In this sharing time you will have the children memorize the following poem:
Help Us, O God, to Understand by D. Evan Davis
Help us, O God, to understand
Our Savior’s love for us.
He paid the price for all our sins
And died upon the cross.
Help us to love him more each day,
Though him we cannot see.
His teachings and his loving heart
Will lead us back to thee.
Scholars say that a poem known by heart becomes a part of you. Many of us underestimate children's ability to memorize, but children can absorb and retain a phenomenal amount of information. Children who have learned to memorize will be able to use this skill with poems, scriptures, math facts, etc.
Below are some tips and methods for helping children memorize. Pick the ones that best suit your Primary’s needs. You may want to use different methods for older children than you do for younger ones.
Break it up - When children are memorizing anything of significant length, it's always helpful to divide it into manageable pieces. Learn the poem one line or one sentence at a time. You might want to use a different learning tool for each sentence or each verse.
Echo - Slip on a "magic" glove (any glove will do). When it points to the leader, it's her turn; when it points to the children, it's their turn. Recite just a few words at a time and then have the child repeat (echo) what you say. Add on one or two more words each time.
Erase It - For children who can read, write out the entire verse on a dry-erase board or chalkboard. Have them read it aloud and then chose one word to erase. Read aloud again (including the missing word) and choose a second word to erase. Continue until the entire poem will be erased and the children can recite it on their own.
Create an Acronym - Instead of writing out the entire verse, just give them the first letter of each word as a learning aid. For example, for the first sentence of this poem, you would write “H U O G T U O S L F U.”
Visual Aids - The more senses the children use, the more engaged their brains are and the stronger the imprint left on their memory. Make flashcards or a poster with pictures of the key words.
Actions – Try using American sign language or simple hand gestures to assist the memory process. Again, the more senses the children use, the more they will remember.
Understand It – Talk about what the words in the poem mean. Help the children know what they are saying as they learn the poem.
Repetition - Recite the poem over and over. Repetition can be extremely helpful in learning patterns. Did you know that learning by repetition has been associated with forming the connection of synapses in brain cells? Basically, this helps children not only learn the information in the first place, but also helps them recall it throughout their lives.
Mix Up How You Recite It - 1. Have one row or class repeat one sentence, then the next row or class the next one and so on. 2. Point to each child one at a time to repeat one word. 3. Have the children stand up or sit down as they say certain words.
Recite in Different Voices - This is a fun way to increase repetition while minimizing boredom. Since this poem is of a sacred nature, you should only pick some reverent voices, such as whispering or sing song. For other memorization activities you could repeat it in baby talk, in a British accent, in an army sergeant's command, in an opera singer's voice, in a fast-speed chipmunk voice, in a robot voice, in a Donald Duck voice, in a southern drawl, etc.
Tell the children that they are going to memorize a poem about the Savior. Explain to them that once they memorize it, they will be able to remember Him by reciting the poem to themselves anytime.
Use the methods you have chosen to help the children memorize the poem. After they are able to repeat it many times, bear your testimony of the Savior and the concepts taught in the poem.
Explain that this poem is also a song. Have the children sing it. (Children’s Songbook, page 73).