Friday, September 12, 2014

It's All In A Name! Using Children's Names In The Beginning of Kindergarten!

Beginning of the year Kindergarten is best spent focusing on names!
There is so much 'learning' that can occur from names that it makes it a worthwhile use of instructional time- plus it is a great way for students to get to know each other!

This week my kinders are starting 'centers' (I use the term loosely because we are calling them 'centers' but we are not traveling about the classroom and/or using a workboard!)

Here is a peek at some of the name activities we will be doing!

Name of The Day
First each child will get his/her chance to be 'Name of the Day!'
As 'Name of the Day' they get their name put up on the Word Wall.
To make these cards I used Dancing Crayon Design's Glitter Alphabet Clip Art for the initial letter and KG's Primary Penmanship (free to download for personal use) for the rest of the name.  I also inserted a picture of each kid and then laminated them.  I used magnetic tape on the back so that it would 'stick' to the board.

We look at the beginning letter (using the model of the child's name that I write on chart paper) and determine where to put the child's name/picture.

The child then writes his/her name under my model.

We count the number of letters in the child's name and also say the letters a few different ways:
1.Clap and say the letters
2. 'Funny Talk' (squeeze your nose and talk) the letters
3. Grandpa (deep voice) Talk the letters
4. Squeaky Talk the letters
5. Whisper the letters

We compare the child's name to other names we have covered:
*Same/Different Beginning &/or Ending Letters
*More/Less/Same number of letters
*Any words we see hiding in their name

Then it is time to 'interview' the child so that we can learn more about him/her.
I fill in the areas as s/he answer the questions.

Then all the children go back to their seats to draw a picture of themselves with their new friend.  The 'Name of the Day' child completed his/her interview (name and coloring the border) as s/he is presented with a crown so that everyone in the school knows its his/her special day!
I simply staple the owl picture to the front of a sentence strip.
The child practices writing his/her name one more time by writing it on the sentence strip!

The pages are compiled and the interview is stapled on top.  The child gets to take his/her book home at the end of the day!

You can download the interview sheet and crown picture for free here!

Playdoh Name Mats
On the first day of school we made magic playdoh and the children keep their playdoh in a small plastic container in their cubbies for 'writing warm up' each day.

We also use our playdoh for playdoh name mats!
These are super simple to make!
I used PondBigGirl font from Graphics From the Pond, but you can use any 'chunky font' to make your mats.  Simply choose 'BOLD,' 'white text color' and 'black text outline' to get the 'open' font.

I used PowerPoint, landscape orientation and insert table (2x1).  I chose no shading and dotted inside line to get the line to separate the 2 mats.
I use the largest possible size to fit the name in the space, printed it on colored cardstock and laminated!  Cut the 2 mats in half and we were good to go!

I showed the students how to make 'snakes' to help form their letters:

And also told them they could press the playdoh into the letter to form the letters:

I also suggested they could break off pieces of playdoh to form the letters: 

and some chose to do a combination of all:

If students finished early they could try to make their name in another method and/or try it on the back without the letters to guide them.

When time was up, I had students simply roll their playdoh back into a ball and put it in their containers!

Dry Erase Names & Rainbow Write
Another center activity we did this week was dry erase names and rainbow write names.  To make these I again used Power Point in landscape orientation, but chose to insert a 3x1 table.  I used KG Primary Dots (free to download for personal use) to make the names.  I chose to put the starting dots on using a thick Sharpie marker.

 To make the dry erase boards- after inserting a text box and typing the names, print on colored cardstock and laminate.  Cut on the lines and the mats are good to go!  Place a dry erase marker in a child size sock- it keeps the markers and 'erasers' (socks) together for easy distribution and collection! 
Students can practice their name using the dots and then flip it over and try to write their name without the dots/guide.  They can also practice tracing and then reading their classmates name cards!

For 'rainbow write' simply print the same form on copy paper and add your dots before copying.  Cut the names into strips and put them in a basket with colored pencils (some people choose to use thin makers- I go with colored pencils- especially in the beginning of the year!)
Students continue to trace their letters (one color at a time) until the allotted time is up.  They can also practice writing it without the dots/guide on the back.  

