5 Creative Ways to Teach Kids to Spell Their Names

With these playful activities, your child will soon recognize her own name.
Oct 24, 2018

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5 Creative Ways to Teach Kids to Spell Their Names

Oct 24, 2018

From an early age, a child learn the importance of his or her name, first verbally and then in written form. In fact, one of the first words a child learns to read and write is their name.

Young children love seeing their name appear in meaningful ways like on belongings, toys, and on bookplates in favorite books. Another fun activity you can do together is making a name decoration to hang on their bedroom door.

Begin to grow your child’s awareness of the letters of her name by starting with the initial letter and pointing it out often in everyday print that you come into contact with — on signs, cereal boxes, book covers, etc. You can say, “I can see a T. Your name, Tomo, starts with T.’

Write your child’s name on his artwork, using a capital letter for the first initial and lowercase letters for the remainder of the name. If he or she shows interest, invite them to "write" their own name too. At first, they're likely to use squiggles and letter-like symbols to represent their name, but over time an actual letter or two will appear and, with repeated opportunity and acceptance of their attempts, his or her name will eventually appear in a more legible form. We love Scholastic Early Learners: Write and Wipe Learn to Write board book as a way to practice.

MORE: 3 Steps From Scribbling to Spelling

5 Playful Ways to Explore Your Child’s Name

By around three or four years of age, you can invite your child to make her name using a range of creative materials. As he or she creates, talk about the name of the letter she's working on and the sound it makes in their name (and other words!). It's your interaction with your child while completing these activities that make these valuable learning experiences. 

Here are five creative ideas to try:

(Safety note: As some of the activities suggested below use small materials, such as beads and bottle tops, that can be choking hazards, close adult supervision is recommended at all times. Use these ideas below as inspiration, using age-appropriate items for your child.) 

MORE: 5 Tips for Teaching Name Writing

1. Sticker names (for ages 3 and up): Write your child's name in large letters on a sheet of paper and let him use colorful, age-appropriate stickers to cover the letters. 
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2. Play dough names (for ages 3-5): Play dough is a hit with the preschool crew, and this is a fun activity for kids in that age range. Write your child’s name in large letters across a sheet of paper, this time inviting them to roll play dough "snakes" to cover the letter shapes.
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3. Building names (for ages 3 and up): Help your child to build each of the letters of their name with Duplo or Lego bricks. Duplo is great for the preschool builder, while Lego provides more of a fine motor challenge for kids aged five and up. Have fun mixing up the order of the completed letters, inviting your child to then put the letters back into name order. (This Lego Ideas Book is filled with more creative ways to play with Lego bricks.)
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4. Bead names (for ages 4 and up): Great for also developing fine motor skills, look for big, chunky letter beads that are easier for little fingers to thread. Children ages four and up can find and order the letters of their name before threading their very own name necklace.
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5. Bottle cap names (ages 5 and up): Use a permanent marker pen to write one letter of your child’s name inside each of a series of plastic bottle caps. Invite kids aged five and up to put the caps into name order or create a second identical set and play a simple memory game by turning all of the caps over so that the letters cannot be seen. Take turns choosing a cap with the aim of finding each letter in name order, from the initial letter onwards. The first player to make a completed version of the name is the winner.
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To your child, his or her name is one of the most important words they'll encounter, so be sure to also share the story of why you chose that one particular name for them. This, along with having fun with the letters and form of his name, will help to strengthen his or her sense of self as a unique identity within the world. (And these books that celebrate uniqueness can help you share that message!)

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