Play the Name Game!


In this activity, you can teach your child how to spell his or her name by singing a song. Simply take a familiar children’s tune, add a special line about your child and spell out your child’s name to that tune. Let's start a sing-along!


I started playing this game more than 20 years ago because music plays such a powerful role in brain development. Children love the patterns and rhythms of songs. Setting words to music helps children learn them more quickly and retain them longer. Even one-year-olds will beam with pride the instant that you start "singing their tunes." They may not be able to talk, but they know their name songs!

There is something magical about the way that the Name Game keeps children engaged for extended periods of time. This is a great game to play when riding in a car, taking a bath or fixing dinner.

Musical rhythms sharpen your child's developing attention skills. The fun of singing your own name song and the name songs of your family members and friends can make learning joyful.

The Name Game became a tradition in our family to keep our children entertained and happy while lunch was being prepared and served.

Here’s a “cheat sheet” to help you get started:

“The Wheels on the Bus” is a great song for three-letter names:

The letters in my name go: J – O – E,  J – O – E,  J – O – E,

The letters in my name go: J – O – E, 

That spells JOE!

The “Happy Birthday” song works well with four-letter names:

K – O – B – E, 

K – O – B – E,

My name is Kobe,

K – O – B – E.

Sing and clap along to the tune of “Bingo”:

There was a boy with dark brown eyes and Timmy was his name – O!

T – I – M – M – Y,

T – I – M – M – Y,

T – I – M – M – Y and Timmy was his name!

Six-letter names work well with “Polly Wolly Doodle” or “Pat-a-Cake.

Seven-letter names pair well with “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Eight-letter names work great with the song, “Muffin Man.

Nine-letter names? Try “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

If you get stumped, head to your CD collection for inspiration.

You can also use chants. The children who first played the Name Game in my classroom are in their mid-twenties now, but they still remember the song or chant that they used for each classmate!

Here are some examples to get you started:

M – A – D – I – S – O – N…Madison, Madison is our friend.

C – O – N – N – O – R…Our friend Connor is a soccer star!

Chants are a great place to start because you only need to rhyme with the last letter of the child’s name. You can also sneak the letters into the middle of the sentence if they have a hard letter to rhyme with, like the dreaded letter X!  Some letters, like W, will trip you up because that letter has three syllables.

Take it slow, you won’t come up with these in a single night. Find a friend who can rhyme on a dime (haha) or a friend with a musical background. Friends like these can be extremely helpful when you are struggling with a name that’s difficult to set to music.

When children are actively listening to music, multiple areas in their brains are lighting up. By adding clapping, marching or other movements, we develop other areas of the brain. The more senses we use, the more we learn!

Give it a try. I promise you, it works like magic! Good luck!

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