Sword Drills for Kids: Encouraging Your Children to Study the Word

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Sword drills for kids can be a great way to help your children become familiar with the Bible. Here’s a peek at how our family integrates this fun activity into our Family Bible Time.

Each morning, we gather around the living room for Family Bible Time. During this time, we read the Bible, sing the hymn we are memorizing that month, share prayer requests, and have a sword drill.

The sword drill is a favorite for many of the kids. They really enjoy racing to find things in the Bible. And we love that they’re purposefully in God’s word, becoming more familiar with it.

We were first introduced to a traditional sword drill years ago at church. The Pastor had the church divide up into two teams, and hold our swords high in the air. Then he called out a passage of scripture and the first team to find it, stand up, and read it (or recite it) won the round.

And while this was a fun way to dive into scripture, we decided to mix things up a bit for our home version.

Wondering what else our family does in the morning? Read this post to see what our mornings look like. 

How Our Family Does Sword Drills for Kids

At home, it doesn’t make sense to divide up into teams or keep points. We didn’t want to encourage excessive competition around the Bible, especially since we have kids of various abilities. Instead, we all work independently. The kids don’t earn points, but they are all expected to try to the best of their ability.

There’s something precious about most of the kids standing up and calling out the words to John 3:16, Romans 3:23, or other passages that they’ve memorized in unison.

The basic routine of our sword drills for kids follows the same format we learned in church long ago. One person is the caller. Everyone else has their Bible, and begins searching the pages for the right spot. Whoever finds it first stands up and begins to read.

The other kids continue locating the right passage, so they can check the other person’s work. This encourages them all to keep looking, instead of giving up as soon as someone else stands.

4 Different Types of Sword Drills for Kids

At home, we don’t just do the traditional, scripture searching sword drill. We actually have four different things that we do. Each day, we’ll typically rotate through 2-3 sets, giving the kids 8-12 things to find.

Here’s a peek at the different sword drills we do:

  • Scripture sword drills (the traditional one)
  • Word sword drills (the kids have to find a specific word anywhere in the Bible)
  • Character sword drills (the kids have to find a person in the Bible)
  • Book sword drills (the kids have to state the book that comes before and after the given book)

Let’s look at each one a little more in-depth.

Scripture Sword Drills

If you’re familiar with the term sword drill, this is what it probably looks like. A scripture is given and the participants race to find it. Once located, they stand up and read.

And of course, if they have the scripture memorized, they can stand up and recite without searching.

Though any scripture is fair game, here are some of our favorite passages to practice. The younger kids are really picking up some Bible verses just through the repetition our sword drills provide.

  • Genesis 1:1
  • Genesis 1:27
  • Joshua 1:9
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • Jeremiah 33:3
  • Daniel 3:17
  • Matthew 9:37-38
  • Mark 16:15
  • John 3:16
  • Romans 3:23
  • Romans 3:25

Of course, we sometimes do themed sword drills. Around Christmas, we’ll often use prophesies about Christ or passages from Luke 2 or Matthew 2.

Word Sword Drills

This type of sword drill encourages the children to listen to a specific word, think about where in the Bible it might be, and then go look for it. Once they find it, they stand up read their passage and share the address.

Here are some of the words we might include in a sword drill:

  • Heaven
  • Gold
  • Tree
  • Temple
  • Lion
  • Unicorn
  • Sword
  • Pillar
  • Bread
  • Fish
  • House
  • Light
  • Spirit
  • Son
  • Honor
  • Door
  • Selah

We try to pick words that go with a certain story of the Bible that the kids know. But, sometimes we throw in some hard words for a challenge. That could include things like:

  • Justified
  • Transgression
  • Eternal
  • Quicken

This is the perfect way to talk about what a word means. We’ve had many discussions sparked by a single word.

Note: We typically allow the kids to count any variation of the word. So if they find a plural of a word or a verb that ends in “ing” instead of the base word, that’s okay. This makes it easier for the younger kids who aren’t quite reading as well.

Character Sword Drills

We want our kids to be familiar with many of the stories in the Bible and where they’re located. This way when they’re older they can more easily navigate to these passages.

So, we added character drills to our sword drills. For these, we call out the name of a person in the Bible. Then the kids go to find him or her.

The kids’ favorites to find are the first or middle names from our family that are taken from the Bible. Here’s that list:

  • Rebekah
  • Elijah
  • James
  • Elisabeth
  • Damaris
  • Simon, a tanner (can you see why we went with this one? :D) 
  • Andrew
  • Ruth
  • Luke
  • Nathanael
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah

Other favorites include:

  • Saul (they can go for either New or Old Testament)
  • Sarah
  • Shadrach
  • Nicodemus
  • Jonah
  • Rhoda
  • John the Baptist

There are so many possibilities! We try to include some of the people the kids are learning about in Sunday school, or that we’re reading about in our family Bible studies.

Book Sword Drills

This round always goes the fastest. Since we’re working hard on memorizing the books of the Bible, this is a fun way to practice.

The caller shouts out a book. Then, the kids have to stand up and say the book that comes before it, that book, and the book that comes after. So if the book called was Ezra, they’d say:

2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah 

and if it was Daniel, they’d say:

Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea

It works for books in the New Testament too. If the book is Mark, the kids would say:

Matthew, Mark, Luke

and so on…

The going backwards part is hard! The kids can quickly start going forward from almost any given book. But teaching the brain to go backwards is a lot harder.

It’s a good way to practice. And we’re getting better.

The Kids Pick Sword Drill

Typically, either Mom or Dad does the calling out and selecting of passages. However, once in a while we’ll bring out a bowl  and the kids get the chance to write down the items for the sword drill. So on a piece of paper they might write, “1 Timothy 5:17.” or “Sheep.”

They can write as many as they’d like, as long as there is only one thing on each paper. Then, the next morning during Bible Time, we bring out the bowl and start pulling out all of the ideas the kids had.

This twist was a lot of fun. It allows the kids to get the chance to share some of the scripture they’ve memorized or things they’re learning about. Since it was such a hit in our family, we’re planning on doing our sword drills this way about once a week in the future.

Other Sword Drill Options

We just use Bibles for our sword drills. And paper for the Kids Pick version. But, there are other ways to do sword drills. For instance, Games for Youth Ministry has a download you can get. Then you put in your scripture and it shows on the screen.

For a larger group, this might be a good way to avoid having to shout. You could also create your own PowerPoint slide show with each reference on it.

However, we’ve decided that trying to integrate tech doesn’t work on a daily basis. If we had to stop and update things like that every morning, we wouldn’t be able to be consistent with our sword drills.

One alternative would be to print out a giant list of words, scriptures, characters, and books you want to include. Then you can just cross them off as you go. This would be less “winging it” and would be a better fit for some people.

Do You Do Sword Drills in Your Family?

Have you considered adding sword drills to your family Bible Time? This time of friendly competition allows your child to become more familiar with people, places, and events in the Bible. It’s a great way to reinforce scripture memory as well.

And sword drills are also fun in church. So if you’re looking for a missionary family to come in and share this fun time with your youth, get in touch today! We’re still on deputation, trying to raise the last bit of support to be at Missionary Acres full-time, so we’d love to share our ministry with you and have some fun as well.


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