We will hear a story about some people who were not obeying God and we will hear how God was patient and taught them to obey.Then we will work with puppets to understand more about obeying.Ē††††


Scripture/Bible Story:


Intro:Today we are hearing the story of Jonah from the book of the Bible called Jonah.Show the class where Jonah is located in the Bible.


Background Information and Warm-Up Questions:(You can tell the children this before reading the summary provided below.)

       Is Jonah in the Old Testament or New Testament? Old Testament

       That means that this story took place before the birth of Jesus.

       Jonah was a prophet.Does anyone know what a prophet is?A person told by God to speak about something, such as a warning or future event.

       There are several places in this story, Jonahís home, a seaport, Spain and Nineveh. (Point these out on a map, either in a Bible or other book or one you have draw on poster board.Then when you are reading the story, you can point again to these.)

       In this story when you hear the word ďLORD,Ē it refers to the name for God that the Hebrews used during Old Testament times.

       And remember this:Jonah regarded the people of Nineveh as his enemies!


Read the following summary of the Jonah Story (based on the CEV)


Jonah Runs from the LORD
One day the LORD told Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and say to the people that lived there, "The LORD has seen your sins, in other words, your very bad behavior. You are doomed!" Instead, Jonah ran from the LORD. He went to a seaport and bought a ticket on a ship that was going to Spain which was about as far from Nineveh as he could go. Then he got on the ship and sailed away to escape.

But the LORD made a strong wind blow, and such a bad storm came up that the ship was about to be broken to pieces. The sailors were frightened, they did not follow the LORD, but they all started praying to different false gods.All this time, Jonah was down below deck, sound asleep. The ship's captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep at a time like this? Get up and pray to your God! Maybe he will have pity on us and keep us from drowning."God showed the sailors that it was Jonah that had caused all the trouble. The sailors started asking Jonah, "Are you the one who brought all this trouble on us? What business are you in? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?"
Jonah answered, "I'm a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."When the sailors heard this, they were frightened, because Jonah had already told them he was running from the LORD. Then they said, "Do you know what you have done?"The storm kept getting worse, until finally the sailors asked him, "What should we do with you to make the sea calm down?"
Jonah told them, "Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I'm the cause of this terrible storm."

The sailors didnít want to throw Jonah overboard because they were afraid that the LORD would drown them for killing Jonah, so the sailors tried their best to row to the shore. But they could not do it, and the storm kept getting worse every minute. So they prayed to the LORD, "Please don't let us drown for taking this man's life.Ē Then they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down. The sailors were so terrified that they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made all kinds of promises.

The LORD sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.In his prayer, he thanked the LORD for rescuing him from the sea by sending the fish.Then Jonah said he would keep his promise to the LORD because the LORD is the one with power to save.

The LORD commanded the fish to vomit up Jonah on the shore. And it did.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh
Once again the LORD told Jonah to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.Jonah obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, "Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!"†† They believed God's message and did things to show God they were sorry.Even the king believed.He told his people to pray to the LORD God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. He said that maybe God would change his mind and have mercy on Nineveh, so the people wouldn't be destroyed.When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.

Jonah Gets Angry at the LORD
Jonah was really upset and angry. So he prayed:Our LORD, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn't destroy Nineveh. That's why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don't like to punish anyone.
Now let me die! I'd be better off dead.

The LORD replied, "What right do you have to be angry?"

Jonah left Nineveh and made a shelter to protect himself from the sun. He sat under the shelter, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.The LORD gave Jonah a vine to shade him from the sun and then sent a worm to eat the vine. During the day the LORD sent a scorching wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head, making him feel faint. Jonah was ready to die, and he shouted, "I wish I were dead!"

But the LORD asked, "Jonah, do you have the right to be angry about the vine?""Yes, I do," he answered, "and I'm angry enough to die."

But the LORD said:You are concerned about a vine that you did not plant or take care of, a vine that grew up in one night and died the next. In that city of Nineveh there are more than a hundred twenty thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong. Don't you think I should be concerned about that big city?


Discussion after the Passage:†† (There is a lot of discussion providedóyou can cover this as quickly as you like, depending on the age of the children and how well they are responding.You can skip over questions.For the youngest group or even all of them, you might just use the things that are in bold.)


