How I Taught Scripture Mastery- The Red Headed Hostess

Ok… I have received many requests to learn more about how I taught scripture mastery when I touched on it in this post.

BUT… before I write more about this, let me say that if you are not a seminary teacher, but do have children at home, as a teacher I could ALWAYS tell when students came from homes where the scripture mastery scriptures were taught and discussed.  Those students had a love for the scripture mastery scriptures that was evident and they became leaders in the class and would often self-appoint themselves to motivate everyone else to learn them.  And I know that some parents were SHOCKED to hear this because they weren’t really excited at home all of the time to learn them!  But when they were in the classroom among their peers, their previously earned knowledge was something they could offer… and they would step up!

So what I’m saying… is that this post is for parents too!

So after YEARS of teaching the scripture mastery scriptures
in general I felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job at it.  I judged my success by how well, and how many of my students knew the scripture mastery scriptures.  And… some years it was pretty good, and some years it was pathetically bad.  So I re-evaluated my entire process of teaching them.

After realizing that most of my students knew the first 6 or 7 scripture mastery scriptures pretty well,
and very few knew them to the bitter 25th end…. I decided to try a new tactic:

  •  First quarter I worked on them knowing the key phrases and scripture references of ALL 25 (so I focused on games and activities that taught them this skill).  No memorization.
  •  Second quarter I worked on overall doctrines and principles found in the scripture mastery scriptures so they became more and more familiar with them.  Still no memorization.
  • Third quarter I had them pass off each scripture with the first letters.  So memorization with helps.
  • And fourth quarter I had them pass off each scripture memorized with no helps.  I found that my students did MUCH better with this tactic rather than just starting with memorization at the beginning of the year.  What I found when I did that is that most of my students knew the first five to ten scriptures and then they burned out.  With my new plan very few of my students burned out first, second or third quarter, so at least they knew the key phrases, the principles and doctrines, and a pretty good idea of the words in the scriptures.  Also by the time you get to the memorization quarters, your students are memorizing scriptures they have already have had a lot of exposure to and it is much easier for them and they are more excited to put in the work memorization takes.

So I have been receiving a lot of requests on what I did in each quarter to achieve those goals.

So here ya go:



Knowing the key phrases and scripture references.

This quarter I focused on making this really FUN!  So they were motivated to learn them so they could participate in the fun activities.

Here are some activities I would do:

These cards were the center of almost all of my activities first quarter.  I would print and laminate cards like those you see above.  (To get to them on this site – go to the “Teach” tab and then to the “seminary” category.)  I made a classroom set of 30 so that each student could have one.  BEFORE I LAMINATED THEM I would number the sets.  So I would have an “A” set (so I wrote an “A” in the corner of every single card) and a “B” set and so on.  So when a card was accidently dropped I knew which set to return it to.  I would also number them in order.  So the first scripture mastery would have a “1” next to the A.  I did this for the purpose of breaking the cards in slowly to them.  So I would do an activity with just cards 1 – 5 and then adding 6-10, and so on.

  • Reference Clues:

Towards the beginning of the year I would take each scripture mastery and write each one on a note card.  I would then divide the class into several groups and give each group a few of the cards.  Their job was to take those references and come up with a little clue to help everyone remember the reference with the key phrase.  So for example I remember last year for Genesis 39:9 the clue was At the very beginning (because Genesis means beginnings) Joseph told Potiphar’s 39 year old wife NEIN (which is no in German) because he didn’t want to do that great wickedness!   So you can see it contains the reference AND the scripture’s general message.  It is ok if it is silly – sometimes the sillier it is, the better they remember it.  One reason this is a really good activity is that they have to sit and study the scripture mastery scriptures you have given them in order to come up with a good clue.  I posted a list of clues I came up with for the Doctrine and Covenants here for an example of what they could look like.

  • Beat Your Neighbor:

I would pair up the students into twos and have them push their desks up next to each other.  Then they would take one set of scripture mastery cards like above and lay them all out on the desk (reference up or phrase up), and then you (the teacher) would call out a reference (if it the phrases is up) or a phrase (if the reference is up).  The first out of the pair to grab it makes their victory pile and then they count up their cards at the end.

