Story of My Name
Story of My Name asks students to share the meaning or story behind their first, middle, last/surname or a nickname. This strategy requires active listening skills and verbal communication; it is often used as ice-breaker or introductory activity or to explore themes from literature.
Invite students to sit in a circle or in desks/tables. Introduce the activity: Today we will share a brief story with a partner about some aspect of our name. Explain that students can choose to tell the story of their first, middle, last name, or a nickname. Depending on the context or class, students can also invent a story about their name if they prefer. (This takes the pressure off people who do not have a story to tell.) Model the process by sharing the story of your name as an example. Next, give the students a moment to think about the story they wish to share with the larger group. Then, divide the group in pairs and ask each pair to choose one person to shares their story first. All students share their stories at the same time. After two minutes ask the pairs to switch and the second person shares their story. After each person in the pair has shared, the full group comes back together to reflect on the activity. Depending on the level of comfort and time, once back in the full group each pair member can introduce their partner and share a brief description of the story they heard, or the group can move directly to reflection on the larger activity without additional sharing.
- What did you notice about yourself as you participated in this activity?
- Where do our names come from? Did we see any common themes?
- If you’ve had the chance to name (or help someone to name) a new sibling, a pet, a doll, etc. what informed the choice you made?
- What do names tell us? Are they important? Why or why not?
- You can share the story of any piece of your name.
- Try to be succinct in your story.
- Pay attention to the storyteller’s body language. How do we look when we tell a personal story? What changes about our voice, body, and eye gaze?
- Reading/Writing: Use this strategy as engagement for book where a key literary theme revolves around the importance of names (e.g., Because of Winn-Dixie or Romeo and Juliet).
- SOCIAL STUDIES and HISTORY: Explore why certain names are popular at different times. Who do we name children after and why? Consider how culture, race/ethnicity, and language origin impacts the names we use.