I keep several copies of their name strips handy.  They make a great 'fill in' activity for when you need a quick 5-10 minute activity before heading to lunch/special/home.  They are also great to have for students who are still learning to write their names.  Pull one out, have them trace and then move on to the next activity.  The added exposure and practice will pay off !  Students can also use crayons to rainbow write if you don't have colored pencils.

Name Puzzles
One of my favorite things to do with names is name puzzles- and I finally learned an easier way!
I used to write each name on a sentence strip and then cut it apart, but last year I discovered rectangle frames from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs!
Her set comes with 16 different colored frames which make the puzzles super fun PLUS you can use the blank and white 'digital stamp' puzzle to make 'plain' ones that your children could decorate before you turn them into a puzzle!
 To make the puzzles I used PowerPoint and inserted a frame 3x1 into a landscape orientation.  I then inserted a frame into each section so that I got 3 frames per page!  I inserted a text box and typed the names.  I chose to put a space between each letter to give more room for cutting/building the puzzle.

I printed them on cardstock and laminated in full sheets.  Then I cut the frames out and began cutting zig zags, curves, lines, etc to form the puzzle pieces.

I wrote the student name on a ziploc bag using  Sharpie marker.  Make sure it is big and clear on the bag so that it serves as a model/guide for students that need a bit more help with their name building.

Students pull out the pieces and then build their name.  When they are finished they put all the pieces back in their baggie, seal it and can then try a friend's name.  They also LOVE having the teacher's name to build, so be sure to make one for yourself not only for modeling purposes but also for students to 'play' with your name!

 Place all the bags in a big basket/bucket and place on the table for a center.  As students master name building, keep the puzzles around as an early finishers activity.  Last year my students used them throughout the year and were super excited to bring them home in June!

I also like to organize my name centers into large gallon size ziploc bags for easy reference!

More Name Building
After name puzzles its great to move into more 'sophisticated' name building activities!
I used Teacher Laura's Pocketchart clipart set to make these building mats and letter cards.

To make the mats I used PowerPoint in landscape orientation and inserted a 2x1 table.  The font used is KG Primary Penmanship (free for personal use) and the handwriting line is a free download from Dancing Crayon Designs.
I inserted the sentence strip from Teacher Laura's set, as well as the handwriting line and printed it on cardstock.  After it was laminated I cut it into 2 mats. 
The letter cards are also from Teacher Laura's set.  I inserted cards for each child's name and then printed 3 sets (white, green and orange) so that we can use them for different name building activities.

You can download the mat for free here.  You will have to purchase the letter tiles from Teacher Laura and/or use letter tiles you have already in your classroom.  You can also make your own letter tiles by creating a text box with an outline around it for each letter.

For each set I wrote the child's name on a ziploc bag (same as name puzzles) and placed the letters in the bag.  The name written on the bag will help support those students that still need assistance with their letter ordering.

For many of them I instructed them to write their name first (again I have the dry erase markers in a kiddie sock [eraser!] for easier distribution/collection) and then had them find the letters to build their name.

Next week we will practice using our pictures so that we can begin to associate names and faces!
This idea was adapted from an idea on found on Teaching Hearts Blog- be sure to click this link to find some other ways to use names!

Sensory Tub- Letter Sorts
This year I am embarking on sensory tub fun for hands on learning and fun, so I wanted to introduce it to my kinders as early as possible.
I used Teacher Laura's Pocketchart clipart set again to make the letter tiles I 'threw' in the tubs.  I printed sets of capital and lowercase letters on 5 different colored cardstock so that each tub color would match the color of the letters inside it.

I purchased colored 'noodles' as my sensory tub filler for this go-round because I knew they were less apt to cause a mess than rice, beans, shredded paper or macaroni!  
In each tub when the noodles, set of capitals and lowercase, dry erase marker, kid sock (eraser) and the sorting printable- which you can download for free here!

Students first wrote their name on the printable and then had to reach into the tub and pull out a letter at a time.  They looked to see if that letter was in their name.  If it was, they put it in the 'thumbs up' section.  If not, they put it in the 'thumbs down' section.  They continued to pull and sort letters until the allotted time for the center was up.

If you don't have tubs, or want to try another way to use the printables, save (or ask parents to send in) frosting containers!  They come with tops that seal so are perfect!

