Sunday, January 3, 2010

Teaching Children to Memorize Scripture - One Year Later

A year ago, I wrote about teaching children to memorize Scripture. You can read the original post here. The idea was to pick a passage of Scripture and read it to the children every day. At the time, I was amazed at how quickly preschool children memorized Scripture from just hearing it, without any extra effort to laboriously learn the verses line by line.

A year later, I'm still convinced it is an effective way to teach Scripture to young children. The greatest challenge is consistency on the part of Mom (and at our house that would be Me, a person who is much better at flexibility then consistency). How is it that we don't skip meals, remember to do the laundry and can keep up with diaper changes, but Scripture memory is pushed out of a day.

I just read an article by the Maxwell's where they describe their family's method of Scripture memory. A large white board near their dining table holds the passage they are currently working on. At each meal, immediately after prayer, they read the verses together. In this way, the verses are read usually twice a day. The passage stays on the board until everyone knows them very well, then are replaced by new verses. I think combining Scripture memory with a regular daily occurrence, such as meals, may be what our family needs.

This past year, we have chosen one passage a month. Our children's favorites were short Psalms such as Psalm 1, 8, and 100. During the summer, we shortened it to single verses, John 3:16 and the Fruits of the Spirit. I've tried to review old passages about once a week or so. We may repeat some of the passages this year, but we hope to learn some new ones as well.

Now, please don't get some rosy picture of children sitting meekly in a row on the couch with their hands folded, reciting their Bible verses. Those of you who go to church with us know that our children have a double portion of the wigglies. Bible memory verses at our house are often joined with obnoxious noises and a fit of giggles. I love enthusiasm but sometimes need to draw a line when verses are screamed out at top volume while clapping their hands AND hanging from the back of the couch by their feet. And please don't ask my children to give a demonstration.

To give purpose to the wiggles, we've sometimes added hand motions. This has been especially good for lists such as The Ten Commandments. They also love any Scripture set to music and learn them super quick. I like to quote them without singing as well to make sure they could quote it without music. We've even turned it into a energy burning game (otherwise known as a desperate mom winter idea) in musical chairs style, marching around chairs, singing our verses, diving for a chair at the end of each song.

Something new we just started this fall is a Scripture notebook. My goal was review but my paper hoarders love it! Inspired by the Homespun Heart's study on the Fruits of the Spirit for Preschoolers, I type of a verse or passage on a sheet of paper and make a simple drawing depicting the verse. I'm a stick-man-artist only but if I tell the children what the drawing is supposed to be, they believe me. The children color the page and hang in the kitchen while we learn the verse. When we begin a new verse, the old one is added to a three ringed binder filled with page protectors. These binders are cherished possessions and often played with. For pre-readers, the pictures allow them to review the verses on their own.

My goal in Scripture memory with young children is not that they can quote it word perfect, and certainly not that they can preform for others. Rarely, unless they ask, do I request them to say it by themselves. Instead, my goal is that the Word of God is heard in their ears so often that it is embedded in their minds. I'd rather not give any child-training advice until I'm a grandmother with (by God's grace) godly children. But this method of memorizing has worked very well for our family and maybe can inspire you to add Scripture memory to your daily routine.

For more reading on Scripture memory go to Holy Experience and be sure to scroll down to the links on the bottom of this post.

I'd love to hear any of your thoughts or tips on Scripture memory!


  1. Thank you - this was so helpful. Especially the picture of your wiggly kids. We have a similar low-key way of memorizing, but perhaps I should try adding fun to the mix!

  2. I send my kids to a good Christian school where they are taught to memorize scripture as part of the daily curriculum. They have done that from grades K-8 and are extremely capable of using those verses (and even chapters) in daily thought processes in higher learning! They have become very good students as a result of they being taught to memorize well. They do not "forget" to memorize as part of their curriculum and we as parents do not "forget" to reinforce each evening. My opinion is that this should be made a priority and never low key! I think you will be amazed at what the kids are capable of even if you have to "push" a little bit. It's so worth it!


  3. I always knew kids were sponges, but I didn't realize how much so unitl my then 3yr old quote two chapters of psalms to me. Both were just over 20 verse each. In an effort to help me memorize, I would quote the verses I was working on to the kids as I patted there backs at night. Within days they were correctng and or prompting me. For a while we were memorizing a chapter a month. We got out of the habit and this year I'm determined to start again. I'm thinking of memorizing a whole book with them, probably one of the pauline epistles. Little harder than the psalms, but we're up to the challange!

  4. You're making me wish Logan was older! :) I've always had a dream of helping my children memorize Scripture at a young age and I loved some of your ideas. You sure are a creative mom!

    Thanks too for your kind comment on my blog. My goal is to encourage, not discourage or create pressure, and I'm glad that you've been inspired.

  5. We memorize a new verse every three days. We set up on the kitchen counter and table were it is always visible and during the day we read it a few times. We also read a chapter of Probverbs every day, the chapter that goes along with the date, and I have been amazed how they will pull those verses out and apply them to everyday things that we do.

  6. THanks GIna for sharing this we are working on scripture memory as well. I find my little one lear best with music. I have found some cd's set to music I really appreciate. I would like to get them to do more with making motions but I need to get into that and get creative. Any ideas?
    Angie R.

  7. I have wiggly kids too!
    We memorize one new verse a week. I am big on reviewing verses so we have them forever. We like to memorize verses in a series. One idea is to memorize verses based on the body. For example our eye verse (my personal favorite) is II Corinthians 4:18. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
    We learned a shoulder verse, a muscle verse, a few hearts verses, and more. Now, whenever we want to review those verses we simply travel down our bodies. THis has really blessed my younger kids!

  8. Hi, just came across your blog by way of sourdough crackers (I was looking for a way to make graham crackers from sourdough starter and your blog came up)and I'm really enjoying it. This post was good motivation. My 3 year old has learned his first few catechism questions easily, but I need to become more consistent with memorizing scripture with him too.

  9. I am 13 but I still know how hard it is to teach children. I got a job at our bible study of teaching children ages ranging from 3-9 and there are about twenty of them. You are a huge help and I'm looking forward to trying these great ideas.


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