As a child I learned loads of verses in Sunday School, acquiring a massive collection of stickers and little cards with yet more Bible verses on as my prizes. We even did Scripture Exams! Although I loved them, I was a boffin, so I’m not sure I’d recommend this method for most children.
However, I have found during my life that having a wide variety of Bible verses perched on the shelves in the library of my mind has been a terribly useful resource! I remember reading stories of people in countries where they weren’t allowed Bibles and wondering how much of the Bible I might be able to remember if I was ever in the same position. Once, at a camp, I remember playing Bible Table Tennis with a friend, where if we lost the point, we had to recite a verse from the Bible! (Yes, I was totally a Bible-geek!!)
However, I remember many times when I found verses comforting or helping guide me.
Once, I was coming home from an interview to be a mother’s help in a home in Chelsea. I was waiting for a bus back to the train station and saw the The World’s End pub, which reminded me of the verse: “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20, CEV). It encouraged me that God was with me, even if I didn’t feel like I’d got the post. (I did.)
Other times, it was songs, either ones I’d learnt or one I’d invented which brought back verses to me. I think it’s one way the Spirit of God speaks to us, recalling pieces of the Bible at a time when we need them.
So how do we help children build their own Scripture reference mind-library? Probably not with Scripture exams, but by
- Modelling it by having verses we are learning – not necessarily one a week, but having one on the go is always a great discipline!
- Finding verses which are meaningful to us and them and learning those
- Finding ways to learn verses which are easy and fun for them – this will be different for different children at different times in their lives.
Here are ten fun, easy ways to learn Bible verses. I wonder which you’ve tried, which you’d like to have a go at and what else you’d add!
If you’d like a free colourful printout of these ideas, you can email me (Victoria) for a copy.
1 Sing it
Find a song of the verse and play it every day. We like to add it to a playlist for the month and play it each time we get in the car or on the landing while we’re getting dressed. Some of our favourite songs are on Seeds Family Worship CDs.
2 See it, say it
Write it out, display it somewhere prominent and read it every day. Repetition helps us remember things. I like to have it printed or written out in an attractive way. For example, here’s the words to the Lords prayer on a really pdf from The Good Book Company
3 Missing words
Read the verse, but miss out words. Start with key words or ones at the end of a phrase. See who can add in the missing words. Next time you do this, miss out more words. You’ll be surprised how quickly you know all of them!
4 Make art
Create something physical to represent the verse. As you’re making your picture, a model (Lego, junk modelling) or whatever you choose, chat about why you’re making it and how it relates to the verse. Then find somewhere to display your model to remind you of that verse.
5 Say it, smash it
Write the words onto egg shells. Read the verse then smash one egg shell and repeat. Use empty, washed and dried egg shells. We used a wooden mallet but a wooden spoon would do the job. It’s very satisfying and less messy than it sounds! You could use balloons instead, or anything else that can be written on then popped or smashed in a satisfying way! (See more here)
6 Write a song
Invent a tune or borrow one which fits and make your Bible verse into a song. If you’re feeling creative, you could record a simple version of it and share it with friends! We did this with some friends, with each family creating their own song of their favourite words from the psalm, recording it at home and sending it to the others. It was fab to see how different they were, as well as to discover how we could use the psalm words to worship God, after all, the memorising is so that we can use the verses.
7 Verse Bingo!
Make Bingo boards with the word of your verse, adding wingdings (it’s a font in Word) as visual cues to younger children. Split your verse or verses into six segments (we’ve done this with a six verse psalm) then roll a die and read the segment shown on the die. Then everyone should cover one word on their board which they hear in the segment. Winner is the first one to have a line covered! Here’s a downloadable version Psalm Bingo download
8 Get tested
Parents can be tested by children on verses they are learning, which is a surprisingly good way for everyone to learn the verse! It’s also fab for children to see parents learning Bible verses too, as this suggests it’s a really good thing to do for life 🙂
9 Jump on it!
Write the words of the verse in chalk on the path outside and challenge one person at a time to jump on the words as they are read. Can they say them in order and jump? We did this with a verse which had lots of repeated words, which means you have to jump back and forth, which is fun!
10 Review them
Create a simple system which takes less than 5 minutes a day, and helps you to review every verse you’ve learned. You basically have four rotations, and you say one verse from each rotation each day. (2) Memorize Scripture in Just Five Minutes Each Day – YouTube
Alternatively, you could just a collect the verses in a book or postcards on a clipboard as we have, and every now and then get them out and see how many of them you can remember.
What other ideas would you add?