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Jonah and the Whale for Rainbows

By: Alice Horne

What do a twenty-first century grandmother and Jonah have in common? They've both been in the belly of a whale - well at least a great fish, or was that a cardboard refrigerator transport box?

Jonah and the Whale for Rainbows

Some months back I volunteered to be a helper in the 4 and 5-year-old Rainbows class that my son-in-law Dan teaches. After a few weeks I was promoted to crafts coordinator. A bit of a stretch, but I have an active imagination. In this case, my imagination almost got out of hand.

The unit we were studying was on obedience and the animal badge was a whale. Several impractical ideas like sculpting and finger painting crossed my mind, but these little ones weren't that dexterous. What could I do for them that would become their project? A whale, of course.

It took a couple of phone calls and I enlisted my husband to pick up the very large cardboard box from a local home improvement store. We got it to the church on the roof of his car and managed to manhandle it to the children's playroom in one piece. My daughter Lori, who is Girls' Ministries Coordinator for our church, recruited some help for me. Denise Cooper, an experienced youth pastors wife, was energetic and big into Pinterest, an online arts and crafts idea site. She scrolled through the site and brought up several possibilities that seemed doable.

Jonah and the Whale for Rainbows
Dan Van Veen leads the Rainbows Whales
(I Will Obey) Unit.

Once we made our selection of ideas, the fun began - and some afternoons of work, too. To lay the box flat to paint the outside, we had to cut one long side. Oh, we had enlisted our husbands by this time. Denise and I painted the opened box gray and fortunately that was all we could do that day. Our backs and muscles were complaining. Because I wanted the inside to be dark, we lined the box with black plastic table clothes, then the men laced the open side back together. Denise fashioned a tail out of one of the end flaps and the men secured it in an upright position. We chose to mimic the baleen whale because it doesn't have teeth, so using white felt squares, I fashioned a quadruple row of "filters" at the top of the mouth opening. Done. Now the playroom needed some visual effects.

The men lined the fluorescent light fixtures with blue film and placed cardboard fish cutouts in them to give the room an underwater feeling. Denise masking taped rowboat shapes on the floor, complete with tape seats. This was the greatest because the kids actually stayed in their seats until called by boatload to come and walk through the whale. Ingenious idea.

With varying shades of green and yellow crepe paper, I planted seaweed along two walls, and across the front we hung a fishing net and placed fish, star fish, crab and sea horse cutouts in the netting. The final touches included enclosing the entry door with strips of blue crepe paper to replicate a water fall.

Jonah and the Whale for Rainbows

After our Bible story time the younger Rainbows class, Daisies, Prims and the Stars classes came through for the experience. The whale has been preserved for the Sunlight Kids when they hear about Jonah later this year. This was a whale of a project but so worth the effort.


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