Sunday School Memory Work

From the Open Files of:

Eastern North Dakota Resource Center, 701-232-3180

Contributed by:

Lutheran Church of Martha & Mary, Mt. Prospect, IL

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Rich Text Format version for editing

Schedule for Memory Work
General Guidelines
Suggestions for Memory Work
Example of a Class Plan for Memorization



            2 or 3 table and/or bedtime prayers (send home)
            Listen to the Lord's Prayer
            Church manners

            The Lord's Prayer (listen/pray together)
            2 or 3 table and/or bedtime prayers (send home)
            Church manners
            Short bible verses (teacher's judgment/curriculum)

1st Grade:
            The Lord's Prayer (pray together)
            The Apostle's Creed (teacher recites)

2nd Grade:
            The Lord's Prayer (pray together)
            The Apostle's Creed (students begin to join in)
            Commandments 1, 2 3 (parrot back/say alone)  Wording does not have to be exact

3rd Grade:*
            The Lord's Prayer (opening/closing)
            The Apostle's Creed (without teacher; vary student leaders as a group)
            Commandments 1-5 (parrot back/say alone)
            Introduce Bible (Genesis, Psalms, Revelation)
            Old Testament Books (song, incorporate in opening, cassettes)

4th Grade:*
            The Lord's Prayer (opening/closing) Continue to use weekly to reinforce and for newcomers
            The Apostle's Creed
            Commandments 1-10 (use "see/hear/write/say")
            Bible usage (look up verses)
            New Testament Books (song, incorporate in opening, cassettes)

*If 3rd and 4th grades combined, Old Testament before Christmas and New Testament after Christmas.

5th Grade:
            Review: The Lord's Prayer and The Apostle's Creed
            Review: The 10 Commandments (write them)
            New Memory Work: Psalm 23 (opening/closing), by Christmas
            New Memory Work: Bible Verses as follows:

John 3:16
Matthew 22:37-39
John 14:6
Matthew 7:7
Matthew 7:12

6th Grade:
            Review: The Lord's Prayer, The Apostle's Creed, The 10 Commandments, Psalm 23.
            New Memory Work: The Beatitudes (The "Blessed" Version) Matthew 5:3-12
            Bible Verses as follows:

Isaiah 40:3,5
Matthew 7:1-2
Matthew 5:43-44
1 John 1:7
Matthew 28:19-20 (The Great Commission)

7th Grade:
            Review: The Lord's Prayer, The Apostle's Creed, The 10 Commandments, Psalm 23, The Beatitudes
            New Memory Work: The Aaronic Benediction, Numbers 6:24-26 (September-Christmas)
            Bible Verses as follows:

Ephesians 2:8-9
Matthew 18:20
John 11:25-26
Matthew 25:40
Matthew 6:19-21
Mark 9:23b

8th Grade:
            Review: The Lord's Prayer, The Apostle's Creed, The 10 Commandments, Psalm 23, The Beatitudes, the Aaronic Benediction
            New Memory Work: Psalm 100 (September-Christmas)
            Bible Verses as follows:

Romans 3:28
John 8:31b, 32
1 Corinthians 10:13
John 20:23
Matthew 18:18


General Guidelines


  1. Flexibility: Give yourself permission to set the pace slower or faster as you get a feel for your group.  Meet the students where they are, remembering they come from different ability levels and different home environments.  Provide an opportunity for memory, but don't put undue pressure on yourself or your students! Relax.  Have fun with it.
  1. Bible Verses: The RSV version has been used on the schedule of memory work, but feel free to use the NSRV is you prefer
  1. 7th  and 8th  Grade Teachers: It would be helpful to coordinate your memory work with the confirmation instructor.  In this way, you will not be running into a problem with duplication.


  1. Listen first: teacher recites and students listen.  Gradually students may join in.  For younger (preschool-1st or 2nd grades), listening is the key.  Students may parrot back phrases in small/appropriate segments.  Pictures may help as cues to table prayers and The Lord's Prayer.
  1. Repetition or rehearsal is a good technique.  Some children do this automatically; others need to be shown how to practice.  Tell them to say it over and over in their heads.
  1. Older students (Grades 2 & up) may read (aloud and/or silently), repeat, recite, copy, write from memory, draw, look at pictures, recite as a group, recite individually, count on their fingers (1st , 2nd, etc.), use mnemonics (HOMES for the Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
  1. Usually memorizing in order is more efficient than random order.  It is normal to recall the first item, then the last time, and then some from the middle.  The middle items are the hardest to memorize.
  1. The brain memorizes about seven (7) items before becoming overloaded, hence 7-digit phone numbers.  Clumping information allows us to remember more items.  The younger the child, the fewer items that can be memorized.  Clumping the books of the Bible in meaningful clumps, i.e. phrases in the song, Books of Law, etc., can help store the information.
  1. Visual cues help.  Posters, drawings, pictures, etc. can be posted.
  1. There is memory in muscle movement.  Writing something down can help us learn/memorize.  It can also stimulate recall.  When we block, sometimes writing can trigger the memory.  This is especially true for children who have difficulty memorizing.


(These are suggestions only! Modify or make your own agenda.)

Third Grade: Example only!

1. The Lord's Prayer.  By now students should be saying it together.  Memorized through previous use.

2. The Apostle's Creed.  Some students may know it from previous use
  • Continue to use in opening or closing.
  • Break into phrases to have them repeat during 5-minute memory time
  • Most may be able to follow words from a text, but some may not read that well.
  • Explain, only as you feel appropriate.  Like the Pledge of Allegiance, they may not really understand the words until they are much older.

3. The 10 Commandments:

  • Introduce one at a time.
  • Use posters with words/pictures.
  • Teach key words
    • One God
    • Name/vain (rhyme), 2 words that rhyme
    • Sabbath
  • Accept non-exact wording; working for exact.
  • Parrot back. (Group/individual, use your judgment)
  • Say alone.
  • Do one per month (4/5 Sundays in a row.)
  • Repeat 1 & 2.
  • Repeat 1, 2 & 3.

4. Old Testament Books

  • Use song in openings.
  • Copy cassette for home use.
  • Poster.  Group books in meaningful clumps.
  • Count on fingers.
  • Remember first letters.

5. Bible Usage.

  • First Book: Genesis
  • Middle Book: Psalms
  • Last Book: Revelation
Fourth Grade: Example only!
September:      First five (5) commandments.  Review (write).
October:          Commandments 6 & 7
November:       Commandments 8 & 9
December:       Commandment 10
January:           One Sunday, review 1-5 Commandments (write).
                        3 Sundays, Books of New Testament (break into sections)
February:         One Sunday, review 6-10 Commandments (write)
                        3 Sundays, Books of New Testament (break into sections)
March:             Review 10 Commandments
                        All New Testament Books
April:               Same
May:                Review all.

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