Introductory activities

Introductions: Story of Your Name

The purpose of this activity is to get to know people’s name on a more personal level through storytelling.

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Introductions: Story of Your Name
Educator prep: Minimal
Student prep: Minimal
Breakout rooms, Shared online space
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

The purpose of this activity is to get to know people’s name on a more personal level through storytelling.

Useful for

  • An icebreaker activity on the first day of class or group meeting.
  • Learning about people’s lived experience and culture.
  • Helping people remember each other’s name by attaching a story to it.
  • Building relationships of trust in a new group.
  • Creating a safe space for people to share about their background.
  • Humanizing 


  • No preparation needed by participants.
  • Facilitator could create a slide with name of activity and questions.


  • Describe activity and why doing it: namely, invite each participant in turn to tell a story about any part of their name (first name, last name, middle name, nickname)
  • Tell people why you find it interesting and helpful to hear the story of someone’s name
  • Explain they can share as much or little as they are comfortable
  • Pose some questions to spark what story they want to share 
    • How was your name chosen?
    • Were you named after someone?
    • Does it have any cultural or historical meaning?
    • Is there a story or experience related to your name you would like to share?
  • Let them know it can be first name, and/or last name
  • Let them know they have 2 minutes to share. If using Zoom you can set a timer.
  • If people are going into a breakout room ask that someone be assigned as timer, note taker, and person who will share back.
  • Set up a collaborative document such as a Google doc or OneDrive so that the small groups can write down their stories. Then add in a shared space so that others can read everyone’s story at a later time.


  • If less than 10 people you can facilitate as whole group.
  • If more than 10 people, suggest putting people into groups of 3-4.
  • 3-5 minutes explaining the activity, why you are doing it, and putting people into groups if needed.
  • 2 minutes per person to share story.
  • If people shared in small groups 1-2 minutes for each group to share something back that they learned.
  • 5 minutes to wrap-up and highlight importance of what they learned, how connects to the community and ways they will be working together.

Adaptations and examples

  • Alternative tools could be an asynchronous discussion tool such as Voicethread, Flipgrid, Yellowdig or LMS discussion.
  • An adaptation could be sharing the story of a nick-name.

Technical requirements

  • If a large group suggest using breakout rooms.
  • Google docs or other collaborative tools can be used as a way for small groups to share their stories in their small group, and then they can be shared so the whole class can see them.

Useful resources


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Tour of Where You Are
The purpose here is to build community through students sharing where they are studying from.
Patrice Prusko

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