Teach Kids About Jerusalem- Build A Model With Blocks

As Holy Week approaches, I wanted to teach my kids more about Jerusalem and Jesus’ last week. Ya’ll know I’m a sucker for hands-on learning with my kids, so we decided to build a model of Jerusalem to “see” what the city was like, and if you have a set of blocks, you can build one, too!

 

montessori jerusalem lesson- how to build a model with blocks with art cardsThis is a great Montessori inspired activity for Holy Week and to help teach your kids the Easter story! From what I can tell, everyone I found that had a model of Jerusalem like this was inspired by the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I truly wish we had an Atrium in our area, but we don’t, so I do my best with what’s available in our home.

The blocks we happen to own:

How To Build A Simple Model Of Jerusalem

First, choose the material you will make your model out of. I know a model of Jerusalem could easily be built with things you already own! Consider using the following:

  • Any set of blocks you have
  • Wooden train tracks (turned on their side would make great walls)
  • Duplos or Legos
  • Lincoln Logs
  • Wood Scraps
  • Even cardboard, paper, or other recyclables!
  • Any combination of these things if you don’t have enough of any 1 kind

Next, choose a map of Jerusalem you want to work from. I went with this one. I also found this site with maps of all of the happenings in Jerusalem during Holy Week, and it was VERY helpful! I also drew one of a very basic layout to help guide me, and you are welcome to use as a guide.

basic layout of jerusalem for kids

Then, set out a piece of white poster board, and get started on building your Jerusalem on it. Start with the walls, then add the other important places- it’s not as overwhelming as it looks, trust me.

how to build a model of jerusalem in blocks

Once you have it built, lightly trace around the blocks with a pencil. This should be fast and easy, and absolutely doesn’t need to be perfect. In the final version, you won’t even see these lines.

Remove the blocks, and trace around  your lines with crayons. Color the shapes in with the side of the crayons to save a bunch of time. Add some water  ways and roads.

map of jerusalem for building a model

Add Details– Draw a cross in Golgotha, make the tomb look like a tomb, put some greenary in the garden of Gethsemane, and add a compass rose. Also, add a bunch of little squares around in the city to show that there are more buildings than this. I found this map helpful for this part of the process (scroll down and there is a clickable map that shows Jerusalem from above) but basically, you want to draw much smaller buildings in the lower city, and larger ones in the upper city. Again, color your large areas with the side of your crayon.

Label your places with a black colored pencil– it should write over the crayon without any trouble. A marker will not write over the crayon.

My Final Jerusalem Poster Board Map

map of jerusalem for building a model- labeled

  1. Road leading into Jerusalem by the temple that was likely the road Jesus took in on Palm Sunday.
  2. The Temple. This is where Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers on Holy Monday, and where he preaches to the people on Holy Tuesday.
  3. The upper room. This is where Jesus has the Last Supper, where he appears to his disciples after he is risen, and where the Pentecost happens.
  4. The Garden Of Gethsemane- Where Jesus prays all night long the night of Holy Thursday, also know as “The Agony In The Garden.” The mount of olives is over to the right of this area.
  5. House Of Caiaphas- Jesus was brought before the high priest, Caisphas, after being seized in the garden. He stays here until sunrise.
  6. Fort Antonia- this is the highest tower in Jerusalem, it’s built into the wall, and it’s where Pilate stays. This is where Jesus is scourged, and sentenced to death.
  7. Palace of Herod- Jesus is sent from Pilate over to King Herod, but Herod sends him back to Pilate over at Fort Antonia. This is when he’s sentenced to death.
  8. Via Dolorosa- This is the way of the cross, the road on which Jesus carried his cross from Fort Antonia to Golgotha (the hill at Calvary).
  9. Golgotha / Calvary- this is where Jesus is crucified.
  10. The Tomb- Where Jesus is buried and where he raises from the dead.
  11. The Road that leads to Emmaus- this is where the disciples are walking, and the risen Lord appears to them, but they do not recognize him until the read Emmaus and Jesus breaks the bread.
  12. The Wall Around Jerusalem
  13. Siloam Pool- The city’s main source of water, and where Jesus has the blind man wash his face.
  14. Road To Bethlehem
  15. Lower City- This is where the poor people lived. The houses are small, and close together.
  16. Upper City- Around the palace is where the rich people lived. The houses are bigger and farther apart.

Here are some pictures of our final block model of Jerusalem.

Model of Jerusalem poster with blocks

how to build a model of jerusalem with blocks

Close up of the model of the “Upper Room.” We built this one top of another block to show that it was upstairs.

model of the upper room

Close of of the model of the temple- it has an inner court, an outer court, and some stairs. We used a little gold box I had in the middle.

model of the temple

Close up of model of Palace of Herod. Again, we already had these castle blocks, but you could just as easily represent this palace with 1 regular block. It does not have to be fancy.

model of harod's palace for kids

We added some plastic trees to the Garden of Gethsemane. (I couldn’t find the wooden trees that go with our wooden train tracks, but we made these work.)

garden of gethsemane model- Godly play for kids

A close up of 2 blocks making a hill at Golgotha. In the background you can see a bridge-shaped block for the tomb, and a round block for the rock that seals it. We placed our wooden cross from our “Give Him 5” set on top of the hill.

build calvary golgotha and the tomb from blocks

Delivery of Jerusalem the first time: I sat the kids down and built Jerusalem for them the first time, explaining everything as I went. I assured them before we started that they would be getting their own chance to build it when I was finished, so I think this helped them pay special attention. We talked about each part of the city as I placed it, discussed what happened there, and looked at a piece of artwork for each happening we talked about. This step by step lesson is available with a complete script in the art card download.

