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.
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.
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