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Oct 21, 2013

Scripture Memory with Non-Readers {Using AWANA in our Homeschool}

When I was first introduced to the AWANA program last year, I immediately connected with it’s mission to evangelism and disciple children for Christ. Several of our church leaders felt the same way, and our church started an AWANA club last Fall. I volunteered to be the director of the Cubbie’s program, which is AWANA’s preschool track. If you’re unfamiliar with AWANA, it’s basically a Christian club for children with an emphasis on Scripture memory. Each week children learn God’s Word through Scripture memory, Bible stories, games, crafts, and other fun activities. It’s a blast!
AWANA, homeschool, Scripture Memory
Probably my favorite thing about AWANA is it’s emphasis on parental involvement and it’s belief that parents are the primary spiritual influences in their children’s lives. While AWANA provides resources and tools to help me along the way, I understand that my children will only deem important those things that I give highest importance to. So it goes without saying that AWANA has been a huge source of accountability for me as well. As the parent of a non-reader, my preschooler relies heavily on me for help with memorizing Scripture. That means that I’m learning and memorizing right along with him!
Because I love AWANA so much, we are using it as the basis of our Bible curriculum in our homeschool this year. We build on the weekly Bible stories in Silas’ Cubbie handbook, as well as practice our Scripture memory verses daily. Each week I write Silas’ Bible verse on a little card that fits into a Scripture memory pack. The little pack slips easily into my purse so that we can carry it along with us and practice our new verse for the week or review verses we’ve already memorized. AWANA has also provided a Cubbie’s CD this year with all of the memory verses on it. This has been an excellent resource for learning in the car!
AWANA, homeschool, Scripture memory
I’ve learned quickly (through AWANA and Classical Conversations) that three and four year olds are little memorizing machines when parents make learning fun and exciting. AWANA gives many tips on helping non-readers to memorize Scripture, and I thought I’d share some of the ones that have worked best for us.

{1} Hand Motions
One of the easiest ways to help non-readers memorize Scripture is to assign simple hand motions to the main words in the Bible verse. I usually make up my own or ask Silas to help me to assign a motion to a word. Our hand motions are usually very simple, yet they have a huge impact on Silas’ ability to retain the information.

{2} Songs
Growing up, I memorized lots of Scripture through song (many of which I can still sing to this day). For some reason, music makes things stick! When the words to a Bible verse are set to a familiar tune, children will typically memorize it very quickly. YouTube is a great resource for finding Scripture memory songs, but if I can’t find a song I usually just make one up!

{3} Pictures
If you have a very visual child, using pictures is a great way to prompt him/her to recite a Scripture memory verse. For instance, if the verse for the week is, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” you could have pictures of runners at a starting line (in the beginning), a picture of someone building something (created), a picture of the sky (heavens), and a picture of earth (earth). One word of caution, I would abstain from using pictures of God because we do not know what God looks like. Instead I would consistently use the word “GOD” written on a piece of paper to prompt the child to say God. 

{4} Various Gross Motor Activities
I think we can all agree that children love to move! Have your non-reader tip-toe, stomp, twirl, jump, toe touch, jumping jack, etc. while reciting their Bible verses. I can already tell that moving will be an essential when it comes time for Liam to memorize Scripture!

{5} Real Life Teachable Moments
Making real life application for a Scripture memory verse is a powerful way to help children hide God’s Word in their hearts. I often overlook the importance of this, which is something I’m working on. The past couple of weeks, I was able to incorporate Silas’ memory verses into our homeschool science lessons. We are learning about creation in AWANA and about the solar system in Classical Conversations. What a better way to reinforce God’s Word then to study His creation?! I challenged myself to be intentional about this every week.

I hope you are encouraged and inspired to participate in Scripture memory with your little ones! It has truly been a blessing to our family.

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