Celebrating Names: Play With Letters!

by Amy Mascott*

Names are the very first gifts parents give to their children, so names should be celebrated in every way possible.  As a teaching tool, there’s no stopping when it comes to name games, especially these super-easy games that can be played on the fly, with little to no prep or clean-up.

Here are a few fun and exciting ways to play with names using some pretty interesting, easy things:

Use your House:

  • First Letter Hunt: Get your child to love, adore, be proud of  ‘his letter’–the first letter of his name.  Hunt around your house for every single place you can find ‘his letter’ and place a tiny chart sticker or Post-It Note next to it.

name post3 400

Use Magnetic Letters, Letter Blocks, Foamie Letters, or any letters you can move:

  • Letter Mix-Up: Take out the letters of your child’s name, place them in front of your child, then mix-up the order a bit. Mix up the first two letters, and have your child “help” you build her name again.  Then mix up the last two letters and do the same thing.  Try turning one letter around, upside down, or sideways and then ask your little one to help you get her name back in order . Try mixing up all of the letters for a real challenge.
  • Letter Search:  Grab the letters of your child’s name and 3-5 extra letters.  Lay them out in front of him, and search for his letters.  Hold up the correct letter and another, and ask him to help you find each letter, one by one.  (We always wa nt to give our kids choices!) Go through the rest of your child’s letters until you find all of the letters of his name.  Then mix up the letters and have him try to find the letters, one by one, on his own.  When you’re really feeling crazy, double or triple the ‘extra’ letters, or introduce your last name.name post

Use Letter Food–Letter Crackers, Letter Tater-Tots, Letter Cereal:

  • Play Letter Mix-Up or Letter Search–but this time with food! Make lunch or dinner more exciting by serving up your child’s name! For even more fun when playing with letter food, have your child use chopsticks, tongs, or use a toothpick to pick up the letters—then eat them when he finds his name!

Don’t have letter manipulatives? Start saving your lids and make your own–use larger lids for uppercase letters and small lids for lowercase letters. You’ll have them before you know it!  Have fun playing Name Games!

Inspiration gleaned from Patricia Cunningham’s Phonics They Use, 2000 and Bear’s Words Their Way, 2004.

Next time: Basic Principles of Word Play



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 Cynthia McIntyre May 27, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I have always been amaized how important my daughters name has been to her! She enjoys placing her name on everything she owns and even likes monogrammed items. I believe all children find great significants in their names throughout their lives. Therefore, it is only natural to begin by helping them to spell their names. You have offered some very creative ways! Thanks

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2 amy May 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thanks so much, Cynthia! Totally appreciate your kind words, and you know your daughter’s not alone in her name love! Have you picked up a CD with her name in the songs? Listening to them seriously makes my kids smile big.

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3 Jennifer Peoples May 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

My daughter Emily loves her name, she writes it whenever she can. The other day she was excited bcause Elmo had an E-L- and M in it. One day her teacher mis-spelled her name on their place cards, which are pretty small, as Emiliy. She looked up at her and asked where her card was because she couldn’t find hers. Her teacher and I both pointed at the table at the same time to the extra i Emily card and said ‘there’ in unison. Boy did she ever correct us. Lol she had a new card laminated the next day.

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4 amy May 30, 2010 at 8:57 am

Jennifer–
What a riot! How awesome that her eyes caught that extra ‘i’! Good for her!!

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5 The Gosfam May 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm

These ideas are great–I love the Scrabble crackers. My 3 yr old loves her name, and points out the letters of her name all the time–I never thought to make it a game.

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6 amy May 30, 2010 at 8:58 am

YES! Making it a game only takes a second and no prep at all! Go for it, my friend!

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