Six name activities to build letter knowledge

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Over the past six-ish months, Mon Cœur has been doing different activities that focus on the letters of her name. I wanted to start teaching her letter knowledge, one of six pre-literacy skills. According to the Noyes Library Foundation, the six pre-literacy skills to build with children are: print motivation, print awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Today’s focus: letter knowledge, specifically letters in children’s names.

When we began working on letter knowledge, I chose to work first with the five letters in her name, instead of working with the alphabet in order.  I have loved watching her learn these letters.  It started with understanding the letters in isolation and then combining, in specific order, those letters to spell her name. She surprised me one day when she pointed out letters on a sign and claimed them as her letters!

Why start with letters of her name instead of A, B, C?

Her name is important to her.  She has a concrete and strong connection to it.  So it makes sense to start with these letters for these words that she uses so frequently. The ownership and pride attached to the letters that form one’s name make it a natural place to begin.

Activities for encouraging learning letters of the name

The following activities are listed in the order that we did them, so that skills are built on each other.

Play dough name puzzle

We love to play with play dough, and one activity we can do with names and play dough is rolling the dough out, and then pressing MC’s name into the play dough using magnetic or wooden letters.  Then placing the letters on the side, MC has to match the letter to the indented letter in the dough.

Color/stamp your name

We’ve done many variations using the do-a-dot markers, paint and q-tips, sticker dots, and stamps to fill in the letters of her name.

Letter hunts & name building 

We worked extensively with building her name using lots of different materials

-matching individual letters on post its to names on white paper

-finding letters in a muffin tin (they were hidden under painters tape and MC had to cut/tear the tape to find the letters and then build her name)

-matching large pieces of paper with letters to brown paper bags labeled with the same letter, then placing the letters in order

-At Easter time, a fun spin is filling plastic eggs with letters. MC would “crack” the eggs to find letters, and then match the letters to her written name on paper.

Songs – remix versions

MC’s first name has five letters, just like B-I-N-G-O, so I revamped the lyrics to go along with her name: “There was a momma had a daughter and ___ was her name-o….” We used this along with building her name, she had scrabble-like letters and there was a letter or two missing from each name.

Laminated name strips

I made name strips on cardstock by drawing 1 x 1 inch squares for each letter in each name we wrote.  I “laminated” them by using packing tape.  I used MC’s name as well as family members names to make name strips.  We have done so many activities with these name strips from finding her name to comparing lengths of names (which one is shortest? longest? how many letters are in your name?) and even find and circle “x” letter. This was an activity that I presented once, and she consistently went back to the material wanting to do again and again.

Find your name (highlighter/paper activity)

This was a fun activity once MC had been exposed many times to her written name.  I wrote her name, Mommy, Daddy, and her siblings’ names and gave her a highlighter.  She had to take the highlighter and circle all of her names.  She “read” her name each time she circled it, and after she was done, I went back and read all of the names and asked for help every time we came across her name.

Which activity will you try with your toddler or preschooler?

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