Having Fun Memorizing Psalm 42:1

Guest Post by Desiré of When You Rise


The older I get, the more important I realize memorizing Scripture with little ones is. I remember tons of verses that I learned as a young child, but sadly, remember very few that I memorized as a college student earning a degree in Bible theology. Typically, when I think of memorization, I think dull and monotonous, but I’ve also come to realize how FUN this process can be for my children! Not only can they learn God’s word, but they can get some experiences that help them develop gross motor, fine motor, critical thinking and other skills necessary for their development.


In my opinion, the more tangible the verse, the better at this age. Here’s a peek into how some of that looked for us as we learned Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”


I made up some printable cards with a picture of a deer at a stream and the words to the verse on them. My son, Isaac, can read a few of the simple words, but we mostly use this as a visual reminder to review our verse. We have a “clothesline” (made up of twine and mini-clothespins) that we clip our pictures to. He has fun helping me put them in order and pointing out the words he knows (and it’s great fine motor practice!).




After introducing the verse, we decided to look at some words we didn’t know. First up:  pant.



I grabbed some sippy cups filled with water and we began a crazy combo of dancing like maniacs followed by a rousing game of “chase Mommy.”




By the time we were done, we were laughing our heads off and breathing hard. Before I offered my boys a drink, we talked about how hard we were breathing and I explained that the word pant means to “breathe hard” and is often accompanied by thirst. We took big drinks of water and sang our new verse (to the tune of the popular praise song, As the Deer. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can listen to the first 20 seconds of it here to familiarize yourself with the tune. (We had to change a couple of words to make it work with the NIV version that we memorized.)



Now we were ready to get the whole first phrase down. “As the deer pants for streams of water…” We had unseasonably warm, beautiful weather, so we did this outside. Though it could easily be done indoors, I love Jenae’s challenge this month to take our kids out for 15 minutes every day! I printed a deer mask from here (scroll to bottom) and Isaac kept it on for all of 2.2 seconds. He was excited about the idea, but didn’t like it when he got it on. So we ran around the yard and pretended to be deer without masks. This got us all out of breath and thirsty again, but this time, since we were deer, we had to drink our water from a stream… like a deer. :)  Since I don’t actually have a stream in my backyard, we used a cake pan filled with water and lapped it with our tongues. This was quite the sight, but by far Isaac’s favorite part of the morning. He drank his little heart out and then we ran around again and sang our verse song. We even stopped for a clover snack (aka weeds).


The boys were covered in mud by the time we came inside (not from our activity, but because I let them play in the dirt mound after we were done.)  This led nicely into our next activity. We went straight to the bathtub and I gave them some verse cards that I had made specially for the tub. I took the above printables, laminated them and then hot glued them to craft foam. When wet, it sticks to the tub perfectly! I will admit that they were a bust the first time because I cut too close to the seal and water seeped in, but I gave it a very wide border the 2nd try and it was a success!



We practiced putting the cards in order and talked once again about the verse and it’s meaning. I’m imagining all the cool things (letters in their names, sorting games, numbers, etc.) I can make with this idea in the future!!!


Crafts are not always popular with my boys, so I try to keep them simple and purposeful at our house. I love when a craft can be played with afterwards, so we made a very rudimentary, 3 dimensional deer. I drew this very basic deer shape and printed it on cardstock so it would stand up.



It was a bit wobbly so gluing it to cardboard or posterboard might work better. We put our deer together and taped a penny near the back because it was a little top heavy.



We cut out some blue paper to make a stream and glued it down to green paper. Isaac had fun pretending his deer was drinking from the stream. It was another perfect opportunity for us to sing our song. If your child enjoys crafts, you could easily make this craft a little more “fancy” by adding a toilet paper tube tree or bushes and flowers. I also found a couple more age-appropriate, cute deer projects here and here for those of you who love doing crafty things with your kiddos.



When I teach anything to my kids, I try not to overwhelm them by doing too much at once. The above activities took place over the course of several days (some of them we did several times). Within 4 days of introducing the verse, my 3 year old had it down. Now we’ll use our verse cards as a reminder to practice for a while and anytime I want to review, we can sing the praise song together!


What kinds of things do you do with your little ones to help them memorize?



  1. We learn our verses at the supper table as a family. We try to relate the verse to things that happened in our lives and everyone has to recite the verses. We’re using an ABC Bible verse book and we’re up to E, so each night we recite ALL the verses up to that letter.
    I like the idea of doing more activities with each verse. I will try to do that. It surely makes learning the verse more profound!
    I do hear my 3.5 year old muttering verses or singing them during the day, which warms my heart.
    Also, instead of “memorize” we say, “learn by heart” since we want the verse to abide in our hearts, not just our brains

    1. Amanda, I love you idea to use the phrase “learn by heart.” It would help me remember as well that I’m not just teaching my kids to memorize for the sake of them being able to say it… I want it to truly affect how they see and understand things!

  2. This is a great suggestion. I love the multi-sensory approach to memorizing for a lot of reasons. One of the most basic is that it helps children understand from a very early age that faith is NOT just a head exercise or “spirit” thing, but that it encompasses all of our lives. Faith is a very bodily experience.

    One idea that came to mind while I was perusing this is to have families turn this into a simple breath prayer as a way to add one more dimension to having the verse become a part of a family’s language of faith and prayer. Basically, as you breathe in, pray “As the deer pants for water;” then as you breathe out, pray “so my soul pants for you.” Then repeat with each breath for a while.

    The Word of God will become a part of your breathing for the day, as the Spirit of God fills you with life!

  3. I love this post! I too have been struck by the helpfulness of choosing verses for memorization with concrete imagery. I tried to brainstorm a list of good ones on my post over here, http://havingfunathomeblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/scripture-passages-for-young-children.html

    It was such a good idea to let your little boy experience panting and thirst to really understand what the psalmist meant. I’ll bet that will really stick with him.

    1. Thanks, Katey! Your list is great! I loved your idea for “putting on the armor of God” each morning. We may try that soon at our house! :) – Desiré

  4. Your post reminded me of a great book I read last year (called *Like Icecream,* in case you were wondering). It’s fun to see how many different ways families have to help their kids fall in love with God (and have fun themselves along the way). I don’t have kids yet, but I enjoy acting childish, lol. Thanks for sharing your adventure! I’ll never think of that verse the same again. ;-)

  5. I’m so glad I discovered your blog! I found it yesterday, and I have enjoying looking around!

    My children are 4 and 2, and sometimes we use bits of sign language to help us remember the key words in the verse. And sometimes it isn’t “actual” sign language. Sometimes we just act the verse out. For example, consider Psalm 47:1,2: “Clap your hands all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy; How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!” We begin the verse by actually clapping, and when we get to “How awesome…” we actually shout it.

    Also, when we really have a verse memorized, I add it with the rest of our memorized verses to a posterboard, so we can refer back to what we know and recall verses we may forgotten about.

    I like your ideas about using more activities, and I think we will definitely begin incorporating that!

  6. Thanks for these great ideas. I’m planning on doing the Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve Curriculum with my preschooler this fall and this is the first verse we are going to memorize. I love that you have enough ideas here (and lots of kinesthetic ones) to stretch out over a week of family devo times! Thank you for sharing these!

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