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Step One: Get your beat on!
1. Make it rhyme
Making your application rhyme is an easy way to help kids remember it. When they know the first line, they are likely to remember the next line because it has similar sounds. For example, a popular phrase among Christians coined by Ken Collier goes, “Just two choices on the shelf: pleasing God and pleasing self.”
Another fun example - one time I was teaching on the Firey Furnance from the book of Daniel (Check out my Daniel Sunday School lesson here) and I needed a fun rhyme to summarize the lesson. Here's what I came up with, feel free to steal this!
And here is a nice beat to say the rhyme to:
Music helps you (and your kids) remember!
2. Sing It!
Ever wondered why those TV commercial jingles get stuck in your head so easily? Because music helps you remember!
Music is a powerful memory device. Combine that power with rhymes, which are commonly incorporated into songs, and you’ve got an easy, fun way to help kids remember the Bible verse or the key points to your lesson! You don’t have to be a musician to use this device, or even a good singer. Simply choose a well known tune, such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or the “Birthday Song”, and replace the lyrics with what you want your kids to remember!
This is also why I'm passionate about great songs to sing in class. Check out my HUGE list here of 50 Upbeat Sunday School Songs With Motions.
For instance, here's a fun song to help kids memorize 2 Corinthians 5:17:
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3. Get Super Creative with Syntax!
Play around with syntax (how you arrange the words in a sentence) to create “catch phrase” for your Sunday School Lesson that’s easy for your kids to remember.
Here’s an example: “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” This phrase also uses repetition, which is another excellent memory device.
Consider the last point about songs in class...you could say:
Music helps you 'member.
If it works in advertising...it very well might work in your Sunday School lessons. I bet you know most of these ssssssilly turns of sssyntax:
Nike: Just Do It!
Verizon: Can You Hear Me Now?
Red Bull: Red Bull Gives You Wiiiings
Disney: The Happiest Place on Earth
I don't need to go on...you get the point.
4. Use Motions!
This method is especially awesome for kids. Children jump (literally) at the chance to move around a bit. You can use hand movements, whole body movements, or even choreography if you’re up to it. Try setting one movement for each key word (words like “a” and “the” don’t need their own movements) or key phrase.
(This is why songs WITH motions are so great)
Here are great motions for Psalm 23:
5. Use location-based mnemonics (aka: a Memory Palace)
This may sound odd, but humans actually have an incredible ability to remember the layouts of buildings or other fixed locations. If you’ve ever remembered the route to a certain place because of landmarks or stores you pass on the way, and not because of street names, you already know what I’m talking about!
Location-based mnemonics can work in the classroom, too. All you need to do is help your students associate a room in your building or spot in your classroom with a certain idea. For example, have your students say the first line of your application point/verse behind the teacher’s desk, the next part by the door, and so on. As they walk to each location, they’ll be able to remember what comes next.
Here is Ron White - a memory champion himself to explain more. This is how I first discovered and then learned the technique for myself:
6. Repeat, repeat, repeat
Help your students remember the point of the lesson by repeating it a few times during the class.
Think about commercials you've heard on the radio or television. What do they often repeat? The phone number or website they want you to use. If you've never noticed it, than start listening for it. They will literally repeat a website or number to call several times in a row.
The power of repetition at work!
In class, you could even have them respond back to you with a certain phrase each time you say the “catch phrase” (a call-and-response):
Try this in class:
Teacher: "God is good"
Kids: "all the time!"
7. Harness the power of association
It’s easier for kids (and all of us) to remember something when we associate it with something else. That’s why visuals are so important for teaching.
As you say your lesson’s application point, hold up a drawing or object. You could even “add” to your visual each time you repeat the application (for example, add a drop of food coloring to water, or a block to a tower).
Try using an object lesson or experiment while you teach, or something else unique and eye-catching. Here are some great object lessons for all sorts of Sunday School lessons.
The more senses you involve, the better.
Get elementary Sunday school lessons, presented in a way kids (even the regulars!) actually enjoy, encouraging them to fall in love with Jesus.
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