This curriculum review is part of the Children's Ministry Toolkit - a collection of resources for building strong and vibrant children's ministry, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.
Dwell’s age-graded curriculum includes materials for children from preschool through grade 8 with an undated, ten-year scope and sequence. Dwell also offers a multi-age resource designed for children ages 5-10 with an undated, four-year scope and sequence called Dwell Flex. Resources for leaders are available both in print (age-graded materials only) and in electronic format through a subscription to Dwell Digital (free to CRCNA churches). Dwell supports families in nurturing faith at home through a variety of Dwell at Home materials (described below).
Admittedly, we’re biased, since Dwell is published by Faith Alive Resources, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church. But speaking as leaders who have used Dwell ourselves, we’re confident it’s the best choice for churches who want an easy-to-use curriculum that nurtures in children a faith that’s deep and wide and that supports families as they nurture faith at home. Here are just some of the reasons Dwell checks off all of the boxes for us:
Every story is taught from a Reformed perspective—one that views the Bible as the story of God and that considers every story as one part of God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of a fallen world through Jesus Christ. (For a practical example of how a Reformed theological approach affects the ways in which stories are told in Dwell, check out the blog post Every Pastor in the CRC Should Hear This.) Each session includes a brief “Leader Reflection” devotional for leaders, along with background information on the story.
Scope and Sequence
Dwell describes its age-graded scope and sequence and multi-age scope and sequence as being “intentionally crafted as an ongoing journey in God’s story,” with each year building on the previous one. In age-appropriate ways and with growing complexity, children have the opportunity to repeatedly experience key stories (creation, fall, redemption, restoration, God’s covenant promises) and complete a broad sweep of stories from both the OT and the NT.
Designed with Kids in Mind
With Dwell, kids do more than hear a story; they experience it. Dwell authors paid attention to the research on the ways kids learn best, and each session was written with multiple intelligences in mind. For example, knowing that learners are more likely to remember and to live into what they learn when they interact with and respond to it, in Dwell’s age-graded materials
every session includes an opportunity for kids to retell the story in some way
key verses of Scripture are set to music to help kids memorize them
large and colorful Story Symbols provide a visual connection to every story
every session includes hands-on activities to engage learners who love to move
and wondering questions invite all learners to dwell in God’s story and reflect upon God at work in it and in their lives.
Faith Nurture at Home
“Faith is learned as it is woven seamlessly into the fabric of daily life,” says Traci Smith in her book, Faithful Families. Each Dwell at Home resource is designed to encourage and equip families as they nurture faith at home. Rather than adding yet another "to do" item on busy lives, these can be seamlessly woven into the daily and weekly rhythms of any family.
Dwell at Home provides weekly full-color at-home pieces for each level (Dwell users give high marks to the “On the Way Home” activity each week at the Wonder level and the Marvel level “storymarks” which become Bible bookmarks to use at home).
Families can also use God’s Big Story cards, a family devotional with a game-like feel that encourages faith-talk at home in families with any level of familiarity with the Bible.
To help churches partner with families, Dwell at Home also provides
Ongoing DWELL Refresh
Faith Formation Ministries is continually working to refresh the Dwell curriculum, providing additional activities and updating the current materials. Through Dwell Digital these updates are immediately made available to leaders.