8 Simple and Fun Ideas for Name Recognition

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Sian Thomas

I'm a trained teacher and mama to three awesome children. We are a family of expats, travelling the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, we live in Vienna, Austria. I'm passionate about helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

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Name recognition is one of the fundamental lessons of preschool. It really sets your child on the path to becoming a reader.

On a practical level too, it can help your child to become independent. If they can recognise their belongings, then that is one less thing they need to rely on a parent for. As I’m sure we all know, children just love to do things all by themselves.

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

 

Start Simple!

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

 

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. You can find out how over on my Instagram.

DIY name tracing board

 

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

If you loved these ideas…

If you enjoyed this name recognition post, sign up to my regular mailing list and get the free Playful Days at Home guide. It’s packed full of useful info about the early years of parenthood.

 

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