Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy for kids to learn song lyrics, but it’s difficult for them to memorize Scripture? It’s the same for adults too, however, as the Bible emphasizes in multiple places, having verses stored away in our minds is a powerful tool. For instance, Psalm 119:11 tells us that words stored in our hearts protects us from temptation, and Jesus displays the importance of having Scripture memorized in Matthew 4:4.
As a Sunday School or Children’s Church teacher, you may be wondering “What is the best way to help kids memorize Scripture?” It will ultimately depend on the group of children you have, their age, and abilities. All kids learn differently, so some activities may work well, while others may be better suited for a different age range or group dynamic.
In all methods, one thing is certain: it is valuable that children understand the words and the context of the verse that they are memorizing. If kids are able to fully comprehend the meaning of the words they repeat from Scripture, they will connect with the verses personally, making memorization easier.
To help you in your weekly children’s church lessons, we have listed a few of the best ways to help kids memorize Scripture, separated by age group. We hope these tips help make easier to get Scripture into the hearts and minds of your little ones!
Preschool and Kindergarten-aged kids are typically not yet able to read full sentences, but they can easily learn visually using pictures. You can print pictures from your computer that represent a word or a phrase in a verse, then place the pictures on a wall with the verse underneath. Review each picture and say the words that go with the it. Have the children repeat the words after you. This will help them remember and recognize the words in the verse.
EXAMPLE: Philippians 4:4
Rejoice – Smiley face emoji face with arms
In the Lord – Cross
Always – Clock
Again – Arrow making a circle
I say – Talking emoji
Rejoice – Smiley face emoji face with arms
Similar to pictures, motions work particularly well for the preschool age group. For a verse you want to memorize, brainstorm a motion for each word or phrase and teach the kids each word in the verse by acting out the motions. They should be very simple. This activity has the added bonus of getting the wiggles out!
EXAMPLE: Matthew 22:37
Jesus - Point up
Replied – Hands beside your mouth like you are shouting
Love – Arms wrapped around hugging yourself
the Lord Your God – Point up to the sky with both hands
With all your heart – Both hands over your heart
With all your soul – Open your hands as if to receive something
And with all your mind – Point to your mind
ACTIVITY: Bible Verse Song
Try searching the verse on WorshipHouse Kids or YouTube. You may be able to find a song video for the verse that you can play for your class! If not, make one up; and if you aren’t musically inclined, sing it to the tune of something simple like the ABC song, the Happy Birthday song, or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It may not sound perfect, but it will help kids remember their verse anytime they sing one of these tunes.
For 1st & 2nd Grade
ACTIVITY: Catch & Repeat
Any type of ball can work for this activity, but a soft, large ball (like a beach ball) is best. Have your class stand in a circle facing each other. Holding the ball, say one word of the verse and then pass the ball to a child; have them repeat the word. Pass the ball to another child, saying the next word of the verse. Continue passing the ball, saying a word at a time, until the end of the verse. Then begin again from the beginning. This time, instead of repeating after you, have the kids say each word in the verse, taking turns. Then have them pass the ball onto another child until each child in the room has had a chance to catch the ball and say a word in the verse.
ACTIVITY: Scrambled Bible Verse
By this age, most kids will be able to recognize written words. Before class, write each word in the Bible verse on individual pieces of paper and attach them to the wall in the correct order (regular paper and double-sided tape will work for this or sticky notes). With the kids, read through the verse, pointing to each word as you say it once from the wall. Then, remove all the words from the wall and scramble them out of order in a pile. Pass along one piece of paper (or multiple depending on the number of kids in your group) to each child and have them place words back on the wall in the correct order. Depending on the kids' skill level, it may take some help and a couple of rounds to get it entirely right, but the repetition will be beneficial in helping their memorization of the verse.
ACTIVITY: Draw a Bible Verse Picture
Write out the verse on a piece of paper or whiteboard beforehand. Go over the verse with them together and what all the words mean. Then give them all a piece of paper with the verse written at the top. Ask them to draw a picture of what that verse looks like to them. Encourage them to hang their creation in their bedroom or on their fridge to help them remember the Scripture at home.
For 3rd – 5th Grade
ACTIVITY: Disappearing Bible Verse
Write each word of the verse on a piece of paper on the wall or on a dry erase board, then read the verse through with the children. Next, one by one, ask each child to come up and remove a word of their choice from the verse. Each time a word is removed try saying the verse in full. The verse will slowly disappear, and by the end the children will be able to say the verse without seeing it.
ACTIVITY: Bible Verse Poster
Have children make their own poster by writing out the Bible verse on a large piece of paper or poster board. They can get creative by writing out the verse in a fun pattern with different colored markers and decorate it as they like. This is something they can take home to hang in their room to help them memorize the verse. Encourage them to read the verse in the morning when they wake up and before they go to bed at night. Practice makes perfect!
ACTIVITY: Bible Verse Prizes
Send the scripture to memorize home with the kids, perhaps written on an index card, asking them to practice over the next week. The following Sunday, ask them to recite the verse for you. Those that can do it get a small prize (stickers, candy, pencils, etc.). This can also be a team challenge such as boys versus girls to see which team can have the most members recite the verses. This helps if there is a really big prize on the line so that students will begin to encourage each other to memorize the verse for the good of the team.
ACTIVITY: Bible Verse Chairs
Before the kids come in, tape the words of the verse on the bottom of chairs in the room. Review the verse with your class until they have memorized it, then have them look under their chair to see what word in the verse they have. Have them rearrange and move the chairs around to put the words in the verse in order. If you do not have enough kids in all your chairs, have them help you and tell you where to put the words that are on the left-over chairs. If you have more kids than words, have the kids without a word under their chair tell the kids in the chairs where to go.
ACTIVITY: Bible Verse Reference RaceMake sure each child has a physical Bible in their hand. Start a timer and have them race to find the verse or multiple verses in the Bible. The first one to find the verse reads it out loud, and then sits out. This continues until all the kids have found and read the verse out loud.