Knowing the letters in your name, and the order they go in, is an important sign of kindergarten readiness. But it's not as easy as you might think! Children need repeated practice, and at this age, their restless little bodies demand that the practice be as hands-on as possible!
Here’s an activity that’s all hands-on...hands-on the fridge, that is! It’s a refrigerator name game!
What You Do:
- On your computer, type out your child’s name in a bright color and super large font. Be sure to bold the letters and leave lots of space between each letter in the name, as you will be cutting each of the letters out later. On the same page, type your child's name again exactly as you did the first time, so the name appears on the page twice.
- Print the page onto ink jet magnetic sheets. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions so your page comes out perfectly.
- Cut the names into two separate strips so you have two copies of your child's name. Leave one strip completely intact. Cut the other strip apart into individual letters.
- Put the name strip on the fridge at a height your preschooler can reach. Tell her that this is what her name looks like.
- Spell her name aloud and point to each letter as you name it. On a second reading, have her join you.
- Put the individual letters on the fridge near the strip with her name on it. Ask your child to name the first letter of her name and then find that letter in the cluster on the fridge.
- When she finds it, help her to hold it near the matching letter on the full name strip, to check that they are the same. If it's a pair, let her put it on top of it's matching letter.
- Repeat for the remaining letters in her name. Be sure to celebrate each step along the way, especially once she has spelled her name completely!
After your child gets good at her name puzzle, try creating additional word puzzles, such as “mom,” “dad,” or the names of siblings or pets. You can also play games with the word puzzles, for example, Name Game Simon Says. Here's how: Put a variety of letters at her height, then say, "Simon Says put the letter B way up high," "Simon Says put the letter E way down low," or other letter-based directions.
Looking for another game? Try the Mix and Fix Race: Use a kitchen timer to challenge your child to complete the name puzzle quickly…can she mix the letters up and fix them in less than two minutes?
Or go for another version, called Tall Letters/Short Letters: Ask her to spell the letters in her name aloud. When they are tall letters, she stands up; when they are short letters, she squats down.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.