Name Games and Other Ways to Learn All Those Names!

  • Wow!  There’s lots of names to learn at the beginning of the school year!  Here’s a few music activities I use at the beginning of the year from several of my different age groups.

    Little Secrets: I highly recommend having a list of the class names and a pencil ready.  Sometimes those little personal notes (notes for only YOU to see!) will help you remember a child’s name such as curly hair, very tall, huge smile, freckles,  etc.

    Lots of Name Calling! The more you force yourself to use the child’s name, the faster you will learn them, the more classroom control you will have, and the more bonding you will have with your students. Include things like “when I sing your name, come get a hand drum” or “when I sing “Goodbye Billy” you sing the same notes “Goodbye Mrs. Kleiner” and line up at the door.   

    Names on the list you cannot remember:  Say “If I call your name, please come get the instruments to pass out to your class.”  Then call the names of children you do not know!

    First and Last Name Game: Seated in a circle, as everyone pats the beat, one says “My first name is Lynn.”  Everyone echoes “Your first name is Lynn.”  “My last name is Kleiner.”  Everyone echos “Your last name is Kleiner.” Still to a 4 beat rhythm (hopefully!), the leader says their full name Lynn Kleiner. Everyone echoes Lynn Kleiner.  Then everyone says and does the following: “Next (pat) what’s (clap) yours?(point to the next person for their turn)”

    First Name Food Game: Everyone has a hand drum.  One child will also have a tambourine, indicating who’s turn it is.  The one with the tambourine plays the beat and says My name is Lynn and I like mangos(name a food).  Everyone echos, playing the beat on their drum, Her name is Lynn and she likes mangos. The tambourine is passed to the next person who then says their name and favorite food.

    Froggy Name Game: The kindergarten and grade one love my Funny Frog. He loves to jump to visit each student.  I throw Funny Frog as I sing “Sing me your name.”  The child who catches Funny Frog then throws it back and sings their name (hopefully using the same pitches).  I then catch the frog and sing the child’s name using the exact pitches the child used.   This activity is followed with my favorite back to school story to introduce the “rules” of the music room, Orff instruments, etc, called “Froggy Goes to School.”

    Hello Song for Names: For my youngest (Babies – age 5), I introduce one of my “Hello Songs.”  I have several to choose from in Lynn Kleiner’s Music Box but I suggest using the same one all year.  Its much more than just a “Hello Song,”  it’s  also used as a transition, instrument playing (ukulele, gathering drum, and more), movement, etc. In Music Box Downloads, the Hello songs include notation and many teaching suggestions. Encourage everyone to sing the child’s name:  Hello __________, Hello ___________, Hello ___________, or however indicated in the song.

    For other back to school tips, check out

  • Kari Duntz and Lynn Kleiner like this
  • Kate Hayden
    Kate Hayden My favorite Hello song with the littles is "willoughby"! The kids love strumming the uke on their name. Singing a hello song at the start of class helps me remember everyone's name quickly- and a seating chart helps, too!
    August 25, 2017
  • Janel  Ockman
    Janel Ockman There are 2 name games I use the my PreK and Kinder students ask for over and over again.
    #1. I have a Hello Ball (big yarn ball) that gets passed around at the start of class. Everyone sings the name of the student holding the ball using Sol and Mi....  more

    August 25, 2017
  • Kristin Izenbart
    Kristin Izenbart Doug Goodkin taught a fun name game at a workshop I went to last year called "What's Your Game?" The teacher sings "Mrs. Izenbart's my name", the class echoes "Hola", then she sings what her "game" is - jazz, piano, volleyball, etc. The children echo "O...  more
    August 25, 2017