Friday, April 3, 2009

Memorizing the Bible with Your Kids

I, like many of you, know that I should give myself to the discipline of memorizing Scripture but don't do it very well. If you have kids, I encourage you to start memorizing the Bible with them. Start with the Psalms.

Over the past few months we have memorized Psalm 23 and now we are working through Psalm 34.

Psalms are a great place to start because of the rythmn and verse length. We spend time talking about the content of the verse that we are memorizing and we review, review, review. If we work with the kids daily (I am talking about pre-school kids) we can start a new verse from the Psalms every fourth day (so 3 days on one verse). Here is an example:

Day 1 on Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." I say it five times with the kids. Then I talk about what a shepherd is. I talk about what a good shepherd does. I talk about who our true shepherd really is--Jesus. I talk about how we are like sheep and need a shepherd. I talked about how he takes care of us and provides for us. Then we review it again several times. We say it together with a whisper. We say it very loudly (they usually like to scream). We say it while we are walking in place...etc. I ask them to try to say it and they stumble through it will some help. I try to start incorporating this Psalm into my prayers with them.

Day 2-3: We review it and let each kid say the verse by themselves. I usually have them stand on the hope chest in our living room and if they get it right they get to jump off the chest and into my arms. From there they get tossed unto the couch and tickled by their daddy. Big time reward!

Day 4: We continue to review verse 1 and move on to verse 2 - "He makes me lie down in green pastures." Ok, what does that mean kids?" We say it five times and in all sorts of ways (making believe we are eating, driving, playing, singing, etc.). Then we move to the next phrase - "He leads me beside still waters." We repeat that phrase several times, then put the two phrases together and say it several more times. During this time I lead them by asking questions and teaching them how God leads us into green pastures and besides still waters. Usually with a little help they are ready to say verses 1 and part of verse 2 already. Days 5-6 reinforce these two verses and by that time you are ready for verse three - "He restores my soul. He leads me in paths..." Always keep reviewing the previous verses.

Both Molly and I have found this both edifying to our young children and probably even more to mom and dad.

Here is my three year old (Elijah James Edwards Patz) saying Psalm 23. Currently, he doesn't want to be thrown on the couch.

Sometimes the last word is quite tricky...


Matt & Nicki said...

thanks for sharing this--I have wanted to start memorizing passages like that with my kids, but we are so "bogged down" with AWANA verses--and I don't mean for that to sound bad. I love your ideas and methods and hope to try them, maybe this summer, when AWANA is on break! Thanks!

DAO said...

also a big thanks for this...i am sure it will get some circulation among those of us who need what you bring to the table here.
BTW, with my two girls, as I walk them to school and rehearse PS 23, when we come to "forever" at the end...we say, "forever, and ever, and ever and ever and ever & eva & eva & eva...(Bostonian style) until we get to school!
this is great. thanks

Katie said...

I love hearing Elijah's sweet voice. :)

Anonymous said...

Love it, love it! What a sweet voice -- brings tears to my eyes.

I had heard somewhere along the way that Jewish children learn 5 Psalms by the time they are five. I don't know if it's true, do you? It did spark me to diligently work with my kids on memorizing. By diligently I just mean consistently, really. They are amazing memorizers! My ten year old has memorized Psalm 1, 19, 23, 32, and 100, as well as John 1:1-18, Eph. 4:28-32, and Philippians 2: 2-8 (section about Christ' humility). My five-year-old is close behind, hearing all the memorizing going on with older brother. She has memorized Psalm 1, 23, 100, and the John 1 section (most of it). The two-year-old can complete the last word of the first four lines of Psalm 23.

To encourage others to do this, let me just say how very simple it is. Before we starting "working" on memorizing a passage (and I highly prefer passages to verses), I read the scripture almost daily for a month or so. The memorizing happens quite naturally after that much repetition.

My next project will be to record Daddy reading the scriptures. Then they can listen during their quiet play time. How easy is that?

It's so wonderful to know that they will remember these words of life forever (hopefully!). Review is the key, though. Memorizing something once is not enough. It must be pulled back out and polished regularly. In this way it will stick in their long-term memory.

And another big plus (as was already mentioned) is that I am edified exceedingly by my own memorization and meditation on the scriptures. Yeah, God!
For His glory,
Mama-educator of Three

joan patz said...

I am listening to Elijah again, it blessing my soul, my eyes get moist, I am blessed to have my grandchildren memorizing. This is the first passage I memorized in daily vacation bible school.
God is so good! I pray he will use Elijah to do great things for his glory. Love Nonie xo

Jared Kennedy said...

Great post. Thanks for the very practical advice.

april mohler said...

Elijah is so cute! That's funny he didn't want to be thrown on the couch that time. I love listening to him try to say "forever." I can't believe how well he said the whole chapter though. That method must be good. I can't wait to use it on my kids when i get some. :)