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Helping Students Learn to Use Scripture Aids and Mark Scriptures

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Since this is my first year teaching Seminary, I'm still learning and looking for ideas on how to teach students to use the Gospel Study Aids like the Bible dictionary, index, gazeteer, maps, footnotes, and other supplements during their scripture study. Here are a few of the things I've used with success, and I'll add more as I find them.

Please share your ideas, too, in the comments section. We're all learning together and can benefit from others' tips.

Use the Bible Dictionary

Seriously. The Bible Dictionary is awesome. I use it over and over during class -- at least once per week, and lately, during the History books of the Old Testament, I'm using it almost daily. Here are some examples of when you can use it:

- A student asks a question about giants or unicorns. (See BD, giants or BD, unicorn)
- A student mentions how the names in the Old Testament fits with their world history courses. (See BD, chronology)
- You're reading 2 Samuel 22:27 and come upon a weird word. (BD, Froward)
- You are introducing a new prophet or book in the Bible. (see the Bible dictionary entry for that prophet or book, Judges and Chronicles are especially helpful)
- Students are getting confused about the timing of Bible events (BD, chronology)
- You're curious about what the Temple of Solomon was like (BD, Temple of Solomon)
- You're reading the Psalms, and a student asks what the word "selah" means (BD, Selah)
- What exactly is Frankincense, anyway? (BD, Frankincense)
- A student asks a question asking for more data during class that you can't answer.

I really can't emphasize it enough: familiarize yourself with the contents of the Bible dictionary so that you can know when to call on it on the fly during class. The Bible dictionary has saved my bacon from being burnt on a difficult question on more than one occasion! It's awesome!


I used the maps when describing the Exodus, but since my scriptures have the old maps..... uh.... yeah it's pretty bad. Any ideas you have would be helpful!  Please post them below!

Do I use the Index or Topical Guide?

The Index and the Topical Guide are slightly different. While the Topical Guide has information on general topics and covers all 4 standard works, the Index covers only the material in the Triple. The Index also includes a great index of references to the names of individuals found in the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants. You might ask your students questions and have them find the answers to questions like the following:

- You are trying to find a scripture you heard that contains the word "dance". You know it's in the Old Testament but can't remember exactly where. (Topical guide)
- What would you use to find out more information about a person mentioned in the D&C? (Index)
- Where can you look to find out that scripture about the Waters of Mormon? (Index)
- You are giving a talk on obedience. Where might you start? (Topical Guide)
- Where can you look to determine how many Nephis there are in the Book of Mormon? (Index)

If they're getting really good at these, you might ask them some more advanced questions that include the Bible Dictionary:

- You're wondering about the Passover. (BD, Passover / BD, Feasts)
- You know that the parables are recorded in several places in the Bible. How can you find them quickly (BD, Gospels, Harmony of)
- You want to know where Lazarus was raised from the dead (BD, Gospels, Harmony of)
- You're wondering where the Bible came from (BD, Bible; BD, Bible, English; BD, canon)
- You're friend mentioned the Lord's Prayer. What is that, and where can you find it? (BD, Lord's Prayer -- why? because the words "Lord's Prayer" don't appear in the text, it's not going to be found in the Topical Guide)

Other Random Stuff

You have decided to supplement your study of the D&C with the Church History Institute manual to improve your understanding of how events unfolded in the D&C. You notice the revelations are not in chronological order. How can you study the D&C in time/chronological order? (See Chronological Order of Contents in the D&C. It's just after the testimony of the Twelve Witnesses)

Your little sister is bored in church. All you have is your scriptures to entertain her (Show her the Maps, illustrations in the Pearl of Great Price, Maps at the end of the D&C, charts in the Bible Dictionary, get her to read all the verses about unicorns in the scriptures)

You can't remember where Hosea is ... (Title Page, Bible)

Is Titus in the Old or New Testament? (Title Page, Bible)

Is there a map that shows Bethel? (Gazeteer)

You're teaching Sunday School about Abraham and Mount Moriah. Your students like visual aids. Where can you look? (Gazeteer)

Scripture Study Tools Games

  • Study Helps Jeopardy (emphasis New Testament) - I made this game back in 2012, but the site creator has deleted all the games that are that old.  Follow the link to find the questions and answers I used.  This game uses mentors/minions -- Freshman students were paired with an older student who already knew how to use the scripture study tools.  Minions answered the questions and played the game, but they could call on their Mentor for help at any time.  This was super effective in my class.

Scripture Marking Ideas

What Did You Underline?

This is an activity I use when I see that section from the reading has lots of great things to underline. Write the verse numbers you'd like the students to read on the board. Use something soft, like a beanbag or silicone toy (we call ours Samson), to toss between students.

After introducing your material, explain that you are about to play a game called "What did you underline?". Each student will read a scripture passage aloud and then tell the class what he or she would underline. (You may also ask them to share why they chose that particular section.) After the class discusses the verse, the teacher will call out the next verse, and the student tosses the beanbag to another classmate, who then reads the next verse. You may want to establish a few rules, like no overhand tosses, no aiming above the neck, or everyone gets a turn.

This is a fun activity, that most students really enjoy.

When planning a lesson I estimate about 3 minutes per passage for reading, discussing, and tossing.

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