Posted on

10 Name Activities For Early Learners

Peg name activity featuring pegs with letters on clipped to card with name spelt out

Most young children are very interested in their name and it is incredibly personal to them. Often, a child’s name is the first word they learn how to read and write, which leads to further interest in reading and writing activities. When a child starts kindergarten or in the lead up to school, this is a great time to start fostering an interest in name recognition. This often helps children settle into their learning environment as they feel more confident being able to recognise their named belongings amongst their peers. In a school setting, there are lots of times where a child will need to recognise their named belongings, for example, when trying to find their school hat or bag. At the beginning of Prep (or first year of school equivalent), there will be a big focus on name recognition and writing, which will help support students with this learning.
Whether your little one is becoming interested in their name or if you’re a teacher looking for some ideas on how to support your students, the following blog will share many ideas and activities that will develop children’s ability to recognise, write and spell their name.

Sign In Area

Classroom sign in area for students

This ‘sign in area’ was a set-up I had in my kindergarten classroom a few years ago where children could practise writing their names each morning when they came to kindy. Not only was this developing children’s ability to write their name, it also fostered a sense of belonging in the classroom and formed part of the morning routine. Children also developed their name recognition skills as they had to find their own name card in the class pile.

 

Playdough Stamping

Playdough stamping, purple playdough and green alphabet stamps

Many early childhood teachers would argue that there is no better resource than playdough. It is such a fabulous manipulative that can help develop fine motor skills and it can be used in so many different ways. In my classroom, we love using our Alphabet Dough Stampers to stamp out our names, which builds children’s confidence in recognising and spelling their names.

Featured Product:
Alphabet Dough Stampers

 

Sensory Tray Sand Writing

 

Sensory sand tray writing spelling out Ellie letters

Sensory writing trays are a great way for children to explore writing and drawing, without the stress of holding a pencil. There are many materials you can put in a sensory writing tray, such as sand, salt or even coloured rice. At the beginning of the year, I usually set up sensory trays containing sand during our daily English rotations where students can have the opportunity to practise writing their names.

 

Can You Spell Your Name?

 

Can you spell your name activity

This is one of my students’ absolute favourite name activities! They love using the diggers and dump trucks to find and transport the alphabet rocks they need to make their names.

name spelling diggers featuring diggers pebbles with letters written on. sitting on grass backgroundIt’s a super fun and engaging activity that encourages students to recognise and find the letters in their name and then assemble the alphabet rocks in the correct order.

 

Threading With Letter Beads

 

Threading letter beads spelling out childrens names on grass background
I use beads in my Prep classroom a lot as it gives students the opportunity to develop their fine motor skills, as well as whatever additional skill we are practising at the time. My students often use these Chunky Alphabet Beads to spell their names and they’re perfect for this task because they come in uppercase and lowercase letters, so children can practise spelling their names the proper way with a capital letter at the beginning, followed by lowercase letters.

Featured Product:
Chunky Alphabet Beads

 

Peg It!

 

Peg name activity featuring pegs with letters on clipped to card with name spelt out

I’m all about the fine motor skill activities, can you tell?! Pegs are a great manipulative to help with the development of fine motor skills. Making these alphabet pegs was super simple and I use them in my classroom for a range of activities. One of the ways they are used is for name activities at the beginning of the year. I love this activity because students build their confidence with recognising and spelling their names, all while building their fine motor skills!

 

Nature Names

 

Nems written on wooden blocks and a leaf on a grass background
This is a fun name activity that can be done outdoors and is an opportunity for children to engage with nature. It’s as simple as it looks – children can find and collect leaves and then stamp their name onto the leaf. Much more engaging than stamping onto plain paper!

 

Fine Motor Name Craft

 

Fine motor name craft featuring collage of names spelt out glued to card

Yep, you guessed it, another fine motor focused activity! A lot of the name activities I am suggesting in this blog have a fine motor aspect to them because of my experiences as a Prep teacher. At the beginning of the school year there is a huge focus on name activities as well as developing fine motor skills, so being able to integrate them together is ideal when there is only so much time during the day! This name craft activity is great for developing both of these skills and they are perfect for brightening up the classroom at the beginning of the year!

 

Make It and Write It!

 

Make it write it activity featuring whiteboard and pen with magnetic letters

This is another favourite activity of mine that is usually implemented during our daily English rotations at the beginning of the year. Students can use the magnetic letters to make their name and then write it underneath on the whiteboard. I love that these magnetic letters differentiate the vowels and consonants by colour and children can easily recognise the different types of letters in their name.

Featured Product:
Teachables Magnetic Whiteboard and Letters Set

 

Rainbow Names

 

Rainbow names activity featuring clouds cut out of card with matching colourful name tags

A few years ago, my class made these rainbow name crafts and I loved them so much that we proudly hung them in our room for the entire year! This was a great activity for my students to practise writing their names, with the focus being on starting with a capital letter followed by lowercase letters, as well as forming their letters correctly. Plus, anything rainbow is just awesome, right?!

 

 

What is your favourite Name Activity for Early Learners?
We would love to hear from you!

