How do you even begin to describe the importance of one's name? Whether it was found in book, taken from a memorable member of the family, or even created just for you, your name is a gift that was given; it is yours and only yours to keep for the rest of your life.
As a kindergarten teacher, I am presented with this list each year of 20 or so names, usually around the end of July. I get to know these names like the back of my hand before I ever even lay eyes on the sweet children that will make those names come to life for me in the next 180 days that spend together.
It was my third or fourth year teaching when I hurried up to school to retrieve the aforementioned list to scan it and begin learning the names. One name jumped out at me immediately-- Harvey. "Oh, how cute!" I thought. I was going to spend the year teaching a cute, red headed, freckled faced little boy! I could see him like a character from a book. Needless to say, Harvey was not a he, nor did he have red hair or freckles. In through the door came sweet sweet Harvey Ellen; super stylish in a monogrammed dress and shiny blond hair.
I first learned about The Name Game from Mrs. Meachem's website. She "plays" about 4 or 5 rounds of The Name Game with her students. In my kindergarten class, we play two! It is a very exciting moment when I decide on and announce who is going to be--The Name Game Person of the Day!
I begin by writing the name on a sentence strip. We all cheer for the child that is chosen! Then, I show the class the name as a whole and then cut it apart into letters. I place each letter in the pocket chart one at a time, saying the name of each letter as I do it. Then I shout, "What does THAT spell?" And the children shout back the name. Very exciting stuff here!!
Next, we play "Mix it. Fix it." I mix the letters and the child has to fix the letters, say each one in order, and then ask, "What does THAT spell?" Then, we count the letters in the name and compare it to the ones we've done previously.
Each child then draws a picture of "The Name Game Person of the Day" and writes the name somewhere on the paper. Mrs. Misenheimer, our Kindergarten Assistant, then binds the pages so that child will have a book to take home and keep. The children LOVE taking home a collection of drawings of none other than themselves!
The Name Game is an important part of community building as we get to know the friends we'll be spending our kindergarten year with. Round 1 lasts as long as the amount of children you have in your class. I go through each name once and then begin Round 2.
There are two big changes that occur during Round 2. While playing "Mix it. Fix it." other children get to try and fix the child's name and then during the drawing/writing time, the children must include at least one detail about the child. We interview them for a few minutes before going to work.
We are about half way through Round 1 as of now......let the Name Game fun continue!