Sunday, September 20, 2015

Learning our names

We've spent a lot of time talking about names this week! Working with names is a great first step to early literacy for kindergarteners. For most students, seeing their own or a friend's name in print is the first time they have understood that a word can represent a concept. My goal is for all of our kindergarteners to be able to recognize, spell, write, and count the syllables in their own name, plus begin to recognize and write their friends' names. Here are some activities we've been doing to increase familiarity with names.

Special Name of the Day

Every day during the first month of school, I pick a new person to be the "Special Name of the Day." When the name is picked, that child comes to the front of the room and picks his/her name card out from a chart where I have written all the names on index cards. Then we study their name, following the same routine each time:
  1. We count the letters in the name.
  2. We say the letters in the name.
  3. We cheer the letters in the name. (Gimme an S...S! Gimme an A...A! Gimme an M...M! What does it spell? SAM!) (needless to say this is their favorite step)
  4. I cut apart the name, and the child tries to put it back together correctly.
  5. We study the features of each letter in their name. Does it start with a capital letter? Are the letters tall or short? Do any of the letters have a tail (like g and y)? Do you have any of the same letters in your name?
  6. Each person draws a picture of the child, and writes their name underneath.
  7. The child takes home the packet of pictures from their classmates, as well as their name puzzle, so they can practice putting it together at home.
Name Magnets

During free choice, the kindergarteners love to play with these cards that have each child's picture and their name written in capital letters. Kids can find their own name, or a friend's, and use magnet letters to spell the name on this small magnet board. A few kids have also taken to calling them "credit cards" and using them as currency during dramatic play. :)


Playdough is another popular choice during play time. I set out playdough, trays, and cookie cutter letters without any specific directions, and sure enough, the kids ended up spelling their names with the letters!

We will continue to work on writing, tracing and reading our names throughout September. You can practice writing and reading your family members' names at home too!

Oh and one last thing. Each Friday afternoon at the end of the day, we gather together on the rug and do what's called "Shared Writing." Together as a class, we write a letter to our families about what we learned and tried during the week. I ask students to come up and "share the pen" with me, to help us write letters and words. Here is our letter to families from this week!

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