 

 

Featured Products:

Alphabet Dough Stampers

Chunky Alphabet Beads

Teachables Magnetic Whiteboard and Letters Set

 

 

ABOUT HEIDI:
Heidi Overbye from Learning Through Play is a Brisbane based, Early Years Teacher who currently teaches Prep, the first year of formal schooling in Queensland. Heidi is an advocate for play-based, hands-on learning experiences and creating stimulating and creative learning spaces. Heidi shares what happens in her classroom daily on her Instagram page, Learning Through Play. See @learning.through.play for a huge range of activities.

 

Shop MTA>

 

Posted on

All Time Favourite Literacy Resources

Close up of alphabet sorting tray and magnetic letters on classroom desk

Developing literacy skills in young students is extremely important in the early years and a large proportion of the school day is spent teaching these skills. To help me develop my students’ literacy skills, I use a wide variety of teaching tools and resources within my literacy program. Over the past few years, my collection of literacy resources has grown, yet I always seem to return back to my favourites; the resources that can be used in a myriad of ways. In this blog, I have compiled a list of my ALL TIME favourite literacy resources that I use regularly in my classroom and explain the different ways they can be used.

Chunky Alphabet Beads

Chunky alphabet beads letters on grass backgroundThere is something about threading activities that really captivates children’s attention. I have used these Chunky Alphabet Beads in both kindergarten and school settings and both age groups have adored them. On top of the obvious hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills that threading resources promote, there is also a range of literacy skills that these Chunky Alphabet Beads encourage. I have used these beads with my students to develop their letter recognition skills, name and word building skills, as well as awareness of uppercase and lowercase letters and alphabet sequence. Some of the activities I have implemented using these Chunky Alphabet Beads include:

    • Spelling names (focus on using uppercase letter followed by lowercase)
    • Spelling sight words
    • Spelling CVC words
    • Matching uppercase and lowercase beads together
    • Sequencing the alphabet
    • Letter finds (e.g. finding all of the e’s, or finding the letter that makes a /s/ sound)

Chunky alphabet beads words on grass background

Featured Products:

Chunky Alphabet Beads
Flower Sorting Tray

Wooden Alphabet Sorting Tray

Alphabet sorting tray on desk with magnetic letters
I LOVE resources that can be used in a variety of ways, which is why this Wooden Alphabet Sorting Tray is included in my list of All Time Favourite Literacy Resources. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have used this tray in my early years classroom and it is one of my ‘go-to’ resources when planning hands-on activities for literacy rotations. Some of the activities I have implemented using this Wooden Alphabet Sorting Tray include:

    • Sorting and matching magnetic letters into compartments (using tongs for added fine motor opportunities)
    • Matching an uppercase letter manipulative with the matching lowercase compartment
    • Practising letter formation by writing letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper and then placing them in the matching compartment
    • Writing words that start with each letter on a piece of paper and then placing them in the correct compartment
    • Beginning sound match-up (having a range of small toys and sorting them into the correct compartment according to their beginning phoneme)

Alphabet sorting tray activity with post it notes and felt pens on a grass background

Featured Products:

Wooden Alphabet Sorting Tray
Easy Grip Tweezers
Magnetic Lowercase Letters

Alphabet Bean Bags

Alphabet bean bags on grass background

In early years classrooms, there are many times in the day when students are transitioning from one activity to another. I like using these transition times as a teachable moment to consolidate learning and to give the children an opportunity to showcase their understanding. One of my favourite ways to transition students (e.g. from the carpet to the tables) is by throwing an alphabet beanbag to each student. Each child will catch their beanbag and tell the class what letter they are holding. This activity can also be adapted by having the student explain what sound that letter makes, or say a word that starts with that letter. Besides transitioning, other activities I have implemented using these alphabet beanbags include:

    • Throwing beanbags into a hula hoop and saying the name of letter/correlating sound
    • Laying letter cards out on the carpet and throwing the beanbags on top of matching letters
    • Uppercase/Lowercase game where the beanbag is thrown and then depending on what side it lands on, students will say “Uppercase!” or “Lowercase!”

Alphabet bean bags activity close up of word PLAY spelt out in kids hand

Featured Products:

Alphabet Bean Bags
Alphabet Wall Frieze

Phonix CVC Group Work Set

Phonic cvc activity matching key sight words  with letter blocks on a grass background

Along with making CVC words, some of the other ways we have used these Phonix cubes in the classroom include:

    • Building sight words
    • Building word families
    • Building names (they have uppercase on one side, lowercase on the other)
    • Sequencing the letters of the alphabet (my students love this one because they end up with a really long creation, which they think is fun!)

