“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Learning the names of your kids right away is a must! It instantly connects you with them and they move from being anonymous to, “oh man, she knows my name!”.
My mom was a substitute teacher for years. She had a few tricks to help her survive the day. The first one was to always start by telling the class a joke. She mainly taught high school so that opened up the door for lots of silly and probably off color ones too.
Her second trick was to learn the students’ names right away. That way they went from being “hey you” to “Tommy, turn around!” and that got their attention REALLY fast.
I took that trick to heart and always made sure to learn every child’s name as quickly as possible.
That meant I had to find a lot of name games to keep it fun for kids while I was busy committing the names to memory. As a music teacher I see on average around 300 kids a week so if you are a classroom teacher with 20 kids, I’m little jealous.
I did find that having a list in front of me or on the wall with the names helped me to lock in the name even better. When we use multiple senses to retain information, it helps us to retrieve the information more easily because it’s kept in more than one spot in our brain.
Below are 4 name games that kids love and I hope you will too.
#1 Higgelty, Piggelty, BumbleBee
This catchy rhyme can be sung or chanted with the same great results. There are so many variations to this activity, that you really could do it every day for weeks! Begin by going around the circle and having children say their name at the end of the rhyme. If children are not comfortable enough with the group to say it, they may need some help. Just be sure to not force them to say their name. It will come with time.
#2 Willoughby, Wallaby Wee
If you don’t know this funny rhyming song yet, it’s time to learn it! Even babies will enjoy it especially if you bring along an elephant finger puppet or hand puppet to join in the fun.
Rhyming is a major component to learning to read. The sooner children are able to manipulate language the way we do in this song, the sooner they will learn to read. Click here to read more about why rhyming is such a key player in reading.
#3 Who is Here Today?
Taking the time to show each child that they are a valuable member of the learning community, builds self-confidence and a sense of belonging. When these skills are fostered at an early age in children, it helps cement the idea that they are important and special.
Make sure to look each child in the eye when their name is called. This lets them know you are focusing on only them. Emergent literacy is also developed in this activity when a picture of each child along with their name is used. By providing this visual clue, a child can correctly identify their written name in print as well as their classmates’ names – double win!
#4 Johnny Whoops
While it might seem boring and basic to you as an adult, kids love the simplest things like hearing their name played with in funny ways.
“Johnny Whoops” is the perfect song for this.
You can either go around the circle and do one child’s name at a time, or use a name jar especially if you have a big class.
To use this method, simply place a popsicle stick with each child’s name written on it in a jar. Then select a few children’s names to do at each circle time.
Start on your pinky finger and say “Johnny” as you point to the tip of each finger. After the pointer finger, slide your finger over to the thumb while saying “whoops”. Then work your way back to the pinky saying “Johnny” on each finger.