Children love to sing, dance, play games, shout, and jump around! In fact those very things mark most of the characteristics of a child’s life. Rarely a day goes by, unless they are ill, that children do not engage in some sort of wild activity that tend to make adult lives more noisy, boisterous and demanding. Children laugh and run for the sheer joy of it and most children do it until they are made to slide under their covers. Some even attempt it after sliding under.
So if we want our little ones to memorize and learn Scripture, what better way than to incorporate it into their already wiggly lives so that it will be extremely fun? Who says you must sit perfectly still or be silent to learn Scripture, or for that matter, learn anything, when you are a small child? Sunday School teachers…wake up! Small children learn by playing and they learn the most when it’s fun to learn.
Here are some examples of learning fun recommended by Child Evangelism Fellowship when teaching children to learn Scripture. With these suggestions come the imperative that you read the verse from the Bible first with the children and discuss the meaning with them before the memorization.
Play “Bag-A-Round.” This is a great game that starts with a large paper grocery bag-if you can find one anymore. On the top of the bag you print the Scripture reference and on the other four sides you print parts of the verse. For example, if the Scripture verse for the lesson is “Be ye doers of the Word but not hearers only, deceiving your own selves,” James 1:22, you would print James 1:22 on the top of the bag in large letters, and possibly divide the rest of the verse as following: Front: “Be ye doers.” Right side: “of the Word but…” Left side: “not hearers only,” Back: “deceiving your own selves.” Now you would pick a child from the group for the first leg of the game. Tell the child that he or she is going to help the others learn this verse and that he or she needs to put the bag over their head. If the child agrees, have them lean forward and bow first and have the group read the reference (or “address” as CEF teaches) and then have the child straighten up and turn with his front to the group and have them read the beginning of the verse. Have the child turn slowly around, with your help, to present the other parts of the verse as the children read and, again, the address at the end of the verse. You won’t have to pick another child to be the “bag person” because now every child will want to do it. In repetition, children learn. Children love this game and they certainly learn their Scripture verses!
Another way to teach Scripture is to write words or phrases, as well as the reference of the verse on a different colored sheet of construction paper. You may put one word per sheet or several words. Select from the group the number of children you need to hold up the different sheets of words and have them come forward. Have each child hold a sheet in front of them and stand in line according to the sequence of words in the verse so all in the group can see them and read them aloud. Then play “Turn Around.” You tap one child on the shoulder and have them do an about-face in the line so no one sitting out front can now read their particular word or phrase. Then have the group read the verse together aloud and say the missing word or phrase when they come to the child who is facing backwards. Now try it by tapping two children. Do this until all the children are turned around, the entire verse and reference is missing and the children can say it without having to look at any of the verse. Again, always find the verse in your Bible, read it to them or with them and discuss the meaning.
This next game is so much fun and I named it “Pull it out!” You can use it for Scripture memorization or questions from the Bible lesson. You find a small box, shoe-box size or smaller, cutting a hole in the top of it. You use a piece of cord-like sash cord–to attach slips of paper that have words from verses written on them in correct order. You attach these slips of paper at intervals on the cord at about 4-6 inches, attaching the very first slip of paper about 6 inches from the end of the cord. You stuff the cord with the attached paper slips down into the box with just the very end hanging out.
To play the game, you first begin by going over a verse with the reference from your Bible-just once-before you introduce the game. Then after you are sure they understand what the verse means, you select a child to start pulling on the cord. The first child selected pulls on the cord until he or she pulls out a slip of paper. He or she reads the word aloud and then tries to guess the next word that will come out of the hole (which will be the next word of the verse, of course). After he or she guesses, let the child pull and see if he or she was right. If it was the correct word, the child may guess the next word and keep pulling until that child misses. Then the cord is handed to the next person to guess and pull. Very soon all the children will have learned the verse so that they get to pull out the entire verse, which is exactly what you wanted them to do! You may divide the children into two teams and let the teams decide on the word together and pass to the other team when they miss. You can assign points to the questions and add the points up at the end to select the winner. You may use several verses on the cord from the prior weeks lessons. You may also write Bible questions from their lesson on the slips of paper and have a child pull a question. If they answer correctly, he or she gets to pull another question. At the end, either way you play the game, all present will have won, including you, the teacher, because they all have “hidden God’s word in their hearts (Psalm 119:11).
Children’s Ministry Resource Bible, The New King James Version, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville.