How to Make a Model of a Tabernacle

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Candlestick for the tabernacle
Candlestick for the tabernacle (Image: menorah, close-up image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com)

Add a hands-on project to your study of the book of Exodus by building a model of the tabernacle. Use readily available materials to build a model with a scale of 1 inch equals 5 cubits. Older elementary children can build a model with only minimal adult participation. Older children can use their math skills to build an accurate scale model, while younger children can learn about the tabernacle by building a model with toy bricks and fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Styrofoam, 1- by 12- by 24-inch piece
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • 5-inch bamboo skewers
  • Stiff paper
  • Glue stick
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Thin white fabric
  • Thick tan fabric
  • Two colors of leather-like fabric
  • Markers
  • Gold-colored wire
  • Thick cardboard
  • Gold paper
  • Craft glue

Draw a 10- by 20-inch rectangle in the center of the Styrofoam. Use a compass to orient the foam so that one of the long sides faces north. Mark "North," "South," "East" and "West" on the edges of the board.

Count out 20 toothpicks for each long side and stick them into the foam, spacing them evenly about 1 inch apart.

Count out 10 toothpicks and place them along the east side of the rectangle. Place three toothpicks on each end of the east side, leaving an opening in the middle of this end.

Glue 1-inch strips of paper together to form a strip 56 inches long. Wrap it around the row of toothpicks. Use a glue stick to attach the paper to the toothpicks. This is the "fence" for the courtyard.

Draw a 6- by 3-inch rectangle at the west end of the enclosure with the long sides running east to west.

Stick Popsicle sticks into the foam forming a wall or "frame" along the north, south and west sides.

Cut a rectangle of white fabric 11 by 6 inches. Draw cherubim on the white fabric with markers. Since there is no exact description of the cherubim you can allow the children to decide what they look like.

Cut a rectangle of tan fabric 13 by 7 1/2 inches.

Cut 13 by 6 inches rectangles of both leather-like fabrics.

Cut two 5 by 3-inch pieces of print fabric. Allow the children to draw cherubim on this fabric with markers.

Stick four sticks in a row, running north to south, midway across the enclosure. Glue one of the pieces of print fabric to these sticks.

Stick five sticks across the east edge of the enclosure and glue the other piece of fabric to it. These are the inner veil and outer screen.

Twist gold-colored wire into the shape of a seven-branch candlestick.

Make two tiny wire cherubim for the top of the ark. Cover a small rectangle of corrugated cardboard with gold paper to make the ark of the covenant . Use craft glue to attach toothpicks for carrying rods. Glue the cherubim to the top of the ark.

Cover a small rectangle of corrugated cardboard with gold paper to make the table for bread. Use craft glue to attach toothpicks for carrying rods.

Place the ark in the inner chamber of the tabernacle. Stick the candlestick into the floor in the outer room and also place the table there.

Drape the white fabric over the top of the building, with the longer sides running north to south. It will hang down on the north and south sides. Drape the tan cloth over the white cloth and pull the extra fabric around the east and west sides. Drape the other fabric pieces over the tan fabric.

Cut a 1- by 4-inch rectangle of paper for a gate for the courtyard. Decorate it with red, blue and purple markers and prop it in place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Encourage the children to read the Scripture and decide how to do the details of this project. Every detail is not spelled out, so there is room for some creativity.
  • You may paint the Popsicle sticks gold.
  • This model is recommended for children from 8 to 10 years old. Older children can add accuracy by cutting the Popsicle sticks to scale and using multiple pieces of white and tan fabric. Younger children can build a model using plastic snap-together bricks and fabric.
  • Add boxes, cups and tiny figures to furnish the courtyard.

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