Our family has developed a habit of memorizing that I learned from one of my mentors, LaDawn Jacobs. She inspired me to attempt memorizing, even long documents as a family. We spent about 6 months learning “The Living Christ” that took us about 8 minutes to recite. At the time, Ben was 5 and Abby was 4. Word got out about their memorization skills when in Primary, their church class for children, they were memorizing the first paragraph of the Living Christ and when the leaders would stop, my kids would keep going. Eventually, they asked them… “How much of that document do you know?” When they responded with “all of it”, they got some positive attention.
They were asked to recite it for the Young Women’s group. Word got back to the Stake President some how and he contacted me to ask if our two oldest children would be willing to recite the Living Christ in Stake Conference. They did so and did a remarkable job! A funny thing happened right after that meeting… A woman approached me and said, “Isn’t it amazing that you would have “2” children blessed with photographic memories.” Indeed that would be remarkable, yet unfortunately, that is not the case. We just spent a little bit of time, consistently, every day in an effort to accomplish a goal. Soon after that Stake Conference, I was bombarded with inquiries as to how we helped our children to learn such a long memorization. So I compiled the ideas we used and shared them. Here is what I wrote up back then in 2008.
Ideas for Memorizing as a Family
The Living Christ, Proclamation on the Family or any memorization.
Set a goal
For example, we decided that we wanted to have it all memorized as a family in time for presenting it to grandparents at Easter.
Commit to it
Be consistent and pick one time every day to say it a few times. 2 minute is all it takes. Our family recited a few lines at morning family scripture study before the prayer. I’d also try and remember to say those same few lines once during lunch or dinner
It’s helpful to break it up into small pieces. We divided it into 23 scripture length sections. Then I printed them in large font on 23 separate pieces of paper. Each was put into a sheet protector and into a binder. This was kept handy with our daily family scripture items. Easy access is key!
To kick off our learning and get everyone excited about the task and following the invitation of our stake leaders, we had an FHE on the Living Christ, lots of Gospel Art Kit pictures that matched the words of the document.
We did just one scripture sized section per week. Even if we got it down in the first few days… we would stick with the same section for a week to really get it and practice it with the others before it. We planned on it taking the full 23 weeks plus another few weeks to really get the transitions right.
In addition to memorizing the words, we would talk about what each section meant and make sure that the kids knew what words like millennium and spurious charges meant.
Each section gets its own personality as we learned it together as a family. We created hand signs, voice intonations, beats, dances, anything that made it memorable. The kids came up with a lot of the hand signs which made it their own. When it’s getting really dull… jump up and do it on your feet, with enthusiasm and volume! The more fun, the more memorable.
Once a week you’ve got to practice it all together. We usually did this during our Sunday dinner meal. I’d set the table with the Living Christ paper on my plate and Brigham’s plate and we would say the whole thing at least once. Sometimes we would challenge the kids to see who could get farther without any help or cues. You could say it all together loud, or a whisper or sing it opera style. We would also have one person start and when they got stuck pass a bean bag to someone else who would go as far as they could and then toss the bean bag along.
I would print an extra copy of the weeks scripture sized section and post it on the frig. The bathroom is a great place for posting as well.
It’s helpful to have frequent convenient access to practice it here and there when you (mom) have a few extra minutes (if mom doesn’t know it then no one’s going to get it) You can get a lot of copies for free from LDS.org. Then place copies everywhere: each room of the house, purse, glove box, desk, diaper bag, scripture case, temple bag, you get the idea!
Record your voice “perfoming” the whole document as sing-songy as you can stand it. Use a loud voice in some parts, soft voice in others, lots of high and low intonations and rhythmic beats. Play it during meal time or when kids are going to sleep or during a quick car ride. We used a digital recorder and then made 4 cds to have them easily accessible in different locations.
Once we had it learned, we would say it once a week for FHE or during a meal time. Since we worked so hard, we don’t want anyone to forget it. We also tried to say it for review without all of the hand signs and sing song and had the discussion on respect and reverence for the Living Christ. As an adult, great times for reviewing it in my mind have been while driving, running, during the weekly sacrament and in the temple chapel waiting for a session.
We offered a candy bar for whoever could quote it first. We also would reward with small treats or gum during the week as soon as the kids had the week’s section memorized. We have a “scripture gum jar” at our house where you can earn a piece once a day for quoting the week’s scripture (or Living Christ section).
It’s helpful to have a performance deadline to make it happen. We planned to have it ready for Easter to prepare for Grandparents and that deadline helped us get through the final parts in a timely manner.
Write about the entire experience in your journal and bear testimony of what you have gained through this memorization and constantly thinking about the Savior’s life. We have been amazed at how often we hear the phrases of the document at church and general conference. The phrases come to our minds at various times. Our children have even picked out sections and quoted them to answer questions at FHE and family scripture study.