Visual Literacy in Action: What’s in a Name?

Our names, like our faces,  can reveal a lot about us. The following is an activity that I loved to do with my class each year as they were getting to know each other.

It is easily adaptable: older students can have fun exploring script and various types of bubble letters while younger students can be supplied with their names already written (and possibly cut).

It is a great discussion starter as students brainstorm and use their creative juices to illustrate themselves in a unique way.

This activity also creates an amazing visual display for those first few weeks in the classroom.

Supplies: sheets of white paper and black construction paper for each student, pencils, various colors of construction paper (scraps work well), scissors, and glue


  • Step 1: Fold white sheet of paper in half (long way).
  • Step 2: Write name along folded edge, making sure that the letters touch the edge of the paper. This can be tricky for people with names that include letters which fall below the line (such as g, j, y). Students may choose to use capital letters or find other creative solutions if this is the case. I encourage my students to play around with lettering (script, bubble letters, etc.) until they find a style that suits them.

  • Step 3: Cut out name and unfold paper to reveal the mirrored design.

  • Step 4: Brainstorm a list of your likes, talents, hobbies, etc. (things that could help someone get to know you better).
  • Step 5: Lay your name cut-out on the black sheet of construction paper and look at it from different angles (right-side up, upside-down, sideways).  Use your creative eye. What do you see? How could you use your name to illustrate one of the items or activities from your brainstorming in step 4?
  • Step 6: Using your name cut-out and construction paper, create a picture of something that will help others get to know you better.
  • Step 7: After playing around with the placement and deciding on your final design, glue your name and other picture components onto the sheet of black construction paper.


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