Classroom Management and Discipline - Name Game Icebreaker

When it comes to classroom management and discipline, there is one very important tool that is crucial to positive behavior management.  Unfortunately, that one tool is something you do not have when your students walk into your classroom on the first day of school.  What is that vital tool to setting the tone for your classroom management for the year?  It's simply knowing your students' names.  

Name Game Icebreaker for Positive Behavior Management

In this installment of my Classroom Management and Discipline Series, I will share with you the one game that I have played every single year on the first day of school, the name game.  

This game is literally the first class activity that I do once all of the students have made their way into the classroom and announcements are over.  Knowing all of your students' names is a powerful tool that you will want in your toolbox immediately.  Even kids know that anonymity gives them power, which is why some kiddos like to try and take advantage of guest teachers by switching up names, seats, or nametags.  

How to Play the Name Game

First, have the entire class (including you) sit in a circle.  I am all about setting the tone for the entire year on this first day, so I even take charge of how the circle is created.  There will be no mass chaos of everyone trying to move at once!  I direct the students a few at a time to move their chairs so they are on the outer perimeter of the classroom.  It doesn't have to be a perfectly shaped circle.  We just need to be able to see each person's face.  

Tell the class that you are going to play a name game which will help you and all of them to learn everyone's names.  Explain that the first person to begin will be the student sitting immediately to your left.  That student will simply say, "Hi, my name is ____."  (I don't do last names, because that would be way too hard at this point.)

Then, the student to that person's left will go next.  He/she will say, "Hi, my name is ___, and this is ___."  He/she repeats the name of the person that came right before him/her.  

The next student to the left will say, "Hi, my name is ___, and this is ___ and ___ " (naming the two people that already went).  At this point, the students toward the end of the circle realize they have to name everyone who comes before them!  I always assure everyone that we will help them out if they need it, and I am going to go last.  Which means I have the hardest spot in the game.  I tell them to pay very close attention and look at each person as their name is said.  This repetition is what will help them to learn everyone's name.  By the time it comes to me, the students' names have been repeated about thirty times, and I know them all by heart!

The Name Game

In all my years of playing this game, I have never missed a student's name, but they don't always stick with you.  So, throughout the first several days of school, I continue to practice their names.  I take a few extra minutes lining them up for lunch, recess, specials, and dismissal by calling them one at a time by name.  If we are waiting in line in the hallway, I will go down the line and say their names.  When they come into the room each morning, I will greet them by name.  

Knowing your kids' names does give you an advantage when it comes to positive behavior management.  Many times all it takes is saying a student's name, getting eye contact with them, and they get back to work.  I have also found that the kids love that you are putting forth so much effort to learn their names.  It makes them feel special and important.  When your students know that you care about them, it makes classroom management so much easier.  

This is just one of the many First Week of School Activities that I do to get to know my kids, have some fun, and create a positive learning environment!

Check out the other posts in my Classroom Management and Discipline Series!

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