This week I hosted a Messy Church on the theme of Jonah and the Whale. If you haven’t heard of Messy Church before then it is an afternoon of crafts, storytelling and food designed especially for families. Our Messy Church is a joyous monthly extravaganza of glitter, creativity and chaos.
There are Messy Churches all over the country so there might well be one near you. If you can’t find one or would just like to explore the story at home then here are an array of crafts, songs, food and fun for you to try at home!
I read Jonah and the Big Fish by Katherine Sully. I love the illustrations and it told the story in a nice simple way. I also used a storytelling bag to try and draw the children into the story a bit more. Given that I was reading to a group of rather excitable toddlers this, as ever, had mixed results!!
They did love looking at the piece of blue fabric and little bag of plastic fish that I had in my bag and enjoyed seeing the knitted whale gobble down Jonah! They also enjoyed creating the storm that led to poor Jonah being tossed overboard into the sea using the musical instruments. More on the music I used below…
I relived my school days and played Jonah-Man Jazz by Michael Hurd as our background music while we crafted. A couple of times I had flashbacks of the music room pretending to row myself to shore while knocking out a choral number with my school friends! Despite this I still found it to be a great crafting backing track!
During the story time I cracked out the ukulele and played, to the tune of Frere Jacque –
‘I hear Thunder, I hear Thunder, How about you? How about you? Pitter-patter rain drops, pitter-patter raindrops. I’m wet through, so are you!’
When Jonah was tossed overboard and the storm stilled I played
‘I see blue skies, I see blue skies, Way up high, way up high. Hurry up the sunshine, hurry up the sunshine. I’ll soon dry, I’ll soon dry!’
I also played Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid while the children blew bubbles and finished off with Jesus love is very wonderful which fit so nicely with the theme. More on that below!
There is so much you could do to explore the story of Jonah. The underwater theme is a gem in itself. I decided on these…
Pom Pom Whale
I made this little fellow using a small pom pom maker. I then cut our his fins and tail from blue felt and attached them and the googly eyes with fabric glue. These went down a storm with the kids, though we all remarked that he seems far too cute to swallow up a person!
Remaining on the whale theme I whisked up these simple cookies to be iced by the children.
My little prototype is nothing on what some of the kids came up with today. This was such a lovely craft that really helped them to explore the story for themselves. To make it I cut a box in half, ‘wallpapered’ it with some blue paper and then used sandpaper for the seashore. Other than that, let your imagination run wild with shells, scraps of paper and glitter card!
It’s lovely and important I think for children to explore the story from their own perspective rather than bumping quickly into the thing we want them to learn. I do still have an idea of what I am trying to share as a ‘take home’ though to help me direct the crafts I choose and the storytelling.
For me one of the main themes of the story of Jonah is God’s love for everyone. Jonah is asked to reach out to people different from him and to understand that God loves them as much as he does Jonah. That’s a pretty good lesson for all of us!
For this craft I encouraged the children to create whatever they wanted in paints and paper to express the story and again they were fabulously creative. My little message about their value and God’s great love for them just hovered in the background…
Last but not least, the food! We always end Messy Church with a two course meal for the kids and we love to keep it simple. Today my ever creative helper in the kitchen came up with this meal that could be easily recreated at home.
For main we had a pitta stuffed with fish fingers to represent Jonah in the mouth of the whale with shredded lettuce for seaweed. For pudding we had crumbled biscuits (sand) topped with blue/green jelly (the sea). Some of us also dipped our whale cookies in the sea! A perfect tea!
So there’s a whole raft of ideas for an action packed Jonah themed afternoon! Enjoy!