Our A-Z Memory Verse System was born the day we brought our first son home from the hospital. Realizing right away the countless hours I would be spending each day nursing an infant I decided to make use of the time by setting my Bible next to the rocker and reading aloud from it during each feeding. I started in Genesis and by the time the baby was weened I had read through the whole Bible! Since self-discipline is definitely not one of my strong points, the only time in my life I have EVER been able to read through the Bible cover-to-cover in a year has been when I was stuck in that rocking chair all hours of the day nursing a baby.
As I read through scripture with each one, I jotted down verses on 3×5 cards that I thought would be valuable for my children to put to memory some day. I ended up with hundreds of cards which I alphabetized in a recipe card file and there it was: the start of our A-Z Memory Verse System.
When my oldest 2 boys were Pre-K age we started putting the system to use. I picked the easiest verses from the file, 1 for each letter of the Alphabet, and each week as they learned their letters, they learned a verse to go with it. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” “Children obey your parents in the Lord”… The next year I went through the file again and picked 26 more verses and we started all over again.
When we started doing “real school” I had the hair-brained idea to have our memory work match our theme. Since the plan was to work our way through the days of creation, our first year was going to be spent studying dry land. So I went through my verse file and pulled out any verses with a geological reference. Of course, there weren’t nearly enough to fill out an alphabet which meant breaking out the old Strong’s Concordance and an in-depth search for more verses. Boy, did I have fun with that! It took a lot of time but by the time September rolled around I had 26 beautiful gems ready for my boys to memorize. The next year I did the same thing for botany, turning first to my handy file and then filling in the gaps using my concordance. By this time too, I had learned to always be on the look-out when reading scripture for more creation-themed verses. If I came across a verse that had to do with geology, I’d draw a little mountain next to it, if it had to do with botany, I’d draw a tree, if it had to do with astronomy, I’d make a star, a bird for flying creatures, a fish for sea-creatures, and so on.
After 4 years of applying this system to our theme for the school year I’ve been amazed how rich and alive God’s Word is with images from creation. And except Q and Z we’ve never been without a verse for each letter of the alphabet, no matter the theme. I have to say, the time I get to spend choosing scriptures for our school-year has become a precious and treasured highlight for me. That and hearing the boys rattle off their whole alphabet’s worth of God’s Word come June.
Maybe these aren’t your typical AWANA or Sunday-school-worthy verses but it has become nearly impossible for us to look at any part of the created world around us and not have a related scripture come to mind. That, to me, is the essence of a Christian education, to see in everything the Glory of the Creator.
Finally, back to the file. By 6th or 7th grade we will be through the days of creation and yes, they really ought have learned their alphabet pretty well by then, too. But that’s no reason to drop the system! Only now, they’ll be old enough to go through the file and choose their own verses. I still suggest using one verse for each letter simply because it’s so much easier to keep track of a years worth of verses that way. Our file also consists of cards with lists of “Memorization Chunks.” These are whole chunks of scripture or chapters worthy of memorization. We choose 1 a year as a family but as the boys get older they’ll be up to the challenge of doing more.
So that’s our system for whatever it’s worth. It works for us and having a consistent system helps keep scripture in the prominent place it deserves in our school day. The Bible is, after all, the most important subject we teach. If I neglect the teaching of God’s Word I am neglecting both our greatest educational responsibility and our greatest privilege.