  • Beat the Teacher:

This is similar to above except that they are not in pairs, and each student has their own set laid out on their desks.  But instead of YOU calling out the phrase or reference, the STUDENTS do.  So you go up and down the rows and each student takes a turn calling it out.  The goal of the student is to BEAT THE TEACHER.  So you are playing along with them and if they get grab their card before you do and call out “Got it!” then they get to add it to their victory pile.  This is a good game because you can just play it for 5 minutes or so and when the time is up then the student with the most points win.

  • Beat the Class:

Again this is similar to above except they are playing against the entire class.  So you put all of the desks in two long rows.  The rows should be facing each other and pushed up against one another.  So if I were sitting in a desk, there is another student across from me who is facing me, but there is also students to my left and right.  The students play the person directly across from them.  They lay out a set of cards (you can do all 25 or you could do the first 10 if it is earlier in the year), and you call out a phrase or reference.  The first one to grab it makes their victory pile.  After an undesignated amount of cards called out (you can do 1 or 10 – each round can be different), you say “end of round!” and they count them up.  The one who wins then moves up 1 seat, and the one who loses moves down 1 seat – so everyone is changing seats and moving up or down the row – except for the very front person!  The goal is to get to the front row and to stay there!

  • Up the Row:

In this game their row is their team.  You give each row one set of cards and they divide them up evenly among their row (so each person may have 5 or so cards).  Each person then takes their cards and puts them phrase or reference up.  Then you call out a phrase or reference (which ever is not showing).  The person on the row that has it then grabs their card and passes it to the front person who will then show it to you.  The first row to show it then gets the point.  There will be times when the card is already on the front row and other when it is on the back – that is the fun of it – and each row will be different.  Also – after every few rounds have the kids switch cards around so they have to become familiar with more cards than just their original five.

  • On the Forehead:

This is a game you can play after the kids are pretty familiar with the key phrases and references.  Put them in groups of three or four, with each kid with their own set of cards.  On the count of 3, they all take a card off of the bottom of the pile and hold it up on their forehead (without looking at it).  They then go around the circle asking ONE yes or no question at a time.  Like “is my scripture about repentance”? or “does my scripture have a “7” in it?” – the kids in their circle answer their question and they then get 1 guess of what is on their forehead.  If they get it, then they make their victory pile.  If they don’t, then the next student gets to ask their question.  Once someone gets their scripture right, then everyone takes theirs off their foreheads and puts them back in their piles and then starts a new round.   * This is a good game because the more familiar you are with the scriptures then the easier it is.  Also, in order to be able to answer the “yes” or “no” you have to know something about the scripture on the other person’s forehead.

  • Tests:

I gave a lot of little tests throughout the quarter.  I found that when they knew the scriptures, then they liked the tests because it was an easy way for them to get points.  Also, I always gave them a few minutes to cram (using the cards) right before the test.  It was all just part of my plan to cement the references and phrases in their heads.

I would repeat a lot of these games over and over.  Once the students were familiar with the game, I would then have the students be in charge of running the game rather than me.

* I wasn’t big on handing out treats in class when they would win something , so typically winning meant extra credit points on their grade sheet.


Now that they know the phrases and references I would then focus on the entire scripture mastery scriptures and the overall doctrines and principles found in them.  This is NOT when I start memorizing – I just try and give them TONS of exposure to the scriptures so when it is time to memorize they have a really great grasp on the scriptures.  When playing any of the games below, it is good to have all of the scriptures in front of them on one sheet like this for easy referencing.  If you got my journals for your class, the scriptures are already in there for them.  I wouldn’t play any of these games without a cheat sheet until 4th quarter.

You can see this activity on this post.

You can see this activity on the same post as the one above.

  • Beat your neighbor/student/ class:  This is the same as the games in first quarter except that you call out random phrases from the scriptures and not just the key phrases.