Jonah was a prophet because God told him things to tell other people that God had said.What did God tell Jonah to say and to whom?He told him to tell the people of Nineveh to stop being bad or they would be destroyed. Why did God want Jonah to tell them this?God wanted to give them a chance to see they were acting badly.He was teaching them to change so he could forgive them.Have you ever had a parent or teacher point out something bad you have done so that you could act better?Try to get someone to share.†† Why did Jonah run away from this job that God gave him?The people of Nineveh were his enemies, and he didnít want God to forgive them.Have you ever known someone who was mean to you, and you were so angry with him or her that you didnít want to give him or her another chance?This is probably the way Jonah felt.Someone might want to share an experience. †††But what did we learn in this story?Is there anyone that God doesnít want to help change so he can forgive them?No Jonah ran away from God or tried to.Did it work?No. Can we ever run away from God?No, because God is everywhere and is aware of what we are doing all the time.When Jonah disobeyed God by not going to Nineveh, did God give him a second chance?Yes.What did God use to teach Jonah to obey?Storm and fish. (Just an adult aside, I recently heard that it is always better to be in the storm with God than on the shore without him.This story made me think of that.)After the storm and the fish, did Jonah obey God?Yes, he went to Nineveh to give them Godís warning to change or be destroyed.Did the people listen to God speaking through Jonah?Yes, they were sorry and they changed and God did not destroy them.But then Jonah was angryówhy?Because God forgave Jonahís enemies.Then God used something unusual to teach Jonah something elseówhat was it?A vine that gave him shade and a worm to eat the vine.†† Jonah got angry about that also.I wonder why God gave him the vine and took it away?†† See what they say and then help them with the answer.†† God made a vine grow quickly and then destroyed it. He can do that because he is the creator of all life.Jonah was angry with God for destroying a simple vine because he liked the vine, but earlier in the story Jonah didnít care if God destroyed an entire city of people because he didnít like those people.That seems a little selfish, doesnít it?†† God was trying to show Jonah to love all the things that God has made, not just the things that seemed useful to Jonah.


Additional Background Information for Workshop Leader:†† God taught Jonah a lesson by making a vine grow up so quickly and then destroying it.Think about Jonahóhe enjoyed the vine that God created because it helped to shade him from the sun, and he was angry when God destroyed it.But Jonah did not enjoy the people of Nineveh because they were his enemies, and he wanted God to destroy them.†† We enjoy the things that God has created when they seem good to us (the vine), but we are not so happy about the things God creates when they donít seem good to us (Jonahís enemies).But God loves everything he createdóplants, animals and people.He created everything for a purpose, but we donít always understand Godís purposes, either because they are too vast for us or because God just doesnít want us to understand them at this time.God created all people, including the 120,000 in Nineveh.He wants all people to know him and obey him so that he can forgive them.God said that the people in Nineveh did not know right from wrong, so he wanted to send Jonah to teach them that they were disobeying so they could change.God wants us to help everyone be forgiven, even our enemies. He needs us to be obedient to his purposes.


Puppet Application:


After completing the Bible passage, introduce the puppet part of the lesson.


Introduction:Today everyone is going to perform in a skit to understand more about obeying.


  1. The Puppets can already be out on a table.
  2. Let the children line up to choose a puppet.The puppets donít really have to match the parts they play.
  3. You can ask whether there are any children who have not been to the puppet workshop before.If there are, you can let the children practice with their puppetsópractice talking, turning to look at another puppet that is talking, laughing, and nodding yes and no.
  4. There are 3 skits (4 characters, 4 characters, and 5 characters for a total of 13 characters.)There is one narrator line, which an adult to do.You may have to repeat one or more of the skits to give everyone a chance to perform.Let each child have a chance to operate a puppet or they will be disappointed.There are a lot of questions provided, maybe more than you want to cover.Choose the questions you feel are most relevant for your age group, but ask enough questions to relate these skits to the concepts we are teaching.
  5. Divide the class into groups of children for each skit and handout scripts to each child.You can assign parts or just randomly hand them out and let them take the part that has been highlighted.
  6. Allow the groups 5 minutes or so to practice their script. Explain any words they donít understand.†† Grades 1&2: The shepherd and workshop leader should help with the scripts, perhaps even ďspeakingĒ the voices while the children practice acting them out. You may want to do this for the other grades as well to keep the pace moving and to allow the children to focus on what is being said and not the mechanics of reading.
  7. When performing the skits, you may let the children speak or let an adult speak for anyone who is shy about reading.
  8. If you have a large group of children, you may repeat one or more skits so everyone has a turn.
  9. Perform the skits.††
  10. After all productions of each skit, discuss what happened.††


