Name Games to Start Your Year In Music Class

On this page…

  • Name, Name! What’s the Name?
  • The Never-Ending Name Game
  • Four Corners
  • Blast Off Challenge

Name, Name! What’s the Name?

The Never-Ending Name Game

This lesson plan is best spread out over multiple days.

  • Sitting in a circle works best
  • K-2
    1. T speaks every student’s first name and students echo
    2. T speaks and claps student’s first name and students echo
    3. Ss clap and speak their own name and class echoes
    4. Ss clap and speak their own name and NO echoes, just right around the circle.
  • 3-5
    1. Same as K-2 above.
    2. Go around circle and Ss only clap their name, no speaking.
    3. Go around circle and class claps and speaks every student’s name.
    4. Go around circle and class claps, no speaking, everyone’s name.
    5. The class claps each student’s name going right around the circle (this is a fun challenge)

Rhythm & Accent

With 3-5, this is a great activity (if you choose) to talk about natural ways of speaking and rhythm. The name “Ellen.” Is it El-len with 2 quarter notes or with an eighth-dotted quarter pattern?
You can also talk about anacrusis. The name “Latasha.” Is it a two eighths/quarter pattern with the accent on “La” or two eighths/dotted quarter, with the accent on “ta?”

Transfer to Instruments

  • K-5 (Pick and choose from these ideas, although I tried to sequence them from easy to advanced)
    • Take any part of the above activities and transfer to UPP. Drums are wonderful but you could also use rhythm sticks.
    • Add a simple refrain to play after every 4 names. “Name game, name game. Let’s play a name game.”
    • Create a class ostinato using 4 student names. Discuss which order sounds best. See if the class can play it over and over without rushing. Did you use just bass or tone sounds? Maybe add taps to side of drum or other ideas to create some diversity to the tone color if the students are able to remember the patterns.

Group Work

  • Now…put students in groups of 4 and have them do the SAME activity and have them create a name ostinato. (It helps if you have the whole room practice several times with you keeping a stick or clave beat. I’d say, “Ok this may sound messy with all of us practicing at once, but concentrate on your group’s ostinato. 1-2-Ready-Go) You are walking around coaching and helping where needed.
    • Have them play AND speak the names the first time. Each group SHARES their ostinato with the class.
    • Tell them they can keep their previous ostinato or change it but this time just playing it and NO speaking.
    • Try layering in (and out) the group ostinati. FUN!!!

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4 Corners

Preparation

Sitting in a circle works the best.

  • Teacher claps and speaks each student’s first name and the class echoes
  • Students clap and speak their own name and the class echoes
  • Have a discussion about syllables and then ask who has a name with 1 syllable, 2, 3, etc.
  • As a class, go around the circle clapping and speaking each student’s name. (This is a fun challenge to keep it going with no stops)
  • As a class, go around the circle clapping (no speaking) each student’s name. (An even bigger challenge!)

The Game

  • The four corners are names with ONE syllable, TWO syllables, THREE syllables, and FOUR or more syllables.
  • Students choose a corner and T draws a name out of a bowl. (or any method of randomly choosing from the class list)
  • The number of syllables of that person’s name determines which corner is OUT.
  • So if the name is Marcus, everyone standing at the 2-syllable corner is out.
  • Play until there is one winner or you are out of names!

Blast Off Challenge

Sitting in a circle is best. The teacher can stand behind each student to facilitate the flow of the game/rhythms.

  • Pick a starting point in the circle and then students clap and speak each student’s name FOUR times. Try to get the kids to feel the beats in 4 and move seamlessly from one student to the next.
  • If they are successful, clap and speak each name THREE times. Their tendency is to pause after the third repeat to make it feel like 4 so that is a great time to talk about 3 vs. 4.
  • If they are successful, clap and speak each name TWO times.
  • Then, of course, ONE time and if successful, they earn a BLASTOFF! (see video below)

Variations

  • Don’t pause between rotations but go directly from 4X to 3X, 2X, 1X, and Blastoff!
  • If the class is quite proficient, try the entire process with clapping and only THINKING the names. Audiation!
  • Kindergarten and first-grade students usually don’t know everyone’s name or know them well enough to keep within a beat scheme. Put them in groups of four and have them try saying and clapping everyone’s name in their group 4x, then on different days, 3X, 2X, and 1x. Each group can take a turn and share to the class. Check out my Columns and Rows system for quickly making groups of 4!

Author: lbbartolomeo

I'm a mom, wife, teacher, reader, gardener, trekkie, sci-fi fanatic, musician, dog lover, and a Christian. I hope my contributions bring some joy and happiness to your life!

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