It’s time for another guest post! I’m thrilled to welcome the talented Jamie of Play to Learn Preschool. When I first visited her site, I was blown away by her amazing home preschool! If you teach preschool or simply want ideas for teaching your little ones at home, her site is a must-see.
Parents often ask how to begin to teach letters to their preschoolers. My answer is always the same — always begin with your child’s name! A child’s name is THE most important word to them. It might hang on the wall in their bedrooms, on the envelope of a birthday card from Grandma, or on the tag to their Christmas gift. That word is important and learning it becomes essential to our young children.
Here are 10 hands-on ways to help children explore, recognize, spell and write their names. (Click on each link to see more photos of the activities. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.)
1. Apple Letters – One of the first experiences that preschooler need is practice matching the letters of their names. Use sentence strips, small apple cut-outs and letter stickers to make these Apple Letter cards for each child.
2. Push Pin Letter Practice – The best activities are the ones that cover multiple objectives — like these push pin letters. Giant push pins are perfect for working the pincer grasp. At the same time, children learn the letters of their names.
3. Simple Name Puzzles – If you’re short on time or materials, these puzzles are for you! Just write a child’s name on a piece of cardstock, then cut the letters apart to make a puzzle. Click to see more simple ideas that we use to help children learn to spell their names!
4. Pumpkin Seed Name Art – Fun-A-Day posted this amazing idea for dying pumpkin seeds. Put them in your sensory table or use them to make gorgeous, colorful name pictures.
5. Tape Resist Canvas Names – Cheap, bulk canvases are available at the craft store. Use your weekly coupon to get a set for this tape resist name project. We had each child make their first letter, but if you are working with just a couple of children, they could paint their whole name. Wouldn’t that make an amazing piece of wall art?!
6. Build-a-Name – These “Letter Construction” pieces prompt a ton of problem solving and creativity. Put them on the light table, or right onto the floor.
7. Name Folders – At the end of a year full of name learning, we make personalized Name Folders for each of our students.
Name folders include four ways for children to practice:
- Spell their name by pointing to each letter
- Trace their raised name for a tactile experience
- Build their name using letter tiles
- Write their name on dry erase tape
8. Salt Tray Writing – Young children need sensory experiences! Let them practice writing the letters of their names on a shallow tray of salt.
9. Dinosaur Name Clips – Children match the letters of their name (and get important pincer grasp practice with these Dinosaur Name Clips).
10. Name Practice Sheets – Finally, before children enter kindergarten they need to be able to write their names. Make a “Sign In Sheet” for each child and bind the pages throughout the year into a special keepsake book. Be sure to download these FREE name worksheets. In just 2 minutes (or less) you can make an entire set of sheets for your children.
Jamie White is the owner and teacher of Play to Learn Preschool. In addition to being the busy mom of 4, she teaches preschool in Virginia, advocates for play-based learning on social media, and creates preschool curriculum resources for Teachers Pay Teachers. You can share her pipe-dreams on Pinterest and her real-life on Instagram.
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I feel concerned that much of this early name writing is ALL IN UPPER CASE.
Here, in Scotland, we would never start teaching ‘sounds’ with upper case letters. We would teach names with one capital letter at the beginning and the rest in lower case, following the conventions of our orthographic system.
Please explain the logic behind this ‘all in capitals’ practice.
Teacher and Dyslexia Specialist
Here’s a great explanation: https://playtolearnpreschool.us/learning-to-write-2/