Teaching Memory Verses to Kids
"The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword" Hebrews
If someone were to ask me what was my main purpose in teaching my children’s Bible classes, I would probably say that it was to impart God’s Word into their lives.
The importance of memorizing scripture is highlighted by the fact that almost every Christian has experienced times when the Holy Spirit calls to mind some scripture or truth at a moment when it is needed, for example in their own conversion experience or personal life, or in counseling or witnessing. Thus, if we can get relevant scripture verses into the minds, and then (by memorizing) into the hearts of the children, the Holy Spirit will be able to recall truths and verses to them when they are most needed.
Most of the children I teach, I have for about 30 lessons, over a 1 year period. During this time, I will attempt to teach them 5 or 6 relevant memory verses.
Here are some useful tips for effectively teaching memory verses:
Good planning. Many teachers plan a lesson, and then ask themselves “What is a good memory verse to go with this lesson?” I do things the other way round. I decide well beforehand which memory verses I want to teach my class, and then build the rest of my lessons around these. I allow plenty of time (e.g. 10 to 15 mins.) for teaching each verse.
Choose the right Bible translation. If possible, look up your verse in a number of modern Bible translations, and then decide which one is best to teach. Some teachers still prefer to use the Authorized Version (King James). However, if you do decide to use this, I would suggest that at least you change the ‘Old English’ words such as ‘thee’, ‘thou’, ‘thine’, etc. into their modern equivalents.
Explain the verse. Don’t assume that the children will understand exactly what the verse means. It may be plain enough to you, but you will need to explain it to your class.
Vary your teaching methods. There are numerous ‘fun’ ways for teaching memory verses, and I have listed a number of them below. To keep my teaching interesting, I never use the same method twice with any one group of children.
Repetition is the ‘key’ to success. Whichever methods you choose to use, always leave enough time for your class to repeat the verse about 7 or 8 times. By repeatedly saying the verse, it should really get down into their spirits. You can make this part more interesting by getting different ‘groups’ within the class to repeat the verse in turn, e.g. boys, girls, those with blue eyes, brown eyes, older sisters, younger brothers, colored socks, etc. etc. (Some children are actually better at remembering a verse if you get them to repeat it as fast as they can. Give it a try, if only for the sake of variety!). I will then encourage the children to write the verse down while it is still fresh to them, and then offer incentives of small prizes to those who can repeat it to me the following week.
Ways of teaching Memory verses.
There are many ways to teach Scripture (Memory verses) to children, but I have found that the more "fun" you make it, the more likely they are to really take it in.
1. Diminishing words.
In my experience, the most effective method I have come across is to use "Diminishing words." This is very simple and easy to prepare, but children really enjoy it because they think that they are fooling "teacher."
Write out your memory verse about 6 or 7 times on pieces of cardboard (or paper). However, each time you write, gradually make the words smaller. The words on your last card should be as small as you can possibly write them.
Show your first card (Biggest words) to your group, and have them say the verse. Then simply work your way through to the last card - children repeating the words each time. As you get to the smaller words, start to compliment the group on their eyesight. Act amazed when they manage to "read" your last card. Then say "I think you are trying to fool me. I don't believe you can really read this last card. I think you have memorized the verse. I think you can repeat the verse without any card at all" - And they will!
If you have a ventriloquist’s dummy or a glove puppet, use that to help teach the memory verse. Have the verse written out for the children to see, and then explain to them that your puppet is going to say the verse – a few words at a time – and they have to repeat everything he says. You can have a lot of fun with this method by getting the puppet to ‘say’ totally irrelevant things, e.g. jokes, personal comments, etc. as he gradually works his way through the verse, always remembering to bring ‘him’ back to where he digressed. Then get the puppet to say the verse, but pausing in the wrong places. Finally, get the puppet to say the verse the right way, with the children still ‘repeating’ of course.
3. Guess the letter.
This is another popular method, but it does take a little longer than most other ways. Write out your verse by putting “blanks” for letters.
The idea is for the children to guess the correct letters that make up this verse. As they do so, fill in the blanks.
There are two ways of using this method.
