At Vacation Bible School, one of our highest goals is to write the Living Word of God on the children’s hearts where it can sprout and bear fruit — even in the weeks and years following VBS.
However, it can be a bit of a challenge to make sure that all of the children have a fair chance at accomplishing their VBS memory verse goals, regardless of their ages. It really helps to start out with a conscious understanding that children of different ages have different abilities.
I know — obvious, right?
But it is too easy to just say, “These are our VBS memory verses. Try to learn them.” It is too easy not to take the various age groups into consideration.
On the other hand, truth be told, teaching VBS memory verses effectively for the different age groups is not all that difficult. It just takes a little forethought. Following are five tips to help you do just that.
- Repeat the verses — alot — for pre-readers
- Simplify longer verses for pre-readers
- Keep things very visual for the youngest
- Explore deeper meaning with the oldest
- Give the oldest more tools of their own
Pre-readers (which means Kindies at VBS) have a decided disadvantage in that they cannot read their VBS memory verses themselves. This sometimes proves to be an advantage, as well, though, in that they have not learned to rely on reading to recite.
Pre-readers tend to be excellent memorizers, but they need to hear the VBS memory verses spoken (or sung!) aloud, alot, and often.
Much of this is worked into the structure of Hasten Home’s VBS curriculum: memory verse songs and drill at assembly, and the repetition of each day’s memory verse in both story and worksheets.
Some of it will be left up to the teacher, though — look for opportunities to repeat the memory verse as you show how it fits in with the day’s discussion and activities.
Something else you can do to make memorizing the VBS memory verses a fair challenge is simply to simplify the longer verses for the Kindies. 🙂 Cut a very long verse down to its most basic meaning.
Here are a couple examples from VBS—Superstars for Jesus:
Junior/Primary memory verse:
Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
Kindie memory verse:
Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us… (Psalm 100:3)
Junior/Primary memory verse:
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)
Kindie memory verse:
…Before they call, I will answer… (Isaiah 65:24)
Before they can read and as they are learning how to read, picture-based visuals can be a huge help to the children in memorizing their VBS memory verses.
In Kindie memory verse worksheets, use a related image to help them visualize the meaning of the memory verse they are working on. Talk about how the image relates. Point out key words in the verse, and even let them color these in.
For Primaries (early readers), use worksheets that let the children start working with the actual words more, but watch for children who struggle with these activities. Some children will greatly enjoy and benefit from “drawing out” their VBS memory verses. Even a super-simple illustration will often stick in a way that plain letters never will.
For memory verse practice and review, one option is a “Pictionary”-type game. Let a child draw a memory verse (no words) and let the other children guess which memory verse is intended. Of course, recite the verse, too! This can be alot of fun — even for Juniors… and adults. 😉
It is important for any child to understand the meaning of the Bible verses they memorize. For Kindies, this will be on a fairly basic level for most children. As the children grow “in wisdom and stature,” their ability to understand will deepen. We should be very aware of where the children in our class stand.
Primary-aged children will be starting to grasp the fuller meaning of their VBS memory verses.
Juniors will be ready to really dig deep and think on more challenging levels. Make sure they really know what is going on in a verse. Encourage them to re-word phrases and sentences to verify that they’ve got it. Give them plenty of opportunities to consider the verse’s implications on their lives.
All of the children will need tools to learn their verses with. For the younger children, the learning will be largely adult– (or older child–) directed.
The older children, though, are ready to choose for themselves what works best for them. Of course, there will still be a good share of together learning; but mention additional ways they might want to practice their VBS memory verses on their own.
Especially if a child comes to you one-on-one, struggling a bit with his verses, it is good to have an arsenal of tools available for him. Learn strategies like first-letter-helps, flash cards, voice recording (and re-playing), singing, and such. Share them!
To sum it up…
These methods are an integral part of Hasten Home’s Vacation Bible School curriculum. You can also apply these five tips in your homeschool, Sabbath or Sunday school, and other classes where you are helping children to memorize God’s Word.
Remember, for the younger children keep it especially simple, have plenty of oral practice, and make use of picture visuals. For the older children, dig deeper, and give them an assortment of tools and tips they can use themselves. The transition will be gradual, and the Primary age group in particular will have something of a combined approach.
Be aware of your children’s needs and abilities and stay open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Plant those seeds!