What Is Dwell All About?

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Now that the Dwell Curriculum preview events have begun, I'm getting lots of emails and calls from churches asking about Dwell. If you're curious, here's a peek at Faith Alive's new children's curriculum:

Dwell is a faith nurture curriculum for kids and young teens in Kindergarten through grade 8. The levels break down like this:

  • Grades K-1 is called Imagine,
  • Grades 2-3 is called Wonder,
  • Grades 4-5 is called Marvel,
  • Grades 6-8 is called Dive

If your church uses the Young Children and Worship program you may appreciate the wondering approach that Dwell uses to help kids enter imaginatively into God's story. With this curriculum kids and young teens imagine themselves in all the stories of Scripture and them see that their lives are part of the one BIG story of God's amazing love and redemption through Jesus Christ. It's a story that starts in the pages of Scripture and continues in our lives today!

Dwell places a strong emphasis on story. In the words of author and educator Sarah Aurthor,

"We are story-formed people. Our lives are first shaped by narrative, not by information. We don't learn how to live the Christian life by memorizing facts, rules, precepts, morals, imports, exports, governments, and drains. Instead, from the earliest moments we experience the stories of those who have gone before us: stories from the Old and New Testaments; stories from the history of the Church throghout the centuries; stories of our own families and local congregations; stories that are enacted each week in the drama we call worship and in the everyday conversations and practices of home."

-- From Shaped by God, chapter 3

Often with Bible curricula a story is told and then you move on to activities that help kids understand the story. But with Dwell kids stay in the story and play in the story until it becomes their own. They join in retelling it in a creative way that helps them identify with it in a personal way. That's what makes Dwell special.

At the Imagine and Wonder levels kids get a take-home paper every week (the size is different for the two levels)--it is often used during the session at church and also contains activities that kids can do at home. The take-home piece at the Marvel level is called a Storymark. It's a bookmark that the kids can use to mark the place of that week's story in their Bible ... but it's an oversized bookmark that also includes devotional ideas, puzzles, and the memory challenge to be used at home.

At the Dive level the teachings of the church are paired with a Bible story so that meaning of our Reformed Doctrine can be drawn from the stories of Scripture. Middle schoolers use a small magazine during each session, and there is also an at home devotional that lasts the whole year. It offers three devotional readings for each week with engaging, youth-friendly content and sketches and doodles to encourage young teens to personalize the pages and offer them a pattern for how to dive into a story or doctrine and find points of connection in their own lives.

Faith Alive also plans to add preschool level of Dwell in the third year, along with a third year of the Dive level, so that the 6-8th grade scope and sequence will be complete.   

But the big news — the most exciting part for families, is the God's Big Story Cards. This is an at-home piece that will help families grow in faith together. The God's Big Story cards will come in a box (like Trivial Pursuit or Apples to Apples) that contains all the stories that are studied in the elementary levels of Dwell — 165 total. The cards will be arranged in the order you'd find them in Scripture so that families can use each card in order, to explore the whole sweep of Scripture together. Or, each week the kids in the family can find the story card for the story they studied in church, and the family could use those cards during the week. 

The box comes with a die that has 6 color-coded sides. Each color matches an idea for exploring the story that is listed on the back of the card. The family will read the Bible story written on the card together, then roll a die and do the suggested activity that the card recommends for that color. It might be something to pray together about in response to the story, or a song to sing, a way to retell the story together, or a way to share the story with others, etc. The hope is that families will embrace this easy way to engage in faith talk and Bible study along with their kids!

That's just a short overview, but I hope it gives you a little taste of Dwell. If you're looking for more, check out the preview event that's closest to you. Or add your questions below and I'll track down the answers! 

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Update: Faith Alive is now offering Dwell preview webinars for those who can't make it to one of the events. Check out times and dates here. You can also stay up to date on the launch by following the Dwell Facebook page.