It’s All In A Name

Last week we participated in No Name Calling Week. The free lessons that I downloaded from the website were fabulous and engaging to all the children. I was able to lead the same lesson (on different days), It’s All In A Name, with both the Magellans (2 & 3) and the Armstrongs (4 & 5).  Below is the listed objective from the lesson plan

OBJECTIVES: To gain group knowledge of what each person’s name means to them. To reflect as a group on the importance attached to names and the different feelings brought up when names are used as Put-ups or Put-downs. To empower each person to assert what they do and do not want to be called in the classroom. To create an atmosphere in which students seek to use names that make others feel good.

The children were paired and had to interview one another about their name:

  • Who gave you your name?
  • Why was it chosen to be your name?
  • What do you like about your name?
  • What nicknames do you like to be called


The children then came back to the group and shared what they had learned about their partner’s name. Among our group, we have Juliana  who was named after the first woman author of a fly fishing book; Levi, who was named after Leviathan, the Mythological creature who guards Atlantis; India who was named after a character in her Mom’s favorite Movie, Gone With The Wind; Juve who was named after a TV show character, and Sophie and Sadie who were named after their grandmas. Some kids have nicknames that only their families are allowed to use.

We then talked about “Put Down” names- ones that make us feel bad. Many of the kids spoke of  negative spins on their names, that others had called them and why they didn’t like them. Some kids were surprised to hear that these names weren’t welcome, because they sounded cool. The kids also spoke of general words that are put downs- stupid, lame, idiot were a few, but they also spoke of phrases that hurt like, “you’re not my friend”, and “I don’t like you.”.

We then spoke of “Put Up” words- encouraging words- and brainstormed ones they liked to be called, ones that are spins on their names and general ones. “Nice job, good try and awesome”, were a few.

We talked about standing up for ourselves when someone calls us a name but we also talked about standing up for others when we hear it happening to others.

We intentionally played non-competitive games during our recreation time at 4:30 this week, to encourage team work and the use of (hopefully) “put up” words. On Thursday, the Magellans worked together to get a hula-hoop around the circle without breaking their hands. I heard a lot of put-up words, including “go, go go” and “you can do it!” and the kids were proud when they had accomplished this. We talked about how it felt to hear those words of encouragement from one another.

Wow. A moment of accomplishment for me!

And then we played another team game that involved trying to keep a ball in the air as a group. How many times in a row could 25 kids hit the ball without it hitting the ground? They tried it many times.



But we did have the contrasting moment to discuss as a group. Why couldn’t we accomplish more than 5? Why were there so many kids who never even hit the ball once?

We’ll have to give this one another go sometime. 

Until then..



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