Name Games! and a FREEBIE!

Hi there!  This post is about using your students' names as a beginning of the year literacy theme.  In kindergarten, these little students are babies!  They are just learning to write letters, and names are the most important letters in their world right now.  So, using names as a first theme for BTS is a no brainer.  Here are a few ideas to help you do some name activities in your classroom.

OK, first things first... I do not  put pictures of students on my blog very often.  When I do, faces are obscured, and permission has been given by parents.  THESE ARE NOT PICTURES OF REAL STUDENTS.  They are stock photos of kids that I have a commercial license to use.  I wanted a few "pretend" kids to show you what I do in my classroom without using my own students' names or pics.

Just had to get that off my chest.

OK, Back to learning with names...

 I always start my year with several sets of name cards.  It is really nice to make at least one set with pictures of the kiddos.  Here are some activities I like to do with names using the cards:

This fun student made emergent reader is a favorite with my kiddos all year long.  I take each child's photo early in the year.  I print out one color photo for each child.  Then I make black and white copies of all the photos.  I make sure there are plenty to go around.  For centers, we make the pages of this book using name cards.  I only do a few pages in the books, but you can do as many as you want.  The kids simply glue on a picture of a friend and write his or her name in the sentence below.

I use the color picture in each child's book for the last page, "I see me!"  Since there is no writing involved on that page, I make them, and the kids see it for the first time when they read the assembled book.  It's a surprise and they love it!

These are a favorite all year long.  I love these books because they are a great way to teach all those important early reading skills, especially pointing to the words!  It would be really easy to make these yourself.  I am sharing this idea freely.  So, go for it!  If you don't have the time to make it yourself, you can get it in my TpT shop for a buck.  Friends - Student made Emergent Reader for Back to School

After kids have had practice with writing names in the book, they can continue to practice using a sheet like this.  This is super fun to have in your writing center so kids can do it on their own.  Make sure you have a set of name cards with it so they can easily write the names.  This sheet came from my Print and Go! Back to School (NO PREP) set. 

We always sort the names by the number of letters in each.  This is a fun sheet for each child to do after the name sorting activity.  It is a review of writing, number, tally marks, ten frames, and a little face drawing too.  You can find it here: Print and Go! Back to School (NO PREP).

I also use the name cards to play games with my kiddos during attendance or circle time or whenever I have a few extra minutes with my group.  I like to cover the name and just show the first letter.  Then kids need to guess who it could be.  Once they are familiar with the names in the class, this becomes a great critical thinking activity.  When you have two kids with the same first letter, they can then decide who it is by looking at the second letter, and so on.  It is lots of fun for beginning of the year letter learning.  You can also clap the syllables in each name, do a rhyming game with the names, or phonemic awareness poems like Hickety Picktey Bummble bee, or Banana fanna....  you know those poems right?  Just in case you don't, here are examples of them using my name (Katie):

Hickety Pickety Bumble bee
Can you read this name for me?
Can you clap it?
Katie (with a clap).
Can you shout it?
Katie (shouting)!
Can you whisper it?
Katie (in a whisper).

I do that little poem with sight words too.  It is very useful and can be changed up in any way you like, the clapping and shouting part, that is.  I recommend that you always end it with whisper, that way you have your group quiet and listening at the end of each name.  They can get a little excited with all the clapping and shouting.  But, it is lots of fun.

Here is the other one:

Katie, Katie, bo batie,
Banana fanna fo fatie,
Me, my, mo, matie,

You can do that one with any word or name.  It can get a little tricky wit the long names, but just go for it!  The rhyming and alliteration make it a fun way to play with sounds in language.  Perfect for our little Kinder friends.  Perfect phonemic awareness practice.  And it's FUN!  Woo hoo!

I also do Student of the Day!  It is the ultimate in literacy learning through student names.  I will do a post on that once I get started with my new group of sweeties.  Stay tuned...

OK, were you really just looking for this?

Here is your Name Bingo freebie.  It's a fun and purposeful way to get some name writing practice into your centers time early in the year.  First, kids write their name on the grid one letter in each box.  Then repeat until all boxes are filled.  The photo at the top of the post is an example of how it should look when it is complete.  THIS IS HARD FOR KINDERS!   So, I highly recommend you do this as a teacher supported activity.   After names have been written correctly onto the grid (and traced with marker if you like), then you can laminate, and use these as game boards for ABC bingo with any set of alphabet cards.  If you need some cards and other games for alphabet learning, you can find some here: ABC Games! Fun Activities for learning the Alphabet.

Just click on the image below to go get your Name Bingo FREEBIE:

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you found some helpful ideas for your classroom.
Happy teaching!

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