Asking to join in, take turns, play fair and being a good sport is easier if kids know each others names. Besides helping children connect and gain a sense of belonging, a friendship theme also offers opportunities for them to learn math and language arts concepts.
Children that know how to share, take turns, and express their feelings and wants are more successful than those without these basic skills. Below find ways to help students learn each others names with art, pattern and graph activities, a counting game and a rhyming song.
Learning classmates’ names
Start a Friendship Theme with a class book to help students learn each other’s names. Reading the book everyday for a while will help the students get familiar with all the children’s names.
- 12 x 18 inch piece of paper with the words, ______ is a new friend, printed on or glued on the bottom
- photo of each child
- Give each child a 12 x 18 inch piece of paper with the words ______ is a new friend, printed on the bottom.
- Each child makes one page of the class book
- Children draw a picture of themselves
- Keep a mirror nearby (not glass) so children can look at their eyes and hair
- Children tape a photo of themselves
- Child completes the frame sentence by adding their name.
- If the children’s printing is unrecognizable, the teacher prints it underneath so the other children will become familiar with it.
- Teacher also makes a page.
- Teacher staples the pages.
- Read as a group.
- Read the book everyday for a while to help children learn classmates names.
Hand print patterns
- long sheet of paper (cut 12 x 18 inch pieces of paper in half to make 6 x 18 inch strips)
- 2 different colors of liquid paint in shallow meat foam trays
- paper towels or rags to wipe hands
- Have two children stand on either side of a table with a long sheet of paper in the middle
- Give each child a different color liquid paint in a shallow meat foam tray
- Show children how to dip one hand in paint and then wipe off the excess
- Children take turns stamping hands to create a repeat pattern
- Both children print their names on the paper
Getting to know you counting…
- Children sit in a circle
- One child is it
- Teacher says an attribute, friends with baby sisters, friends with baby brothers, friends with dogs, friends with cats…
- The children who fit the criteria raise their hands
- Children take turns counting by walking around and touching each hand
Keep a deck of student name cards in an elastic band close by or in your pocket. Choose the top name for each child’s turn and then put it on the bottom of the pile. Continue choosing from the top for the next activity of the day. This way, although the activities may change, all children get the same amount of turns being “it”.
Although this takes lots of sticky notes the children become more aware of how their name is composed of letters and have an opportunity to count how many letters in each name.
- chart paper
- small size sticky notes in 2 colors
- felt markers
- strips of card to tape the notes onto
- Take a strip of card and some sticky notes
- Print one letter of their name on each sticky note, then stick it to their card
- Arrange the letters on their strip of card
- Add one of the second color sticky notes
- Count how many letters in their name
- Record the number on the second color sticky note
- add their name card to the chart paper
- You may want to secure the sticky notes to the cards with tape, so they can be rearranged for other activities without the notes dropping off.
As a group:
- How can we sort or rearrange the names?
- Is there a different way we can sort or rearrange the names?
- Ask – how many names all together, how many numbers all together, how many boys’ names, how many girls’ names
- Are there fewer (or more) names with 7 letters? 5 letters etc.
Use the name graph above to teach letters and letter sounds
- Rearrange the children’s names by beginning sounds
- Count how many begin with an A or B, etc.
- Show the children a letter and have a few children a day try to find the letter in the chart using a pointer
Teach names with a birthday graph
Make a birthday graph like this one from Amazon.com. Print students’ names as large as possible. Post the birthday graph as low as possible in the room or take it off the wall for the following activities.
As a group:
- Ask a student to find their own name and then find a friend’s name that starts with the sound …. (say a letter sound).
- Count how many birthdays in each month
- Count how many birthday cakes all together
- Teach vocabulary – months of the year, more than, fewer than
Getting to know you by recording data
- Make a quick eye chart on graph paper.
- Pair students with a new friend and have them print their friend’s name under the color of eyes that their friend has.
- Use preprinted name cards if necessary.
Make tally graphs of favorite colors or cereals to help students get to know each other. See here…
Practice rhyming with “Willaby Wallaby Wee”
Play “Willaby Wallaby Wee” to find rhyming words that start with the letter “w” and rhyme with your students names. Point to the name as the kids sing.
Willaby Willaby, wallaby woo……………………an elephant sat on you
Willaby, wallaby wee…………………….an elephant sat on me
Willaby, wallaby wamy……………….an elephant sat on Amy
Willaby, Wallaby wadison……………an elephant sat on Madison
Friendship Unit Posts:
To get a FREE printable copy of the, “MAKING NEW FRIENDS ONE DAY AT A TIME”, student book pages, join the mailing list by adding your first name and email to the form above. I’ll send you the link to download the pages.