Friday, May 23, 2014

Creative Ways to Teach Names

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here, so we took the chalk outside!  My daughter loves sea animals, so I dug out some turtles and sting rays to get her excited.  We put each letter of her name in the "stalls".  We just saw some horses in a barn, so our sea animals were going into stalls, too!  I wrote each letter of her name on a sticky dot and put it one on each animal.  I had the kids mix up the animals.  Then, they got to move the animals to spell her name.
First, they matched the animals.  They double checked to make sure that each letter on the animal was the same as the chalk letter.
Then, they got to write all the letters on sticky dots.
They matched their own letters to the letters already on the animals.
The most exciting part of the whole thing was writing and matching their own letters!
After matching all the letters, they got to hop through the letters of her name.  As they hopped, they spoke each letter out loud.  They were able to interact with the letters in so many different ways!
This game was made up for a little guy that LOVES cars and trucks.  I have seen tons of variations of the parking lot games on Pinterest.  This is just another way to use kinesthetic learning to help kids learn specific skills.
 "I Can Teach My Child" has wonderful ideas on the Alphabet Parking Lot. This is just another way to use kinesthetic learning to help kids learn specific skills. 
"Juggling With Kids" has a sight word parking lot.  These are just a few of the wonderful parking lot games that I have come across, but I am sure there are more!
In this game, I wrote the letters in Vis-à-vis markers.  This way they will come off with water, but not wipe off by the slightest touch.  I wrote Luke's name on a piece of construction paper, with one letter in each space.  He was able to park the cars in the matching parking space.  It really helped to have him double check each parking job.  He would look to see, if the letters looked the same.  In the beginning, he matched letters in any order.  Eventually, he will park the cars in the order of his name.
After getting comfortable with parking the cars, he would say the name of each letter as he parked the cars.  This activity is great for kids.  They get the kinesthetic movement and repetition of the skill in an engaging way.
Another game that I have seen a lot is using a Connect Four game board and write letters on the chips.  The game below actually came with letters on the chips and is a much smaller version.  I think it came from Scholastic, years ago.  I put in the chips first to give a model of the name.  Kids would find the matching letters and slide them in the correct space.  You can differentiate this game for different levels. 
If kids are just learning their name, I would only give them the specific letters in their name.  To make it more challenging, add other letters and kids will need to discriminate between the different letters.
Here is a favorite in our house!  Break out the angry birds and put letters on some sort of block for the birds to knock over.  In this game, you can provide a model for kids that are just learning their name. 
 They will knock down the letters.
 Then, they will use the model to rebuild their name.
 For students that already have a pretty good grasp of their name, you can have them knock down the letters and build their name without a model.  FUN!
One very easy way to get kids engaged with the letters of their own name is to buy the large letters from a craft store.  I let the kids take total ownership of these letters.  They paint them by themselves and are able to explore with them.  We have hidden the letters around the house and gone on a scavenger hunt.  Each time we find a letter, we would shout out it's name.
You can also begin with just the first letter of their name.  I got a wooden letter from the craft store and had each child paint their own letter.  This was their "special" letter, because it begins their name.
We then went on a photo hunt for other words that begin with their letter.  The first picture that is always taken is a picture of them with their letter.  I made the photo hunts into a book for each child.
 This is what the picture of the child would look like.  Have the child hold the letter in whatever way they want.  This shows that it is "their" letter.
 We moved on to other things that begin with "their" letter. 
I also included lots of shots with the child holding the object.  It makes the book even more interesting for them.
Hope you found some useful ideas on ways to teach names!  I would love to hear from you!  What other creative ways do you teach names?


  1. I was just boasting about your creativity this morning. :-). Both Luke's father and his grandmother were pleased as punch to observe Luke backing his cars into the matching parking spaces. Happy happy happy daddy and grandma!! (And mommy too!)  


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