Over the last several days I have shared a series of posts that focused on early writing skills in preschoolers. In part one I shared some activities aimed at helping to develop a child’s fine motor skills, and part two focused on pre-writing activities for your preschooler to practice the correct strokes when writing the letters of the alphabet. Today’s post focuses on activities that will help your preschooler learn something that every beginning writer cannot wait to learn – how to recognize, spell and write their name.
Kids can learn to recognize their names at an early age, usually around 3 years, so it’s only natural that as they learn to recognize and write the letters of the alphabet, the next thing they want to learn is how to read and write their name. In many cases their name is actually the very first word they learn to read and write.
If your child is ready, then the following activities are a great way to help him practice recognizing, spelling and eventually writing the letters that form his name. Always make sure your are teaching your child to “read” and write from left to right, and to use a capital letter for the first letter in their name followed by lowercase letters.
Activities for Recognizing Their Name
Help your children learn to recognize their names using these activities. Also, put their name up everywhere you can think of. The more they see it the easier it becomes for them to recognize it!
1. Macaroni Names
This is a fun and artsy way to help your child learn to recognize their name. Take a bottle of glue and spell out your child’s name on a piece of paper. Let him come behind you and place macaroni on the glue. Once it dries, he will see his name made with food. Be sure to hang it up where he can see it daily. *Tip – for colorful pictures, dye the macaroni with food coloring, making sure to let it completely dry before using.
2. How Many Letters in My Name?
This simple activity is a great way to help children learn how many letters make up their name! Write out your child’s name on a piece of paper and have him practice counting the number of letters. Then go back and have him name each letter for extra practice. Next, on another piece of paper, draw however many boxes equal the number of letters in his name. Above each box write out the letter.
Let your child print each letter of his name inside the squares, using your letters above to copy. To increase difficulty, just add the boxes only and let him write the letters in his name without copying.
3. Magic Name Writing
Kids love this! Take a white crayon and write your child’s name on a piece of white paper. Now let her come behind you and paint the paper with watercolors. Watch the surprise on her face as her name magically appears!
Activities for Spelling Their Name
Once children can easily recognize their name, spelling it comes pretty easily too. If they have seen it written out hundreds of times, they are very likely to remember how the letters look and the order it they come in. These activities will help your child learn the letters used to spell their names.
4. Name Hunt
Similar to a scavenger hunt, except in this activity your child will be hunting for the letters in their name. Begin by writing each letter of your child’s name on its own index card or sticky note. Review the letters with your child, then have her close her eyes while you go and hide the letters. The goal is for her to find all the letters in her name, and to put them in the correct order once she has found them all.
5. Name Puzzles
For this activity you will need to write your child’s name in large letters on a sheet of paper. Next, cut the letters apart, and mix them up. Let your child reassemble the letters of her name in the correct order.
6. The Name Game
Another fun activity is to write their name on the outside of a plastic sandwich bag, and then cut out enough small circles for each letter in your child’s name from a sturdy piece of paper. Write one letter of your child’s name on the front of each circle, and then place them all inside the bag. Shake the bag to mix the letters up, then pour them back out on the table. Now it is up to your child to put the circles in the correct order to spell their name.
7. Typing Names
Children will need to learn to type anyway so why not start with practicing their names! Sit down with your child at the computer, and before you turn it on, begin by asking your child to point out and tell you the name of all the letters on the keyboard. Next ask him to find each of the letters found in his name, in the proper order. Once he is able to pick these out fairly easily, turn on the computer and open a Wordpad or Notepad program and let him practice typing his name. If needed, it may help for you to type it out first so he has something to copy.
8. Magnetic Letters
Those letter magnets scattered all over your refrigerator are a great way to help you child learn the letters in their name! There are many activities you can do aside from the obvious one of letting her arrange the magnets in the proper order to spell her name. For example, hide the letters that make up her name, then let her find them and place them in the correct order. Tie a paperclip on the end of a string, and let her ‘Go Fish’ for the letters that spell her name. Use your imagination to come up with more fun ways to find the letters, sort the letters and place the letters of her name in the correct order.
Activities for Writing Their Name
Once your child knows the letters in her name and the order, it’s time to move on to actually practicing the writing of her name. The old adage, practice makes perfect, has never been more true than when it comes to a child learning to write their name. But what child finds writing their name on worksheets and lined paper over and over fun? Below are a couple of activities for practicing name writing that are so fun, your child will want to do them over and over again!
9. Name Tracing
Write the letters in your child’s name in large letters on a big sheet of paper. Have your child first trace the letters with his finger several times, then the eraser side of the pencil, and then the pencil. Vary the writing instruments he uses including crayons, markers, even add a dab of paint on the end of his pointer finger for even more practice tracing over the letters.
10. Salt, Sand and Shaving Cream Name Writing
Just like he did when practicing writing letters, pour some sand or salt on a baking sheet and let your child practice writing his name in it. To make it even more interesting alternate sand with shaving cream, salt with rice, and so on.
11. Extra Practice
Once your child is beginning to write their name, the more fun and interesting ways you can provide for them to practice the better. Let them paint their name, write it on the sidewalk using chalk, on a dry erase boards, on a chalkboard and even on colored construction paper.
As I pointed out at the beginning of this series, do not push your child to begin writing before they are physically and cognitively ready. Keep in mind that certain muscle have to develop strength and coordination before a child can even begin to properly grip a writing instrument; not to mention the development of visual motor perception, their cognitive capacity and their ability to attend to the task.
The activities I shared in these posts are meant to be taken in stages, with you moving on to the next once your child is ready. Activities in part one will help those small muscle groups develop and strengthen, as well as their visual motor perception and their ability to concentrate and stay with a task.
As your children progress, move on to the activities in part two, and then to part three which are aimed more towards helping children learn to write. Most children won’t even get to the stage of actually writing their names until they are four or five years old.
Once your child is physically and cognitively ready, and when he or she shows an interest in learning to write, then all of these activities I shared in this series, are a great way to begin to help them become skilled and confident writers.