It’s hard to place a value on Bible memorization. The verses I learned
as a child are with me still, coming to mind when I need encouragement
and guiding my decisions with gentle promptings. I may not always
remember the reference or even the exact wording, but the truth is still there. The seed planted many years ago continues to grow and bear fruit in my life. These verses are priceless to me.
As much as I appreciate the importance of Bible
memorization, I realized awhile ago I was not making effective use
of class time to help my students memorize verses. And sending verses
home with students wasn’t very effective either, as few students memorized
them at home. (We can bemoan this problem, but I prefer to accept it as a fact and
help kids memorize verses however I can.)
Memorizing things can’t really be rushed, so I decided to make a commitment
to spend a focused chunk of time on Bible memorization during class. Here are some ideas
worked for me and my students:
Memorize Six Verses at a Time
Make lists of six verses to be memorized at a time. A set of six verses will be quoted one at a time, then two at a time, then three at a time, etc., until the student is ready to quote all six at once. This process is based on a system found in a series of workbooks called Quick and Powerful Scriptural Concepts for Children by Valda Johnson and Ilene Sargeant (which can be difficult to find and order online). When a student follows this process, he/she will know the verses really well.
a chart or booklet of some kind to keep track of each student’s
progress. Teachers should initial and date when a verse has been quoted one at a time, two at a time, etc.; when he/she has tested on all six; and when a prize has been awarded.
Schedule Plenty of Time for Bible Memorization
Make Bible memorization a priority on the class schedule.
Have both a large-group time where you talk about what verses mean and sing them together (I have set quite a few verses to common childhood songs), and a small-group time where kids can work one-on-one with a teacher and quote verses.
Devote 10-20 minutes of class time to each: large-group time and small-group time.
Bible Memorization in Small Groups
Divide the class into small groups: one teacher for every three to four students (optimally). If you have a small class, you can informally divide from week to week. If you have a large class, you will probably want to make predetermined groups with a mix of older and younger students. You can even give each group a fun name and/or color-code their folders.
If you have a lot of kids,
invite some other adults to come into the class for just this 20-minute
portion to be "Bible memorization mentors." The kids love this time of
quoting verses and interacting more personally with a teacher!
Have teachers assist kids in learning their verses by
reading and repeating them, creating motions to go with them, singing
them, and giving each student an opportunity to quote a verse or verses.
Let the kids work at their own pace. That way, the older
children (or faster learners) don’t hold back the younger. However, don't let kids just "mess around" during this time. Everyone should be challenged to make as much progress as he/she can.
Reward Students for Bible Memorization
Praise students publicly for their
progress. From time to time have volunteers quote a verse during Review
or another part of the class, giving them an opportunity to show what
they have been learning.
When a student reaches a certain milestone (i.e.,
having quoted six Bible verses at once), I like to reward
him/her with a two-part prize: something of instant enjoyment (such as a
large sucker or candy bar) and something of more lasting enjoyment
(like a book).
Some fun books I have used as prizes are the Scripture Sleuth books by Mat Halverson. These books are similar to the Encyclopedia Brown
books with the protagonist, Concord Cunningham, solving mysteries using
his knowledge of the Bible. Readers are given a Bible reference so they
can look up a Bible verse and try to figure out the solution to the
mystery before looking in the back of the book for the answer. If you order directly from Mr.
Halverson's website, he may autograph the books for you. The books are also available at Amazon.com.
Extra Bible Memorization Tip
coloring pages (preferably relating to verses you are memorizing or
things you are learning in class) to occupy one-time visitors, younger
students, or any student who is waiting his/her turn to quote a verse.
For more Bible memorization ideas, visit my Memorization Tips page. You will find some helpful activities, whether you teach a small group or a larger class.
I'm excited to share a new book I wrote for kids! This book is based on the Jesus Is A-Z Sunday school curriculum and covers letters A-H. Kids can write in the book as they read and learn how amazing Jesus is. This book is the first in a series and is available here.
characters are great for helping students see the big picture of the
Bible. You can create a large timeline on the wall or a portable
timeline in a binder. You can also attach craft sticks to figures and
create small puppets for acting out Bible stories. More information here.
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