Tuesday, August 30, 2011
What's your name again???
Names! We spend so much time thinking of names as we prepare for our little ones to enter the world. We want to find names with meaning, ones that aren't too popular, but not too obscure. We want to find ones that are easy to pronounce, ones that don't make inappropriate initials. The list goes on and on! As a teacher and a parent, I make it my job to learn students names as soon as possible. It always makes people feel more comfortable and at ease when you call them by their name. Several people have cute little stories behind their names that make them even more special. I love reading Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes on the first day of school. This book is about a little girl named Chrysanthemum. She loves her name, but gets teased once she enters school. She's really having a tough time until she finally goes to music class to find that her pregnant teacher's name is Delphinium and she plans on naming her new baby Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum's spirits blossom and she begins to love her name once again. This story gets conversation going about how everybody deserves to be respected, no matter how common or unique their name is. I just recently stumbled on a new book, available tomorrow, called My Name Is Elizabeth!, by Annika Dunklee. This book is a perfect couple to Chrysanthemum, as it touches on the use of nicknames...or not! So often, we abbreviate names and come up with nicknames that WE think are cute. This Elizabeth wants to be called Elizabeth. Not Lizzy or Liz or Betsy! The two-color picture book portrays a little girl who continually sticks up for her name and her independence. I can't think of a better way to start out the year, discussing the uniqueness of all of us, through our beautifully given names!! Everybody deserves a little NAME respect!
Lesson Plans/Activities: If your reading these books at home, have a discussion about how important it is to call people by their proper name. Teasing someone about their name is hurtful and disrespectful. It's okay to think that a name is unique. It's not okay to think that they are weird or ugly. If your child has a unique name and is struggling at school, they can sure learn a thing or two from these powerful little characters!
After reading these books, go around the circle and have students say what their name is, as well as any nicknames they prefer. That way, students and teachers learn correct nicknames and pronunciation right off the bat.
Have students design their names on big poster board. I used to write their names in open block letters and then let them color pictures or designs in them that told a little story about them..their interests, their family, friends, hobbies. I then hung them right on the wall. It was our first step towards ownership of our new classroom!