The Story of My Name

Engage students in a conversation about what names can reveal about our values, culture, and community.
Age 8-14 / 45
min Activity
Perspective Taking
Social Studies


  • Reflect on the meaning and significance of their names, as well as any related feelings, experiences, and memories
  • Share the story of their names, and explore each other’s personal history, community, culture, and values

Supporting Research

Culturally-responsive teaching practices, such as respecting students’ names and the connection to their histories, identities, and cultures, help create a more inclusive, welcoming classroom environment in which all students feel validated and welcomed. Furthermore, creating this sense of belonging has a powerful impact on students’ academic and social development. Educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness as they share about their names, and perspective taking and inclusivity as they seek to learn more about their peers’ identities from their stories.

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.


  • ‍Art materials (e.g., pens, pencils, markers, crayons, and paint)

Activity Partners

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  1. Engage students in a conversation about names by asking these questions:
    • What is your name? How is it pronounced?
    • Do you have a different name in another language, or can you write your name in another language?
    • Do you know where your name comes from, and what it means?
    • What does your name mean to you personally? What feelings and experiences do you associate with your name? 
    • Do you like your name? Why or why not?
    • Do you have a nickname? How did you get this nickname?
    • If you could choose your own name, what would you call yourself? Why? 
  2. Invite students to create a story of their name. For example, students might collect words and images in a collage, write an identity poem, or journal about a memory they associate with their name.
  3. If students feel comfortable, encourage them to share their stories with each other, then ask the following questions:
    • How did you decide to share the story of your name? What feelings did you notice during this process, and what memories or experiences came to mind?
    • What did you discover about your classmates from the stories that they shared? Were there any similarities between your stories, or any interesting differences that you noticed?
    • What can we learn about someone from their name? What do our names represent about our history, community, culture, and values?

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.