As previously mentioned, I spent my childhood, teen, and young adult summers at Camps Winacka and Whispering Oaks. At these camps, like most west coast camps, new groups of campers arrive weekly. To help the counselors and campers quickly learn names, each unit plays name games during down time on the first day. On a safety level, this prevented situations like,
“Counselor, my friend fell down and got hurt!”
“Ummm…I don’t know her name! Help!”
and on a more human level simply helped the girls feel validated and form friendships.
I now use name games in my classroom toward the beginning of each course. I typically schedule five to ten minutes between our class circles and lessons to play, especially on days when the students will not be doing a lot of talking during the lesson. I am always surprised that even though I taught at a small residential high school for the past ten years, I frequently had students who were unsure of their classmates’ names. This year, I am moving to a much, much larger school–I will see twice as many students daily as the total population of my previous school! I am looking forward to using name games throughout the first few weeks of school this August.
Since one of my core elements of Teachers vs Zombies is play, I will share a few of my favorite games on this blog. If you use one, please share on social media and use the hashtag #tvszed and/or tag @npriester, and I will share it with others. Also, feel free to leave questions or suggestions below. Have fun!
Beat the Feet
- Students will learn the names of their classmates
- Students sit in a circle with one student in the middle who tries to tap the shoes of students as they say each other’s names
- Say a name before your shoe is tapped
- Enough floor space for all students to sit in a circle
- 5-8 minutes (Remember, “Stop while they’re having fun!”)
- All students, except one, sit in a circle on the floor with all straight legs and feet facing toward the center. Adjust, so the shoes make a tight circle (tall people will need to scoot back and all shoes will touch).
- Remaining student (Karson) sits in the middle of the circle.
- Teacher says the name of one student sitting in the circle (Summer).
- Named student (Summer) says the name of another student in the circle, but not the person on her immediate right or left or the person who said her name; in this case, it’s the teacher.
- Meanwhile, the student in the middle of the circle (Karson) attempts to tap the shoe of the named student (Summer), before she says the name of another student. Students in the circle are not allowed to move their feet.
- If the student in the middle of the circle (Summer), taps the shoe of the student whose name was called (Karson) before he says another student’s name, the student in the middle and the student whose shoe was hit swap places. If not, names and attempt to tap shoes continue until this takes place.