The name game

If your students enjoy playing “Simon Says” they are sure to love this game!

You’ve probably all heard of the old song “The Name Game” that goes “Shirley, Shirley, bo birley, banana fanana fo firley, fee fi fo mirley, Shirley.”  Well, this name game is a little different, but just as much fun I assure you!  This simple game is a great way to practice name recognition…

How the Game Works

To prepare for our name game, we wrote each child’s name in large letters on a piece of sturdy cardboard.  We wanted our name boards to be sturdy so that they could be used again for other games or activities.  The goal of our game was to promote name recognition by building on fun experiences.  To begin our game, Deborah held up each name board and let the children call out the names as she distributed the boards to each individual child…

The children took their name boards and pointed to their letters, attempting to spell their names.  Our older children know all of the letters in their names, while our younger ones are still working on theirs…

Our name game was fashioned after “Simon says.”  Deborah played Simon and called out directions like, “Simon says stand on your name!”

Or “Simon says hold your name above your head!”

Why We Love the “Name Game”

The children loved this new game!  Games like this are a great way to get some large motor exercise while indoors on a cold or rainy day.  And we really just scratched the surface with the name game.

Other Ways to Use Name Boards

There are so many other ways to use our name boards.

For example…

Students call the shots:  The teacher can hold all the name boards and turn one over.  Whoever’s name is revealed gets to pick an action for the whole class to do like, “Cohan says touch your toes.”

Name relay:  Line up all the names on a wall in a gymnasium or area with a large space to move.  Have the children stand on a line and listen for their name to be called.  When their name is called, they run and touch or pick up their name board.

Friendship swap:  Give each child the name board of one of their classmates, then instruct the children to go find their own name and swap it from their friends.

Practice letter sounds:  We use the Amazing Action Alphabet for learning our letters and sounds.  Each letter sound is associated with an animal action.  Each child holds their name board while the teacher holds up letter cards.  The teacher then says, “If your name has an S in it, slither like a snake.”

Can you think of any other fun ways to use our name boards?  Share them in the comments section below!

Available on Amazon

By |2018-12-05T18:17:00+00:00February 9th, 2014|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Belinda February 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah.
    I have children that seem to want to play with only certain other children. This inspired me to think about drawing two names randomly from the pile (upside down) and having those two children be partners on the easel, creating a masterpiece with a friend. I think they will have fun. And we can explore the word ‘random’.
    Thank you for all your wonderful ideas!

  2. Margaret@YTherapySource February 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Of course I love this idea. Here is one more to add to it. Use your animal sounds to write a code for the child’s name. So they move through each letter of the name moving like each animal to spell their name. Maybe move through each student’s name together so all are moving at once. Or have them guess whose name you are acting out.

    This will help explain what I mean – here is a similar idea just using different motions –

  3. Stephanie Schuler February 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Love this game! I’ve got a few kids in one of my earlier classes that also doesn’t seem to want to play with others. Any suggestions for allowing him to participate in this game, but not trying to steal other children’s signs?

  4. Hillary February 11, 2014 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    I am currently working in a Pre-K 4 classroom and this activity could be really helpful. I think it would especially benefit my students that are struggling to learn social skills. What a lovely blog! Thank you.

  5. Stephanie February 15, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    How about name Bingo for older preschoolers? Give them a sheet with their name on it. Call letters (with a name in mind–of course we teachers manipulate the outcome of games). Children cross off letters that are called. if all the letters in their name are called off, they shout Bingo! Play once or twice a week and keep track of your winners so everyone gets a chance to “win.” Check for understanding during the game. “Who just crossed off the “A” I called because you have an A in your name?” As an alternative to the cardboard, foam sheets work well and hold up nicely. Stephanie, M.A. Ed

  6. Doreen March 5, 2014 at 5:19 am - Reply

    You can also use it to play musical chair, and they will pick up other child name that they may not normally play with, and this will encourage them to talk

  7. […] Get up and moving with this interactive name game! […]

  8. Sadie McCurry September 10, 2017 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Thank you for this! What a wonderful tool! We are starting “All about Me” week, and I plan to use this for some of our Large Group activities.
    Thanks again!

    • Deborah Stewart September 14, 2017 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      I will keep that in mind!

    • Deborah Stewart September 14, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply


  9. Mythili September 11, 2017 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    This is amazing,fun and educative,I will use this in my class
    Love you all

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