Friday, November 30, 2012

a name song

When they learn they are going to be parents, one of the first things people often do is come up with a list of names for their soon-to-be little one. They carefully consider that list, hemming and hawing over the possibilities; trying them in different contexts; and finally narrowing it down to one perfect choice, dreaming of what that name might sound like as that child grows. With all that thought and care that goes into naming a child, it is no wonder that one's name becomes one of the most important words in a person's life.

Because of that, I always encourage parents to teach a child's name early and to make it the anchor and link to other words and letters. When something is so personal, it is easy to use it to make connections to other new learning. In fact, when a child comes into my Kindergarten classroom not knowing any letters, I don't start by teaching him A, and then B, and C and so on. Instead, I start by teaching him his name in many contexts and make the first letter of his name the first letter that he learns.

Choi Boy has his name written in his room in a few places: two sets of alphabet blocks spell it out and it is also incorporated into the art above his bed. From the time he was about 2, he knew that "his" letter was C and could "recognize" his name around his room. That recognition grew, andCB began recognizing his name consistently in different places and written in different fonts. When that started to happen, I decided he was able to start learning how to spell his name. Though CB knew all of his (uppercase) letters and could consistently recognize his name, he didn't yet know the order of the letters in his name and how to properly spell it.

Enter my favorite mnemonic device: a song! For years I had been teaching my Kindergartners silly songs that taught them how to spell words like apple or pumpkin or color words. After an aha! moment (or duh! pick ;) ), I realized I could make up a song to teach Choi Boy his name. And it worked! And he loves to sing it (all.the.time.)!

CB has six letters in his name, so I used the first two lines of This Old Man (This old man, he played one. He played knick knack on my thumb!) to make up his name song (and I changed the last two notes to go down instead of up so it sounded like the song ended instead of continuing). Here's how it goes:

That is how you spell my name!

Easy peasy, right? After singing this song for a couple weeks, CB was playing with the magnetic letters on our dishwasher. He was singing his name song and looked up at me and said, "Mommy, where is the 'A'?" I looked down and this is what he had done:

I was so excited that without any prompting, CB had made the connection to actually spell his name with letters by singing his song! And then it drove me crazy that there was no 'A' and that the letters were all uppercase, so I brought out my lowercase magnetic letters and have been practicing with CB like this:

Though he's a long way off from having the dexterity in his fine motor skills to form those lowercase letters properly, I am excited that he's one step closer to getting there! (Sidenote: I don't plan on teaching CB to write his name using capital letters even though they are easier to form. I've noticed that it becomes a reeeeally bad habit for kids to break and it is easier to teach a 5 year-old to write his name without him knowing how to spell it than it is to unteach a child to write his name in uppercase letters!)

Since we've had a lot of fun with CB's name song, I thought I'd share some ideas to help you make up songs using the letters of your child's name. These are all to the tune of simple children's songs, so hopefully they will be easy to figure out without me having to post videos of me singing...haha. :)

For 3 or 4-letter names, to the tune of Frere Jacques (first 4 lines):
I can spell Kate!
I can spell Kate!

For 5-letter names, to the tune of Bingo:
I have a name and it is Olive
Here is how you spell it!
And that is how you spell it!

For 6-letter names, to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:
Joshua is my name,

also, see above for CB's name song!

For 7-letter names, to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:
That is how you spell Charlie!

You can also try it to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic:
Is how you spell Charlie!

For 8 letter names, use  Frere Jacques again:
I can spell Nicholas,
I can spell Nicholas!

If your LO's name is longer than 8 letters, you'll have to be extra creative and find your own tune, and if you do, please share it below!

Have fun making up name songs and let me know how it goes!

*feel free to pin this idea or share it with others, but please be nice and link back to here -- thank you! :)


  1. Oh this is awesome! There really is something special about a name and what a great bridge to spelling and reading!

    I think our daughter's got it pretty easy with her name - three letters and two of them are the same. She was looking over some of my HR paperwork the other day and saw ADA (as in the American Disabilities Act) and said "hey, you wrote my name!"

  2. I love that you are a Kindergarten teacher too (although I am teaching first grade this year!)...such an important point...learning their letters first! =)

  3. I used your ideas to make up name songs for 2 of my music students. Both are to the tune of "Are You Sleeping". C-H-A-R,C-H-A-R;L-O-T-T-E, L-O-T-T-E; She's so smart and pretty:Adventurous and witty:Charlotte, Charlotte. J-O-N-A, J-O-N-A;Jonathan, Jonathan; He's a happy fellow; who likes red and yellow; Jonathan,Jonathan.
    Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. You are GOOD (I used all caps for emphasis, not because I can't form lower case letters, btw)! Sam has started recognizing "his" letter, especially since we pass roughly 12 stop signs on the way to and from school. And, bonus - he loves Frere Jacques. Your ears should be ringing tonight as the Schencks sing your song.


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