While teaching the books of poetry to a class of early elementary students (using Shaping Hearts For God), I decided to spend time memorizing chunks of scripture. The poetry study lasted only a quarter but the memory work lasted a year. My original goal was memorize to 2 passages from poetry every quarter for a total of 8 passages. With sickness, traveling and other interruptions in the class, we were only able to accomplish 6. Even though we didn’t reach my goal it wasn’t bad. One thing I’ve learned is to be flexible and not stress about meeting a goal that just isn’t working. The method of memory work that I used would have been complete and just right no matter how much we actually finished.
To keep focused on our memory work and to have something to take home to remember the year with, each child had a 3-ring binder — the kind with pockets in the front/back/spine. The link below for Hide It In Your Heart has the files for the pockets of the binder. The other files are for each passage we memorized. It really doesn’t matter the order that you do the memory work. You can even use your own passages using the same basic idea if you’d like.
The first passage we did was Psalm 23. I put the cover (1st page in the pdf) in the back pocket of their 3-ring binder. The rest of the copy work (pages with scripture and lines in the notebook. The activity was kept for the last couple of weeks that we worked on the passage. It is more for review than for initial learning so don’t give it to them too soon. They’ll only get frustrated. To begin with, there was only the pages for Psalm 23 in the notebook. Don’t put everything else in yet. They will be added as you get to them. The bookmarks and in the case of Psalm 23 the fridge magnets — copy the small version of Psalm 23 on card stock and put a magnet on the back — are passed out for the students to take home. The main reason I do this is to insure they are using the same translation of the Bible while memorizing the passage. By the way, all my memory work is done in NKJV. Not for any particular reason except that it’s the version I use so it is handy.
Each time we met for class we would read aloud and in unison the entire Psalm. This is why the Psalm is on the back of the binder. There is no need to open the binder and flip pages trying to find the correct passage. We would just pass out the binders and read the passage. On Wednesday evenings (because it is a longer class session) we read the passage and would talk about a specific portion of it — discuss it’s meaning, define words they might not understand, etc. Then, they would copy that portion of the passage on the lines provided. The following Sunday we would read the entire passage again and attempt to say the portion we had copied on Wednesday night by memory. This gets easier as the weeks progress because they have heard it so many times the new section to copy and memorize is not really new to them.
The activities vary from passage to passage but they are all designed to be worked on individually during class and after they take their binders home can be used there as well. I like to store the small pieces of the activity in a legal size envelope. Don’t seal the envelope but punch holes in the closed envelope on the flap end. Stick the envelope in the back of the section you’re working on. The holes and prongs from the binder will hold the envelope together so the pieces won’t fall out (Can you tell I learned this one by experience? Don’t punch holes in the bottom of the envelope or everything will just fly out of the envelope when the binder is being passed out in class). Like I said above, the activity should be used during the last sessions of this particular passage. By then, they have heard/read it enough (even if they haven’t quite finished copying it) that they will be able to do the activity with ease.
That’s all there is to it. The kids that come regularly to Bible class will have the passage memorized in not time at all. It will be more of a struggle for those that don’t but with a little encouragement, they can do a great job as well.
One thing I did with this class that was a spur of the moment thing and a favorite with the kids was to let them sign “the wall” when they memorized a passage. I hadn’t come up with the “stickers” that are in the Hide It In Your Heart pdf so I had to have some way of rewarding them when they memorized a passage. I was putting the large picture (see photograph below) on the wall as we memorized a passage and they signed that picture. It was such a simple thing but they absolutely loved it and worked very hard to insure that their name was on the wall. Here is a picture of the wall. At this point we had just started so Psalm 23 is the only one up. The other hearts were filled with pictures for the other passages.
As you move to the next passage to memorize, put the last passages cover that has been in the back pocket of the binder in front of the binder (on top of that passage’s copy work pages). Place the next passages cover in the back pocket and the copy pages for that passage on top of the previous passage. This way, the current memory work will always be on top and much easier to find.
When we got to the end of the year, I realized that there would be nothing in the back pocket of the binder because all the cover sheets would be in the binder. So, I reduced the pictures that were on the wall and made “stickers” that could be glued to a plain sheet of paper and slipped into the back pocket. The student could only put stickers on his sheet that he had memorized. This could be done as the year progresses so they get immediate reward for their work. I call them stickers but obviously, they aren’t sticky so use a glue stick to glue them down.
I’m working on getting these links working. I’m having trouble uploading files right now.
- Hide It In Your Heart 3-ring binder cover/sticker
- Ecclesiastes 12
- Psalm 1
- Proverbs 6
- Psalm 127
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 100
Below are pictures of the Psalm 100 activity:
Looking at this last picture, I see that it would have been better to put the colon with the last 0 instead of the 1. That would have differentiated the two 0s from each other. Oh well, I’ll know better next time.