Name Game: An SEL Kernels Brain Game

Students stand in a circle and take turns sharing their name and a motion that demonstrates something they like to do. Then all students repeat that student’s name and the motion.

Level: PreK/Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School
Duration: ≤ 15 minutes
My Notes: Add/Edit Notes

Planning For It

Why Do This?

  • Remember Power helps students to remember directions, follow steps in the correct order, and keep track of multiple things at the same time. It helps students to plan and work towards goals over time. Remember Power also helps students (and adults) to multi-task and keep track of multiple goals, tasks, or items at once.

 

When You Might Use This Practice

  • Integrated into a daily or weekly schedule as a routine
  • During a designated SEL block of 10-15 minutes per day for Kernels practice or as time allows
  • During a morning meeting, a transition, after recess, or at the end of the day
  • Throughout the school year to create a supportive classroom community

 

Time Required

  • ≤ 15 minutes

 

Materials

  • None

 

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Practice memory and attention

 

Additional Supports

 

SEL Competencies

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills

How To Do It

Reflection Before the Practice

  • How well do you remember the multiple things you need to do? What strategies and practices help you to develop your working memory (e.g, making a written list, repeating the information out loud)?
  • Take a few minutes to read the “Remember Power” practice before introducing the game.

Note: Click here to download and print a card version of this practice that can be added to the other Brain Games practices to make an easy-to-use hand-held collection. See the SEL Kernels pack for additional activities.

 

The Big Idea

  • This game is about remembering what each person has said, and repeating it in the correct order, along with an accompanying motion.

 

Instructions

  • Introduce Remember Power to students, if necessary.
  • Say the Big Idea (see above).
  • Gather students standing in a circle.
  • Explain that you will go around the circle, and each person will get to share their name and a move or motion with the group. Then you’ll all repeat it, e.g., “My name is Carmen, and I like to ride my bike.” <All students repeat> “Your name is Carmen, and you like to ride your bike.” Be creative with your motions!
  • Model by sharing your name and a move or motion (e.g., bend to touch your toes, do a jumping jack, or make a lasso motion), and have students repeat after you.
  • Give students a moment to think of a move they want to make when it’s their turn.
  • Continue around the circle, having all students repeat back the name and motion, until everyone has gone. When it gets back to you, have everyone sit where they are for a post-game talk.

Must do

  • Must require students to remember and keep track of a growing list of information.

Can adapt

  • Change the descriptor and/or motions.

Adaptations

  • This game can be played with many different themes where motions match the prompts, such as:
    • How are you feeling today?
    • What kind of animal would you want to be?
    • What would you bring on a trip?
  • Once your class gets better at Remember Power, ask each person to repeat back the previous person’s response before saying their own.
  • To increase the difficulty level, have students repeat all the names and motions that have been said before their turn, in the correct order. This can be done as a whole class (so students are helping each other to remember collectively) or for older students, can be done individually (when it is your turn, you say aloud all the names and motions that have come before you, and then add your own name).

After the activity, debrief

  • What was the hardest part of the game for you? What made this game easy for you?
  • What will you try the next time we play?
  • What are some times that we need to use our Remember Power in school or at home?
  • For more debriefing questions, see Brain Games Practice.

Tips for success

  • Give emergent bilingual learners the opportunity to teach other students how to say phrases from the game in their native language, such as “My name is…” and “Your name is….” Then, incorporate these phrases into the game.
  • Provide students who may need additional support with the opportunity to play in small groups to cut down on the amount of focus time needed while other students introduce themselves.

 

Source

This practice is part of the SEL Kernels project developed by the EASEL Lab at Harvard University.

Reflection After the Practice

  • Do you notice students’ ability to remember improving?

The Research Behind It

Evidence That It Works

Children who are able to effectively manage their thinking, attention, and behavior are also more likely to have better grades and higher standardized test scores.

 

Why Does It Matter?

Children use cognitive regulation skills whenever faced with tasks that require concentration, planning, problem solving, coordination, conscious choices among alternatives, or overriding a strong internal or external desire—all key skills for behavioral and academic success.

These skills enable children to prioritize and sequence behavior (e.g., put their pants on before their shoes), inhibit dominant or familiar responses in favor of a more appropriate one (e.g., raise their hand rather than blurt out the answer), maintain task-relevant information in mind (e.g., remember the teacher’s request to wash hands and then put coats on before going outside), resist distractions, switch between task goals, use information to make decisions, and create abstract rules and handle novel situations.

“That’s what life is all about: remembering someone and smiling!”
–Minnie Pearl