When I was growing up, I went to a church where we learnt a memory verse each week. This doesn’t seem very fashionable nowadays, and maybe one a week is far too many, but learning Bible verses off by heart is a fabulous way to be able to carry God’s word in our hearts wherever we go. Personally, I know I’ve often found the Spirit of God speak to me through Bible passages I know.
With this in mind, how do we make learning Bible verses fun and not a boring task? Don’t make it like school. Don’t make everyone write it out like lines! Don’t make it something it’s easy to fail at.
Ok, but what SHOULD we do?
- Something which works well for your family. It’s good to have a think about the kind of things you enjoy doing together, the ways you connect with God and the learning styles which each person in your family has. These will give you some clues to the type of things which will work for you.
- Choose a verse which has meaning for you, and share this with your family. It’s much more interesting to learn a verse which is ‘alive’, a bit like carrying a pet in your pocket!
- Do it at a time and in a way which gives it most chance of success. I know sometimes my children are in such a bad mood that everything I suggest will be met with thunderous glares. Apart from bringing out ice cream. And I haven’t yet worked out an ice cream way to learn Bible verses!!
But what can we actually do?!
Here are things which have worked for our family:
- Say and remember
I started teaching my children Bible verses long before they could read, as of course, the Bible has been sharing by generations of non-readers! This is what I do:
- Read the verse once, slowly.
- Read it again, same pace or slower.
- Read it a third time, but miss of the last word in the first phrase, and pause letting them fill in the word. Then I continue and miss off another easy word for them to fill.
- I repeat this, missing off an extra word in each phrase until they are pretty much saying the whole thing.
- You can do the same thing with readers by writing the words on post-its, pieces of paper or balloons. Get them to put the words in order and say the verse, then remove one post-it / paper / balloon and repeat until they are all gone but you all know it!
- Bible jumping – write the words of the verse on the floor (usually outside!) and challenge everyone to jump from word to word in order saying the words as they do so. Again, this works best for readers, but you could draw pictures or symbols for each word.
- For visual learners, challenge everyone to invent a symbol for one phrase of the verse. This works well for pictoral verses, but even for more abstract ones. You could draw these or create them with pipecleaners or lego or blocks. Put your symbols in order and use them to remember use phrase of the verse.
- Songs! One of the easiest ways to learn anything is in song! You don’t even need to make a song and dance (sorry!) about playing it. I’ve been known to play a song each morning in the hallway while everyone is getting ready, and after about 3 weeks, we all know it off by heart – and it happens to be a Bible verse. Very stealth learning!
- Get creative – we have made collages of Psalms, each picking one line of the Psalm and creating a 15cm square picture of it. It’s a great way to remember the verse, and also a fab thing to do while listening to a song of the verse. I often trawl YouTube for ones which appeal to us and put them in my own playlist.
- Treasure Hunt – a fun way to play with the words (or the symbols you’ve invented) is to hide them and create a treasure hunt. This could be as easy as you like (especially for under 5s) or a more complex, cryptic hunt for older children, who may even like to create their own clues. You could do this with Bible verses you’ve learnt recently or last year, as a way of recapping them.
- Colouring – like the creative idea above, colouring is something which uses part of our brain while leaving the other part from to think or chat. This is a fab way of being able to explore the verse further, perhaps using open-ended questions.
- Open-ended questions – this is a great way to learn together rather than teach about a verse. You can ask questions such as, “What word in this verse do you like most and why?” or “How might you say the same thing but in your own words?” or ‘”What questions do you have about this verse?” There is more about using open-ended questions here.
- Display the verse – this sounds obvious, but having something displayed in your house with the verse on can really help visual learner to remember it. This could be collages you’ve made, a picture you’ve taken and put the words over the top, some bunting made of the papers or post-its you used to read and remember (see #2), or a colouring (see #8).
So there’s a few ideas, but I’d love to hear what works for you! What verses have you learnt and how did you go about it?
For more fun ideas on exploring the Bible together, see BibleGodVenture52