A cooperative building project

Science with a twist

Work together to “rebuild the walls of Jerusalem” using a homemade model.

Discussion point: A large task becomes easier when everyone shares the load and gets along.

Note: This practical suggestion works well in conjunction with the Bible storyBuilding together.”

The idea here is to build a city wall out of blocks to help your children understand what a cooperative effort looks and feels like. You will need building blocks of some sort, plus pictures or objects to represent the different gates in the wall that surrounded ancient Jerusalem.

  • First, explain to your children that you will be pretending to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Your wall will need to include structures that mimic these parts of the Jerusalem wall: the Sheep Gate, the Fish Gate, the “Old” Gate, the Tower of Ovens, the Valley Gate, the Dung Gate (have fun with this one), the Fountain Gate, the Water Gate, the projecting tower, the Horse Gate, the East Gate and the Inspection Gate.
  • Encourage your children to use their math skills in planning and designing the project. For example, there are a total of twelve gates. Ask your children how many to put on each side to ensure each side has the same number of gates.
  • Invite your children to search around your home to find objects to identify each part of the city wall. For example, for the Sheep Gate, one child might find a cotton ball while another finds a toy sheep. Place these objects near the Sheep Gate in your city wall.
  • Some children may prefer to stay on-site as builders while the others go off to find objects to identify the gates. The key is to work together toward a common goal and complete the large project together. Read some of the Bible verses provided to help your children understand the importance of encouraging each other and working in unity.
  • Afterward, help your children share their thoughts and experiences using the discussion questions below.
Questions for discussion
  • How do you feel after you’ve finished a long job or project?
  • How do you think the Israelites felt after they completed the wall around Jerusalem?
  • Where did we get our building materials?
  • Where do you think the Israelites got their building materials?
  • Do you think the Israelites ever argued about who got to do the easy work (standing around “on guard” while the others carried rocks and wood)?
  • Did you feel better when we were cooperating or when we were arguing?
  • When we were building together, did anyone encourage you? Did you ever feel discouraged?
  • Did you ever feel like quitting? If so, why did you keep building?
Key concepts

Now that we’ve built a small-scale model of the walls of Jerusalem, you’ll be able to understand, at least a little, what the real-life task was like for the Israelites! We built our model with materials readily available in our home, but the Israelites had to find real wood and stone and make mortar to complete their project. Can you imagine how tired they got and how relieved and satisfied they must have felt once the project was completed? Did you notice that arguing and complaining can make a hard job seem harder? It’s easier to keep working if we encourage each other and work cooperatively.

Relevant Scripture

Romans 15:5 “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus . . .

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.