Nicknames can be a great way to build community. Students love to have a special name just for them, and they feel valued when classmates use their nickname.
Some teachers assign nicknames on the first day of school. It’s a good way to break the ice. I’ve never tried that because I’m not sure I can come up with so many nicknames on the fly.
You might like to coin nicknames as the year goes on. Always ask the student’s permission before using a nickname you thought of yourself.
After you’ve given a few nicknames, tell the kids to let you know if they create a cool nickname for themselves. If you deem the nickname appropriate, encourage the class to make an effort to use it. Using the nickname is like a gift from one student to another. Students are so proud when their nickname catches on. Often it follows them past the end of the school year.
Ideas for creating nicknames:
Talents: Winners of contests or class experts might develop nicknames based on that, such as Miss Multiplication.
Actual names: You might be able to use alliteration to create a catchy nickname based on a student’s first or last name. An example is DJ Jazzy Jeff (the Fresh Prince’s pal.) If you’re lucky, you might find a cool rhyme, such as Racin’ Jason.
Last names that sound cool: Some kids just have awesome last names. They might like to be called by that. It sounds really jock. Jocular, too! New word alert—jockular: of or pertaining to a friendly jock.
Awesome prefixes: Sometimes you can add an awesome word to the student’s name to create a cool nickname. Two famous examples Magic Johnson and Joltin’ Joe. Athletic kids might like a strong name with Action, Power, Super, or some other similar “prefix.”
Initials: Some people’s initials sound awesome. This is a classic source of nicknames.
Objects: You might create a nickname based on something the student likes, or just a cute word that fits the student. Cupcake is an adorable nickname. Boots is fun and classic.
Heroes: if a student has a hero, maybe that hero’s name or a variation of it should be their nickname. A girl who loves to sing might like to be called Beyoncé. A student might like to be called after his favorite team or mascot.