When my oldest son was about 20 months old at Christmas time, he was absolutely fascinated with our Christmas tree and broke several of the ornaments that year. I think the total count of broken was something like 36 ornaments. One particular time I can still see as if it was yesterday. He got quiet and I realized he wasn’t in the play room next to me any more so I left the homeschool table and headed to our living room where the tree was housed. Just as I walked into the room I saw him with an ornament in each hand. He slammed them together, watched them break and then looked up at me proudly.
“I MADE it happen!”
That little guy has been making things happen ever since. The trick, of course, is to make sure that we harness the power of making things happen so we don’t end up with tiny pieces of glass all over the living room floor.
If you want Scripture Memory to be a priority in your home – you are going to have to make it happen. You can’t just tell your kids to memorize Scripture. You have to do it with them and model it for them. What follows are some of our favorite ways to make Scripture Memory happen in our home. I’ve also written a post about Scripture Memory Techniques for each Learning Style that might help you adapt each of these methods to your child.
The Rhythmic Chant
I’ve mentioned this method in a previous post this week but I want to recap. This particular Scripture Memory technique is how we start with every verse. We say the verse out loud together as if it is a song or a poem. I find that almost every verse can be read with a naturally poetic inflection and a steady beat. You just might have to play with it a bit. This particular method doesn’t work out of the box with every child. In other words, you might not be able to just sit at the table chanting and memorize easily. We keep time with our feet or clap our hands. We do jumping jacks to the rhythm. We might even run in place to the rhythm. And my boys almost never sit down to memorize verses, especially when they are young.
Partners: Every Other Word
Once we have the verse started with chant we often switch it up so that we are taking turns saying every other word. First I start with the first word and we go back and forth. Then we switch and my child starts first. Then just to make sure we’ve got it we will add a third child and we each get to say every third word. I usually just grab one of my oldest two children to help out since they have already learned the verses and don’t mind a short break from schoolwork. Sometimes, we throw a ball back and forth as we say each word, or maybe push a truck across the floor to each other as we say each word. That makes the method a little more hands-on.
Disappearing Word Trick
With a child who is reading well, we use the disappearing word trick. We write the verse on the whiteboard, and read it out loud together. Then, we erase one word and read it again. We keep repeating this step until the entire verse is erased and we are reading it from memory. Usually by the time we get to this point, we have the verse memorized. You can actually get an app for your smart phone that does this trick for you, but I am saving that for tomorrow’s post on our favorite Scripture Memory products.
Disappearing Word Chant
With this variation, we speak the verse out loud and substitute a nonsense syllable one word at a time until the entire verse is nonsense syllables. Then we slowly add real words back into the verse. My children are reminded to say the actual word in their heads, but say out loud something like “mmm” or “cum” or something else that doesn’t make sense.
Verses as Copywork
Certain children learn verses really well simply by writing them down over and over.
Verses during Physical Exercise
Sometimes, we need to get on the trampoline to say our verses, or run around the house saying verses, or just lay flat on our back staring at the ceiling as we say our verses. These activities provide sensory input that somehow help us imprint the verses on our minds and hearts.
Verses set to Music
For many years, the AWANA verses were available set to music. We’ve also collected a large number of music cds with verses set to music. This is a fun and easy way to memorize Scripture. The only thing is, verses memorized this way are stored on the right hemisphere of the brain so you might find yourself singing your verses at AWANA or singing them out loud when you want to remember them as an adult. I like to keep Scripture Memory music available in the car and play the songs often.