Phonic cvc matching activity featuring alphabet blocks and  CVC prompt cards on a grass background

Featured Product:

Phonics CVC Group Work Set

Lowercase Alphabet Dough Stampers

Lowercase alphabet dough stampers spelling out the word look into green dough

Playdough is ALWAYS a hit in my classroom and is perfect for developing those important fine motor skills as well as allowing children to engage in sensory play. To add an extra element to playdough play, I love adding these Alphabet Stampers to our playdough table to encourage letter exploration and word building. We frequently use our Alphabet Stampers to practise our sight words, which is a great way for students to familiarise recognising, reading and spelling these important words. Other ways we have used these Alphabet Stampers in our classroom include:

    • Stamping names into playdough
    • Stamping CVC words into playdough
    • Tracing letters with a finger after stamping

Lowercase alphabet dough stampers activity featuring blackboard on desk prompting students to make a sight word with the dough and stampers

Featured Product:

Lowercase Alphabet Dough Stampers

Write and Wipe Sleeves

Write and wipe sleeves on desks featuring sight words worksheets

These Write and Wipe Sleeves have saved me SO much time and money over the past year, which is why I’ve included them on my All Time Favourite Literacy Resources list! What teacher doesn’t love saving time and money?! There is no need to laminate sheets with these Write and Wipe Sleeves, I simply place whatever sheet I need for the lesson inside the sleeve and then voilà! Students can write with whiteboard markers on these sleeves and then easily wipe away. Some of the activities we have used these Write and Wipe Sleeves for include:

    • Roll and Write sight words
    • Tracing and writing sight words
    • Tracing letters or using resources (rocks etc) to trace over letters
    • Making playdough letters

Write and wipe sleeves activity featuring whiteboard pens and markers on classroom desk

Featured Product:

Write and Wipe Sleeves

Storywands

Close up of a Storywand with a series of fiction books on grass background

Developing oral language skills and comprehension skills are vital components of our early years curriculum. One of my favourite resources to support development of both of these skills are Storywands. Storywands are a fun way to encourage discussion and understanding of stories. We have used them in whole-group shared reading sessions, as well as small-group guided reading. Each star has a different question on it, which encourages students to focus on different story elements. These Storywands are used extensively as part of our reading program and in a variety of ways, including:

    • In whole-group shared reading
    • In small-group guided reading (where each student answers a question)
    • Using one star per lesson as a focus (for example, students will draw a picture to answer the question, ‘How did the story end?’)
    • To focus on developing the reading skill of prediction
    • To focus on developing oral retelling skills

Storywands activity set up on a teachers desk in classroom

Featured Product:

Storywands

Wooden Alphabet Discs

Wooden upper and lowercase alphabet discs on grass background

I have a weakness for any type of wooden resource – especially ones that can be used in so many ways! These Wooden Alphabet Discs have 26 uppercase and 26 lowercase discs and are perfect for simple letter recognition and letter matching games. I have used these beauties in both kindergarten and school settings in a variety of ways, including:

    • Letter match-up sheets (matching letters, matching uppercase to lowercase)
    • Looking for alphabet discs in rainbow rice

Active world tray  filled with coloured rice and alphabet discs

  • Separating numbers and letters (with the addition of Wooden Number Discs)
  • Letter Partner game (hand out uppercase and lowercase discs to students and then they have to find their partner with the matching letter)

Wooden alphabet and numbers sorting activity

Featured Products:

Wooden Alphabet Discs
Active World Tray
Coloured Plastic Bowls – Set of 6
Easy Grip Tweezers
1-20 Wooden Number Matching Discs – 40pc

Lowercase Letter Beads


Lowercase letter beads sight word activity on grass background

You already know that my students LOVE threading activities, so it probably won’t surprise you that I have included these Lowercase Letter Beads in my list of All Time Favourite Literacy Resources. I love that these beads are lowercase and they can be used with lots of different tools such as string, laces or even pipe cleaners. We mainly use these beads to practise spelling our sight words. Our favourite way to do this is by threading them onto a string as well as using tongs to pick them up and arrange them into a word. Other ways we have used these Lowercase Letter Beads in the classroom include:

    • Spelling names
    • Sequencing letters in the alphabet
    • Creating a string of words in word families (e.g. mat, cat, sat)

Lowercase letter beads threading activity on grass background

Featured Products:

Lowercase Letter Beads – 288 pieces
Fine Motor Tweezer Tongs


Alphabet Soup Sorter Cans

Alphabet soup sorter cans close up on grass background

Last, but definitely not least, on my list of All Time Favourite Literacy Resources are these Alphabet Soup Sorter Cans. My students always get super excited whenever I bring these out because of their fun nature and opportunities for hands-on learning. This resource encourages students to sort the object and letter cards into the correlating cans and supports alphabet awareness, letter and sound recognition. Some of the ways I have used this resource in my classroom include:

    • Whole group activities when introducing a letter/sound
    • Consolidating a group of sounds (e.g. SATPIN)
    • Small group sorting with some or all cans

Alphabet soup sorter cans activity on classroom desk

Featured Product:

Alphabet Soup Sorter Cans

Have you used any of these resources within your literacy program? What is your all time favourite literacy resource? We’d love to hear from you.

ABOUT HEIDI:
Heidi Overbye from Learning Through Play is a Brisbane based, Early Years Teacher who currently teaches Prep, the first year of formal schooling in Queensland. Heidi is an advocate for play-based, hands-on learning experiences and creating stimulating and creative learning spaces. Heidi shares what happens in her classroom daily on her Instagram page, Learning Through Play. See @learning.through.play for a huge range of activities, play spaces and lesson ideas.