Jonah and the Whale (origami storytelling prop)

model closed

I told the story of Jonah and the Dag Gadol (a.k.a. the Whale) today using one simple origami prop: the paper boat that, with a sleight of hand, becomes a giant pair of jaws (the Whale).  Jonah was a pompom, which the sailors tossed into the sea (the floor), and which was then swallowed by the whale, only to be spewed later onto Dry Land.  I had SO much fun with this.


model open

Before class, I made the boat model, which easily transforms into a whale mouth.  (see origami note below).  My Dry Land Target was already in the room: I’d made it for my Whale Popper toys.  I had read the JPS version of the story the night before, so I could paraphrase the high points into a pithy tale suitable for K, 1, 2, and 3 classes.  The only other thing I needed was a machzor.

A machzor is the prayerbook we use for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I wanted to introduce it to the kids.  Remember, my classes are 25-30 minutes long, so I had to be satisfied just to show it, say it, and tell them that our services are in there, that Jews all over the world use a machzor for RH and YK, and that in every machzor is the same story: Jonah and the Big Fish, read in its entirety on the afternoon of Yom Kippur.  I asked them to start thinking WHY that one story would be so important to read on THAT day.  And then I told the story.

My favorite part was that every class “got” the story.  They figured out why Jews would read that story on Yom Kippur.  I gave their answer the Hebrew name: Teshuvah, which they won’t remember, but they might remember the story was all about messing up, being truly sorry, asking for forgiveness and being forgiven.

Origami How To:

JAWS: The pattern I used is “Jaws” from one of my favorite origami books: Paul Jackson’s Incredible Action Origami (ISBN: 978-0737305166). Amazon link. Everything in the book moves and/or makes noise.

His Jaws isn’t online, but here’s the same pattern over at PaperCrafts. It’s kinda hard to see because they don’t use white-backed paper for contrast. Do skip the artist’s last step adding teeth and decor.

SNAPPER: Here’s a similar pattern (without the lips and it uses a rectangle instead of a square): the “Snapper.” Origami-fun has a printable PDF, here. They just show the snapper, but opened up, it’s a boat, too.

Also, I found a “Jonah Origami” video that wordlessly shows the construction of the Snapper model and both uses:

Spew Jonah onto Dry Land!

I tried to spew Jonah onto Dry Land but missed.  Maybe your aim is better.

collage Jonah Whale origami

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