Why a Name Study?
As K teachers, we recognize that the one thing the kids can read and write when entering K is their names. We put their names on bulletin boards, on their cubbies, in the meeting area and class chart. From the very first day of school, we sing songs to learn each others names. A name study unit encompasses the entire individual and helps us focus on bringing the children out of their shells. By using their names, we may find that they are more focused and less distracted. The main language / literacy goal is to learn letter names/sounds, rhymes, sentence segmentation, syllabification and initial/end sounds.
The Name Game
The name game examines one child’s name at a time. We use the smart board and dissect a child’s name on it. The smart board allows us to save and compare later. Initially, the students names are written on large cardstock and placed on the floor in front of the class. We count the letters, vowels and consonants. Then we talk about how to cut the name into its syllables or parts. Example: Na-o-mi. The first cut would happen after the a, the second after the o. Then we cut up the entire thing and look at each of the letters. We then move the letters around and make words. We find rhymes, both nonsensical and real. To complete the experience, we ask each child three interview questions in order to find out more about them. It is our hope that those children that are weak with some of these skills will get stronger as the weeks go on, we choose their names last so as to give them time to process and learn.
Box o' Memories
This activity is tied to our name game. We schedule each parent to come and talk about the origins of their child's name and share their fondest memories. Our parents readily enter the classroom excited and ready to share about their child. Parents bring everything: swatches of hair, umbilical cords, bronzed shoes, digital slide shows, clothing, worn blankets, old rattles, stuffed animals and even diapers (clean). The final component of the share is the question and answer session between the child and their classmates. Our kids this year asked some of the funniest questions...What was your first candy? When did you stop wearing diapers?, What was your first/favorite food? We manage to do our box o' memories in twenty minutes at the start of the day. We try our best to get our parents off to work by 9 am in the morning. Occasionally, we have afternoon shares. These tend to work great as they are scheduled close to dismissal which allows our parents to take the kids home with you at the end of the day.