As I have studied children's spirituality (both in the book sense and the journeying with my children and other children sense) I have come to value the imagination and entering the story as the foundation of this journey. It is in allowing children to play that they truly begin to see themselves as part of God's bigger story and begin the life-long process of internalizing God's Love. Because of this, I haven't focused heavily on memory work in my family or at church. Oh, we've memorized things here or there, but it hasn't been a daily pursuit. And if I'm being honest, I'm sure part of this also stems from my frustration with single memory verses that are often memorized without proper context (or in a wrong context) and then quoted to support whatever idea someone feels like at the time.
But, I do think memory work is important. I cherish the verses and passages that I learned as a child. I think they are closer to my heart than those I've memorized as an adult. I'm so grateful for memorizing my way to church camp each year, for space cubs and jet cadet memory badges (a program our church held, which is a bit like Awana) and years of Bible quizzing.
It is so easy for children to memorize. I've been so pleased with the large Bible passages Jonah is memorizing each quarter in school. And now Rowan has a memory verse every week this year in pre-k (which mama diligently teaches to him adding context and helping him fit it into the larger story). And, I am very grateful for this input into our daily liturgy.
This fall, our Sunday school wanted to start doing more memory work together and because of context issues and thinking of family dynamics, I requested that we do passages instead of a different verse each week. It was very well received and I've found myself working to make this memory work happen in Sunday school and accessible for families to follow up at home. Doing a single passage is so nice in forming a liturgy at home, whether it is read at the bus stop early each morning, after dinner, or somewhere in between. And, as most families experience busier weeks and weeks with more space, the longer goal helps to keep things going in little bits of time and longer bits of time that different weeks bring.
We are starting with Psalm 23, because if there is one image I long for my littles to internalize it is that of the loving shepherd, who will find them and keep them safe. I've been so very touched by Cavaletti's work, especially this collection of Essays. (If you follow along here, you may remember we worked on this passage a couple years ago as a family - original post and memory card here.)
I made cards, which were color copied for each family. We are doing memory games and sheets in Sunday School. But most of all, I'm hoping that the practice of reading this passage will become part of families' daily liturgy for a time. We are enjoying reading it each night before the boys are excused from the dinner table.
I made these cards by printing and then doodling beside the words so pre-readers/early readers can follow along. Even Isaac at two enjoys looking at the pictures, which we explain to him. We copied them on half sheets of card stock and I'm wishing for some laminate sheets as we read it every night after dinner and little hands aren't always very clean (we're still working on remembering not to touch our food with our hands around here.)
If you would like to make copies, you can find a scanned version here or on the printable page.