The first day of kindergarten is so exciting for our newest members of school, and it’s important for us to learn and remember everyone’s names. But it’s not always so easy to remember 20+ names on day one! So, get ready to discover some cool tricks that will make learning names in kindergarten (or any grade) a breeze!
Creating a Safe and Happy Classroom:
To help us remember names, it’s important to make our classroom a safe and happy place. We want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their names with us. We can talk about names, where they come from, and how special they are. Some names maybe new to you, or have different pronunciations from what you expected. But, hey, you remembered all the names in Game of Thrones, right? Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of each name!
Using Name Tags and Visual Clues:
This is one of my favorite tricks for learning names quickly. On Meet the Teacher night (or the first time you meet students) take a headshot photo of the students (make sure you have parental permission). Immediately after you’ve taken the photo, jot down the name of the student and check the spelling/nickname with the parent. Before the first day of school, print thumbnails of each student and glue to a sentence strip. Write each student’s name beside their photo and trim to size. I color coded mine to match the table group they were sitting with (e.g. Sally sits with the yellow group so her tag is yellow or has a yellow sticker on it). I then spread them out on the floor and every day students came into the classroom their first assignment was to find their name tag and check-in by dropping it onto the pocket chart. We used these name tags all year long – for lunch choices, center groups and for graphing. To start with, students look for their photos, but as the days progress they quickly learn to recognize their names. This is a great way for you to learn names quickly – use them as flash cards before school and everyone will be thrilled you’ve learned their names!
There is nothing more important to young learners than their own names, and to see them in print makes them very proud! These editable name hats are a great way to celebrate the first day of school, and make another great photo op! Snap a picture of students wearing the hats and send home the first night of school and you will instantly win brownie points with parents. Even better, the grade level is editable so this hat is perfect for day care and lower elementary students! Let your students wear them all day, to lunch and home on the bus and by the end of the day everyone who has met them in school will know their name! Grab yours here today!
Repeating and Practicing:
To remember names better, we need to say them more often. We can use each other’s names when we talk or play games. For example, we can say, “Good job, Alex!” or “Nice to meet you, Lily!” The more we say names, the better we remember them.
Asking for Help:
It’s OK to forget! Tell your students that you are trying so hard to learn everyone’s names, but you may sometimes not remember names. Explain that you will use a strategy to help you learn: you will ask for help. This is a great jumping off point for making everyone feel comfortable, that you understand your students are going to need lots of help in the year too, and you know that they will use the same strategy of asking for help from you and from others.
By using these fun strategies, we can become experts at remembering our classmates’ names in kindergarten. Let’s have a blast getting to know each other and remembering everyone’s special names! Wishing you a fun and successful first day of school!