You can use them 'plain' or jazz them up a bit!

I purchased decorative duct tape and simply wrapped it around a cleaned/dried frosting container.

Once it 'met' I simply cut the piece and had it lap over.

Add a second strip and it was all covered!

You can also cover the lids to match...

Although I found it easier for the kids to open/close when the lid was left 'plain' on the decorated can!

Besides using these cans for name activities, I am planning on using them for building/reading CVC words later on in the year!  

Initial Letters
To work on some fine motor work, we ripped paper to cover the initial letters in our names!

You can also have your students rip to cover their entire names!

Name Games
I purchased Karen Jones'  Name Activities pack during the back to school sale.
My students LOVED playing her paper plate game and using this pocket chart activity:

Each day as a 'warm up' I would pass out their name cards and choose one letter to look for in our names! Not only did it get them up and moving, but it forced us to really examine names and practice letters each day!

I am trying to store my centers and activities better this year, so I am putting everything in gallon size baggies and labeling them with what is in it and if not something I created, who I purchased it from so that if a piece goes missing it is easy to find the replacement!

Other Name Fun
Although I didn't get any pictures (my hands were covered!!), we practiced writing our names in shaving cream too!
Super fun and loved by all!  It also helped 'clean' the tables while we had a sensory experience (I used lime scented shaving cream)! you know the 'trick' for easy clean up?
Turn a plastic cup upside down and make 'circles' with it on the shaving cream.  It will 'scoop' the cream right up the sides of the cup!  Then just wipe the 'residue' clean with a baby wipe!!!

We also played 'Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar?' using a large 'cookie' I made from felt as a 'getting to know you/your name' activity!

Our 'Poem of the Week' was 'The Name Poem':
The first thing we do,
Is always the same.
We pick up a pencil,
And write our name!
...and we recited it each time we wrote our names on our papers this week!

Just in our short week of focus on names I saw so many children make great strides- and they were equally as proud!  In the beginning of the week one of my students could only write her first letter- J.  By Friday she was writing all 7 letters and did not need the crutch of her name tag!

It looks like I only have about 2 students that will need some more 'intervention' for name recognition, building and writing- I couldn't be more proud!

I would love to hear your fun name activities, songs and more that have helped your students with their names!

Until next post,
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  1. Amazing set of activities! Thanks so much for sharing them :)

  2. Wow, thank you so very much for sharing so many incredible activities to help Littles learn their names! I have a handful of kiddos who still have a hard time recognizing and writing their names, and I can't wait to try some of your awesome ideas!! Thank you so very much for sharing!!

    Warmest Wishes, Erin from Kindergarten Dragons

  3. Thanks for the great pirate activities! I can't wait to try them on Friday!

  4. Oh my goodness, what a wealth of name activities for the first few weeks of school! Thanks for sharing. I can not wait to try them out in August.

  5. LOVED all your name activities! Thank you so much for the post! :)

  6. What is the recipe you like to use for your playdoh? I'm trying different recipes and some are very dried. Thanks much

    1. Hi Cathy-
      I used a recipe I found on The Imagination Tree blog. Here is the link!
      It is THE BEST recipe! We have been using our playdough for 10 days straight now and it is still as workable as day 1!
      Hope it works well for you too!

  7. Where did you purchase your noodles for your sensory tubs?

  8. Where did you purchase your noodles for your sensory tubs?

    1. I got them from Joann's Craft store. They are actually wet/stick noodles for crafting but I use them as a sensory filler!
      You can google 'wet and stick noodles for crafts' to see where else to purchase them!
      Hope that helps!

  9. Hi, where did you purchase the noodles in your sensory tubs? What are they made out of? Thank you! These activities are great, I cannot wait to try them in my kindergarten autism classroom :)

    1. Hi Alyssa-
      I got them from Joann's craft store (you can see response above too). I think they are made of a Styrofoam type material. I am so glad you like the activities! Best of luck implementing them in your classroom!

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Hi, you mentioned a paper plate game in this post from Mrs. Jones Classroom. Do you have a link to this game or an explanation of what it is and how you play it?

  12. It's in the name package I purchased from her. I write their names on plates, sing her song & toss a plate onto the floor.

  13. It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content.
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