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Learning the Bible

How to Teach the Bible

How to Teach the Bible

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Psalms 119:105

So, how do you teach such an important subject as the Bible?

First of all, you should use the highest quality, most accurate curriculum available.

My favorite is called “The Bible.”

After all what could more accurately portray God’s Word than God’s Word?



How I teach this has evolved over the years beginning with reading a story from a storybook Bible everyday to my oldest (then five), to our current course. I expect it will continue to change as my children age and my “school” grows and then shrinks again in number.

I don’t advise you to start with the whole thing I am doing now. Pick one thing to do. After a while, add something else if you want to and it fits your family. Keep adding one thing at a time until you are satisfied.

The Cornerstone

The cornerstone of my “school” is Bible study.

As you will see, it is the foundation everything else is built on.

There is no more important subject. Even reading is taught for the main purpose of enabling my children to read the Bible for themselves.


I read them a story from a chronological Bible (about a chapters worth) each day.

You need to preview ahead to make sure the day’s selection is appropriate to the ages of children you have (some places tell about rape and murder, though the murder stories seem to be most kids favorites. Use your best judgment. We don’t want the Bible giving nightmares. And face it; the “begats” are just too boring when read out loud.)

Each child draws a picture to go with the story and gives it a title (This varies from a portrait style picture to cartoons to stick people).

This helps them:
  • to put the events in the Bible into historical order,
  • learn to transfer thoughts into writing, and
  • encourages drawing skills,
  • get familiar with the Bible itself, the most important goal. All of our doctrinal beliefs will be taught eventually this way
(If a doctrinal belief is not in the Bible, it should not be a doctrinal belief).

If you have an older child that would prefer to rewrite the story in his own words instead of drawing a picture, that is o.k. also, though all of mine have preferred to draw pictures.


I begin having my children trace a short Bible verse everyday at around age four.

Then as they get older, I have them copy the verse.

By the time they start third grade, I dictate (read it out loud while they write down) the verse to them.

I am using Proverbs right now. You can use memory verses from other places. I like not having to pick something different out everyday. I just go in order.

This exercise gives them practice in
  • concentration,
  • penmanship,
  • spelling, and
  • punctuation while getting them in the habit of writing beautiful language besides becoming familiar with the Wisdom of Solomon.
I read the verse through once in normal voice and then re-read it slowly, two or three syllables at a time. I try not to read any part of it a third time to help them learn to pay attention.

I do help them spell hard words.

A typical reading might sound like this; “Take your delight (Jennifer, give me the marker) d-e-l-i-g-h-t… in the Lord (Jessie, leave the cat alone) and He will… (Don’t rip the book Jackie) direct your (what? Oh. d-i-r-e-c-t) your path.”

My older children have learned to concentrate in the most extraordinary circumstances. Valuable skill.

Now that my oldest ones are teens and young adults, I have begun having them write their Proverbs in their own words. This is helping them analyze the real meaning of the passage, as well as developing their composition skills.

I may occasionally have them rewrite it in rhyme. This will also help their vocabulary, grammar, composition, and creativity skills.


Thy Word Have I HiddenMemorization

Thy Word Have I Hidden:

A Book of Memory Verses

This book is the list of memory verses and information I wanted my children to learn during their educational years. I also added a catechism to the back, customized to our personal beliefs. I simply have each child pick a verse or verses to work on each day.
$2.95-24.95, depending on which binding you want.
Pages 88, 6 x 9 
  • $2.95- eBook (EPUB/Kindle) Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.
  • $12.95- PaperbackSupport independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
  • $24.95-HardbackSupport independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
  • $4.95- Value Paperback Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
  • $2.99- eBook (PDF) Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.



Memloc is also an excellent program for memorization. It is a set of 700 cards, each with a memory verse on one side and a picture clue on the other. It works well for learning a large number of verses quickly. I have used it on occasion, though for my family, the above book just works better.


Some of the things on my list to memorize:
The names of the books of the Bible in order
The names of the disciples
The names of the tribes of Israel
John 3:16,17
John 1:1-4
Matthew 5 (The Beatitudes)
Isaiah 9:6
Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Armor of God)
Timothy 3:16
Titus 2
The 23 Psalm,
Matthew 6:9-15 (The Lord’s Prayer)
I Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter)
The first chapter of Genesis
The 100th Psalm (any Psalm, in fact)
Hebrews 11 (The Faith Chapter) 

You can check the back of your Bible for a list of possibilities or ask the ministers in your church for their recommendations. Or of course, you could Google it.


By having each child (and me too!) learning something different and practicing in the morning while we are all together, each child hears each other child’s verse everyday.

