Editor's note: Many of the activities described in this article are more suited to in-person gatherings than virtual ones and will therefore work better when it is safe to gather at church.
Bible verses guide and comfort us because they remind us of the promises of God and the stories of God’s people. How do we get verses to stick in children’s minds and hearts?
Committing a verse to memory is as simple as reading it over and over. Children often sit, but they will be more engaged if they stand, kneel, or sway from side to side as they read.
Writing helps older children memorize. Gather children around a table for Add-a-Word. Distribute markers. The first person writes the first word of the Bible verse on a large piece of paper and passes it to the person next to them, who writes the second word of the verse on the paper, etc., until the entire verse is written on the page. Continue passing the piece of paper around the table another time or two. Because children will write a different word from the verse every time the paper comes around the table, they will learn the sequence of the words in the verse easily. Want a bigger canvas? Sidewalk chalk art is a perfect option.
Add body rhythm to spoken word and verses become stickier.
Invite children to pat a steady rhythm on their thighs as they memorize a verse. Example: Micah 6:8 says, Do-do-do justice. La-la-love kindness. Wah-wah-walk humbly with God.
Wanna get their feet going? Encourage children to walk as they speak a verse. Example: Let us walk in the light of God. Isaiah 2:5
Another tool that helps children remember a Bible verse is to add a hand gesture or American sign language to the key words. Example: The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Flash cards, with an image on one side and a key word on the other, are beneficial for children who learn from visual cues. Example: Your Word is a lamp to my feet. Psalm 119:105a
Wanna go bigger? Use posters and banners to illustrate a Bible verse or an entire story of one of God’s people . . . Noah sharing an ark with a bunch of animals is an easy visual!
Bite-size amounts of information are easier to remember. Sit in a circle. Break a verse down by giving each child two or three words. Go around the circle, building the verse. Example: I Timothy 4:12 (Good News Translation): Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity.
Memorization doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little creativity, it becomes something that children look forward to! The possibilities are endless and so are the verses and stories in God’s word.