You’ve carefully planned an important Bible lesson for your class of children or teens. The activity you have chosen is meaningful, hands-on and memorable. By the end of the lesson, your students seem to have a great grasp of what God wanted them to learn from the Bible story or passage you covered.
What happens next is critical. In their daily lives can your Bible students retrieve the knowledge they learned in your Bible class easily when they need that information to help them make godly choices? Information passed from teacher to student in a Bible class is of little use if students cannot retrieve that information from where it was stored in their brains when they need it. Information may be at our fingertips, but young people still have to be able to remember enough to know what to type into a search box.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do with students that will give them practice in retrieving important information, making it easier for them to retrieve it quickly when they need it in real life. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Tell me everything. Choose a topic, person, event or other category from what you have been studying in the Bible. Give students an opportunity to tell you everything they know about the chosen category. Make it fun to keep it from feeling like a test. Challenge them by giving them a very short amount of time or only a Post It note to write on. Or have them number their facts and see who can come up with the most. Create small teams with different members each time so those who were absent or don’t remember hear important facts again. After everyone has finished, share the complete list you have created to remind them of things they have forgotten or didn’t learn.
- Remembrance art. It’s a totally fabricated term, but studies show the idea works better than writing or visualization when trying to remember important information. Have students create works of art periodically that capture everything they have learned or what they believe was the most useful information from the Bible lessons for a period of time. Create an art gallery and allow students to explain their works of art to help other students review.
- Bullet or graphic notes. Studies have shown that taking notes with pen and paper helps recollection of the material later. To avoid making Bible class feel like schoolwork, make it fun. Allow students to create or choose journals. Encourage them to use bullet points or illustrations to capture only the most important points they believe will help them in their lives. Encourage them to create scripture art in their journals of key scriptures. Encourage them to journal in them during the week at home. Make it a sort of spiritual memory keeper for them.
- Spaced practice. Have review sessions where you ask them to remember things from not just lessons last week, but Bible lessons from months ago. This is one time when all of those Bible memory games serve an important purpose. Want to make it extra fun? Have the students compete against their parents. Often the parents can use a little retrieval practice, too. Although it is important to ask students higher level questions, the latest Barna study found that many young people raised in Christian homes don’t even know basic facts like “Jesus is the son of God” and ”Jesus rose from the dead”. Mixing up memory and higher level questions over time helps students remember important information and process it on deeper levels.
Spending time on retrieval activities can make it more likely your Bible students will remember what God wants them to know when they need that information to make important choices or to share their faith with others. It is important to take the time to work on their retrieval skills.