I’m not trying to tempt anyone to break the tenth commandment or anything, but hands down, my third grade class is the best group of students ever.
They get to class early and sometimes don’t even climb into the baptismal tub.
They translate the lesson periodically into Arabic for their classmates.
They apologize when I lose my temper.
They ask the most insightful questions. (Last week we gathered Questions for Abounas. They want to know whether Abouna can hop on one foot and spin around in a circle. At the same time.)
Frankly, there are some things in which I unequivocally trust their judgement. These kids are the “they” are when I say that this is “their favorite part.”
Their favorite part every lesson is, almost without fail, the memory verse game. I’m going to share the two best ones. Note: Both are explained using a laptop, but neither requires it.
THE DISAPPEARING VERSE GAME
In PowerPoint, put each word in its own square on a slide and use Custom Animation to make the boxes disappear randomly. The first student just reads off the verse. Then they come up and push space bar, which makes one of the words vanish. The next student reads the verse, filling in the (one) missing word. When they get it right, they push space bar. At some point (about five words in), they start needing a little bit of help, which is gladly provided by their peers. Eventually all the words are gone, and now we go around and everyone says it without any words at all. They usually insist that I say it too.
After listening to it so many times, this game tends to make the verse stick pretty darn well. But since it is kind of challenging, in particular for longer verses, it ends up being pretty darn fun too.
In short, it’s a classic. It can be done on a whiteboard or with tape and index cards, but the easiest way for me is to use the computer. Then they get an added bonus of getting to touch the laptop–the space bar! ONLY THE SPACE BAR!–which is seriously a big deal for them. (One day a kid accidentally knocked my laptop off the stand onto the tile floor. My laptop is 100% fine, but I may have become slightly bonkers about who touches it ever since.)
THE QUICKEST TALKER GAME
This game needs barely any prep at all (Except make sure you know the verse. They will doubt you can beat them, and will want to see you fail. Prove the doubters wrong!) Just download this free stopwatch/timer from www.online-stopwatch.com and you’re all set. (Or, if you’re old-fashioned, bring a real timer. Numbers the class can see make it more fun, so kudos if you can find a big one.)
You do need to prep the kids. Go over the verse a couple of times together. Feel free to ask them if they feel ready to say it by themselves. When they do, choose a volunteer to say the verse. Start the stopwatch when he starts talking and end it when he finishes. This is a tame beginning, right? It will probably take them about 20 seconds.
Ask for a student who thinks she or he can say it faster. They have to get the entire verse, plus the reference tagging it, completely right before you can stop the timer.
Let all of them try to beat each other, and if at the end they’re still taking 3 seconds or more, it’s time to bring in the big guns. You can say these verses in a second. Set a new standard, and guess what? They will meet you there.
It barely seems like a game, right? This happened by accident while we were playing a different game– one that turned out to be a flop next to this. For some students, Disappearing Verse has nothing on the Quickest Talker game. There is usually a lot of laughter all in good fun, like when someone says the verse in a second but forgets the reference and we all keep making faces at them trying to get them to say Luke 5:25 or whatever.
It heats up fast. Kids are fast talkers, but we’re still young&fun, right? We can keep up! (Sometimes, we really can’t. They love to beat me at this game, and are unfortunately good at it lately.)
“What is the spiritual benefit of saying a verse as fast as you can?” you ask skeptically. There isn’t really any, except that again, once you’ve not only heard this verse 90+ times but also said it so many times that you won’t forget it. (I don’t know if kids are naturally super competitive or if I’m rubbing off on them, but everyone wants another go at this to prove just how quick a talker they can be.)
Let’s face it, the verse is simultaneously the easiest thing to jazz up with a game and one of the most important parts of a lesson (knowing God’s word is fundamental to being a Christian.)
It’s totally worth the extra 15 minutes it takes to play.
Share your verse games with me!