Learning names can be a challenge for teachers. When you have a couple hundred or more every year the task is even more daunting. Even if you are a veteran at your school, there are always the youngest students and new students in each grade. These are some of the best names games for music class so you are sure to learn your students’ names faster without singing the same song 75 times a day.
1. Listen Listen Here I Come
I don’t know where I learned this one, but I always loved this one for teaching preschool. Giving the student a hand drum to play is helpful to get them engaged, and moving. I let them stand in the center of the circle or stay in their seat if they preferred to meet them where they are at. What’s great about this one is it takes more than just a moment so you can put a name to the face. It’s a simple song and while it doesn’t specifically give a place to SAY a name in the song, choosing each child and getting them to interact with the instrument alone is just as helpful.
Listen, listen, here I come, someone special gets the drum.
SS MM SS M SS MM RR D
2. Up the Ladder
This is an easy song to go through groups of kids quickly. It would a great first “name game” just to get a visual of each student and see how they act in the group.
Up the ladder
Down the ladder
One by one (4x)
4 “Verses” with 4 different students.
Solo: My name is …
Tutti: Your name is …
3. Jump In, Jump Out
There are a few variations of this game and I’ve linked a couple here.
Jump in, Jump out, turn yourself about
Jump in, jump out, introduce yourself
My name is … (yeah)
And I like… (yeah)
And I can… (alright, alright, alright)
This version may be a little more fun for your older students with a little more interaction from the group
4. Hickety Tickety Bumblebee
There are about 50 versions of this and you may know another one. I learned the sing-songy SML version in college from a friend who was shocked I didn’t know it, although maybe I made this variant up at some point in my head later on…? Sometimes Hickety Tickety, sometimes Ickety Tickety/Pickety…I’ve also seen versions that only have the notes Sol-Mi. Either way, it’s a great way to get the kids to sing their name and perfect for 1st graders reviewing singing voice. I’ve also used it with Kindergarten using the word “say” if they are very nervous the first few times and then replaced “say” with “sing” to see who is getting it once we have talked about four voices.
5. Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar
This traditional chant is SO fun. A great variation could be language that says “took” instead of the word “stole” which has a negative connotation.
6. Willoughby Wallaby Woo
Always hilarious to the kids, this is great when you are starting to get their names and you want to try to make sure you are calling them one by one with the right name. Also…I adore with version with the trombone!!
7. Mrs. Macaroni
This is a traditional song with some traditional language (Mrs./Mr.) but you can easily adapt. Instead of Mr/Mrs. Macaroni, you could say “here you come with macaroni, riding….” and instead of “wedding day” you could say “this is… (so and so’s) riding day” to go back to the pony.
7. Songs to substitute a name:
- Bounce High, Bounce Low – Substitute “Shiloh” for the child’s name
- Charlie Over the Ocean – Substitute “Charlie” for the child’s name
- Mary Wore Her Red Dress – a classic choosing next song, the student who is chosen can act something out, or show the rest of the class how to keep the beat (marching, clapping, other actions, etc).
8. Here We Are Together
This is a great song for the youngest students. The teacher sings the words and calls students’ names. This is a great song for when you have already learned how to pronounce and you are practicing their names. It works very well as a greeting song too.
9. A few more tips:
- iDoceo is a great app that a lot of music teachers use for different organizational things: lessons, grade books, and my fav – seating charts that you can add pictures to. Brilliant.
- And with that – even if you aren’t a seating chart type of teacher, using them at the beginning of the year allows you to get to know students in the same place every time.
- Use an old yearbook if you can’t take pictures.
- Write down pronunciations if it is one you will struggle with. Remind students that you are learning their names and it may take you time and it that it is alright to correct you if you say it incorrectly.
- Use a book. It will help students know how important their name is, to reinforce that it is important to say names correctly, and help your students feel confident that you will say their name correctly. Check out this post from a few weeks ago that has two books about learning names.
- For preschool, preK, young 5s and even K, it may be helpful if the teacher uses name tags to have the kids wear them to your class as well! Especially if you are looking at a list with legal names and the child goes by a nickname at home, they might not respond to it….! Make sure you make a note of those situations when you find out about them, or ask the classroom teacher if they know any nicknames the students go by instead.
Remember that it may take time, especially if you are new to a school. I hope this is helpful!