My son had so many questions about heaven and death after my mom passed away in 2014 from early-onset Alzheimer’s that we started working on this project to have something concrete to visualize and learn from.
I worked from biblical passages about the streets being paved with gold and Christ going to prepare homes for us. We talked about how much God loves us and about how the Kingdom of Heaven is already present in our hearts. We talked about the Orthodox perspective on death, how it is not just a natural part of the life cycle, how it is not how things were intended to be, how Christ can sanctify our lives even here on earth. While we did this at home, it could also be a wonderful group project for a Sunday School class. You could also let children in a class create their own smaller models so they could each have one of their own.
With this in mind, I modeled the shape on an Orthodox Christian monastery as a way to make God (symbolized by the church in the middle) visible and accessible from all angles, and because the beauty and peace found at monasteries must be one of the nearest things to heaven that we can find on earth.
To make our model of Heaven, you’ll need (or can adapt these suggestions to best suit you):
- A large piece of flat cardboard
- A variety of little, tiny, small boxes in a range of sizes
- Gold spray paint
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Craft gems, glitter glue, buttons, wooden beads, or any other embellishments you’d like
- Poke nail holes into some of the tiny boxes if you’d like to add electric candles or use a flashlight at some point to add to the illustration of illumination and light. The light can shine through the nail-holes for a sense of illumination.
- With your child’s input on positioning, hot glue the little boxes in the shape of a square around the edges of the piece of large cardboard. (I did the hot gluing step, although some people allow their children to use cool-temp glue guns.) I glued the little boxes on top of each other to illustrate the idea of Christ preparing homes for us. They looked a bit like apartment buildings, which was kind of the idea.
- We left an opening on one side where we could use tape on a rectangular box (or another piece of cardboard) to create a swinging gate.
- Spray paint the entire thing gold.
- Your child can attach craft gems with craft glue, use glitter glue to add more decoration, create paths along the open areas, and go wherever their curiosity and artistic creativity take them.
- Perhaps you could add paper images of angels and saints as well.
- Lego figure or peg dolls would also be a nice addition to the world of Heaven.
- Craft stick buildings could also be used to create your own little world.
- While ours was quite large, about 3 feet square, you can adapt it to a smaller size if you’d like.
This is very much an ongoing project, something to come back to from time to time to add more.
I would love to see pictures if you and your children craft your own golden Heaven, as well as to hear any suggestions you might have for this project!