When I was a child, I would cram a Bible memory verse into my brain just minutes before entering Bible class. It was quickly recited to the teacher and even more quickly forgotten.
Is that what Bible class teachers really want? No, of course not.
Let’s engage children in fun and meaningful memorization that will stick with them for the long term. How might this be done? I will tell you how I do it for upper elementary age children.
LAY A FOUNDATION FOR MEMORIZING GOD’S WORD
We begin each year with a study of the Bible. We learn that God’s Word is the most important book ever! This lays a strong foundation for why we should memorize God’s word. The first 3 lessons themes are listed below:
Lesson 1 Theme – The Bible is useless to us unless we know how to use it. 2 Timothy 2:15.
Lesson 2 Theme: Trying to live our lives without God’s instructions is impossible. God gave us the Bible to show us the way. Psalm 119:105
Lesson 3 Theme – The Bible is the most important (AND VALUABLE) book ever written because the words come directly from the mouth of God. 2 Timothy 3:16a (We learn the remainder of the verse later on.)
In these 3 lessons, we use the treasure map pictured below. It is displayed on the Bible Teaching Wall. It reinforces the value of God’s word as a treasure much more valuable than earthly treasure. It is periodically reviewed in the following weeks as a reminder of the importance and value of God’s Word as our treasure.
TEACH THE SCRIPTURE TO BE MEMORIZED
- Try to include the verse(s) to be memorized during the Bible lesson to give the children a context in which the verse applies.
- During or after the lesson, explain and discuss the Bible verse.
- Have the children look up the Bible verse in the Bible.
- Glue or have the children glue the verse on a 3 x 5 index card. When possible include an image on the index card. Again, the internet is full of good images.
- The photo below shows index cards for verses we recently memorized.
- Visualize concepts or words when you can. The internet provides so many resources for us today. Here is an example: Wages vs. Gift Rom 6.23
- Use pictures in place of some words. Insert clip art in place of some words. Prov 3.5 and 6 for 3 x 5 index card
- Break the verse into smaller sections. Smaller chunks are easier to learn.
- Genesis 1:17
- Part 1 – God created man in His own image,
- Part 2 – In the image of God He created him,
- Part 3 – Male and female He created them.
ENGAGING ACTIVITIES THAT FOSTER RETENTION
Research shows that at least 7 repetitions are required in order to retain new information over the long term. Here are several different ways to repeat memory verses.
- Sing the Bible verse or chant the verse in a rhythm. Do this many times over many class periods. The more repetitions the better!
- Recite aloud as a group while standing, marching, swaying or using some other bodily movement. Movement can aid retention. Why? Well . . . because it is fun . . . and . . . because it gets the kids moving . . . and . . . because movement can foster retention. Any questions? For Proverbs 3:5-6, I do the following movements.
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart (stand in place and twirl in a circle)
- Do not LEAN on your own understanding (LEAN on something or someone. The kids really enjoy this part!)
- In all your ways acknowledge Him (stand in place and twirl in the opposite direction you twirled on the first phrase)
- And He will direct your path. (skip around the room, or hop in place, or whatever you choose)
- Play the classic Match Game. Here is a document showing how to do this. Directions are on the second page. Creation Heb 1.10 Match Game
- Hop Step Mat – Write a memory verse on an old bed sheet and hop on the words while speaking them out loud. Here is the link to a previous article, Perk Up your Bible Class through Movement. http:/ /comefillyourcup.com/2018/07/11/perk-up-your-bible-class-through-movement/
- Write out every word of the Bible verse and the scripture reference on a white board or chalk board. Everybody reads the verse out loud together.
- Allow one child to erase a single word of their choice.
- The group again reads the verse out loud including the word that is now erased.
- Repeat the erasing of one word and the group recitation over and over.
- Stop when the children seem to have learned the verse.
- Ask the class to look AWAY from the board and speak the verse out loud. They often surprise themselves at how quickly they remember verse.
- Have the children hold their memory verse index card in their hand. Let one child lead a parade around the room as everyone recites aloud the memory verse. Some may need to read their card. Others will already have it in their long term memory but will benefit by additional repetitions.
- The Mission Bible Class website has some great ideas for helping children memorize scripture. You can find the ideas here: https://missionbibleclass.org/teaching-ideas/memory-verse-activities/
TRACKING COMPLETED MEMORY VERSES
- At the beginning of the year, let children create a “treasure box” (see the image below) in which they will keep their completed Bible verse index cards. I purchased mine for $5.99 at Michaels. https://www.michaels.com/artminds-unfinished-wood-box-oval/10358118.html#q=wood+box&start=8. Here is another style that is MUCH more affordable at $2.29 each https://www.michaels.com/unfinished-wood-recipe-box-6.69-x-3.74-x-4.52/D058505S.html?productsource=SLOT%3ARecently%20Viewed.
- I use Velcro to attach the boxes to their desks. They take their box home at the end of each year.
- Number each memory verse index card. This way the children know if they are missing any.
- I require 4 separate repetitions of a single Bible verse over 4 different class periods.
- Each successful repetition earns them a sticker on their index card. They cannot earn more than one sticker per index card in the SAME class period.
- They may be working on 4 or 5 verses at a time, so they may recite as many different verses in a class period as they can. They might get 4 stickers in a class period on 4 different memory verses.
- After the 4th repetition and the 4th sticker, they place the index card in their treasure box.
- I give the children a small reward when they have completed 4 repetitions.
So, there you have it, one way to incorporate memory work into your Bible class.
Let us know of your experience with these ideas in the comments section below! Espresso yo self!
Also, please share your adaptations!
Now, off you go! And remember to Perk Up Your Bible Class through memorization!