Want to add FUN to your Math block?

Mystery Name Phonics Activity

The beginning of the year is so important in our classrooms. We’re busy setting up routines for our students, laying the foundation for learning important grade-level skills, and also trying to build a class community. It’s a lot! I’ve got an activity that will help you with at least two of these three back-to-school skills: Mystery Name!

Mystery Name is a great beginning-of-the-year activity. This activity can be used for students to get to know their classmates, as well as an activity to slip in some phonics skills!

What is Mystery Name?

Mystery Name is an activity that I do at the beginning of the year in my classroom. It’s a way for each child to have a special spotlight on him/her. We get a chance to not only study their name but also learn a little bit about the person behind the letters in the name.

We do Mystery Name every single day at the beginning of the year until we get through the entire class. I randomly select a student for the day and we take time to focus on the letters and sounds in his/her name.

Educational activity sheet titled "Mystery Name Activity" with blank spaces for answers, surrounded by colorful school supplies and illustrations of children.

Mystery Name gives you a chance to slip in some phonics skills too. When we look at a name we focus on vowels, consonants, digraphs, blends, syllables, and more.

We sing a song about the vowels {which you can read about here!} and I use our Secret Stories to point out important sounds that students

After learning a bit about the name, we take time to learn about the child.

Keep reading to find out how to use Mystery Name in your own classroom {and snag the pages to get started!}

Prepping Mystery Name

To get started, you’ll want to write each child’s name on a sentence strip. You also need to make a Mystery Name slider. Just fold a piece of construction paper and glue the title onto the top.

You’ll use this slider to reveal the name.

For each day, you’ll need a Mystery Name cover, the letter/sounds sheet, and a class set of writing papers.

How to Use Mystery Name

Each day, you’ll pick a new student to be the Mystery Name. Slip his/her name sentence strip into Mystery Name slider you created.

Mystery Name is a Great Back to School Activity | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Gather your students on the rug, ideally near your sound wall or posters. Before beginning with the Mystery Name of the day, we always go through the alphabet repeating the letter and sound because so many of my first graders need this review at the beginning of the year!

We quickly chat about the difference between a vowel and a consonant and I point out the blends & digraphs {which may or may not appear in the name of the day!}

Want this free set of sound posters? Grab them for free here!

Next, slowly pull the student’s name out of the slider, revealing just one letter at a time.

As you reveal letters, invite your class to voice the sounds the letters make. This is an excellent time to point out things you may notice in the name – such as /au/ vowel sound in the name Audrey or /sh/ digraph sound in Misha.

It’s really important that you don’t allow the students to guess names too quickly. The rule in my class is that students are able to raise their hands and guess the name after three letters have been pulled. 

Once the students have guessed correctly the name, it’s time for the Mystery Student to share a little about him/herself.

Point Out the Sounds

After your deep dive into the student’s name, it’s time to make note of your discoveries!

Complete the front page of the class book – filling in how many of each type of sound is found in the name.

An educational worksheet titled "Mystery Name Activity" surrounded by school supplies including notebooks, colored pencils, and paper clips.

Learn About the Student

The Mystery Student comes up to the front of the classroom and classmates ask the students six questions they’d like to learn about their friend – from what’s your favorite book to favorite food to vacation spot {or anything in between}

Interactive whiteboard displaying a grid with categories like "magic tree house", "pikachu", "pokecards", and fun illustrations including a drawing of Pikachu and a mystery hat.

As the Mystery Name Student answers, I draw and write these answers on our Promethean Board. If there are any phonics skills that I can teach in writing the answers on the board, I point these out. For example, I may make note of the magic e in the word like or the /ar/ in the word park.

I love the time spent learning about the child because it gives them a chance to shine, but more importantly, allows the other students to possibly connect with this child through similar interests.

Writing about the Mystery Name Student

After the students have had a chance to get to know their new classmate, it’s time to create a class book for the Mystery Student.

Brightly colored classroom materials on a white desk, featuring school supplies, books, and a child’s drawing on a worksheet titled "Mystery Name Activity.

This gives you a chance to slip in some writing and drawing skills, too!

Child coloring a mystery name activity worksheet about likes, featuring drawings of an ice cream and a unicorn, with crayons and a pencil on the table.

Each child gets a paper {there are two paper options included} They pick four of the six that were drawn on the board. I emphasize that it’s important to use their very best printing and drawing since the Mystery Name Student will take the book home to enjoy.

Child's school worksheet with drawings and words indicating likes: a yellow crayon and an angular tree house, accompanied by a mystery name activity on a desk.

As classmates complete a page, the Mystery Name Student also gets his/her very own page to complete.

Colorful children's worksheet titled "Mystery Name Activity" with illustrations and text describing hobbies such as riding a bike, painting, playing basketball, and thanksgiving.

Make a Class Book

Add the cover & staple the student pages together. Send home the book with the student!

A colorful Mystery Name Activity-themed image featuring a worksheet titled "mystery name" with the name "Matthew" and cartoon figures, surrounded by stationery items like markers and scissors.

Boom! You’ve covered phonics, writing, and a getting to know you activity in one lesson.

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