Keep reading for the ultimate guide to name activities for preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten. These tips will help your little one learn to recognize, spell, and write their name…plus I’ve included a few freebies!
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THE IMPORTANCE OF NAME ACTIVITIES IN PRESCHOOL, PRE-K, & KINDERGARTEN
One of the MOST important skills for little ones to work on before they enter kindergarten is the ability to read and write their names independently. This involves multiple skills, including:
- Recognize (read) their name
- Spell their name orally
- Write their name with a pencil (without an example)
- Hold their pencil correctly
- Form their letters correctly (starting from the top)
- Name the letters in their name
These skills might come very easily to some preschoolers, but they are very difficult for others.
Here are my best tips for helping your little one recognize, spell, and write their names.
I’m also sharing lots of creative, fun, & hands-on name activities that your preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten littles will LOVE!
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE & SPELL NAME
The first step we want our little ones to achieve is to recognize their name in print. This is very important for when they enter school, as they’re going to need to find their own cubby, desk, folders, etc.
We also want them to spell their names, first orally and then with printed letters.
When teaching little ones to read and spell their names, I love to use this song from Patty Shukla on YouTube. It’s a very catchy way to help name spelling stick, plus it works for any amount of letters. It also works for last names, too.
You can also check out this video for more tips on teaching names in preschool:
In addition to having them orally spell their name, kids need plenty of opportunities to build their name in many multisensory ways. Here are some of my favorites:
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then cut the letters apart and have them put the letters back together to spell their name. I like using sentence strips for this.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then write the individual letters on dot stickers. Have them match up the stickers to the letters in their name.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then have them stamp the letters of their name. We like using these stamps from Melissa & Doug.
Did you know that you can use dry-erase markers on magnetic tiles? It’s true! Write the letters of your child’s name on magnetic tiles and have them put the tiles together to form their name. Pro tip: Don’t use thick, chunky dry-erase markers. Those are hard for little hands to hold. Instead use shorter, thinner markers like these.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then write individual letters on clothespins. Have them clip the clothespins above the corresponding letters in their name. This is also great for their fine motor skills.
Have your child sort a set of alphabet letters into two groups: “In my name” and “Not in my name.” We like using these alphabet letters for this. You can also download this FREE sorting mat by following the directions in this post (scroll to the bottom for the download directions).
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and hang it up on the refrigerator (or another magnetic surface). Then have them use magnetic letters to spell their name.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then put a set of alphabet letters in a sensory bin, such as a bin of colored pom poms. Have them use tweezers to pick up the letters and spell their name.
Write the individual letters of your child’s name on sticky notes. Hide the sticky notes around the room. Then have them bring the notes back to the table to spell their name.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper (or print it out). Then have them use dot markers to go over the letters in their name. (This makes a great art project to hang up, too!)
Another place you can use dry-erase markers? Mega blocks! Write your child’s name on a base of blocks. Then write the individual letters on individual blocks. Have them match the letters to build their name.
One of the most fun ways to practice names in preschool, pre-k, & kindergarten is through name crafts. The rocket ship is a name craft I love to do during my space theme (you can download the free template in this post), and the sun is one I created for my weather theme. (I don’t have a template for this one, but you can easily recreate it for your child).
Play dough is another great tool to develop your child’s fine motor skills. Write their name on a piece of paper. Then have them use play dough to create each letter in their name.
LEARN TO WRITE NAME
Once your child can read and spell their name, they’re ready to learn to write it.
First, have your little one practice writing their name in a sensory tray, such as a tray of colored rice or salt. Having them use their finger to form the letters is a great precursor to writing with a pencil.
Once they’re ready to use a pencil, you can ask them to trace their names, but be careful that you’re actually watching them while they trace. If you let them trace without guidance, they may form their letters incorrectly (which can lead “drawing letters” instead of writing letters) and develop incorrect habits. Tracing should only be used if you can guide them in letter formation.
Once they’re ready to use a pencil, you can follow this daily name routine: Spell It, Trace It, Build It, Write It. These editable name sheets are perfect for this…you just type your child’s name into the editable boxes. The first box has a solid font and the second box has a traceable font. Ask them to spell their name out loud (while closing their eyes if possible), trace their name, build their name out of letters, and write their name.
Another great way to have them practice their name is through a monthly name writing & self-portrait assessment. This is a fun way to watch their handwriting and drawing develop over time. This printable can be found in this assessment pack.
If you’re looking for another way to get little ones writing their name every day in your classroom, try a Question of the Day. Have your students answer a question by writing their name on the correct side of a whiteboard. This is also a fun way to get to know your class better!
Another option for daily name writing is a Student Sign-In. Use the free name template below to type out your students’ names, then hang them up on a wall. Have your students trace over them with dry-erase markers each day. (Writing while standing up is great for writing and core development).
This activity (along with all of our freebies!) can be downloaded from the Free Activity Library. If you’re already a member of our email community, you can click HERE to head to the Free Activity Library, enter your password (it’s on your most current email from me), and download your copy!
If you’d like to join our email community & receive the password as my way of saying THANK YOU for joining, you can click HERE to subscribe. Once you enter your information, the password will be emailed to you within minutes.
Check out this video to see these name activities in action:
What types of name activities for preschool, pre-k, & kindergarten do you plan for your little ones? Do you have any fun activities that would be great to add to this list? Comment below or find me on Instagram [@littleslovelearningblog] and let me know!
Looking for other ways to make sure your little one is ready for kindergarten? Check out my Kindergarten Readiness Blog Series: