This post is a sponsored review of the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, GA.
Have you ever seen the commercial where the book opens and a little girl walks out from between the pages as the world comes to life around her? Well, I’ve always wanted to be that little girl!
I’ve been a bookworm from the time I was in third grade and fell in love with The Bobbsey Twins and their bike ride adventure. I’ve always wanted to step into the pages of a book and see the characters I was learning about, and walk through the buildings that I was imagining in my mind. It was never possible to imagine I’d have the chance to see the written word come to life…until now!
Recently, I had the chance to see the Bible come to life all around me! My family and I were invited to an incredible place down in south Georgia called the Biblical History Center. The Center was built by an archaeologist who wanted Americans to be able to go to the Holy Land, and experience the Holy Land….without actually having to fly to the Holy Land. His dream has been fulfilled, and now we have a hands-on Ancient Israelite experience available to anyone visiting the South.
Things to see:
Before stepping through the front doors, you have a chance to walk through 2,000 years of religious history. The portico of the Biblical History Center is created as a walk through four different times and types of worship. You can see replicas of a Canaanite temple, an Israelite Shrine, a Jewish Synagogue, and a Byzantine church.
The Archaeological Replica Garden at the Biblical History Center is filled with replicas demonstrating life in Ancient Israelite times. From the authentic Bedouin Shepherd tent to the replica of the Tomb of Joseph to The City Gate and the Judgement Seat, everywhere you turn there is another example that takes you straight back to the scriptures and brings the page of your Bible to life. The Garden shows four different aspects of life in Bible times – the life of a shepherd, the life of a farmer, life in the village, and the Roman Theater. Other replicas include a threshing floor, a grape press, an olive press, an Israeli home, realistic crucifixion crosses, and a vineyard and watchtower.
We’ve all walked through a museum and seen stones placed on a shelf with a little tag that talks about the era and use, but have you seen the stones placed on a loom to make a goat hair tent? What’s going to make more sense to a child, seeing a piece of broken pottery on a shelf, or seeing the rebuilt jar on the shelf in an example of an Israelite home? The Biblical History Center has done a wonderful job weaving the story of real life into the objects they have on display.
Things to do:
The Center has three adventures to bring history to life for your students. Each Experience is a group activity, and should be planned in advance.
Gather on the low stone wall of the threshing floor for a discussion and demonstration of how ancient farmers would use their basic tools to plant, harvest, and prepare their wheat and barley harvests. Next, gather in the Bedouin tent to stretch a ball of bread dough and throw it on the shepherd’s cooking pan. Then, gather back at the threshing floor to enjoy fresh, hot bread with fresh butter and honey. Yum!
Gather in one of two replica meal rooms to enjoy a four course meal of soup, salad, main dish, and dessert…all by lamplight, of course. You’ll be treated to 15 different foods similar to the diets of the Israelite people, and you’ll discover why Leonardo da Vinci’s classic painting had the Last Supper all wrong!
What can be more hands on than going on an archeological dig and finding ancient treasures under the sands? At the Biblical History Center, present day research and ancient life come together to give kids an experience they won’t forget. The Center has four dig pits, three showing daily life, and one where the kiddos can have the excitement of finding their own dinosaur bones! These are not just any holes in the ground though, the sites have artifacts and structures to find, and when all the digging is finished, you get to learn all about what you’ve discovered. This lesson is definitely one that will not be forgotten!!
From the time I begin volunteering with children in my teens I understood very quickly that children learn best from hands-on, real life experiences, not just things that you read in a book or see in a picture. When it comes to teaching our faith to our children, all we have had is the Bible…..or so I thought until we visited the Biblical History Center. I saw the Bible come to life while we toured the garden and while we sat around the u-shaped table enjoying tasty chicken and hummus during our Biblical Meal.
It was not just an experience for myself, but for my children as well. We always read about the threshing floor or the oil press or the Tomb, but what does that really mean to a child? They know olive oil comes from the store in a bottle or a grave is where somebody is buried in the ground and has a headstone! It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you read the scripture to them. However, when you walk past the large stone and creep through the small doorway into an Israelite style tomb and see the (pretend!) bodies laid out, Jesus’ tomb becomes real for your students.
Also, when you have the chance to sit in a real-life goat hair tent on a stool and learn about the culture in which 9 to 10-year-old girls weave their own tents, life in Bible times isn’t just something on a page. It becomes real. Those people we read about start to have skin and we can think about them as people that we would actually have been able to talk to or learn from.
All day long, everywhere we looked, there was something new to learn or understand about life for these people we’ve read about all our lives. We learned about olive oil pressing and pressing the grapes and we walked through the storehouse and discussed storing food inside the city walls and food preservation. We also got to walk around and see what their homes were like and even got to stand over the city gates to see what the guards would have seen!
Now, when reading the book of Ruth and her visit to the threshing floor, we have a pretty good idea of what the setting of her story was like, or when we read about Abraham and Isaac we can see those Bedouin tents in our mind. When we read and discuss David and the sheep we can imagine him leaning back on a rock, waiting for his fire to build while making his bread dough. We can even smell the bread cooking as we talk about him looking over his sheep!
After spending a day in the Biblical History Center I know that my faith was strengthened because I understood the scriptures on not just a superficial level, but I got to see the Bible with skin on. I know that my children will understand the Bible better when we have our devotion times or when they do their Bible study because they are starting from the perspective of seeing the Bible in real life. Things that have taken me 30 years to grasp they already understand because they’ve seen what life looked like and how things worked. Seeing my children grow in this way makes every bit of driving and expense worth visiting the Biblical History Center, and I know we will be returning as they grow to help them understand more and more and strengthen their faith more and more as they grow in our home.
Basic Admission – $15 for adults, $12 for children ages 6-12, children 5 and under free
Biblical Meal – $35 for adults, $22 for children. Meal price includes a guided tour of the Archaeological Replicas as well as admission to the Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery. Please call ahead for reservations and to plan your meal. Minimum group number required.
Kid’s Archaeological Dig – $15 each for ages 4-12; $10 for adults and includes admission to the Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery and a tour of the Archaeological Replica Garden. Please call ahead to plan your dig. Minimum group number required.
Shepherd’s Bread Making – $15 per person – Includes admission to the Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery and a tour of the Archaeological Replica Garden. Please call ahead to plan your bread making experience. Minimum group number required.
Biblical History Center Contact Info:
Crazy Homeschool Life Adventure Tips:
- Our Docent, Vern Jordin, was amazing. He has a passion for helping people understand the lives of the Ancient Israelites. He is also full of interesting facts that made our day incredibly interesting. If possible, book your tour with him!
- If you are bringing small children to the Biblical Meal, you may want to pack wipes, a sippy cup, and a spoon. The meal is as authentic as possible and that means no silverware and only mugs for drinks.
- If you’re doing the dig, be prepared to get sandy, especially if you’re driving a while after your adventure. Extra clothes on hand for the littles made a big difference for our drive back to the Atlanta area.
- LaGrange, Georgia is only about an hour and a half southeast of the Atlanta area. It’s an easy drive and worth the side trip if you’re traveling anywhere in the Atlanta, North Florida, or I-75 area. If you’re looking for more educational adventures in the Atlanta area, visit this TCHSL post!
*This post is a sponsored review of the Biblical History Center. All thoughts and opinions contained within are my own. -Lesli Gibbs*
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