I occasionally do what we call "Sword Drills" in Awana and I have been amazed by how much the kids LOVE this simple game. We make a big deal about it and have lots of rules and the kids are sticklers about them. It's so fun!
The basic idea is that I give them a reference to look up and they "race" to see who can find it the fastest. The name is taken from Hebrews 4:12 which says, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword..." Here are our rules:
1. Swords Ready! You may put down the pages in your Bible before Genesis 1:1 and after Revelation 22:21 (Some Bibles have thick concordances, dictionaries, map sections, etc. and this helps them to only search through the actual Bible.)
|Swords ready! Thumbs up!|
3. State reference. At this point I state the reference they are to look up. If I have a group of kids unfamiliar with Scripture or new to the game, I might give them a hint like, "It's in the Old Testament" or "It's only a few pages long...look toward the end of the New Testament." The fact that their thumbs are up helps with the fact that there are probably kids who know exactly where to start searching and kind of makes it more of a level playing field. (Fun Fact: Did you know that if you try to open the Bible in the middle, you'll almost always land somewhere in Psalms? Good place to start!)
4. Go! When I say "Go" they search until they find the Scripture. I usually repeat the reference a few times while they're searching because they often forget the chapter or verse. Also, my husband, sister and I will kind of walk around during this part and point kids who are struggling in the right direction (helping them if they're in the wrong testament, past the verse or just don't even know where to begin).
5. Bottoms down. Bottoms must stay in the chair until their finger is on the verse they were to look up. If they stand up while moving their finger over the page and searching for the actual verse they have to sit back down.
6. You win! The first one standing with their finger on the correct verse wins! We usually have them read the verse for the group. If we have any candy on hand, we'll often give them a piece.
Here's a couple of things we've learned that makes this a better experience for everyone:
You can't "win" a second time until everyone else has had a chance. Sometimes we have kids that are the first one up almost every single time. This is great! But it can be discouraging to other kids who are always coming up just short. We allow the kids to participate each time, even if they've already won, but we have the first person who stands up and hasn't won yet read the verse and earn a reward (if we're giving out one).
I always make sure to emphasize that the "winner" is NOT the most spiritual person. Sometimes I like doing it jokingly because I think it gets the point across better and it lightens the mood. I say something like, "Now, the first person to stand up is the most spiritual, right?" At first some of the kids weren't sure, but now they all laugh and say, "No." I think this is a super important point to make because those who are usually toward the end need to understand that learning to use their Bible is an important process that takes time and doesn't in any way affect how much God loves them. On the flip side, those who are typically one of the first, need to understand that there is no place for pride here and that they are not better than the others because they know the order of books of the Bible and can find them quickly.
How about using this to make a fun, family devotion sometime soon? If you've got older elementary kids, you can lead the devotion and the game while giving them references about a topic (like salvation, attitude, prayer, etc.) Discuss the verse they look up and then move on to another one. If you've got younger elementary kids or preschoolers that need lots of help, consider participating by partnering up with them and drawing your verses out of a cup. This would help a family with a wide-variety of ages make it more fair and fun! (And, of course, your rules don't need to look exactly like ours!)
Need a little help with your first try? Here's a list of verses on the topic of Salvation that come from a wide variety of verses in the Bible so they can get practice looking up Old and New Testament verses:
1 John 5:12-13
(This is certainly not exhaustive and you could take some out if this is too much for your kiddos to handle or encourage them to think of more! You can look them up in this order, or grab them out of a cup at random. Either way, these verses will provide a great springboard for discussing God's Word together!)
Why start here? What if your kids are already believers? I love talking about the Gospel with kids. The awesome thing is for EVERYONE! If your children have already trusted Christ as their Savior that is wonderful! Go through these verses and remind them to find JOY in their salvation! We should never, as children or adults, "get over" the gift of the cross. It is foundational to everything!!!! Sorry, rabbit trail... look up Bible verses, talk about Jesus, yep, that about sums it up! :)
Enjoy 30 minutes of family and God's Word! What an awesome thing to laugh and bond over!