9 Never Fail Name Games and Songs for Circle Time

As a Kindergarten teacher, I spent years collecting songs and name games that were winners for breaking the ice in a new class during circle time at the beginning of the year. I kept a large stack of index cards of my favorite songs and added to the box as I learned new songs from other teachers.

I now am the proud owner of an index box ridiculously full of hundreds of songs appropriate for the 18mo-6yo crowd. Because music is meant to be shared, I pulled together some of my favorite chants and songs. Who knows...maybe you'll learn a new one to add to your own collection!

1. Hicklety Picklety Bumblebee

For this name game, sit cross-legged on the floor and pat your knees while you chant in a regular, somewhat emphatic voice . It's not an easy one for little ones, so it will be mostly the adult chanting. You want their attention to draw toward you as you get softer so that by the time you are mouthing the name silently, the children are totally focused on your mouth and you have their full attention.

Hicklety picklety bumblebee

Who can say their name for me?

Allison! (loudly)

Allison. (whispered)

All-i-son. (mouthed without vocalizing)

2. Johnny Whoops

This is a name game that starts with your index finger pointing to each finger in succession. Start by pointing at the pinky and when you get to the index finger, "whoops" toward your thumb, say the name on the thumb, then whoops backwards again toward your pinky. The sillier and more drawn out your "whoooooooops" the more laughter and excitement you'll generate. This is a real crowd pleaser. Every child loves to hear his/her own name whoopsing back and forth.

Johnny Johnny Johnny Johnny

Whoops! Johnny

Whoops! Johnny

Johnny Johnny Johnny!

3. Jack in the Box

For this name game, the child sits on the floor all curled up hiding his head (the yoga "child's pose").  When you shout, "Yes, he will!" the child pops up...just like a jack in the box, arms up overhead as if to say, "Ta-da!"

Christopher in the box, sits soooooo still.

Will he come out?

Yes he WILL!

4. Willoughby Wallaby Woo

First listen to and learn the tune to Willoughby Wallaby Woo by Raffi. Then just sing this short verse below, substituting in the child's name. If you have an elephant puppet or little stuffed elephant to literally "walk" over and "sit" on the child, all the more giggle-inducing!

Willoughby wallaby woo

An elephant sat on YOU (point finger toward child whose name will be used)

Willoughby Wallaby Wistopher

An elephant sat on Christopher!

5. Pig On Her Head

First listen to and learn the song Pig On Her Head by Laurie Berkner. Fill a bag with small toy animals. Let the child reach in and take one out of the mystery bag and place the animal on his head. Switch the song up by choosing another animal out of the bag or by placing it on another body part. This is a delightfully goofy song.

George has a sheep on his neck,

George has a sheep on his neck,

George has a sheep on his neck,

And he'll keep it there all day!

6. Who Is Missing?

Lay out a blanket or very large scarf on the floor. Ask the child to curl up (child's pose) on the floor, and make a dramatic point of draping the blanket carefully on top.  It then becomes a game of peek-a-boo. It's so foolishly simple, but always a winner! I never had a child who didn't want to take a turn hiding after this game was played a few times and everyone was comfortable. Sometimes you  have to speak quickly because the child won't want to wait for the dramatic pause and will swoosh the blanket off him/herself very quickly. That's just part of the fun.

Hmmm....someone is missing! Who is it? Who's missing? It's...(pull off blanket in a big swooosh).....Kaitlyn!"

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    7. Yoo Hoo! 

    I learned this one back in my college music education class and I have no idea who wrote or published it, so feel free to link up the tune if you find it. Until then, make up your own little tune to sing to the words. This time the child hides behind something in the room (a desk? the couch?). You begin by singing and "hunting" with your eyes.

    Somebody's hiding inside the closet.

    I wonder who it could be... Yoo hoo... You hoo...(child sings back from the hiding place)

    I wonder who it could be. ....It's Evan!

    8. Clapping Names

    So simple but also fun! Just go around the circle clapping each child's name with each syllable.

    Let's clap Harriet.  Harr-i-et!

    Now let's clap Kathy. Ka-thy!

    9. Who Do We Appreciate? 

    Be forewarned. This is not a quiet chant. It's a rile-em-up and make them feel like a million bucks chant. For this one, you're going to put on your very best cheerleader voice and grin, clap your hands and at the end wiggle your fingers up in the air like you've won the game!

    2-4-6-8 Who do we appreciate?

    Zachary! Zachary! Yaaaaaaayyyyy Zachary!


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