Skills: alphabet knowledge; print knowledge; self-esteem
Young children are egocentric. They love themselves and they love their names. What a natural place to begin their letter journey! I’ve often heard a young child see the letter that their name starts with and say, “That’s my name!” Use the first letter in a different child’s name each day as a springboard for introducing letters with the activities below:
Letter Necklace - First make a letter necklace using the first letter of the child’s name. Cut a 3” letter out of poster board. (Gold or silver poster board is really cool!) Punch a hole and tie on a 24” piece of string or yarn to make a necklace.
Mystery Name - Place the necklace in your lap and do a little “drum roll” by tapping your hands on your knees. Give clues about the person’s name as you write the letters on the board. For example, “The mystery name today has 4 letters. There is one vowel that goes /i/ right here. You hear the /l/ sound at the end of the name…etc.
*You could also play a game similar to “Hangman” where children call out letters and you place them on the lines as they appear in the name.
Sneak a Peek – Cut off the left edge of an envelope. Write the child’s name on 12” sentence strip. Glue his picture on the right end as shown. Pull out one letter at a time as children blend sounds and try to predict whose name will appear.
Name Song – Sing this song to the tune “The Bear Went over the Mountain,” substituting the first letter of the child’s name.
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
And he’s a friend of mine.
You can also sing the letters in their name to “BINGO.” For example:
There is a friend that we
all know and Will is his name-o.
W-i-l-l, W-i-l-l, W-i-l-l,
That’s how you spell his name-o.
Sing the “Birthday Song” alliterating each word with the first letter
in the child’s name. For example, “Wappy wirthday wo wou…etc.”
Hint! If a child’s name starts with a vowel, then use the first letter in his last name.
Sign Language – Learn the manual sign for the first letter in the each child’s name.
Hint! Use these signs as a transition activity for dismissing children to line up, go to centers, etc.
Cheer the Name – Cheer the child’s name. For example, “Give me a ‘W’. ‘W’ - I’ve got a ‘W,’ you’ve got a ‘W.’ Give me an ‘i’…
Syllables – Clap, snap, wiggle hips or make other motions for the syllables in the child’s name.
Rhyme Game – Can children think of words that rhyme with the special friend’s name? They don’t have to be “real” words, as long as they rhyme.
Sounds Like – Make a list on the chart of other words that begin like the child’s name. Write the words the children call out as you say the letters and print them on the chart. Read over the chart together sweeping your hand from left to right under each word.
Call out words and have children put their “thumbs up” if the word begins like the mystery person’s sound. They put their “thumbs down” if the word does not begin with the sound.
Name Puzzle – Write the child’s name on a 10” sentence strip with a marker. Cut between the letters in the name and put them in an envelope. Write the child’s name on the front of the envelope. Children take the individual letters from inside the envelope and put them together like a puzzle to spell the name.
Giant Letters – Make a large cutout of the first letter in the child’s name from poster board. Send it home with the child and let him make a collage on it with pictures, environmental print, etc.
Flap Book – Fold over the end of lunch sacks as shown. Open the flap and print the child’s name so the first letter will show when you fold over the flap. Glue their picture under the flap.
Name Bottle – Place letter beads that spell the child’s first name in an empty plastic water bottle. Tape the picture and name to the outside of the bottle. Challenge children to find the letters in the bottle and spell the name.
*Hint! Add water and glitter to the bottle if you desire.
Skills: alphabet knowledge; print knowledge; visual skills
Take photographs of the children in your room. Trim the photos to 2 ½” squares and glue them on several sheets of paper. Make multiple copies to use in the projects below.
Lotto Match – Cut out one set of photos and glue to a piece of cardboard with a 3” grid. Children take a second set of photos and match them up to like pictures.
Concentration – You will need two copies of each photo. Cut out 3” squares from poster board and glue photos to the squares. Place the squares face down on the table and use to play a “Memory Game” where children try to match like pictures by remembering where they are.
Pocket Chart – Write children’s names on sentence strips and place in a pocket chart. Children try to match up the names with the pictures.
People Puppets – Cut out full body photos and glue them to jumbo craft sticks. Children can use the puppets for oral language activities.
*Attach photos to spring clothespins and story in a cookie tin.
Class Stationery – Reduce photos to 1” and glue them around the edges of a sheet of copy paper to make a border. Run off multiple copies and use it for notes to parents or for additional paper in the writing center.
Graphing – Use photos for graphs and comparisons.
Art Projects – Let children cut out their faces and use them for various art projects. For example, they could draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up around their face; they could draw themselves as their favorite storybook character; they could make a collage with their friends’ pictures, etc.