Celebrating Names in Written Language

by Amy Mascott*

Even if you only have a minute or two, taking the time to talk about, play with, and write your child’s name with him is important and meaningful.

By the time he goes to kindergarten, your child should know how to write his first name, but by making name-writing part of your everyday fun, your child may be the only kid in the class who can write his first and last name on day one!

Here are some crazy-cool ways of getting your child to love writing his name:

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Use Markers, Crayons, Pens, Paint:

  • Tic-Tac-Toe: There’s no reason that this old standby needs to be stuck hanging with X’s and O’s.  Use the letters of your child’s name to really make the game interesting.
  • Water Paint: On a sunny day, let your child paint her letter—or her whole name–on rocks, on your steps, on your back porch, or on the sidewalk using water and a paintbrush.  Make sure she shows you what she painted before it disappears!

Use Fingers on Shaving Cream, Jell-O Mix, Sand, Dirt or rice on a cookie tray or a ziplock bag filled with paint (but sealed tightly!):

  • Play Letter Guess: Take turns writing one letter from your child’s name at a time on the cookie tray or paint bag.  Then hand over the work space to your child, and let her test you!
  • Name, Name, Name: How many times can your child ‘write’ his name on the tray? Have him try to fit his name in as many times as possible, then count together!

Write with What?

  • Find something your child normally doesn’t write with—a fat poster marker, a toothbrush, a feather pen, a branch from a tree, or a super-skinny paint brush—and challenge him to write his name using those items.

Make a Book:

  • Every morning, right along with breakfast, have your child write her name on one page of a small, palm-sized notebook.  Do it for the whole summer, and watch your child’s penmanship improve right before your eyes!  It will be awesome for her to flip through the book to see how her writing changes in just a few short weeks.  After she’s ‘mastered’ her first name, add her last name. Then add her middle name!

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Some helpful information:

  • Begin with the name in all uppercase letters, then when that’s covered, move to lowercase.
  • Post attempts–even if they’re not perfect! Talk about the beauty of the name, the way she held the pencil, the fact that she didn’t give up even though her name is ten letters long.
  • Many parents have asked if they should correct their child when he writes a letter incorrectly, and the answer is ‘no’, not at first at least.  If you have a model for your child to follow, maybe at the top of the page or on a card nearby, eventually he’ll recognize that something’s not quite right.
  • If he’s stuck on one letter, after your child tries a few times, work with the shapes of that letter–the circle then the line in the letter ‘d’ or the hook then dot in the letter ‘j’.

Any other questions? Email me or stop by teach mama for some printables or some more information.  Enjoy the name-writing ride–it’s certainly a journey for most!

Email Author    |    Website About Amy Mascott*

Amy is the creator of teachmama.com, and we teach. She’s a Reading Specialist, Literacy Consultant, and freelance writer who is always up for hanging out with her husband and their 6, 4, and 3 year olds, or chatting to anyone who will listen about books and learning. She’s a big fan of ice-cream, belly laughs, day trips, pilates, and cooking, and is still holding out for someone to paint flames on the side of her mini-van

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shay June 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Great ideas!


2 amy June 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, Shay!!


3 Sara June 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm

This is a great article, and super true! My son has an easy name (just a few letters) so he learned to spell it and write it fast- now people ask him what his name is, he actually spells it for them. Its so important to get kids excited about learning and this is just one easy step.


4 amy June 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Yeah, Sara, that’s awesome!! I bet you are so proud when he spells his name for people–cute!


5 Bonnie June 4, 2010 at 12:47 am

GREAT ideas!


6 Sandy (Your Life, Organized) June 9, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for the great ideas!!

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