By Betty Aldridge
What if I offered you 12 exciting, new, and creative methods that will have your child quoting Bible verses from morning to night? If this is what you were expecting here, it is not going to happen.
As a parent, teacher, or caregiver of children from birth through elementary grades, you would like them to know as much Scripture as they possibly can. However, if you are looking for new ideas, I need to remind you that many say there really is never anything new today. We just give old ideas new names and new looks.
Therefore, as I was preparing this article, I looked up the definition of creative. I discovered that it means doing something productive. Certainly as Christians we believe that teaching God’s Word is productive. Then I looked up productive and found that it means working hard and getting good results.
“That’s it!” I decided. We don’t just want our children to study and memorize Scripture. We want good results. We want them to live out the verses in their lives. But then how about the “working hard” part? We may not be so sure we’re ready to do that.
Genuine and Consistent
I know from experience that if we want good results, it will be hard work. The ideas I will describe are easy, but it will be hard work to do them consistently. However, I believe being genuine and being consistent is the key.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we read: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (English Standard Version).
Do you see how those verses make the point for being genuine and consistent?
1. Keep God’s Word on our heart. Whether parent or teacher, we have to be the role model. We have to know and follow his words.
2. We must “teach them diligently.” That’s where consistency comes in. We do it repeatedly.
3. We teach them to our children when we are at home or in class, when we take a walk in the park or ride in the car, when we tuck them into bed or wake them up.
For me, this article could end now, because Deuteronomy gives us all the creative methods we need. However, since we live in a different culture than when Deuteronomy was written, I will try to add some ideas that might give us a little more help today.
Do you remember reading in 2 Timothy that Timothy knew the Scriptures from childhood, but that the faith was first in his grandmother and his mother? They were his role models. They were obviously consistent, and they began early.
So let’s begin at the beginning—at conception. As a parent-to-be, choose just a few simple Bible verses and say them repeatedly aloud before that little one is born. Some suggested verses might be: “We give thanks to you, O God” and “Sing praises to God” (Psalms 75:1; 47:6) and “God cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Studies have shown that when a baby is born, the child will remember and respond to words and/or music that have been used repeatedly before birth.
During the first year or two, simply use those verses over and over again. Even though the child is not speaking, he is taking it all in. Allow the verses to become a part of your daily conversation. Then these will be the first Bible verses that your child will say as he begins to talk.
Simple Daily Verses
At about 2 years old, when the child is putting words together, the Bible verses can increase. This is the age of wonder. Continue to use simple verses in your everyday living and speaking. When outside, you might say, “See the pretty sky? The Bible says God made the sky.” Say, “Thank you, God, for the pretty sky.”
At first you may find this awkward, but it is a great way to begin Bible learning with a toddler. At 2 and 3 years, she will begin to say and sing with you. Then one day she will do it before you do, and you will smile and realize that you have given her this beginning.
As the child moves to the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten years, it’s fun for them if you teach Bible verses with games. Remember, you do not want the child just to recite Bible verses, but you want him to “hide the Word in his heart.” So when you introduce the verse and later as you use it, open the Bible and read it to him. Then talk about the meaning.
Using stickers and a memory chart is fun at this age. Work out a system of stickers that is best for the child. Remember each child is unique and will respond in his own way.
As children enter and progress in elementary school, the verses should become longer, and you can add the references. During this time, they should begin to learn the books of the Bible, and then soon they can look up the verses. Be patient with them and give them time. Always encourage them to try to do it themselves, but help them as needed so they do not become discouraged.
There are CDs that have short Bible verses set to music. Use them in class or play them when you are in the car. Choose some of those and plan a verse of the week. In choosing verses, do not forget about the season. For instance, during February, choose love verses; in the springtime choose creation verses, and so on.
Play games with Bible verses. Say the reference and let the children say the verse; then trade. Use 3×5 cards and write each word of the verse on a separate card. Shuffle them and let the children lay out the verse. As they are able to do that, make it into a speed game, timing them to see how fast they can put it together.
Remember to go to your favorite Christian bookstore. Take advantage of the inexpensive Bible verse games and items that are available for children of all ages.
Now I have not yet listed the many Bible games you could purchase for your children’s use on whatever technological devices they have. There is much to choose from and you, as the adult, must choose carefully. Decide which games and how much time you want your child to learn in this way. Making those decisions will take your effort, but remember about the “hard work.” Don’t use technology just to make it easier!
As children approach adolescence, they will enjoy challenging you, the adult. You may not be the winner when you compete with your kids to memorize a whole chapter or a Psalm! Also help them understand the depth of Scripture while applying the Bible to their growing lives.
Choose Proverbs 3:5, 6 and discuss the relevance for our lives today. Remember, if the adult and child are both memorizing, you need to be transparent in discussing the relevance to you as well.
Studying and memorizing Scripture with children can be extremely creative, mostly because the adult and the child can both mature in their walks with Jesus.
Betty Aldridge is a pastor emeritus at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also serves as a pastoral counselor.
Verse Memory Songs
Children learn easily through songs. If you’ve grown weary of your kids singing “Let It Go” from Frozen over and over (and over!), throw some Scripture memory songs into their repertoire. It’s an easy and fun way to get God’s Word in their minds and hearts for decades to come. Here are some resources:
Bible Verse Memory Songs (free):
The Ultimate List of Bible Memory Songs: Over 1,400 Songs (links to purchase):