I had a lot of fun this week working with students at the South Pacific Bible College here, in New Zealand. It was their “Outreach Week” so I got to share with them the importance of reaching out to the children around us.
After talking about that we launched right into some hands-on participation in the behind-the-scenes work of Mission Bible Class. Among other things, the students prepared a demonstration video for the website. In the future teachers around the world will be able to access this free resource when they share God’s Word with children.
Click here or on the picture below to link to the “Pick a Card” Memory Verse Game demonstration video. I can tell you first-hand that children really enjoy playing this game.
I so wanted to use the title “Loci Dokee” for this post but I didn’t know if anyone would read it. I’ve also since learned that I was probably pronouncing it incorrectly.
The ancient Romans and Greeks used a mnemonic device called “loci” for memorising information. Basically, they would mentally “walk through” buildings or streets and associate the various locations or items with something to remember.
It is sort of like tying a string around your finger to help you remember to put the rubbish by the curb. As you leave for work and put your hands on the steering wheel you notice the string and say to yourself “oh yes, I need to put the rubbish out.”
Or remembering how many days in each month by using the the knuckles of your hand as a mnemonic device.
I’ve often used an adaptation of this same method called “Memory Lane” when helping children learn verses from the Bible. Kids love it and it works particularly well when memorising a number of verses together.
How It Works
Children follow a “path” and stop along the way to say parts of the memory verse. The words might be written out at each stop but once the children repeat the journey a number of times they learn to say the verse from memory without reading the words.
A Bible and chosen verse(s)
(outdoors) Sidewalk chalk and a surface such as sidewalk/footpath, asphalt, driveway or paved parking lot
(indoors) Marker, pen or pencil and paper. Rope, string, masking tape to visually connect the papers and form a path
(outdoors) A stick to “write” with and a surface such as sand or beach
or any combination of the above.
Read over the verse(s) and divide it into phrases.
Create a path using the method you have selected.
Write the phrases on separate pieces of paper (or on the surface you have selected).
Place them on the path in the order they will be said.
Show the children how to follow the path. They will stop at each paper and read the phrase aloud before walking to the next phrase. (You might do it first to show them how it is done.)
Older children can write out the phrases and set up the game for everyone else.
This activity can be done at a quiet and slow pace appropriate for smaller indoor spaces or fast and loud if you have a large outdoor area.
If you have plenty of help and space appoint helpers to stand at each stop and read the assigned phrase with the children. This personal touch aids in memorisation. You will be amazed how quickly children learn long passages of Scripture with this method.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
Usually I would have the class read the verse in the Bible before unscrambling the verse. But awhile back I decided to try something different. I divided the ten children in the class into 2 mixed-age groups and gave each group a duplicate set of scrambled words. All I told them was that it was a Bible verse. The children quickly set to work trying to figure out how to put the words in order.
I observed both teams using logical methods to figure out this puzzle. They tried to work out sentence structure. They placed question marks and full-stops (periods) at the ends of lines since those would end sentences. Words that started with capitals were the first words in sentences. But, it was a complicated verse and they were truly stumped for the answer.
I could tell both groups were getting a little frustrated. It would have been easy for me to bail them out right away but I actually wanted to let them feel that frustration for a little while. I wanted them to feel what it is like to work really hard but not be able to figure it out on their own before pointing them to God’s Word..
Of course, I wouldn’t have let that frustration go on so long that the children would give up or become discouraged. So, just when I was about to “break” and give them a hint, one of the youngest children popped up with this suggestion, “Hey, let’s look in a Bible for the answer!” Both groups scrambled to find a Bible and look up the passage. The answer was there all along!
How often do we try to figure out life on our own without seeking answers from God’s word? How many times do we feel that frustration but look to other sources for answers? Let’s help guide children towards God and what he has to say so that it will become a natural part of their life.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6, NIV
Note: In case you are wondering, the memory verse scrambled in the photo above is Hebrews 13:6. How about looking in your Bible for the answer? The memory verse was used with the Bible story Gideon and the Midianites
During a planning meeting for a holiday program I challenged the group to define the word “respect”. At first it seemed like it would be a simple thing to do. We seemed to have no problem coming up with scenarios where respect was shown but we found it hard to actually put a meaning into words. Here’s what we came up with:
Respect is feeling that something or someone is valuable and worthy of honour while at the same time showing this feeling by actions.
