” … I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
One of the things I remember about growing up at church was the people that knew my name. When someone cared enough to remember my name and take an interest in who I was, I felt valued as a member of my church community.
Learning and remembering names can be a challenge at any age. The following ideas make it fun for preschoolers to learn each other’s names.
Say a name rhyme
Sit in a circle with the children.
Leader: Welcome! What’s your name?
(child says their name - “Emma”)
Leader: 1-2 (hold up 1 finger and then 2 fingers)
Leader: Here we go! (clap on each word)
Leader and kids together: Pat your head, (pat heads)
touch your shoe, (touch shoes)
Emma, Emma, God loves you. (clap on each word and point to “Emma” on the word “you”)
Continue around the circle until each child has an opportunity to say and hear their name.
Use rhythm instruments
Give each child two rhythm sticks or share a drum. Ask one child to say their name.
Count how many syllables (or “sounds”) are in their name. Then say and play their name making one sound for each syllable. “Max” will have one sound. “Amelia” will have four sounds.
Continue until everyone has had a turn.
If time permits, ask everyone with one sound in their name to stand up and repeat all of the one sound names. Do the same with kids with two, three, four sounds and more.
Be sure to include yourself too!
Repetition helps preschoolers learn and remember! Making this a core part of any name game will help them grow.
Play a chain game
Sit in a circle with preschoolers. Ask each child to say their name and something they like that begins with the first letter or same sound of their name.
Leader: Hi! What’s your name?
(Child 1 says “Charlie”)
Leader: What’s something you like that starts with the letter N?
(Child 1 says “cookies”)
Invite the next child in the circle to start the chain.
(Child 2 says “His name is Charlie and he likes cookies. My name is Riley and I like rabbits.”)
Invite the next child to add to the chain.
(Child 3 says “Her name is Riley and she likes rabbits. His name is Charlie and he likes cookies. My name is Peter and I like puppies.”)
When everyone in the circle has had a chance to say their name individually, invite everyone to go around the circle and say the names and the likes of the entire circle group together.
Celebrate each child of God in your ministry by learning and calling them by name at the beginning, during, and at the end of class. Once mastered, you’ll be more confident moving on to their parents’ names!
Learning names is just one step to building relationships with your preschoolers! Check out other tips in our webinar featuring children's ministry leader Linda Tibbitts, who shares her tips for building a preschool program for your young families.