Bible classes don’t help students very much if they don’t remember anything we are teaching them. Most Bible class teachers only have an hour or two a week (some even less) to work with their students. Sadly, for many students, the only Bible they will ever be taught as a young person will be in these short Bible classes. It would be great if we could put sticky notes on their brains to help them remember the things God wants them to know, but we can’t.
What can we do to help them better remember some of the most important things God wants them to know? Educators often use what are known as memory hooks to help their students remember the information they are taught in school.
So what are some of the favorite memory hooks teachers use that will also work for you as a Bible class teacher? Here are some of our favorites:
- Songs. You probably already know the tunes for popular songs that help kids memorize the books of the Bible. What you may not have thought about is that many worship songs directly quote scripture. There are even songs written especially for children that are often even more reflective of the actual wording from the Bible. Don’t be afraid to write your own songs, too. You can’t record or sell them, but take the music to a familiar song your students know. Then match the information you want them to learn syllable for syllable to the original lyrics. For example, if the original song had the name Amy in it, by matching syllables, you could substitute Jesus, Moses or any other two syllable name. It takes some time, but allows you to use songs for more things.
- Mnemonic Devices. Think Roy G BIV. Each letter refers to a word you want them to remember. With practice, they just need to remember your spiritual version of a ROY G BIV and the other information will be easier for them to remember.
- Cute Sentences. This is the same theory, only a little more complex. Think “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” in math. The first letter of each word in the cute sentence stands for the first letter of something you want them to remember. This can work better than trying to think of a word or name if the first letters of what you want them to remember would be impossible to use that way.
- Mental Images. Have students create a picture in their mind that contains all of the things you want them to remember. This can also be useful for things like application principles. What should they picture when they are tempted to lose their temper? The image they have created of what God would want them to do. The image might also contain several strategies for avoiding sinning in their anger. When they get mad, they just need to pull up that mental picture and it will remind them of things they can do.
- Have them teach the information to younger students. In the process of planning their activity, they will review the information many times. Encourage them to be creative. If they enjoy the process, that information may be retained by their brain for the rest of their lives.
- Repeat and Re-visit. If something is critical for them to remember, don’t just mention it once and then never bring it up again. Find ways to work it into your lessons. Use new and different ways to present it. Be careful not to do it in such a way that students begin to be annoyed or bored. You can even do more subtle things like posting it decoratively in your classroom. Be creative, but the more your students are exposed to that information, the more likely they will be to remember it.
There are other memory hooks you can use. These, however, are probably the most simple to create and use easily in a Bible class environment. Start experimenting with some of them and see if your students don’t begin remembering important information more easily.