I learn every single students’ name on the first day of school with a simple name game. And I have over 100 students every semester! How??
I play a fun name game at the beginning of class! I got the idea from the game “desert island” where students tell what they would bring if they are stranded on a desert island. The difference is I changed the item to an interesting fact about each student.
I also added an element of memorization. Here’s how the game works:
1. Tell students to think of an interesting fact about themselves
Inform the class that they will be playing a game to get to know each other (cue the groaning haha). Tell them to think of one interesting fact about themselves.
It always helps to give them some examples.
My favorite color is _____.
I have _____ siblings.
My favorite sports team is _____.
Make sure you think of an interesting fact about yourself, too.
Example: I’m Mrs. Bowden and I love dogs.
Alternative: Have students think about an adjective that starts with the first letter of their first name.
Example: Mrs. Bowden is blissful
2. Pick a student to start the game
You want to go in order, so pick a student at the top left or top right of the classroom.
That student must say their name and the interesting fact (or alliterative adjective) about themselves.
Example: I am Sally, and I like to bake.
3. Second student’s turn
The student sitting behind them will go next. That student must say the name of the previous student and then say their own name and their fact.
Example: That is Sally. I am John, and I have 8 brothers.
4. Third student’s turn
Then move to the next student. That student must say the names of the first two students, plus his or her name and fact.
Example: That is Sally. That is John. I am Heather and I play basketball.
Keep this going until the last student has to say every other students’ name!
Then guess what–YOU get to go last! The teacher must say every students’ name.
Make it extra challenging by also saying their fun fact or adjective!
Once I have said every name, I pretty much have them memorized!
Why This Name Game Works
It’s probably obvious why this name game works–repetition!! By the time the game is over, you have heard the students’ names multiple times (except for the last student).
At the end of class, I go through the names again. I also ask if any student wants to volunteer to say all the names again.
Important Final Step
The next few days, I run through the names a few more times to make sure I have learned them all. This is an important step! According to this article in Psychology Today, spaced repetition is the best way to remember something. By repeating the names every day, you are truly learning them. Make sure the students do this, too!
I hope this name game is a fun way to learn names! I use this not only to get to know my students, but as a classroom management technique. Read more about my classroom management tips here.
Let me know if you use this game in your classroom by commenting below.
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