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Griffin Discovery Room

A boy operates a large-scale model of Jefferson's Wheel CipherA hands-on activity center for children

Monticello visitors—especially those ages 6 to 12—can literally get in touch with American history in the Griffin Discovery Room through hands-on activities.

This educational environment provides a variety of ways for young people to connect with Thomas Jefferson, the members of the larger Monticello community, and learn what life was like for children in the early 1800s.

Children operate a working model based on Jefferson's Polygraph copying machineThe space features reproduction elements from both the Monticello house, such as Jefferson's alcove bed and Houdon's bust of Jefferson, and the plantation, including the nail-making shop and a slave dwelling.

Children and their family members can write on a polygraph machine based on the one Jefferson owned, try on replicas of 18th-century clothes, learn how to weave, touch a mastodon's jawbone, create secret codes on a wheel cipher based on Jefferson's design, play games popular in Jefferson's era, and engage in other self-directed activities.

Located on the lower level of the Smith Education Center, the Griffin Discovery Room is open daily.

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