Preschoolers love to learn about their names. They love learning about the letters in their names. They love just saying their names. In preschool, partially because of this strong interest, we do a lot of name recognition activities. We practice forming the letters of our names. We practice spelling our names. We practice looking for details of what makes our name what it is, and why it is not someone else’s name. Name recognition is not only important to preschoolers, but it is a great stepping stone into more pre-reading and literacy skills.
I try to include at least one [formal] name recognition activity per week. Each day, throughout our preschool time, we do several “mini” name recognition activities. During circle time we find our names tags and place them on our mobile bulletin board to recognize who is at preschool. We use name tags to identify whose turn it is to get their snack, or be first in line, or to assign helper jobs in the classroom. It is good practice for the children in name recognition as well as how to identity what names do not belong to them.
This activity, Letter Tile Names, is a colorful activity designed to formally help children to recognize the letters of their names. I like that this activity provides a lot of repetition, but in an interesting way. While it took my preschoolers a good fifteen to twenty minutes to complete the activity, they all remained interested for the duration.
The set up is simple. In a child or phonics friends font (usually a sans font) type out your child’s name five times on one page. Leave plenty of spaces between each letter. This provides room for the the letter tiles to be pasted on. I tried to space out the letters as mush as possible, knowing that the letter tiles I was making would be about one inch squares.
Now, make you letter tiles. I used a different color for each name printed on the page, but any color combination would work. The key here is to write the letters on the tiles the same way they would appear on the printed sheet.
Invite your child to find letter tiles and paste them over the corresponding printed letters.
While watching my preschoolers I found that each one had a different strategy for filling in their names. It is important not to interfere. A preschooler will notice that she has many options in how to fill in her name. She may choose only one, or she may choose to try several strategies. This is ok, and good for the preschooler! Part of a quality early childhood education includes allowing children to problem solve and take risks in their leaning.
Corinne worked from the bottom of her page to the top, mostly filling in all of one name before moving on to the next. Corinne already knew how to spell her name, so she initially chose to spell each of her names in order, but soon found it too tedious to look for specific letter tiles. She then turned to simply matching letter tiles with the printed letters on the paper.
Either approach is ok. The point of this name recognition activity is not to teach children to s-p-e-l-l their names, but to familiarize them with their names and the letters that make up their names. After various activities like this one, and lots of opportunities to read their names, the actuall spelling will come naturally and when developmentally appropriate.