Five Ways Dwell's Story Symbols Can Help You Tell God's Story

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Images are the simplest and most effective way to make sure that information is stored as a long-term memory. As per Dr. Lynell Burmark, an education consultant, our short term memory processes words and can only retain about seven bits of information. In contrast, images are directly processed by our long-term memory, where they get indelibly etched.

This is why I love the Dwell curriculum’s use of story symbols. Each Dwell lesson includes a simple symbol that provides a visual representation of the narrative. The Dwell leader is encouraged to show the symbol, connecting it with the week’s story and also using the symbols from previous lessons to review. Children who may not immediately remember what was discussed two weeks ago, readily proclaim, “Zaccheaus!” when they see the sweet picture of a face peering out from a tree.

I think one of the best kept Dwell secrets (which was never intended to be a secret!) is that you can purchase beautiful full-color sets of these story symbols for just a few dollars. What a great investment in your kids’ faith formation! 

As a Dwell coordinator, I provided story symbol sets for my Dwell leaders each year and loved seeing how they used them to decorate their classrooms.

Taking some ideas from my leaders and some from the Dwell community, here are five ways to display your Dwell story symbols:
(Click on the links for a photo of each idea)

  1. Hang them with twine and small clothespins. This is a great option for shared Dwell spaces that have to be dismantled each week, as you can just take your line down with the symbols on it and re-hang it the following week..
  2. Create a grid with the unit title, unit memory verse, and story symbols. This works especially well with the Imagine level, as each unit includes a printable page of the memory verse that you can simply print out and add to your wall.
  3. Hang them as a border. Start at one side of the room and slowly wrap your way around as you move through the lessons each week. In early weeks, barely any of the space will be covered, but by the end of the year, you’ll have a beautiful visual of every story you’ve explored.
  4. Create a timeline. Print out the names of the books of the Bible and place the story symbols below the appropriate names. This is a great way to show children how the Dwell curriculum moves through portions of Scripture chronologically rather than jumping around to disconnected stories. In Dwell, each week builds on the previous in the same way the biblical narrative builds throughout Scripture.
  5. Create a “What we learned today” board for parents. It’s also helpful to make parents familiar with the story symbols. A simple “What we learned today” space outside your room could display that week’s story symbol and title. This is especially helpful for parents because that same story symbol will be on the learner resource that kids bring home, as well as on the corresponding God’s Big Story card.

How about you? Do you have another idea for displaying the story symbols? Share your own creativity by commenting below or on our Dwell Leaders Facebook Group.

Want your own copy of the Dwell story symbols? You can purchase them using our online order form or by calling 800-333-8300. The cost is $14 US per year, per level for 36 sturdy, reusable, full-color images.

Having trouble viewing the example images? They are also posted on the Dwell Leaders Facebook Group.

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