How I Teach the Classical Conversations Bible Memory Verse and Timeline

This year I am teaching the Bible memory verse and timeline facts during our Classical Conversations groups’ assembly time.

Note: I don’t think every single CC group teaches the memory verse or timeline during the assembly time, but ours does.

I’ve come up with a system, of sorts, that works for me. Maybe it will help other CC moms who are responsible for the same job.

First, let’s talk about tools.  Every job, however little, needs the right tools.

IMG_7802 IMG_7803

I use:

  • a very basic 2 foot by 3 foot white board with an oak frame and trey (the trey is very important because that’s where I prop up the timeline cards)
  • a black and blue dry erase marker (I use these colors for specific reasons that I will explain below)
  • a white-board eraser (so I won’t have to use my fingers- I hate that- if I need to erase something)
  • timeline cards (available through CC’s catalog/ website)
  • a small binder clip (to hold the seven timeline cards I need each week)
  • a photo copy of page 135 of my Foundations guide in a sheet protector (so I can review the verses without pulling out my Foundations guide)
  • a tote bag (to carry everything but the white board)

I pack all this up the night before and bring it with me to CC.

Note: I may ask to keep the white board in a closet at the church where we do CC, since after only three weeks, the oak frame is already getting loose. I am very careful with it, but the white board is still beginning to show signs of wear since it is not made to travel.

When I get to CC, I prop the white board against a little desk on the stage. That puts it at eye level for most of the audience.

Then I write out the verse in black. That’s always the easiest color to see.

Then I underline the words in the verse that have motions to them in blue. This helps me remember at a glance which words have motions and which motions to teach.

I have been using the hand motions on Andrea Jordan’s You Tube videos.

Note: I chose to start with the English translation of John 1:1-7 first, even though CC says to start with the Latin.  I thought the English would be more meaningful to a group of people who don’t speak or understand Latin yet. And when we learn the Latin translation of John 1:1-7 the second part of the year, the kids and parents will know the motions, so that way, they will better understand what the Latin means as they say it.

After I say the verse out loud for everyone, everyone repeats the verse at least once, maybe twice, and then I teach motions one at a time, and then we do the motions as we say the verse.

After that, I pull out my timeline cards and I say them in order, loudly, as I line them up on the trey. The seven cards fit perfectly across the trey on the 2 foot by 3 foot white board I have.

Then I quickly teach the motions to each timeline fact/ timeline card.  I try to use the same motions that Classical Conversations uses in the official timeline video on their website for consistency. When I don’t understand the motions or when I can’t tell what they are exactly, I watch CCRockStarz You Tube videos to get a better idea.

I usually practice going through all the new material the night before.  It takes me about twenty minutes to watch the videos and then rehearse everything once.



What’s In Your Storehouse?


I’ve taken a few hikes this summer. Most of the time, I take my kids with me, but this weekend, my kids stayed at home with my husband and I went all by myself. Hiking alone, I had no one to talk to or more accurately, I had no one to listen to because my kids weren’t there to chatter constantly.  I enjoyed the rare opportunity to entertain my own thoughts. I walked and I prayed. I thought and my thoughts weren’t ever interrupted.

As I went farther and farther along the trails, I found that I wanted to occupy my mind with something beautiful while I had the chance to do so.  I thought it would be nice to meditate on the some beautiful words, the words of a Psalm, or even recite the words to a hymn. Almost automatically, I reached for my Bible, but I quickly realized I couldn’t walk and read at the same time.  That could be dangerous.  And I definitely didn’t want to put on headphones because I had come to the woods for quiet and I was enjoying the gentle sounds coming from the streams and the birds in the trees.

So I decided to meditate on a Psalm, any Psalm, or hymn, any hymn, I knew by heart.  So I thought about it.  I tried to recall one.  Do you know what I quickly realized?  I couldn’t quote a single Psalm to myself from memory off the cuff- not even one.  At home, as I read the Psalms with a Bible open on my lap, the words just flow through my mind. I had come to believe that I really knew many of them by heart.  But, apparently, I don’t.

I tried to recall a hymn, any hymn.  I had much the same problem.  I was able to recall most of the lyrics to only one hymn: How Great Thou Art.  “When through the woods and forest glades I wander. And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees…”  But I was not able to be totally sure of the order the verses or whether or not I was leaving something out because I had never deliberately memorized that hymn either.  It was very frustrating, disappointing, but also enlightening.

One of the things classical education focuses on, especially during the elementary years, is giving students a value storehouse of information in their minds that they can carry with them all the time and retrieve whenever necessary.  So kids memorize the time line, geography locations, math facts, etc. It seems like a lot of memory work at a time when kids don’t understand any of it, mundane and useless in this age of information where we can just Google anything. But, let’s be honest, a truly educated person definitely should not have to Google the location of Columbia in the middle of a conversation with someone or have to use a calculator to estimate the total of their groceries in the store.

So I realize now how much I still depend on the text open in front of me for the Scriptures or my computer, iphone, etc. for the lyrics to hymns.  I want to really know important things by heart. My hike showed me how little I actually know, really know, of the Scriptures and the great hymns.

It isn’t very likely that my Bible will be taken from me here in America or that I won’t have access to my technology whenever I want to Google the lyrics to a hymn. But the Bible says, “I have hidden thy word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Perhaps that’s because the Psalmist knew what is deep, deep, deep in our minds will affect how we think, feel, and act. I thought I knew the word of God really well. But, as I hiked and looked down at the packed brown earth on the path in front of my feet, I realized I have actually probably just been scattering the seeds of the word of God on the surface of my memory. I’ve been scattering for many years. Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves, take tools and dig deep, and make deliberate efforts to put great words and verses into my mind.

How many of God’s words have been lost to me because I haven’t worked hard to retain them because it was too tedious to do so? How much would my life change if I could carry carry longer portions of beautiful, life-giving Scripture with me to the kitchen sink, the doctor’s waiting room, the treadmill, the park, etc.  How would it change the way I minister to my children?  What if I could lovingly recite Psalms to them at night before I put them to bed?  How beautiful could that be?  The possibilities are endless.

I am not sure how I will begin doing it, but I want to memorize more or perhaps I will just memorize less more deeply.  Even if I had only had one single, complete Psalm to meditate on for those quiet hours while I hiked, it would have made such a great difference in my spirit and who knows what God could have done in my life with that time thinking deeply about His word.

I hope the Lord will help me in this endeavor to hide his word deeper in my heart.  I think I will pick one Psalm to learn and then go on another hike in a week or two just to see what it is like to be able to really meditate on the word of God out of the storehouse of my heart.

Scripture Memory System

We use this Scripture Memory System. We keep our of box of cards in the middle of the kitchen table and review the verses once a day while we eat breakfast or lunch.  This often leads to meaningful conversations over our meals. We will also often think of a song or hymn that goes along with a verse we review that day and listen to that while we are eating or cleaning up after the meal.