Competing teams (e.g. boys v. girls). One person from each team guesses a letter in turn. If team 1, for example, guesses ‘n’, and there are three n’s, they get three points. If team 2 guesses ‘e’, and there are six e’s, they get six points etc. The team with the most points when the verse is complete is the winner.
The class compete against ‘teacher’. Explain that if they guess a letter and it is not in the verse, you get a tick. If you get (say) four ticks before the verse is completed, you win.
4. Elimination methods:
Show the verse in full, and then gradually eliminate the words until they have all gone. Test the children after each step to see if they can still say the verse. There are a number of different ways you could do this.
a. Write the words out on a number of different cards (e.g. 1 or 2 words per card), and then simply remove them 1, 2, or 3 at a time – depending on the length of the verse.
b. The same as above, but write the words out on inflated balloons. Get volunteers to gradually ‘pop’ the balloons with a pin.
c. Write the complete verse out on a large piece of cardboard. Then get volunteers to gradually tear pieces off it, until it has nearly all gone. By the time this is complete, the children should have said the verse the targeted 7 or 8 times.
d. Invisible writing.
Write the verse with a white crayon on white cardboard or paper. Get volunteers to gradually paint over the cardboard with red food coloring. The words will then ‘magically’ appear as the food coloring adheres to the crayon. This is a good way to teach verses concerning the blood of Jesus.
5. Puzzle methods:
a. Balloon race. Take two pieces of paper, and write out your verse on each one. Cut each paper into small pieces, with two or three words on each. Put each set of papers into two
deflated balloons. Choose two teams. One member of each team has to race to the other end of the room, blow up their balloon, tie it, burst it, retrieve the pieces of paper, and get the other members of the team to help to arrange the verse in the correct way. For larger classes you could, of course, have more teams.
b. Flannel board Jigsaw. Write your words on any interesting shape, back with winceyette, or other suitable adhering material, and cut into about 8 or 9 pieces. Get two or three children to come out and rearrange the jigsaw correctly on the
flannel board. Shapes you could use are a question mark, a Bible shape for any verse relating to the Bible, or a telephone for Jeremiah 33.3.
c. Picture puzzles. Draw a series of pictures, each representing a word. Get the children to try and guess – you may have to give some ‘hints’ – what each picture stands for, until the verse is complete.
6. Mirror image
Write the verse backwards, so that you could only read it properly by looking at it through a mirror. (Ensure that the individual letters are written 'the wrong way round'). Get the children to try and read the verse. In my experience, most children do not have any trouble doing this.
7. Code method.
Write out the verse in code form, by either changing the letters to numbers (e.g. a=1, b=2 etc.) or, for older children, to symbols. Don’t forget to show the children the code. Alternatively, you could not show the code, but change only the vowels (e.g. a=1, e=2 etc.).
8. Jumbled letters.
Jumble up the letters of each word. Example: het sno fo mna acme ot eeks dna ot aves het tlos. Lkeu 19.10.
Recapping Memory verses.
I always consider it a good idea to recap your Memory verses a week later in order to see how effective your teaching has been. Here are four ways that I do this.
1.As I mentioned above, I offer small prizes for those children who can say the verse to me the following week. I get them to repeat the verse in front of all the class. This way all the children are hearing the verse again a few more times.
2. Mistakes. Read out the verse, and make a number of deliberate mistakes. See if the children can spot them all.
e.g. The brother of God arrived to find and shave the poor. Matthew Chapter ninety verse eleven. (Luke 19.10. - Mistakes underlined).
3. Puppet fun. I bring along my 'Dummy' George, who tells the children that he wants to learn the Memory verse. I get a child to repeat it to George, but then he gets it wrong. e.g. "Out towels dried for us while we were still swimmers." (Romans 5.8). A second child repeats the verse, but George still gets it wrong e.g. "McDonald's fried for us while we were still hamburgers." Finally, all the class repeat the verse to George. This time he gets it right!
4. Elimination. Get either individuals or groups to say the verse in turn (i.e. go round in a circle) - one word at a time. No hesitating is allowed. If a child (or group) cannot say the next word, they are eliminated. Once the verse is complete, get them to do it again,
Copyright 2004 Maurice Sweetsur
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