Discussion Suggestions:


After Skit 1:This skit has two children in the same family who are very different.Can you think of some words to describe them?Good and bad, obedient and disobedientÖUsually children are not always good or always bad like in this skit.Is it easy to always obey?Is it easier to obey when it is something you want to do anyway?Of course. What did the Jonah story teach us about obeying God?We need to obey God, even if we donít want to.Is coming to Faith Quest a way of obeying God?YesóGod wants us to get to learn about the Bible.He also wants us to meet together with other people who love God.


After Skit 2:Have you ever known a bully like in this story?If you do, or if you can just imagine from watching this skit what it would be like to know one, do you think you would want to help a bully?Probably not.What do the kids in this story do when they have a chance to help the bully and send him to a camp where he might learn to be nicer?Neither of them chose to help him.That is a very understandable choice, isnít it, given that he was so mean to them.What does the Jonah story tell you about what God wants us to do for bullies and other people we might think of as our enemies?God wants us to help them.God wants the bullies to change and know God and know what love is about.


After Skit 3:Would you have obeyed the teacher if she asked you to take the note to the office?

Most children probably would.This little girl might have had parents that didnít make her obey at home, so maybe she hadnít been taught to obey.Why do children go to schools?To learn things.Do you think it is as important to learn to obey as it is to learn to add or multiply?Obeying is as important as it is to learn.Do you think the teacher should have given Angela a second chance to obey?Yes, it gave Angela a chance to show she had learned to obey.Do you think God should have given Jonah a second chance to obey and why?Yes, it helped teach Jonah to obey. Isnít it nice to know that if we know God, God will teach us to obey? ††


Reflection Time:

If you are done by 10:35 a.m. ask the shepherds to pass out the journal sheets and pencils/ markers. Tell the older students to write down what they thought was the most interesting part of the story today.Tell the younger students to draw a picture of Jonahómaybe in the storm or in the fish or walking through Nineveh or sitting under the vine.†† The workshop leader(s) and shepherd(s) can help parents by asking the children what their drawing is about and writing a caption on the picture.†† If time is over, please have the children take the journal pages home to complete.

At 10:45 ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly for prayer.



Prayer:Write your own or use this one.Thank you God that you are so mercifulóthat you are hoping to forgive everyone if they will only turn to you, be sorry and obey you.Also, thank you that you are so faithful that even when we donít obey you, you think of a way to teach us to obey.We offer these thanks in Jesusí name.Amen.


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help tidy up. Close/lock the door and turn off the lights.


Teacher preparation in advance:

1.     Pray that God will guide you to teach what He wants taught during this workshop and scripture passage.Pray for a loving and patient attitude toward the children.

2.     Read the Book of Jonah in whatever version you prefer.If you havenít read this lately, you may find that the whole story is quite different from what you remember.

3.     Attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

4.     Please practice reading the summary story out loud.††

5.     Make copies of the scripts.You need to make one copy of the script for each player in the skit plus one for yourself.You also should make at least two sets of each skit in case more than one group does each skit.Highlight one script for each different part.

6.     Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.

7.     Prepare a closing prayer.

Suggested Supply List

Copies of the scripts (see instruction in preparation section)

Map or poster board



Notes supplied by Lori Houck for curriculum writers' Bible study











Mom:Itís time to come in.Itís getting dark outside.


Child 1:Iím coming.Should I put these toys away first?


Mom:Good idea.Itís better to pick them up while you can still see them.


Child 2:I donít want to come in.I donít mind the dark.I can see OK in the dark.


Mom:I said it was time to come in.


Child 1:Iím done with my clean up.What should I do now?


