I think we can all agree that learning name recognition and practicing name spelling is most fun when it is tactile and hands-on. If you agree, try this preschool name recognition activity using playdough! It’s always a hit with my preschoolers.
Preschool Name Recognition Activity Using Playdough
For more back to preschool ideas be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post.
With back to school season upon us, preschool teachers begin thinking about how they are going to teach their newest set of preschoolers how to recognize their names as well as how to spell them.
Truth be told, I find this task to be increasingly difficult over the years.
Names aren’t spelled like they used to be.
So often, parents want to be creative in naming their child, but also in how they spell their child’s name. For example, let’s look at the name Jackson. It used to be there was only one way to spell the name. Then the spelling J-a-x-o-n was introduced. And then two years ago I had a student who spelled the same name G-a-x-s-u-n.
Now here’s the thing…the first two spellings are phonetic, meaning that they follow typical phonics spelling rules.
Gaxsun does not.
So when you would normally say, “You’re name starts with the /j/ sound. That’s letter j!” you have to alter that language to something much more difficult to explain — because Ga is not a phonetic combination that follows the rules.
I appreciate that parents want to make their child’s name feel extra special, but sometimes they are not doing. preschool teachers (or their child) any favors!
And that’s just one more reason why preschool name recognition practice is beneficial when it is hands-on and tactile.
A Note on Playdough
If you’re a regular reader, you know how I feel about playdough. It’s. s must in preschool and seriously one of my all-time favorite sensory materials.
This is my most requested playdough recipe, and it’s really inexpensive to make, too. The recipe is designed to make small batches, so it’s a cinch to make individual containers for your students if you are teaching in a preschool classroom where policy is against community supplies.
But of course store bought playdough is just fine, too…and they come in. handy, personal sized containers, too!
The Set-Up for Preschool Name Recognition Activity Using Playdough
If you have made individual containers of playdough for your students, set the container on a tray with some alphabet cookie cutters. Depending on the skill level of your preschooler, you can select the letters for your preschooler or they can rummage through the entire alphabet to find the letters in their name.
Arrange everything on a tray to make things look nice. Add a small manipulative. We used pom poms here, but you can also use any of the following:
- floral gems
- acrylic gems or table scatter
- toothpicks or mini craft sticks
- snap cubes
- cut up straws
Really, you can use just about anything! Be creative. (Or open you craft cupboard and pull out the first thing you see, which is what I typically do). Now, invite your preschoolers to join you in some name recognition playdough fun!
How to Teach Name Spelling with Playdough
It’s important for children entering kindergarten to be able to not only recognize their names but to also spell them. In fact, name writing has become the go-to assessment at many kindergarten orientations. It’s a quick way for teachers to gage if a child has:
- letter knowledge
- sound knowledge
- print awareness skills
- pencil grasp development
- letter formation
So, it goes without saying that knowing how to recognize and spell their name is an important skill for a preschooler!
My preschoolers automatically began by making pancakes with their playdough. You can offer some playdough rolling pins or preschoolers can use the palms of their hands to press and flatten the playdough.
Some preschoolers chose to make on giant pancake for all their letters, while other preschoolers chose to use a different color playdough, and a different pancake for each letter.
Now, it’s time to cut playdough letter cookies using the alphabet cookie cutters!
You might want to take this in steps. You can offer your preschooler a name tag to follow the letters of their name, or they can make their letter cookies in any order. I’m a little control freakish, so I tend to encourage my preschoolers to go in the oder of how to spell their name, but if they cut their cookies out of order, they can practice putting the letters in the right order.
How to Differentiate Instruction for Name Spelling Practice
This preschool name recognition activity is not one-note. Here are some ways to challenge, and tone down the difficulty, of the activity.
- Have older preschoolers find the letters of their name from the entire set of alphabet cookie cutters.
- Challenge older preschoolers to identify other students with the same letters in their names, or the same sounds.
- Offer younger preschoolers only their own name letters, but scramble them so they can still practice name spelling.
- If you have really young preschoolers, offer a name tag with their name letters and have them match them one-to-one before cutting their playdough.
- Try any of the fine motor applications mentioned above. (Remember that list of manipulatives? More on that below.)
How to Increase Fine Motor Work in this Name Recognition Activity
Now, if our ultimate goal is for preschoolers to not only know how to recognize their names, and spell them, but to also write them, then we need to give them additional practice in all three.
Enter, the list of manipulatives mentioned above.
Adding manipulatives and having your preschoolers decorate their playdough names helps them work on their pincer grasp, which is needed to develop a mature writing grasp.
More Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Now, if you’re really looking for some awesome fine motor activities that are very specifically designed to boost pincer grasp development, then you will love my fine motor task boxes!
Get my Playdough Recipe E-book!
This playdough e-book has 45 unique playdough recipes, plus tips and tricks on how to get your homemade playdough to turn out perfectly every single time.
For more awesome back to school activities
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
School Bus Color Match Puzzles // Modern Preschool
3 Word Cloud Back to School Puzzles // Lalymom
Back to School Process Art // Still Playing School
Morning Routine Story Stones // Sugar Aunts
Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Pack Their Lunch // Study at Home Mama
Easy, Kid-Made Phone Number Bracelets // Mama. Papa. Bubba.
Back to School Bingo // Playdough to Plato
Back to School I Spy // The Pleasantest Thing
ABC Photo Book // Powerful Mothering
Back to School Puzzles for Counting to 10 // Life Over C’s
Patterns with Erasers // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Shape Puzzles Busy Bag // Teach Me Mommy
Back to School Name Practice with Playdough // Stay at Home Educator
Back to School File Folder Games // Itsy Bitsy Fun
Back to School Mapping Our Classroom // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Back to School Teacher Gift // Think Magnet
Free Back to School Memory Book // DIY Farm Wife
Flower Craftivity // Fairy Poppins
Free Alphabet Book // The Kindergarten Connection
Back to School Memory Game // Play and Learn Everyday
DIY Name Stamps // Preschool Inspirations
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.