Sunday School curricula have included a memory verse with every lesson for decades. Many teachers and students think of the memory verse as dull and boring, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first step is to make sure the students understand the wording in the verse. You can do this by choosing a different version of the bible, writing your own translation, choosing a different verse that applies to your lesson just as well as the one offered by the curriculum, or you can teach the meaning. All of the above are workable solutions. Anything is easier to memorize if you understand it. The International Children’s Bible is a great resource to make a verse understandable. Although it is written at a 3rd grade reading level, it is understandable by children much younger. It is OK to rewrite the verse using smaller words so your class can understand it easier. I would highly recommend this for the preschool age classes. For the older children, if they can put the verse in their own words, you will know with certainty that they understand the verse.
The next step is to give the students a physical activity to help memorize the words. By adding activity to the process of memorization, their ability to learn and to retain is increased. You may have seen some vocalists do a specific movement with their arm or body at certain portion of a song. This is to help their voice hit the same note at the same time in the song every time. We can use the same technique for the memory verse by adding activity as the students say the verse. An example would be adding hand motions that correspond to certain words in the verse for the younger children. Or you could place paper plates on the floor with one word written on each one and have the kids step on each one as they say the word. Use pictures, not words, when you can for the little ones. Post the verse on the wall, each word a different piece of paper. Make it big! Make it fun! Use colorful paper, yarn and tape to make a path to each word on the wall, have the kids follow the path with their finger. As they follow the paths to each word, they will discover the entire verse. Once they know the verse, have them repeat it before they get a item for a craft, get their snack, get to play with a toy. Reward them enthusiastically for saying the verse all by themselves. Remember, if you’re not excited about learning the Word, why should they be?
The older children would enjoy alternating words of the verse between the boys speaking and the girls speaking and standing each time they say a word. See who can say it the loudest. A game idea is to print (not cursive) each word on a large card (the size of 1/2 a sheet of construction paper), display these cards on the wall in order of the verse for the students. Then take away one word each time after the students say the verse aloud. If the verse has 6 words in it, the students will have said the verse 6 times before all the cards are gone. This game works much better than just having them repeat the verse back to you. You could get teams of 3-4 and give each of them a bean-bag or ball, for example. The first person says the first word of the verse and tosses the object to a teammate. After the teammate catches the object, he/she must say the next word in the verse, and tosses it off to the next person on their team. See which team can do it the fastest. We will be working on a list of games to play. The players will not enjoy the game if they don’t know the verse, so you work on your ability to teach the verses, and we will work onthe games and get them out to you soon, by the end of April at the latest. Also if you display the verse from the beginning of class, it will act as an advance organizer for your students. In other words, the students will be able to figure out for themselves what the subject of the lesson will be. The older students will even start memorizing the verse before you reach that portion of the class.