A Dreamy Story

Scripture: Genesis 39-41

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn symbolism and analyze examples of symbols in dreams from Genesis 39-41.
  • Students will write their own symbolic story.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can we use symbolism to make sense of stories?
  • How can we write our own stories using symbolism?

Materials: Bibles, pencil, and paper

Procedure: Ask students what they think a symbol is and have them give examples. Explain that a symbol is something simple that stands for something more complex. Show them common symbols from their environment and have them tell you what it stands for. Examples: School crosswalk sign, popular restaurant logo, “Jesus Fish”.

Discuss how symbols are used in stories too. Review Pharaoh’s dreams and their meanings. Pharaoh’s dreams were symbolic of what would happen to Egypt. Emphasize that though some symbols can be self-explanatory, only God could reveal the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams. Make a two column chart that has a list of characters/things and what each stands for in the dream. Brainstorm elements of symbolic stories as a group.

For example, symbols are:
1. Simple, uses short events
2. They do not include a lot of details
3. Each character stands for something and serves a purpose.

Teach students how to write their own symbolic story. First, have them chose a message/ lesson/trait. It may be helpful to brainstorm messages as a group first and then let students come up with the symbols that they want to use. Character traits and emotions can be symbolized For example: A little girl might symbolize patience, friendliness or forgiveness. A tiger might symbolize fear, anger, or energy. A homemade pie might symbolize hospitality and generosity. Encourage students to choose an emotion to symbolize with a character. Note: Symbolism requires a significant amount of abstract thinking and creativity. Some students may struggle with coming up with a significant event. Their symbolism and their actual message may be equally complex or simple. If they are not ready for abstract story-telling, that is okay so long as they grasp the idea that symbols stand for something else and they can explain it to you adequately. They may just want to focus on the character development aspect. Have them come up with one character and write what the character stands for. Challenge your more abstract thinkers with coming up with story lines that convey powerful messages. Encourage students according to their own level and pace.

Additional Questions:

  • What is a symbol?
  • What symbols are there in everyday life?
  • How do symbols make complex ideas more interesting?

Supplemental Activity: Students can keep a dream journal of things, feelings and events that they dream about each night. Encourage students to think about what it might mean. What animals might symbolize emotions and events? What feelings were in your dream that might give you a clue? Where were you in your dream? Point out that the dreams they have each night are not necessarily a direct message from God, but that thinking about dreams can help us understand ourselves better and deal with our emotions.

Written by: Savannah Negas

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