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