10 Simple and Fun Ideas for Name Recognition

Name recognition happens in three parts:

  1. Recognising (read)
  2. Spelling
  3. Writing

The activities featured here will help your child to recognise their name. Once they’ve been able to recognise their name in a number of different formats, they will be able to move onto stages two and three. 

What age should you start?

All activities featured here are suitable from around the age of 3 onwards. You know your child best so if they are interested before then, by all mean start a little earlier.

What materials do I need?

Many of these activities feature everyday materials from around the house or items that are likely to be found in the craft box – everyone has one of those, right?? That being said, a set of magnetic letters can be helpful for a whole host of early learning activities – we use them frequently in our simple play invitations.

Make it fun!

Now is not the time for boring old worksheets! Very young children learn best when the learning is practical – a hands-on approach helps them consolidate what they’ve learnt so much more. All of the activities featured here are invitations to play – meaning, please do not force your child to do an activity if they are just not in the mood for it.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

If feasible, keep the same name recognition activity out for a week – you can revisit it each day. Ideally, you should be doing at least one name recognition activity per week to help consolidate the knowledge.

Benefits

  • Early literacy: recognising letters, spelling and writing
  • Fine motor skills: all important element of pre-writing!
  • Crossing the midline (able to move hand/foot over to the other side of the body to work there)
  • Early numeracy: exploring shapes and lines within names and counting the letters

10 Simple Name Recognition Ideas to try

Start with the first letter of their name. In this photo, my daughter was two and really interested in her name. I cut out and laminated the letter Z for her to put stickers onto – we’d repeatedly say ‘Z for Zoey.’

Over time, you could build this up to all letters in your child’s name. Laminating isn’t strictly necessary, but it did help to preserve the activity for longer. The same laminated letter could then be used to practise writing and spelling the name later on down the track.

letter recognition with stickers

Peg match

I made this activity by cutting out a rectangle from a cardboard box – two years later and it’s still going strong! It’s great to get out as a refresher activity every once in a while but in the beginning, when Z was learning her name, it was out every single week.

Here we actually used jumbo pegs from Flying Tiger, but ordinary household pegs will do too. I wrote Z’s name in both capitals and lowercase to help her recognise both – when learning letters of the alphabet, it’s always best to teach uppercase and lowercase simultaneously.

peg match name recognition

 

Follow the lines!

This really helps your little one to explore the lines and shapes that make up their name. Simply write their name on a piece of paper or rectangular cut-out from a cardboard box (if you want the activity to last a little longer) and invite your child to follow the lines with a stash of stickers.

It’s super fun and takes less than a minute to set up.

sticker match name recognition

 

Muffin tin match!

Okay so I realise that this activity works better with shorter names BUT you could always use an oven tray instead. Simply write your child’s name onto the tin or tray, then invite them to match up the letters with magnetic letters.

Here we used a chalk stick which came off easily in the dishwasher.

name recognition with a muffin tin

Letter Squish

Use those magnetic letters again – but this time, use them to print into play dough. Doesn’t matter if it’s store-bought or homemade, this is just another fun way to get little ones recognising their name.

Once the name is printed, invite your child to trace the letters with their fingers or add pompoms/ beads to fill in the shapes.

playdough name recognition

Letter Painting

This is one of the easiest name recognition activities on the list – just draw out your child’s name on a large sheet of paper (we have an entire roll that is so handy for kid activities), then let them loose with the paints. It doesn’t really matter if they don’t paint the entire piece to begin with and they certainly don’t have to colour inside the lines either!

name painting

 

Name Drop!

I have a policy of only ever making DIY activities if they are going to last longer than a couple of weeks – this is one such activity that goes the distance!

First of all, you need to get saving up, cardboard tubes (we tend to cut down paper towel tubes), food pouch lids/bottle caps and a shoebox

Glue the tubes to a carboard box and write each letter of your child’s name onto the tubes. Repeat on the pouch lids.

We opted to colour code ours to help Z when she was much younger but you can leave the tubes plan if it’s easier, time-wise!

name drop activity

 

Post-it name recognition

a child's name is written onto a sheet of brown paper along with some blue post it notes for a simple name recognition activity

Car Park

a piece of cardboard has been used to make a name recognition car park. Toy cars have the corresponding letter on the roof.

 

Name Tracing Board

There’s plenty of wooden name tracing boards on the market these days, but this DIY name recognition was pretty simple to put together. Keep following this page to find out how to make your own version.

DIY name tracing board

 

Find More Activities

You can find more name recognition activities over on my Pinterest page by clicking here. 

Summary

  • Name recognition happens in three parts: recognising (read), spelling, then writing
  • Make activities fun and hands-on to help consolidate knowledge
  • Repeat often: aim to do a name recognition activity at least once per week

Helpful Preschool / Starting School Posts to check out next:

9 Pre-Writing Shapes for Preschoolers

9 Pre-Writing Activities to try with your Preschooler

Starting School with Confidence

How to Establish a Simple Before School Rhythm

How to Create a Simple After School Rhythm

Is Your Child Starting School Soon?

Starting school is not just about the academics – whilst learning about pre-writing activities is really helpful, you need a holistic approach to the lead up to school.

Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the ‘Starting School’ mini course.

Topics covered include:

  • Building Independence
  • Social-Emotional Readiness
  • Foundational Academic Skills
  • Your Readiness as a parent

 

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.