Then I cleared it all off, and gave the kids their turn!

jerusalem with blocks

kid built model of jerusalem in blocks

The kids don’t put it together with exactly the same pieces every time, and that’s ok. The poster board is a great guide, so even if it has their own flair, it’s still essentially what it should be.

I wanted my kids to be able to show that they remembered what actually happened in these places, so I made a set of art cards with scenes of important happenings in and around Jerusalem. The kids can take the cards, and place them where they happened on the map.

printable jerusalem art cards

Spider Man and Super Pajama Girl are hard at work to figure out where each art card scene belongs in Jerusalem.

where in jerusalem did this happen activity for kids

They are so proud as they placed each card where it belonged! They didn’t need much help at all, which means they currently know more about Jerusalem than I did this time last week. 😉

matching art to model of Jerusalem

Here is our model of Jerusalem with all of the printable art cards in place.

printable art cards to go with model of jerusalem for kids

 Here are some close ups of the art cards with the model of Jerusalem.

On the left, House Of Caiaphas, the high priest. Also, this is one of the places where Peter denies Jesus.

art in model of jerusalem

On the left, Christ carrying his cross down the “Via Dolorosa,” or the road the Golgotha. The picture of Jesus before Pilate is on top of Fort Antonia. For the temple, there is a painting of Jesus throwing out the money changers, and Jesus preaching the next day. On the outside of the walls, you can see the Palm Sunday scene where Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

model of jerusalem with artwork

A painting of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Christ on the cross, and behind that by the tomb is a painting of the resurrection as well as a painting of Jesus being laid in the tomb.

calvary and road to emmaus model and artwork

The upper room gets painting of the Last Supper, Jesus appearing to the disciples, and Pentecost. This is a happening place!

model of upper room matched with art

The Holy Week Art Cards Download Includes:

  • 18 Art Cards of various events that happened in Jerusalem for your child to place on the map
  • A map of the Holy Land at the time of Jesus
  • A map of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, big and small
  • A Step by step lesson on what order to build the city in, what to say, and how to match the art cards to each part of the city
  • High Res picture of the blueprint of our Jerusalem map, our map with the blocks, our map with the art cards, and the numbered map
  • My directions for assembling Jerusalem from blocks

The lesson and art cards are available as a $1 download. You could even use these art cards with just a regular map of Jerusalem. They’re beautiful! (Of course, I am always partial to good art. 😉 )

Add to Cart

printable art cards- what happened in jerusalem

Once our initial “lesson” was over, Jerusalem was fair game for Godly play. My kids wasted no time at all moving in their peg dolls.

peg dolls in model of jerusalem

That’s ok! Some of our peg dolls actually belong in Jerusalem, anyway! 😉

peg dolls in jerusalem

 

If you want to move your own peg dolls into Jerusalem, check out my printable Passion Set! All you do is paint the heads- the bodies are printed and decoupaged on. 🙂

printable peg dolls the passion set-  just paint the head and decoupage the rest

This Jerusalem map is a great pair with Holy Week In Handprints. Once they know the whole Easter story, you can make it more real by putting places with the events. What a cool way to learn about the life of Jesus!

holy week in handprints book for kids

I was inspired by all of these models of Jerusalem I found. Thanks, fellow bloggers, for the amazing ideas! 🙂

Disclaimer- I am not a historian, nor a cartographer, nor a mathematician. This is not built to scale, and I am not promising it’s perfect, in fact, I’m promising you that it is not perfect. It is, however, a great learning tool for my family, and I wanted to share it with you. 

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Comments

  1. Hi, Lacy- I LOVE this! Looking forward to doing this with the kids during Holy Week! Just FYI, I didn’t see the download when I clicked my subscriber bonus link… Scripture Memory is at the top of the page, and the Easter Countdown is at the end. Thank you for such awesome resources!

    • My apologies- I originally meant for this to be a subscriber freebie, BUT, given that there is so much high resolution art in the file, it was too big and my server wouldn’t allow me to host it here. So I decided to just put it as a $1 download on ejunkie. I thought I fixed the post before the email went out about it, but apparently not. It’s still a really good deal, though. If I were planning on charging for this download initially, I would have priced it higher than $1. Sorry about the mix up.

  2. Hi Lacy,
    Thank you very much for posting this! This is an answered prayer! My son is in Level II Catechesis and has been begging my husband and I to build a Jerusalem city out of legos for his birthday (Monday!). I have googled and googled and gave up. It just seemed too hard to do. You totally gave me the confidence to do this! Thank you so much! God bless!

  3. Hi Lacy- Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone. I cant wait to do that with my children. However, as another reader commented I cant access the download from the subscriber bonus link. Thank you!

  4. Lacy,
    This is so amazing! I am trained in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and wanted to do the City of Jerusalem presentation with my 3rd graders, but I don’t have the diorama that is usually used. I was searching on google this morning for inspiration on how to do it with regular blocks. This is a wonderful way to create that diorama! Thank you very much for figuring this out, and sharing it with us. You are great!

  5. Thanks for posting this!!!!!

  6. Wow! This is so cool! Hope to do this during Holy Week! Thank you!

  7. This is great! Getting started on drawing the map this weekend! Thank you for posting this!

  8. Samantha says:

    Do you show the Stations of the Cross stops to add to the map? Are they included in the card set? Counting pennies :)…

    • They aren’t specifically, although you can basically figure out where everything happened. The garden, where he gets condemned, the cross, the tomb are all there. Most of the other things happened on the road to Calvary- Via Dolorosa.

  9. lol I showed this to my kids this morning, they are in Catechesis (and they don’t read what you wrote on the internet obviously) but they saw the pictures and started describing what your map was to my husband and I. Noted, and dually impressed.