Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Observing Holy Thursday with a Last Supper diorama and figures

I am always looking for new ways to help my children understand the important days of Holy Week. I search for hands-on activities that help them better understand their faith.

One of our Holy Thursday activities includes working with our "Last Supper" diorama and figures. I made these small figures using wooden balls and dowels, painted to look like Biblical figures. The table is a small piece of plywood with wooden spool legs. It is covered with a simple white cloth. I found the minature candles, paten and chalice in the dollhouse section of the local craft store.

The kids use more elaborate figures in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium, yet they are still drawn to my simply made figures. That's one thing I love about my kids -- they are critical of my less-than-skillful painting techniques!

We read the Last Supper passage from Matthew 26 while the kids use the figures to re-enact the scene. It is done with a lit candle. It is a simple, yet beautiful way to meditate on the Last Supper.

My figures took a few weeks to make, so it may not be a project you want to take on now if you would like it finished by Thursday. I have some ideas and resources if you would like to quickly create some figures for your children to use this week.

You might consider making figures out of clothespins. Instructables has step-by-step instructions with photos. (These aren't Biblical figures but you could adapt them.) There is another nice tutorial on the Going Sew Crazy blog.

One of my favorite sites, Making Friends, has instructions for making Biblical paper dolls. I once made them using magnet sheets. This link is for a Nativity set with figures, but it gives you the templates for the figures. You could make a Cenacle-type diorama with a shoe box.

Finally, this website gives information on making simple sewn Bible figures.

You could also do a websearch for paintings with Biblical figures, cut them out, cover them with clear contact paper, and then mount them to popsicle sticks for quick puppets.

My one caution would be that your figures should not appear cartoonish or silly. These aren't toys, but rather materials to help your child develop the tools to meditate

I would love to hear from others who have made their own Bible figures. Please tell us about it!


  1. I've never ventured into storytelling with felt boards, dolls, etc. I tend towards movies and expressive reading. But I may give this a try, since it might capture my little kids attentions in a new way they might appreciate! Thanks.

  2. Beautiful!! We made our Bible figures with construction paper and popsicle sticks...very simple.