Names are so personal and special; mine for instance, I changed at 16 from "Amy" to "Aimee". It wasn't a big deal, I didn't go for something completely different, but had a grandfather who had taken the French spelling out of my mother's maiden name and so I, in my teenage-driven zeal for righteousness and justice, changed the spelling to the more French "Aimee". I still very much like the uniqueness of the spelling. I appreciate that in others names, too. Our daughter's name is Caiya, and her name and spelling both have great meaning for her Dad and I.
I have to make a confession, though.... I am TERRIBLE at learning names. Bless all of you who so easily remember names; I am not one, and have never had an easy time with names. So, what to do?
There are many techniques and technology applications that help us to learn students names. I know some music teacher friends who use ipads to take pictures of students and place the pictures in digital files in a seating arrangement, other teachers who have used apps that help them remember names, still others who use seating arrangements for each class with hard copies of hand written names.
I typically allow students to choose where to sit, unless there is a need for me to interfere and change their choices. For the first several classes of each new school year I have at least one name game or activity.
So here are a few of the ones I have used in the past:
1. Hey, Children, Who's in Town?
2. Ickety TicketyI learned this in college and loved it. Students are in a circle facing the center. Everyone performs the chant and body percussion. One student walks into the center, says their name and does some kind of action. They can twirl, jump, do karate kicks, etc. You will want to say, "No splits or pretend guns, etc." and also offer some examples of things to do. Sometimes the funniest things are the simpler ones; saying your name slowly and lowly can be very funny BECAUSE... they step back out of the circle then everyone steps in and copies the action and speaks the name the exact way it was spoken. This can be very funny! I don't recommend this below grade 2; it is hard for them to be singled out they are often too shy and self-conscious at this age.
3. Up the LadderThis is from Gameplan, Grade 3 I think, and my kids love this one!
Laura at Make Music Rock has this post with an extension game for Up the Ladder using drums as well as some other name games.