Mom:You can wash your hands for a special snack.


Child 2:Special snack?What it is?Iím coming now.


Mom:Iím sorry but the snack is only for children who obey me.You didnít obey because you didnít come in until YOU wanted to.


Child 1:Oh wow!Ice cream sundae!Thereís so much whipped cream!And extra cherries!Thanks, Mom.


Child 2:Thereís mine.What are you going to do with it?


Mom:I think Iíll eat it.If youíre hungry, you can have this hard-boiled egg.


Narrator:On the next dayÖ


Child 2:†† Can I have an ice cream sundae today?


Mom:†† No, Iím sorry.That was sort of a special thing I did.Maybe another day.


Dad:By the way, I am really sorry, but I ran over your scooter last night because you left it in the dark.


Child 1:Iím going out to ride my scooter.


Dad:Have a good time.Watch out for that mess in the driveway.






Child 1:Why is that kid on our soccer team?He is so mean.


Child 2:I know.I wish heíd drop off the team so we could get someone nicer.


Coach:Who are you talking about?


Child 1:Who do you think?Maybe, ÖThe Team Bully?


Coach:†† Thereís no one that I want to drop off of the team.Iím here to help everyone improve.


Child 2:This kid doesnít need soccer coaching.He can play OK, but he bullies everyone.He even took my snack last time.


Child 1:Was it the hard-boiled egg your mother always packs for you?


Child 2:No, he could have that.It was a candy bar.


Coach:OK, you guys need to stop just complaining about him and think of how you can help him to be nicer.Thereís a soccer camp for ďaggressiveĒ players.It helps kids work on their manners and be better team players, but a member from his team has to nominate him, in other words, say that he needs to go to it.Maybe one of you could nominate him and tell him about it.(Coach leaves the stage.)


Child 1:Are you going to tell him about it?Heís coming over here.


Child 2:Iím not going to tell him.I donít like him.I donít want to help him.


Team Bully:Hey guys.Got another candy bar to give me so I donít have to use your shin guards to warm up my kicks?


Child 2:No, but you can have whatís in this brown bag.


Team Bully:Give it to me.The coach said you guys might have some camp to tell me about.


Child 1:No, not me.


Child 2:Nope, me neither.


Bully:OK, then.(leaves)


Child 1:Was that the egg?


Child 2:That was the egg.(Laughing)






This skit can be performed outside the stage with all the children using puppets to be students in the ďclassroom.ĒSince it is free time, they can sit where they are sitting for Faith Quest.They can pretend to read books or draw pictures or talk quietly to each other, but they should listen to the main characters in the skit.


Teacher:Angela, please take this note to the school office for me.


Angela:You said this was our free time, and Iíd rather read my book.


Carter:Angela, when a teacher asks you to do something, you should do it.


Angela:But you said it was free time, and all the other kids are doing what they want to do.


Taylor:But the teacher asked you to do this.She didnít ask them.


Brian:†† Angela, I canít believe you are disagreeing with the teacher.I would take the note if she asked me to do it.


Teacher:Thank you, Brian, but I want Angela to do it.


Angela:Why canít Brian do it?Then I could read my book.


Teacher:Angela, are you going to take the note?


Angela:I donít get it.I donít want to do it, and Brian does, so why should I?


Brian:I didnít say I wanted to take it, but if a teacher told me to, I would, even during free time.


Teacher:Brian, please take this note to the office.(Brian walks off stage.) Angela, I am putting a note in my grade book that you do not obey teachers.


Angela:Thatís not fair.You were picking on me by asking me.


Teacher:Every student will have a chance to obey or disobey.Every student will be graded on whether he or she obeys.


Angela:Iím sorry.I didnít realize it was that important to obey during free time.


Teacher:Angela, please put your book away and sit quietly for the rest of free time.


Angela:OK (putting book away)


Narrator:Later that weekÖ


Teacher:Angela, I have noticed that you have obeyed everything I told you to do.For the last four days during free time, I have given you things to do, and you have done them.If you continue to act this way, I probably will be able to say you are obedient on your report card.


Carter:Wow, Angela, most teachers wouldnít have given you a second chance.


Taylor:Yeah, she made a real effort to let you show you could obey.