Learn and understand the story of Jonah
Consider personal attributes
By the end of the lesson, the children will have read the story of Jonah and understood how everyone has their own attributes.
- Brainstorm: Jonah – Ask children to provide any information about Jonah. List on the whiteboard and prompt with questioning.
- Jonah – Tell the children that in this lesson we are going to get inside Jonah’s head and see the world through his eyes. Now explain what we mean by attributes. These are the characteristics that make us human and include both good and bad. Though there may be similarities between people each one is unique. The Talmud says “We stamp many coins with one seal, and they are all alike; but God has stamped all human beings with the seal of Adam, yet none is like another.”
- The Story of Jonah – Tell or read the story of Jonah to the class. While the story is being read, children should think about what attributes or characteristics Jonah displays at each point in the story.
- Jonah’s Attributes – Children to make a list of all the attributes that they feel Jonah has. Referring to the list, discuss all of the attributes and whether they fit with Jonah’s personality. Think about why Jonah is like this and find examples from the story.
- Option 1: Make a Large Whale– Children to work together to create a large whale. Jonah should also be drawn and placed inside the whale’s belly. Within the whale, the attributes of Jonah should be written and explained. This is very creative, and the children/teacher should be able to design and create the whale display as they wish.
- Option 2: Jonah’s Attributes – Using the whale outline, children to write/draw the attributes of Jonah and explain them. Again, this can be as creative as you wish.
- Option 3: Creative Writing – Ask the class to use the attributes they have noted to tell Jonah’s personal story. The children will write about how Jonah felt about what happened to him and what he did. Teacher/children to read the stories to the class. Ask the class to identify the attributes being illustrated as each one is read out. (If there are some good pieces you may wish to keep them for publication in the synagogue magazine.) If one piece of writing shows Jonah in a different light to the others, point this out and stress that different perceptions are quite valid.
If you do not think everyone can expose what they have written ask the children to go through their stories and find the places where Jonah’s attributes are evident.
- Personal audit – Ask the children to take the list of attributes and undertake a personal audit. This will be for their own use and not necessarily to be shared with others. They can ask themselves the same questions: Does everyone see them in the same way? What are their strongest characteristics? What are their weaknesses? Do they learn from experience?Alternatively/addition: get them to take the audit home and ask their parents/siblings to make a personal audit. Remind them that they cannot choose another’s attributes nor comment negatively.
- Jonah and Yom Kippur – ask the children why we read this story on Yom Kippur? Does it change their understanding of Jonah knowing when we read this story?