Teaching Preschoolers to Memorize – Part 1

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Our guest blogger today is Karen Apple. Karen is well known in the children’s ministry arena as an expert in all things preschool. She has taught preschool for many years and also taught others how to teach preschoolers.

I have asked Karen to write about preschoolers memorizing Scripture.


It all started when I was two years old. I went along with my mom each time she taught Bible at church and at two neighborhood after school clubs. I heard memory verses taught over and over, then repeated at relevant moments during daily life. Sometimes that meant just one word lifted from a verse.

Because our parakeet often flitted freely around the house and perched on my head or shoulder, Mom drove home two verses and their key words often. “Be KIND, Karen. Be GENTLE. No shouting or swatting.” (The shouting and swatting part was application.)

The abstract concepts of kindness and gentleness made lasting impressions in my little mind because they were repeated in a concrete, real life situations.

Summer always brought happy memories in Minnesota, until one miserable day. I was three years old and came home from a neighbor’s house with bite marks on my arm. My mother’s horrified reaction was, “Did you shout or swat at Shelley to make her stop?!”

“No, Mommy that’s not kind. ‘Else I might hurt her.” WOW! A reaction from the heart of a concrete thinker.

Repetition within my real-life “parakeet” situations made the truths stick, while the application needed some clarification.

Today, before I help preschoolers UNDERSTAND their memory verse, I always ask myself three questions.

Does this verse reveal something about God or His Son, Jesus?

Knowing God’s Word brings clarity to the child and helps him understand the purposes of God.

  • His character is revealed in many verses and in the principles they teach such as “God IS love.” 1 John 4:7-21
  • He is forgiving, good, just, mighty, always present, all knowing ….
  • His actions are frequently as relevant today as they were in the real true stories of individuals and nations in Bible time.
  • His plans include today’s global community as well as each individual.
    • God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His only Son…” John 3:16
    • God’s plan includes each individual.

The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name….

I am the good shepherd. John 10:3,14 ESV

Is there something important to know about God’s RELATIONSHIP with ME?

God’s Word reveals that we can have a personal and meaningful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. What a wonder! What a JOY! What a gift!

While memorizing verses, each child can begin to understand and embrace the heart changing concepts that

  • Jesus made me. He knows me and loves me
  • Jesus wants to be my friend forever. He will never leave me.

Can I find a TRUTH to embrace, an ATTITUDE to adopt, or an ACTION TO TAKE?

This is where I stop and really think it through. When we teach kids values to adopt or actions to take, apart from including who God is, we often simply teach them to “Be good! Be good!” That approach leaves out the relationship component which is at the heart of the Gospel and it implies that we can do it on our own. Each of us needs to remember that God is our helper!

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 ESV

It only take a minute to include the truths about God, and His relationship with us every time we introduce a Bible verse.

In Part 2, Karen will talk about some specific ways to help preschoolers memorize with some cool ideas to to with your kids!



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