Previously, I detailed the name kits I usually make at the beginning of the school year. Here are more name activities for preschoolers that I’ve used with my students. Listed below are a variety of activities based on students’ names. Some of the activities relate to each child learning his own name. Others are a way to teach literacy and math skills using the children’s names as a foundation. Some do both! Please forgive the quality of some of the photos!
SIGN-IN-BOOK — At the beginning of the year, the children find their names and write within the appropriate box. If they need help, I guide them through it, talk them through it, or write their names in yellow marker so they can trace.
During the second part of the year, I try to make it a little different. I’ll write a simple sentence or question at the top of a piece of paper and leave two columns beneath for the children to write their names.
RAINBOW WRITING NAMES — On a large piece of white paper, write the child’s name. The student chooses different colors to trace over or around the letters in her name.
MOSAIC NAMES — Write the child’s name on a large piece of white paper. He then glues scraps of different colored papers to his name.
TACTILE NAMES — Again, write the child’s name on a large piece of paper. The student then traces each letter with white glue and adds a tactile material over the glue. Possible materials to use are sand, glitter, beads, ribbons, etc. Once the glue has dried, the kiddos can trace their fingers over the letters, creating a sensory experience.
DOT PAINT NAMES — The children use dot paints (bingo daubers) to carefully paint over each letter in their names.
NAME ROADS — Use these great letter roads to create your students’ names. You can download them for free here at Make Learning Fun. Dr. Jean has some suggestions on her blog for other activities to do with the letters.
PLAY DOUGH NAMES — Create play dough name mats for each of the students. It’s as easy as writing their names on paper and laminating them. They can use the play dough to trace over each letter in their names.
TACTILE TRAYS — Place a layer of tactile materials in a tray and let the kiddos practice writing their names. Some suggestions for materials include sand, sugar, salt, and shaving cream. Here’s our Vanilla Spice Sensory Writing tray.
LETTER SORTS — Make a simple chart entitled “Letters in My Name”, with a “yes” column and a “no” column. The students sort through magnetic letters, determining which belong in their names and which don’t. Be sure to include name cards for those children who need them as a reference. Click here to read more about sorting magnetic letters.
NAMES IN YOUR THEME — Create your own name activities based upon your weekly/monthly themes. For example, if you’re studying space, you can make name rockets.
If you’re learning about snow or winter, you can make name snowmen!
PREDICTABLE CHARTS — You can make a predictable chart about anything you’re teaching. They can relate to your weekly/monthly themes, students’ interests, and books you read to the class. You can make them as simple or as complex as your students need. The sentences all follow the same pattern.
- Mama likes cats. Engineer likes dogs. Snoopy likes fish. Etc.
- Mama can see the book. Snoopy can see the marker. Engineer can see the carpet. Etc.
INVISIBLE WATERCOLOR NAMES — Write the child’s name in white crayon on a white piece of construction paper. Encourage the kiddo to discover the secret message by painting the paper with watercolors! Secret messages in watercolors seem almost like magic to many children!
CLASS NAME BOOK — This is something easy and fun to make with the students at the beginning of the year. Take pictures of each child to include in the book. Make sure the sentences are the same on each page. It could be “I see (child’s name)”, “(Child’s name) is a friend”, or “I like (child’s name)”. Give each kiddo her own page and include her in creating the page with her name. Laminate the pages and create a book to keep in your class reading center for the year.
CLASS ALPHABET BOOK — Have a letter on the top of each page, including each letter of the alphabet. Underneath each letter, write the names that include that letter. Engineer’s name would be included underneath the letters Ee, Nn, Gg, Ii, and Rr. This is a task that will take a while to complete with the class, since you want to involve them in the whole process.
NAME CHART — On a name chart, everyone’s names are written in alphabetical order. Be sure to include students’ and teachers’ names on the chart. Laminate the chart and post it in an easily accessible location. Highlight parts of the names that can be used when teaching reading and writing.
NAME BINGO — Create bingo cards with children’s pictures on them. Use the children’s names as bingo cards. Hold up a name, then let the children locate the appropriate picture on their cards. You can control how much assistance is given during this game.
POEMS & SONGS — Put students’ names into poems, songs, and fingerplays. You can also place their name cards into written poems on your class pocket chart.
- “Old McJohn had a farm . . .”
- “Willoughby wallaby wessica, an elephant sat on . . . Jessica!” (From Raffi’s “Singable Songs for the Very Young”)
These are just some ideas you can use in the classroom to teach names, as well as use names to teach math and literacy. Be creative and come up with more ideas that work for you and your students!