This one always had me in tears laughing.  You can read about it here.

  • ESP:

I always loved playing this one.  In this game, their row is their team.  You start by giving everyone a 1/2 sheet of paper and have them fold it in half and write their names on the front.  Then you have them open it up and number 1-20 or how ever many rounds you want to play.  Now give each row a colored piece of paper where they can keep track of their score.  This paper should be given to the person on the front row, and then after each round that paper is passed back one person.  Whoever has the paper is “it” and everyone else is going to try and have “ESP” with that person – or in other words they are going to try and come up with the same answer as them.  To play the game you (the teacher) gives the students a scenario like:  “What scripture mastery would you use if you were giving a talk on repentance?” and then everyone has 30 seconds (and it must be silent) to write down their answer and then you say “pass”, and they pass their cards to the person with the score card.  The person who is “it” is right no matter what so they get an automatic point and then they get additional points for every match on their team.  Sometimes everyone will match them, and sometimes everyone on the team will have the same answer except for the person who is “it” – that is the fun of it.  The thing I like about this game is that they have to really think about the scriptures and then explain their answers to their team when they wrote something different.  Some other scenarios are:  What scripture would you use with hymn #____, what scripture would you share with your friend who is nervous for their big AP test, what scripture would you put in a letter to a missionary, what scripture would help you if you were going through a really hard trial, what is a good scripture to help motivate you to share the Gospel with your friends,what scripture would you share with your family right before General Conference, etc….

  • Slap the Desk:

In this game their row is their team again.  You will call out a phrase from a scripture mastery and everyone has to turn to that scripture in their scriptures or hold up the right scripture mastery card.  Once the person on the very front of the row has it then they reach back and slap the desk behind them which sets off a chain reaction where the second person then slaps the desk behind them and so on until the last desk is slapped and they then raise their hand.  So everyone quickly finds the scripture, but they have to wait until their desk is slapped before they can slap the desk behind them.  After each round have everyone move up a desk so that the same person doesn’t have the stressful first desk position.  Also, I always let them help each other so that those who don’t know the scripture doesn’t feel left out.

  • Pictionary and Charades:

I just keep a stack of cards with random phrases with their references and pull them out for a quick game of either Pictionary or Charades.  When the kids guess they have to say both the phrase and reference.

  • Tests:

After this quarter I will give my students a good test like this one.


At this point the kids will have a lot of confidence in the scripture mastery scriptures.  They will start to bring them up in lessons and devotionals when you are discussing doctrines that relate to them.  Through all of my years of teaching I have found that memorizing scriptures is difficult for a lot of my students so I try and make it easier by letting them pass them off using the first letter of each word.  One year I made another set of cards like this that they could use.  But if you got my seminary journals,then the first letters are in there already.  It is good to have some motivating goal like once the entire class passes off 100 or whatever scriptures then you will have a pancakes or something.  I would give 5 minutes at the beginning of class for them to come up and pass it off to me or I also would choose a few different kids each day to help pass off.  That is helpful so you move more kids through, but also as they help pass off they hear scriptures over and over and suddenly they are ready to pass off that scripture themselves.


This is finally the quarter that I would focus on complete memorization.  A sticker chart or something can be good or you can put them in teams and have a prize for the first team to pass them all off.  If you find that passing off is taking too much time at the beginning of class, you can have “pass off Fridays” or even allow them to pass them off to their parents at home.  You can play a lot of the same games this quarter as the previous quarters, you can just limit their cheat sheets.

Alright!  So there you go.  If you have any questions just leave them in the comments below and I will try and answer them for you.


  1. I SO wish you were my teacher when I was in Seminary….20 years ago…sigh. But you are young than me, so that’s NOT possible. Thanks for all your hard work and effort you put into this website! I can’t wait to see the new changes too!

  2. Wow Shannon!! If more people only knew what an amazing reference this is. How selfless and kind of you to share this. I wish I would have had this when I taught seminary. I know why every student who had you for seminary says that you were their very favorite teacher (two of them are in my ward- -Morgan and Jenna Jensen).

