Teaching kinder for over 20 years has taught me many things, from how to manage large and small groups to how to make the best use of space and much more. In that time, I have learned THE key thing in getting the year off to a great start is the use of NAMES in every aspect of our literacy time. Here is how I use name activities in my class!
The FIRST Day…
I love meeting my new kinders on that first day! They come in with excitement, anxiety, wiggles and questions. That FIRST DAY has to be exciting and FUN because it is my first chance to show them that school is a great place to be! I want them excited to return for the second day! So I break out the music and start their day with a pocket chart activity and song that allows them to listen for their name, then put their name card in the pocket chart. After all cards are in the chart we start singing the song again and students go up to point to their name. This gives me tons of information about who is familiar/not familiar with the “look” of their name. Here is an editable card for you! Just type in the name, laminate and cut out. After the first day, photos of each student will remain in the chart for a center activity where students math class names to photos. (click on the photo to download the file).
BINGO: Sing Bingo using student names.
There is a girl who has a _____(student says name of an animal),
And Ellie is her name-o,
E-l-l-i-e, E-l-l-i-e, E-l-l-i-e,
And Ellie is her name-o!
(this can take a lot of time, but is a great once a week song)
I Know I Can Find My Name Blues:
This is a song I wrote and have available as an mp3 file here. As the song plays and children dance to the movements, I call names in groups of two until all students have had a turn. I rarely have play the song twice.
Lyrics to the song:
Good mornin’, good mornin’,
Are you ready to sing the blues?
Can ya feel it, can ya feel it,
From your head to the toes in your shoes?
All ya have to do is find your name and sing the I Know I Can Find My Name Blues!
My students love to dance to this as their friends run up and put their name cards in the pocket chart! You can find this song HERE.
ANOTHER activity that I make available the first weeks and beyond is a set of modeling dough and a name mat for fine motor name making. This should be a priority the first weeks, because you are helping student to develop muscles for that writing tool grip! Let’s face it, we get students each year who have never had a writing tool in their hands!
Would you believe the Dollar Tree singles of Dough are actually great quality for the price? I get 12 in a pack for a dollar! Win-win for a teacher on a budget!
I put the dough and the name template in a large zipper seal bag. This stays in the seat pocket or the reading tub when not in use. Here is a copy of the EDITABLE dough template!
EDITING TO ADD THIS INFORMATION: If you are going to use this for your own class, the font I used is free for classroom teachers from http://dafont.com It is KG Red Hands Outline, and can be found here.
WHEN we begin the second week of school, I teach students how to work independently after arrival and breakfast on their name practice toolkit. This activity is kept in a binder.
Students have 3 steps to work on: Build It 5 Times, Sort the Letters (tall, small, or tail), Write It.
Early finishers are allowed to use a name template with letter tiles they can glue on and take home!
You can find EDITABLE name activities here.
Students sign in each morning on a clip board with their photo and a space to write their first name.
Magnetic Name Station: Students look at cards with photos and names on them, and make the names with magnetic letters.
Name Chart Station: Students use our morning pocket chart song activity to match mixed up photos with their names.
Clothespin Letter Name Match Card–photo and name on the card with a set of clothespins that can be clipped in order of the name above the name on the card.
There are many, many activities to use with names! Be creative! I insist that students get their name activities out when they have finished a literacy center/station during reading rotations. Especially during the first two weeks! These activities are invaluable, and are far more effective in teaching children the order of their names than worksheets that have them to only trace their name. I do have a tracing/writing sheet that is used as a handwriting activity, and I make it a point to distinguish the difference in it and the letter tile, magnetic letter or dough activities. It is all about internalizing the name! Students learn the alphabet, the correct way to read by sweeping from left to right and so much more!
I hope these activities have sparked your enthusiasm in beginning the year with names! I just purchased Teaching Reading in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen. It is the perfect companion her Teaching Writing in Kindergarten! She begins both writing and reading with names. Both books are a great read! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0545529433/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1to
Now, go download those freebies and leave me a little feedback in the comments section of this post! I love to hear how you use activities of this type!
Updated August 8!
You can now download my August FREEBIE!