What's in a Name?

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Students will be able to identify the initial sound in isolation of their first name and find at least one picture of an item which has the same initial sound.

Big Idea

Students use their first name and familiar items to begin understanding the concept of initial sound.


20 minutes

I like to gather the students onto the rug using one of my preferred classroom management techniques. I like to use my "Stop, look, listen." The students stop what they are doing, look at me and then listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, "When I say go..." This reminds the students to wait until they hear the whole direction before moving to follow the direction.

In this case I would say, "When I say "Go," please clear up your space, push in your chair and go and take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go." By saying "walking feet" this reminds the students that they should be using walking feet in the classroom and not racing to complete a task. The students then clear their spaces and walk over to the rug area of the classroom and sit on their assigned spot on the rug.

I walk over with the students and sit at the front of the group ready with the book. 

I ask the students to look at the cover of the book. Next I ask if any of the students would like to predict what the book is about. Select two or three students to voice their prediction to the rest of the class (I only select two or three so that the rest of the class does not become bored waiting to hear the story).

Now I read the title of the story to the students - "The title of this book is Rumpelstiltskin. This book is written and illustrated by Paul o. Zelinksy. If he is the author and illustrator of this book, what did he do?" I wait to see if any of the students can reply. If no one replies correctly I inform the students that he wrote the words and drew the pictures. I say, "He is the author, which means he wrote the words, and he is the illustrator, which means he drew the pictures.

Now I read the story to the students.

Whilst reading the story I often stop to ask the students to predict what they think may happen next once the king takes the girl to the larger rooms with straw. I ask the students to try and support their answer by asking, "How do you know that will happen?"

At the end of the story I discuss with the students the different names that the queen came up with. I ask the students if they can tell me the beginning sound they hear for each of the names. 


30 minutes

Explain to the students that at one of the integrated work stations today they will be working with their name.

Show the students a copy of the blank worksheet they will find at their space.

What's in a name worksheet

"Boys and girls at your seat you will find a worksheet that looks like this one." 

"The first thing you are going to do is write your name at the top. Make sure you say your name to yourself a few times to remind yourself what the first sound you hear. Listen to me say my name; Clapp /C/ lapp Clapp. The first sound I hear is /c/."

"The next thing you need to do is grab a magazine and go through the pages to find items that have the same beginning sound as your name. For example, I see a cow on this page. Listen. /c/ow, cow. /C/lapp Clapp. Do those words have the same beginning sound?"

I allow the students to call out the answer, "Yes."

"Good job. Those words do have the same beginning sound so I can cut out the cow and glue it onto my name page."

"Now I need to go through the magazine and find three more items with the same beginning sound as my name. I will cut them out and glue them onto my name sheet." 

"Once you have found your items and you think you are done I want you to check over your work. Do you have your name written on the worksheet? Do you have three or four items that have the same beginning sound as your name? Is your work neat and tidy? If you can answer "yes" to those questions, then your work is ready to go into the finished work bin." 

"Does anyone have any questions?"

I occasionally get a student who asks what they should do if they can not find items that start with the same beginning sound. I tell the students they can go ahead and draw items that have the same beginning sound.    

Send the students to their seats one at a time by asking them to tell you their name and giving you the first sound they hear. By doing this you are setting up the students with a higher chance of completing the task successfully. If a student gives you an incorrect initial sound when heading off to work stations have them repeat their name back to you slowly and cue them with the correct initial sound by emphasizing it when repeating their name back to them. 

Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. I set a visual timer so students are clear on how much time they have.

Importance of Beginning Sounds     


10 minutes

When the timer goes off to show 15 minutes is up, use a classroom management technique to gain the students attention. I like to use "Stop, look, listen." 

Tell the students, "When I say go I need you to clean up your work station, push in your chair and use walking feet to take a spot on your dot. Put your completed work in the finished work bin, any work that is not finished needs to go in the "under construction" bin. Walking feet go."

Student sample 1                                 Student sample 2                                Student sample 3

Once all of the students are gathered on the rug ask the students to raise their hand if they managed to find items in the magazines with the same initial sound as their name.

"Great work everyone. Your exit ticket to get your snack today is to tell me ONE thing that you found that has the same beginning sound as your name. Once you have told me the one item, then you can use the hand sanitizer and go get your snack."

I use the fair sticks to determine the order in which the students go. 

If a students has a time giving an item they found on their name sheet, they can do one of two things. They can;

(a) Ask a friend to help, or

(b) Wait until everyone has gone and we will work on naming an item together. 

I use this quick formative assessment technique to see if the students grasped the concept of the lesson. If not I can present the same information in a different setting such as a small group activity. 


During some point in the school day when the students are actively engaged in an activity, say during free choice centers, pull students aside and ask them to give you their name and the initial sound they hear at the beginning of their name. Ask them to give you the initial sound to five words that you give them, "Tell me the first sound you hear at the beginning of the word ..."



In addition to the phonetic name activity I have other stations available that work with students name. For example, I make three sets of cards relating to the students. The first set is individual student pictures with their name on it. The second set is just their picture and the third set is just the name. I back each set with a different color of cardstock and laminate for durability. We play "Memory" with the cards.

The first time we play the game I play with the set of cards with the student picture and name  and the set with just their picture. The students turn over one yellow card (let us say the first set is backed with yellow) and then one orange card (let us say the second set is backed with orange). If the two pictures match then the student can see the name which relates to the picture and they get to hold onto that matching set. The next student turns over a yellow card and an orange card. If the cards do not match the student must turn the two cards back over and it is the next players turn.

The next day we will play with the cards that have the students picture and name and the set that has just the name. Now the students must match the picture/name card with a name card. This gives the students a chance to relate to their peers names.

The next day we play with name cards and the cards with just the student picture. This is the trickiest day. Students really have to relate to the name. This can also be tricky when you have more than one student with the same name. We usually differentiate by adding the first initial of the last name.

Name Memory


Another activity I have at a work station is to have the students make their name with magnetic letters. At first I have the students pictures attached to sentence strips with their names. Another time I will only have the students pictures there and the students have to use the resources available around the classroom to make their own and their peers name. For example, nametags on the desks, the word wall, lunch sticks, etc. Encouraging the students to use the resources around the classroom gets the students used to the idea of looking for information rather than just having the information made available to them all the time.  

Magnetic names