  3. Do you have a mad gab game for New Testament. We used your old testament game last year & my kids loved it, even at 5:30 in the morning!

  4. THANK YOU! I have slowly been figuring this out on my own as a seminary teacher of 3 years, that learning the key words and phrases is sooo important. THen if they don’t have it completely memorized they will be able to go to the reference when needed and will know what it is about. Now I know that I will go forward with your experience and confidently approach teaching it like this! Thank you so much for sharing. Your Sister, Liana Kearl

  5. This is my first year teaching seminary and one of my students told me about your website. I love using games to teach and these are awesome ideas. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing scripture mastery, so I’m really excited to use this. One thing they told me in training is that they no longer require the kids to memorize the scriptures word for word. They just need to know where it is found and what it teaches. Do you have a reference card for New Testament?

  6. Old Testament Mad Gab was a highlight for my students last year! Do you have a Mad Gab game for the New Testament?

  7. this is so awesome! I like all the games you came up for seminary. Being a seminary student myself i can personally tell you Fridays are my favorite because that is our bingo day. Every year the class comes up with rules (last year we did our own 10 commandments of thou shalt not do homework in class and so on. this year we did be attitudes of be on task, be reverent, be awake, etc.) Well we’ve always had food Fridays with rules like Thou shalt be fed on Fridays and Be nourished on Fridays so before we end class and start eating we play bingo with banana nut cheerios as the markers and everyone gets to eat them as we play because they are so delicious!!! so our teacher reads the reference and everyone has to find it on their own personally made bingo card and we make sure to share with the class what the scripture is 🙂 but yeah that’s how we do it because games are the best way to do it!

  8. So how do you get them to memorize 25 scriptures in roughly eight weeks? Some of the long ones are so much more difficult…that’s roughly one verse every couple of days.

    1. Hi Diane!
      I found that after so much exposure to the scriptures for the first half of the year, memorizing them is so much easier because they have heard them so much. During the “memorization” quarters, I would give them 10 minutes at the beginning of class to pass off a scripture. I grabbed a few students to be the ones who would sign them off, so they would sit there and hear them over and over and over. Typically, the students would pass off a couple of scriptures in that ten minutes until the harder ones come and then they would use the whole time for that one scripture. Truthfully, some kids wouldn’t put forth the effort for those harder ones – but most of my students would have at LEAST 20 scriptures memorized – and ALL of them understood, recognized, and able to find in the scriptures. That was good enough for me. 🙂
      Oh – and I usually did some kind of reward when certain goals were met. Like once 25% of the scriptures were passed off then we would have cookies and milk, then 50% something else… I tried to keep it fun and meaningful.

  9. Love your ideas about seminary. I was curious how the four quarters of scripture mastery worked with your classes. If you typically taught students for only one semester or two quarters how did you work through your four quarters plan for scripture mastery? Thanks.

  10. Thanks for the great ideas. When you laminate the cards to you laminate the whole page and then cut or do you cut the cards and then lay them out so that you have some laminate overlapping the edges. Seems like SO much work!

    1. Hi Jackie 🙂
      It IS a lot of work – but it was totally worth it for me since I used them all year long. Yes, you have to cut them out and then laminate them in order to get sealed edges.
      Another option is to print them onto card stock and then glue the insides together with a good glue – and skip the laminating. It won’t be as long lasting, but may give you what you want.
      Good luck! 🙂

  11. You are amazing! Thank you so much for doing this and sharing for others to benefit. My son in only a couple months old and I am so excited to have a good system to teach my children when they get older. Thank you so much!

  12. I’m writing music the BOM Scripture Mastery scriptures.

    Video links, free mp3s and free pdfs can be found at:

    The first eight songs are posted, with one or more being added each week.

    It’s my aim to put these scared words into musically appropriate settings that are singable and memorable.

    I’m interested in talking with LDS singers and musicians (including seminary classes!) who would be willing to help (for free) to record these free songs.

Leave a Reply