They are all memorizing all of the verses at once, (Shhh! Don’t tell!)

Don’t be afraid to have little ones memorize more than one verse. My six year old just quoted John 3:16 and 17 in church followed by my seven-year-old quoting Psalms 100 (all five verses).

If you act like it is no big deal they will too, and when they discover how impressed other adults in church are, you may have to talk to them about the impoliteness of showing off

(“Now dear, I know you know all 13 verses in 1 Corinthians 13, but it is not polite to corner every person you meet to make them listen to you do it!”)

I read two or three words from a younger child’s verse and let them repeat after me. Then I read the next two or three, and so on.

Older children read it for themselves, out loud, followed by writing one line in their notebook.

 

Songs, Signs and Trivia

I teach my children a Sunday School song in sign language and read a page from a Bible trivia book each day.

This is a good way to begin to teach music as well as begin the day with praise to God.

Wee Sing has a good book of Sunday School songs, as do many Bible book stores. You could also use a hymnal from your church. Or check out some of the playlists on Youtube.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you sing very well. The Bible says to “Make a Joyful noise unto the Lord,” not “Make a good noise…”

God thinks our singing is beautiful no matter how it sounds to us. And small children will think it is beautiful and join in wholeheartedly, getting all the benefits, even if you sound like a cat with its tail caught in a blender.


Sign language is a second language that is understood, at least in part, all over the world

(Quick, if some one points at you and then puts their thumb on their ear and their pinky on their mouth with their other fingers curled up in their palm, what are they telling you? You have a phone call!)

Sign Language can help later on with oratory skills, even if they never meet a deaf person. It helps you to be comfortable in using your hands for expression.

I have been known to use it to communicate across a crowded room or during a church service in an emergency also.

Many government organizations count it as a second language, just like Spanish, when hiring. 

There are many resources on Youtube alone for learning sign language (check out Baby Einstein!) and there many books available.



My children enjoy trying to guess the answers to the trivia questions and it sharpens their recall skills that can be used in any subject and helps facts to be in the habit of sticking.

You should be able to get a quiz book from your church or bookstore.

 

The Notebook

I have each child put all of their Bible work into their own Bible notebook (three ring binder).

They have dividers for sections named:
  • Proverbs,
  • Stories, and
  • Memory verses.
You could add a section on important people, or dates if you wish. This keeps their work all in one place and lets them kind of write their own Bible story book.

I also advise you get a Strong’s Concordance. They run $15.00 for a paper back, more for a hardback. It is also on the internet for free. My favorite is at BibleHub.com

A concordance is a list of every word in the Bible in alphabetical order.

For each word, it shows where it is found, and has a numerical reference to either the original Hebrew or Greek word.

You then turn to the appropriate number in the Hebrew or Greek dictionary in the back and it tells you the original word, how to pronounce it, and its definition.

This can be invaluable for really understanding what the Word says.

 

A few notes on Bible study;

I make a point of answering all questions, especially Biblical ones whenever they are asked even if it means skipping another subject for the day.

I explain as well as I can or look the answer up.

I read my own Bible every morning, striving to read through the whole thing every year. My children see me do this and I encourage them to set up their own reading schedule as soon as they can read well enough (I put it on their chore list). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”

We don’t send our children to church.

I don’t think it does any good.

We TAKE them to church.

Big difference.


Our church doesn’t have a Sunday School. We keep our children with us throughout worship.

We do have a children’s sermon just before the main sermon, but I think the adults get more out of it than the children do, to tell you the truth.

You may be surprised how young a child can understand the main sermon, though, when given the chance. I have seen children as young as five laugh at a joke cracked in a sermon, and I know from personal experience and the experience of my children that five year olds can understand and be moved by the sermons also.

(My seven year old’s favorite doll recently gave his heart to the Lord after a particularly moving service and I remember understanding what my father was preaching as young as age four).

We live according to God’s Word the best we can, even when it is inconvenient.

These are probably the most important aspects of teaching Bible. The Bible you live will be remembered and believed much more than the Bible you read.

Summary:

We…
  • Read the real Bible to our children, 1-2 chapters per day (1 in "school," 1 in family devotions before bed).
  • Have them draw and title a picture to go with the reading.
  • Dictate a verse in Proverbs (younger ones copy.)
  • Sing a hymn and/or Sunday school song in English and Sign Language.
  • Practice memory verses
  • Read a Bible trivia book, one question per child per day.
  • Keep a list of important people and dates.
  • Answer all their questions.
  • Set the best example we can, 24/7, not just in public. We don't hesitate to apoligize to our children when we mess up.
  • Are active in our local church.
This plan will instill the Word of God on our children's hearts.