Both feeling and acting are required for respect. Actions without feeling are not respect. The statement “I respect you” is not respect when it is not lived out.
Respect God. God is worthy of our words and actions.
Respect others. God created other people so we respect God by respecting others.
Respect yourself as one who has been created and loved by God.
While studying the bible character, Daniel, we explored the idea of respect. In the story of the Writing on the Wall in Daniel chapter 5 King Belshazzer hosted a drunken party. Instead of normal dishes he served food and wine in the special temple dishes used in worship to God. His disrespect for God ended badly for the king.
During the party a mysterious hand appeared and wrote “Mene, Mene, Tekal, Parsin”. The king was afraid and eventually Daniel was called in to interpret the words. Daniel told Belshazzar that the king was arrogant and had insulted God. The words meant that Belshazzar’s time was finished. He died that very night.
Here are some of the ideas we used for teaching this lesson:
Attributes of God Boxes:
Talk about some of the attributes of God with the children. Each child should choose 2-4 attributes they feel are important to them and write (or draw) them on small white cards. (Below is a list of attributes I found at http://www.josh.org/video-2/attributes-of-god/)
Because God is a personal Spirit…I will seek intimate fellowship with Him.
Because God is all-powerful…He can help me with anything.
Because God is ever-present…He is always with me.
Because God knows everything…I will go to Him with all my questions and concerns.
Because God is sovereign…I will joyfully submit to His will.
Because God is holy…I will devote myself to Him in purity, worship, and service.
Because God is absolute truth…I will believe what He says and live accordingly.
Because God is righteous…I will live by His standards.
Because God is just…He will always treat me fairly.
Because God is love…He is unconditionally committed to my well-being.
Because God is merciful…He forgives me of my sins when I sincerely confess them.
Because God is faithful…I will trust Him to always keep His promises.
Because God never changes…My future is secure and eternal.
Decorate small boxes and place the cards inside. We used Chinese Take-out boxes but you could use any kind of box or bag.
Guided Conversation: As the children are decorating the boxes the teacher can continue conversation about the various attributes of God and how these attributes lead to our respect for him.
We assigned different letters to children and had them put them together to form the words “MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN”. No one knew beforehand what the letters were going to spell so the children had to put them together like a puzzle.
Application and Prayer Time:
Continue the earlier discussion and talk about how we should try to reflect the attributes of God in our personal lives. Guide children in writing their name down the left side of the paper. Beside each letter they should write something about God that starts with that letter (example below).
A- Artistic in His beautiful creation
Y- Yes is yes and No is No (truthful)
Encourage the children to circle one attribute that they would like to be better at. Teacher should pray for the children one by one for the item circled.
Group Memory Verse:
The children will learn this verse together through repetition. The challenge is to say the verse again and again even though an increasing number of words are covered up.
“Show proper respect to everyone. Love the community of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Print the verse on a paper before class.
Provide the children with scraps of paper and glue.
Place the printed verse on the table top and guide children in reading the verse together with you.
Child glues one of the small bits of paper over a word and then everyone says verse again.
The paper then passes to the next person so they cover another word. Everyone recites the verse again.
One at a time cover word(s) and repeat until all words are covered and verse is memorised.
I can still recite some memory verses I learned as a child. I know for a fact I am remembering them from childhood because they come back to me in the King James Version even though I have not used that version for many years!
So I remember from my childhood “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” from Psalms 119:11, King James Version.
Have confidence that the verses you are helping your children memorise are hidden in their hearts. Years from now our visual aids and bulletin boards (and even we) may be long forgotten but God’s word is still hidden in their hearts.
I’ve found a couple of easy ways to use Post-it Notes to help children learn verses. Both ways involve the children repeating the verse a number of times while reading it. One by one words are removed or covered up while the children continue to repeat the verse. They must remember the missing words to say the verse.
Version 1: Words from the verse are written on individual post-its and the post-its are removed one by one as the children begin to learn it.
Version 2: The verse is written on a piece of paper. One by one the words are covered up with post-its as the children begin to learn it.