Teaching Children the Ten Commandments


The Ten Commandments “became an integral part of our culture by appearing in verse form in one of McGuffey’s famous Readers.”

–D. Elton Trueblood


Above all else love God alone;

Bow down to neither wood nor stone.

God’s name refuse to take in vain;

The Sabbath rest with care maintain.

Respect your parents all your days;

Hold sacred human life always.

Be loyal to your chosen mate;

Steal nothing neither small nor great.

Report, with truth, your neighbor’s deed;

And rid your mind of selfish greed.

This is an easy way for children to begin to learn them. As they grow, read them the text itself, Exodus 20

.“Exhort your household to learn them word for word, that they should obey God…For if you teach and urge your families things will go forward.”–Martin Luther

[ Barna Research Group– 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna.]

[Joe Carter, at the Gospel Coalition, writes, ‘ we have forgotten the moral aspect of memorization. “A trained memory wasn’t just about gaining easy access to information,” says Joshua Foer, referring to the ancient world, “it was about strengthening one’s personal ethics and becoming a more complete person.” Foer adds that the thinking of the ancients was that only through memorization could ideas truly be incorporated into one’s psyche and their values absorbed.’]

Note: The worst attacks on the Ten Commandments are not from atheists who seek to destroy monuments, but from antinomian Christians. Be sure to read the quotes from Luther, Calvin, and Wesley in my comment below.  They all had to stand against the lawless Christians of their own day.

See: God’s Assignment: Teach Your Children His Word

See also, Your Child and Your TV


23 comments on “Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

  1. JohnBoy says:

    “Bow down to neither wood nor stone” is seriously anachronistic and pretty meaningless to adults and children alike today.

    I recommend thinking about what people have as God’s today. One example OTOMH is the god of success with the cult of celebrities. People would rather pay homage to Dancing with the Stars than worship God;
    or see the rich and powerful as “saints” to be emulated – viz prosperity Christianity;
    and read magazines about the lives of celebrities rather than the stories of serving God.

    No doubt there are other and better examples, but this will do as a start.

  2. floyd says:

    Funny, as I sit here writing, I’m looking at the Ten Commandments my wife has handwritten in red ink taped to our refrigerator… It’s been there on and off for four or five years… Even I finally memorized them!

  3. […] Teaching Children the Ten Commandments (textsincontext.wordpress.com) […]

  4. Michael Snow says:

    Obviously, this is just a starting point, one easy way for children to learn. Go on to other familiar Scriptures like the 23rd Psalm and the Beatitudes; favorite verses; and build on these. Parents are told to “diligently teach” their children (Deu. 6).

  5. Michael Snow says:

    Unlike yesteryear a la Trueblood’s quote, above, the Ten Commandment are no longer an integral part of children’s lives nor of our culture. If we truly seek to be salt and light in our world, we have much work to do. Find a place to start. Share this poem with others and point them forward.

  6. Michael Snow says:

    John Calvin:
    . “Some unskilful persons, from not attending to this, boldly discard the whole law of Moses, and do away with both its Tables, imagining it unchristian to adhere to a doctrine which contains the ministration of death. Far from our thoughts be this profane notion.”

    John Wesley:

    “In the highest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ, are they who openly and explicitly ‘judge the law’ itself, and ‘speak evil of the law;’ who teach men to break (to dissolve, to loose, to untie the obligation of) not one only, whether of the least or of the greatest, but all the commandments at a stroke. . . . The most surprising of all the circumstances that attend this strong delusion, is that they who are given up to it, really believe that they honor Christ by overthrowing His law, and that they are magnifying His office while they are destroying His doctrine! Yea, they honor Him just as Judas did when he said, ‘Hail, Master, and kissed Him.’ And He may as justly say to every one of them, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? It is no other than betraying Him with a kiss, to talk of His blood, and take away His crown; to set light by any part of His law, under pretense of advancing His gospel. Nor indeed can anyone escape this charge, who preaches faith in any such a manner as either directly or indirectly tends to set aside any branch of obedience: who preaches Christ so as to disannul, or weaken in any wise, the least of the commandments of God.”

    Martin Luther:

    “Nowadays there is a novel idea afoot! According to the promoters of this idea, the Law (that is, the 10 Commandments) should be completely removed from the Church. This is nothing else but deplorable and irreverent.
    “The entire Bible teaches that it is the Law which must initiate repentance…..Sin and death are not exposed by a Word of grace and comfort, but only by the Law.”

    “Exhort your household to learn them word for word, that they should obey God…For if you teach and urge your families things will go forward.”

  7. Naomi says:

    Reblogged this on Christian Resource Ministry and commented:
    Great ideas for teaching children the Ten Commandments

  8. jasonjshaw says:

    That’s a nice modernization of the ten commandments to keep it relevant! As for the commenter that suggested wood and stone to seem meaningless – I would say not so much if a comparison is drawn to plastic (in reference to money) and silicon (in reference to technology).

  9. Michael Snow says:

    “The deplorable, miserable conditions which I recently observed when visiting the parishes have constrained and pressed me to put this catechism of Christian doctrine into this brief, plain, and simple form. How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians, have been baptized, and receive the Holy Sacrament even though they do not know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments and live like poor animals of the barnyard and pigpen. What these people have mastered, however, is the fine art of tearing all Christian liberty to shreds.”–Martin Luther

  10. I like what you wrote in short summary yet understandable and rhythmic. Great for children to memorise them like learning maths at a young age.

    About the graven images, there are more to that than bowing to stones – https://stepintoeternity.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/the-ten-commandments/. I have also written in details of all commandments’ commentary.

    • Michael Snow says:

      Yes, more to it. I point out the need to go on the the text of Scripture. The poem is a starting point. Thanks for reading. It really is a shame how few Christians can even name the Ten Commandments in these times.

      • Lukewarm – that’s what I call them mostly. The narrow road the bible speaks about is a very straight narrow road and truly only a FEW find it… Knowing almost all people around me are lost souls, I had always the urge to spread God’s love and gospel…etc

    • Cordelia says:

      This piece was cogent, weetlwri-tln, and pithy.

  11. Messenger At The Crossroads says:

    Thanks for posting this. As a grandmother, I love little treasures like this for 3 little precious souls very dear to my heart. If ever there were a time when they will need these beginning Christian foundations in a form they can begin to relate to, it is now. Blessings to you.

  12. […] Teaching Children the Ten Commandments – Michael Snow Michael shares the Ten Commandments in rhyme from the McGuffey readers.  Looks like a good way to teach young children – maybe it could be put to music. […]

  13. K. Q. Duane says:

    Reblogged this on It's the Women, Not the Men! and commented:
    Excellent rhyme to teach kids the 10 essentials for a successful life.

  14. […] was taking a journey around the blog world and found myself at TextsinContext where I came across this post about a poem you can use to help children (and adults) to learn the 10 commandments. It struck a […]

  15. Michael Snow says:

    “…60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments.” Barna Research http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/01/20/the-scandal-of-biblical-illiteracy-its-our-problem-4/

  16. […] First= Teaching Children the Ten Commandments […]

  17. Cathy Parkes says:

    Can someone tell me who wrote the “Ten Commandments in Verse”. My Dad knew them as he went to the Greenfield Institute that used the McGuffy Readers which had that poem in it. I wanted to have it written in calligraphy for my siblings but wanted to credit the author. Thank you.

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