Kid’s Can Memorize God’s Word
by Maribeth Pipkorn
“I know my memory verse!” the little boy exclaimed. “‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for civilization to everyone who believes!’ Romans 1:16.”
Mistakes like this can make us chuckle, but when kids misquote a Scripture passage, that usually shows they don’t understand what the verse means. How can you help kids in your class to not just memorize God’s Word, but understand what it means and apply it to their lives?
The IPEAR method is a proven technique that thousands of teachers all over the world have used successfully with children. The acronym “IPEAR” can remind you of five steps to use when teaching a Bible verse to children.
I – Introduction
If you start your teaching by saying “now we’re going to learn today’s memory verse,” chances are good that some of your students will start to tune you out. That sounds boring! Instead, try starting with a short but engaging introduction that will grab kids’ attention and get them curious about what you’re about to teach.
- A question. “Who do you love more than anyone else in the world?” This could be used to introduce a verse about God’s love such as John 3:16.
- An object lesson. To introduce Romans 6:23, which talks about God’s gift of eternal life, you could give a child in your class a small gift and talk about how they didn’t have to do anything to earn it.
- A short personal story. “Once, when I was in high school, I went on a hike with some friends and got lost in the woods.” I’ve used this story to introduce Luke 19:10, which talks about Jesus coming for the “lost.” Children love to hear stories about your own life! But be sure to keep your introduction brief – just a sentence or two if possible – so you have time to actually teach the verse.
P – Presentation
Once kids are intrigued, it’s time to open your Bible and read them the verse. It’s great to have the children look up the passage in their own Bible as well. This gives you a chance to teach them how to use the Table of Contents to find a specific verse so they’ll be able to look things up on their own.
But since not all students will have a Bible with them and translations may vary, it’s a good idea to also visualize the verse so all the children can read it out loud together as they’re learning it. You can write it on the whiteboard, display it on a PowerPoint slide, or type it up in large text and print it off from your computer.
The IPEAR method is a proven technique that thousands of teachers all over the world have used successfully with children.
E – Explanation
Be sure to take few minutes to explain big Bible words like “salvation” at a kids’ level (so they don’t think you’re saying “civilization” instead!) Try to explain what the verse means as a whole too. What is the main concept being conveyed? This is a vital step, but it can easily drag on too long and lose the kids’ attention, so keep it short!
A – Application
Remember that you likely have both saved and unsaved children in your class. Think about how the passage might apply to each group and share a suggestion with them for how they can live out the verse during the coming week.
Try to explain what the verse means as a whole too. What is the main concept being conveyed?
R – Repetition
It helps kids to repeat a verse they’re trying to memorize at least 6-10 times out loud. But that can get boring if you’re just saying the words over and over. Find ways to make it fun!
- Sing it! Singing is one of the best ways to memorize! Many common verses have been set to music. In fact, CEF has a library of more than 40 verse songs available.
- Add movement! Kids love to move, so add simple hand motions to the verse to help them remember it. You can come up with your own (such as pointing up for God or making a cross with your arms for Jesus) or use one of many free resources online to look up the American Sign Language signs for the main words in your chosen verse.
- Play a game! Try erasing the words of the verse one by one and see if the kids can still say it. Challenge them to say the verse loudly when your hand is up and to whisper it when your hand is low…and then change it up in the middle of the verse! Or turn a printout of the verse into a puzzle and see if one of your students can put it together in order by the time the rest of the group has finished saying it out loud.
As you help the kids in your class to memorize, understand, and apply God’s Word to their lives, you’ll get to see God work in amazing ways!
I’ll never forget the September day when 11-year-old Melissa came running up to hug me after not seeing me all summer. “Miss Maribeth, I want to say my memory verse!” she exclaimed. I was confused. We hadn’t had class since last spring, so what memory verse was she talking about? She confidently quoted a verse we had learned six months ago: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I was surprised that Melissa had remembered such a long verse for so many months, but then she explained: “You told us to say that verse every time we were afraid. I was afraid a lot this summer, but every time I said the verse, I remembered that God is with me.”
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