Jonah and the One Great Big Fish – A Bible Number Story

We are thinking about counting in toddler group. So we have some Bible Stories with numbers. First up is ‘Jonah and the One Great Big fish‘. The Bible truth for toddlers in this story is ‘God always knows where we are’. The story is from the book of Jonah.

To tell the Story you need – Jonah (we used a figure from happyland), a big fish (the one pictured is VERY big – made over a tent) and a toy boat.

Jonah and the boat to Ninevah
The big fish that swallowed Jonah

God told Jonah to go to the big city called Ninevah (can you say that? repeat the name together) and tell everyone there about me.

But Jonah didn’t like the people in the big city of Ninevah.

‘I don’t want to! I’m not going to go!’ He said (have you ever said that?)

Jonah thought to himself ‘I will go far away – so far away that God won’t know where I am.’ He went and got on a boat.

But then the rain came and the wind blew – and out of the boat came Jonah – and splash into the sea!

Down, down, down he went. ‘Please God, help me!’ he prayed.

God knew exactly where Jonah was, God always knows where we are; and he sent something to help. It wasn’t a boat – it was one great big fish. The one great big fish opened up it’s mouth and swallowed Jonah. He was safe!

The one great big fish took Jonah back to land. God said, ‘Jonah, go to Ninevah’. And this time Jonah did.

Stortelling tip #27

Tell it like you mean it

Tell your Bible Story with conviction. These are the best stories and we have the privilege of sharing them. Tell them in such a way that your listeners know that the Bible is important to you. Tell them in such a way that your listeners will know that Jesus is important.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

John 14:6

Storytelling tip #26

Some details add to your story

Young children are focused on their world. They know about feeling hungry, tired, happy, sad. They know about home. They know what daytime and nightime are. The weather is part of their everyday. Use these familiar things when you tell the Bible Story. If it happened at night mention the stars. If people were hungry get everyone to rub their tummy! Focus on what is familiar to your young audience.

Storytelling tip #25

Be clear

When telling the Bible Story use words that everyone understands. Don’t clutter your story with terminology that you won’t have time to explain. Tell everyone that Zacchaeus was short but leave out his job. You don’t have time to explain to toddlers what tax is.

Storytelling tip #24

Use your voice

You can talk quietly, you can whisper, you can talk LOUDLY. (Don’t shout). Vary your volume. It will make the story sound more interesting. Don’t talk too quickly – we sometimes speed up when we are nervous. Try to use a friendly, calm tone. If you aren’t sure how you sound, record yourself and find out! Your voice is so important.

Stoytelling tip #23

Keep your adult listeners busy

When telling a Bible Story to toddlers it helps to keep their adults involved. Encourage everyone to join in with a variety of actions to do, phrases to repeat, sounds to make.

Storytelling tip #22

Repetition is good.. repetition is good..

A phrase that repeats during the story is great for helping everyone to join in. It could be ‘can you see him?’ for a story about the lost sheep or, ‘where is it?’ for the lost coin. Have a look at this retelling of The Good Samaritan and spot the repeated phrase. Your audience will soon catch on and the adults and their toddlers will be taking part in the story.

Storytelling tip #21

Add some sound

What sound does a …. make? This is a great question to ask during a Bible Story. It gets the toddlers thinking and they can all join in and make the noise. If it’s a story about sheep everyone can say baa. If it’s a pig in the story, it’s an oink. When everyone can join in eveyone feels included and part of the story.

Storytelling tip #20

Give your listeners something to do

Think – ‘are there any actions we could do during this story?’ Actions are a good way of getting everyone involved (especially the adults). Looking, walking, running, sleeping, hidingclimbing – all these things can have actions. You don’t need too many. But add a few actions if they naturally fit the story.

Storytelling tip #19

Keep it short

Do your best to keep the story short. Toddlers aren’t going to listen to a long story. Practice your story – time yourself. Aim for your story to feel short to the listeners. It shouldn’t drag or go on and on…