Learning and Development

Learning Each Other’s Names With Music

  • Learning Each Other’s Names With Music

A music activity to support confidence, bonding and syllable awareness…

The new term is in full swing now and children who have changed rooms or settings in September are now feeling more comfortable in their new surroundings. But do they know everyone’s names?

Here’s a fun action song that helps children:

1. Develop the confidence to speak out their own name

2. Learn the names of their classmates

3. Tune into syllables (Communication and Language)

4. Develop fine and gross motor skills (Physical Development)

Quick Crib!

A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the name Charlie is composed of two syllables: Char and lie. The name Fatimah is composed of three syllables: Fa -ti-mah.

Why is it important?

Syllable awareness is one component of phonological awareness - an individual’s awareness of the sound structure of words. Phonological awareness is a reliable predictor of later reading ability

I Want To Read

You may be working with children who are way below ‘typical’ reading age (and that’a a debate in itself!). But children are never too young to start tuning into language. In fact research shows they are doing this in the womb. By playing this simple game you are helping children develop a strong foundation for learning the sound-print connection… in other words reading!

Learn The Lyrics

Let’s tap a name
tap tap and be happy
Let’s tap a name
Who will it be
Let’s tap Mar-tha, Mar-tha, Mar-tha,
Let’s tap Mar-tha, Mar-tha, Mar-tha,

Now shake it all about
Let me hear you shout
Shimmy way down low
Now go!

Learn The tune

To prove you can sing this song anywhere, I’ve recorded myself singing it in my kitchen. Sing along with the audio at the bottom of this article to learn the tune.

Learn How To Deliver The Song

Watch these 2 training videos.
1. carers and pre school children
2. reception setting


You will notice in the videos that the children are not using word rhythms from their names but instead are using animal word rhythms. This is one of the great things about this activity – you can adapt it to any area you are working on.

For example:

What day is it? - Let’s tap Tues-day, Tues-day, Tues-day

What season is it? Seasons – Let’s tap Au-tumn, Au-tumn, Au-tumn

What do we know about Christmas? - Let’s tap San-ta, San-ta, San-ta

Let’s tap tur-key, tur-key, tur-key, Let’s tap Beth-le-hem,Beth-le-hem, Beth-le-hem

Making Your Own Rhythm Sticks

In the videos the children are using rhythm sticks. These are not essential – you can clap out the word rhythms if you don’t have rhythm sticks. But by adding a tactile element, rhythm sticks are brilliant for increasing engagement and for developing fine motor skills. They also give children the opportunity to explore new sounds. (By the way it’s just the same thing with grown ups: when we introduce rhythm sticks during our training seminars, practitioners immediately explore the sticks in the same way as children do – turning them around in their hands, talking about the colour and patterns they are decorated with and tapping them to see what sound they make!)

Making rhythm sticks is cheap, fun and you can get older kids (3 plus) involved too.

So Here’s How You Make Them

Shopping list

1. Dowel

2. Sandpaper

3. Child friendly toy paint

All of these are available from DIY shops

1. Ask people at the woodcutting counter at your local DIY shop to cut the dowel for you: 6 to 7” is about right.

2. Take the bits home and sand the sticks to make sure the edges are smooth.

3. Paint with child friendly toy paint. Or you can get the children to help out here – non toxic marker pens are an easy way for children to decorate their sticks.

Thats it!

Getting Going

You don’t have to be a musician to lead this activity effectively - neither of the Boogie Mites
tutors you saw in the videos are! All you need is lots of enthusiasm and a group of
children. To make a start

1. Learn the song by watching the videos and listening to the song clip.

2. Make your sticks – but if you dont have time for this step, skip it and just use your hands

3. Have a go with the children – if you want you can start by showing the video to the children and singing along.

4. As you and the children get familiar with the song, introduce the tapping/clapping of word rhythms into your other areas of learning.

What To Expect

● Lots of smiles

● Improved langauage skills

● High levels of engagement even from the ‘shy’ ones I hope you enjoy using this music activity. Please feedback by commenting here on how the song has worked in your setting.If there are things I can include in next month’s music activity that would be helpful for you or if you have any general questions about early years music, please post your comments below. Thanks and keep on boogie-ing! About the Author: Harriet Thomas, Author of upcoming book ‘Get The Music Magic- How To Use Singing, Movement and Percussion Play To Boost Early Years Development’ and Creative Director at Boogie Mites UK www.boogiemites.co.uk