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Pathmaps: The Story of Your Name
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For: Lower, Middle, Upper School
Pathmaps Points: Meaning and Purpose, Self Knowledge and Self Worth, Relationships

Summary: This simple icebreaker exercise is designed to develop an awareness of personal history and heritage, and the power of naming things in developing significance in our lives.

Materials: Journals or paper, markers/pens

This works as a group check-in or an icebreaker. It can be done with any age group, and at a minimum of 5-10 minutes. Students are asked to reflect on what they know about where their name came from and how they were named.

Possible questions for discussion:

How were you named?
Who were you named after?
What does it mean to you to have this name?
Is there a story behind your name? Do you want there to be a story behind your name?

Students can make up a story behind their names if they don’t know much about it. Students can also tell about famous people who have the same name.

Students can write this in their journals or on a slip of paper before sharing with a partner or the rest of the group. One option is to have them share it with a partner and then have the partner tell the story to the group (to work on active listening) or each person can tell his/her own story.

Other options/variations:

Do you have a nickname? Where did that name come from? Do you like it?
If you could add new meaning to your name because of the kind of person you want to become, what would that meaning be?
To add a twist to this you can have the students share what they would have been named had they been the other gender. Where did that name come from?

Additional Debrief or journal questions:
What is the value of naming? Why do we do it?

Did you ever want a different name? Will you ever change your name? Why might you want to change it?
What has naming meant to you/your family?


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