Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Spell and Write Their Names

FUN Ways to Teach Kids to Spell  Write their Names | Mama Papa Bubba

It may sound sort of strange seeing as I spent 7 years teaching kindergarten and grade one before Miss G was born, but very rarely do I sit down with Gracen with the intention of teaching her something specific.  At 2 and 3/4 years old, I truly believe that she does all of the learning she needs {for now} through playing, going on adventures, and reading books. The exception to this is when Grae takes the lead…  In that case, I’m more than happy to follow along.

Recently, she’s become very interested in “drawing words”.  It started off with random words like ‘swing’ and ‘tall’, and then it became focused solely on her name.  There’s been a whole lot of ‘How do you draw my name again, Mama?’ and ‘Mama, can we play another name game today?’ this past week, so that’s just what we’ve been doing… Exploring her name in fun, hands-on ways.  All of these simple activities are things I’ve done with my students in the past and Grae has thoroughly enjoyed each one.

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Stamping – We are lucky to have alphabet stamps, but you can easily make your own by adhering foam letter stickers onto cork tops or bottle caps.  Right now, I set out only the letters needed for her name {along with a piece of paper and stamp pad}, but to make the activity a little more challenging, you can include extra stamps too.

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Magnetic Letters – I particularly like these wooden ones by Melissa & Doug, especially because the set includes both upper and lowercase letters, but any sort of alphabet magnets will do (you can even make some using scrabble tiles or foam letters).  I simply set out the required letters in a bowl next to a magnetic board, and let Miss G play.

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Computer Typing – This activity is extra special in our house since we really don’t let Gracen use our computers yet.  I simply open up a blank word document, select a good clear font, make it nice and big, and let Miss G choose the colour.  Then she goes ahead and searches out each letter on the keyboard.  Today as she was about to hit the ‘G’, she asked, “But Mama, is this going to be a capital G? Because my name needs a capital G.’  After getting over my surprise, I taught her how to use the shift key and that was that.

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Felt Board Name Game – Since my days in elementary school, I’ve always loved felt boards and felt board games.  Though you can purchase pre-made felt boards and felt alphabet pieces online, you can very easily and inexpensively make your own.  Here is my felt board tutorial and my felt name game tutorial {along with a collection of my very favourite fonts}.

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Duplo / Lego Stacking – Depending on the size of your collection, you may want to write the letters of your child’s name straight onto your Lego or Duplo to create a permanent and lasting game.  Or, if you’re like us, you can print the letters on sticker dots or labels and then attach them to the pieces.  This activity is always a huge hit and I especially like it because it can be done both horizontally and vertically.

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Salt Printing – This one is one of my absolute favourite ways to have kids practice their printing.  In the classroom, I always keep a stack of colourful plastic plates filled with a layer of salt for practicing printing.  The students use their finger as a pencil, then simply give the plate a little shake to erase the letter and practice again.  In this case, I used a rectangular serving tray and provided Gracen with an example of her name on card stock in front of her. (P.S. How amazing is that bed head?!)

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Chalkboard Water Painting – If asked, I have a feeling that Gracen may say this is her favourite name game to date.  To set it up, simply print the name on a chalkboard (using chalk of course), and give your wee one a paintbrush and some water to paint on top of the lines.  As he or she paints the letters, they will ‘disappear’, which is always fun!

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Highlighter Tracing – This is probably the simplest of the bunch.  I print Gracen’s name and she traces over it using a darker marker or pencil.  We pretend the highlighter lines are the road (or racetrack) and the marker is the car, and of course you want to keep your car on the road!

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Letter boxes – While I prefer to teach beginners how to print their names on plain, unlined paper, some munchkins, Miss G included, enjoy having a little more structure than that. Creating two sets of boxes, your sample letters on top and blank ones directly below, gives many the ability to focus on one letter at a time with the goal of filling up all of the boxes by the end.

So that’s that!  Gracen’s been enjoying these name activities so much that we’ve done almost all of them multiple times.  I know I’ll be asked for new ones in the very near future, so as of now, I’ve got ideas that use spaghetti, clothespins, rocks, cookie cutters, beads, blocks, and bean bags ready to go, but beyond that, I may have to get Googling.  ☺

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16 thoughts on “Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Spell and Write Their Names

  1. That’s totally Owen… he has to draw lines before he will write his name. He will actually get angry with me if I don’t put lines on the paper.

  2. Some additional activities Gracen, as well as others, might enjoy I used to do with my classes when I taught preschool: 1) Cut letters out of fine sandpaper & glue each to cardstock. The child can sort the letters into the proper order & then trace each with his or her finger; 2) Write each letter of the alphabet onto approximately 4″x6″ or 5″x7″ cardstock – I would write the uppercase letter on one side in red & the lowercase on the back in blue – & laminate both sides. I used clear contact paper to do this. Then provide playdough or clay for them to roll out & form the letters. Homemade cooked playdough is best, while it is still warm & color & scent of choice can be added, if desired; 3) On cardstock write out the child’s name in large dots. Directional arrows can be added in a different color, if needed. Laminate the card(s) & provide the child with a dry-erase marker to use to connect-the-dots to form each letter; 4) Have the child find & cut the appropriate letters out of an old magazine or newspaper to form his or her name and glue to paper or cardstock; 5) Assist the child in writing out his or her name in glue using a glue bottle or painting glue over pre-written letters with a small paintbrush. A gluestick may also be used. Then cover the glue with glitter, shake off the excess, & reveal his or her name. Allow to dry before hanging. I used plastic trays & aluminum pie pans to help contain the glitter mess; 6) Provide the child with a large pile of pennies, washers, buttons, M&M’s, Skittles, or something silmilar to use to form the letters of his or her name. A card with the name pre-written on it in large letters may be used. 7) Make homemade pretzels & help the child form each letter of his or her name out of the dough, bake & eat. Also, practice writing letters using all types of mediums such as pencils, colored pencils, pens, crayons, fine & broad markers, chalk, charcoal, paint & paintbrush, etc. on different types of paper & cardboard. White on black is a very interesting effect. A white dry-erase board or Magna-Doodle board is fun to practice writing letters on, too, as is a sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.

  3. I love that you do this. It sounds so much more fun and a lot less like school lessons, which for some kids can be incredibly boring. These are all so creative!

  4. I love your ideas. They are fun and practical!!! My boy is almost 3 so I like that they are on the same playing field. I LOVE the fact that she helps make the popsicles 🙂 That’s what brought me to your website. What a lucky kiddo 🙂

  5. Thanks for the great ideas! Just wondering, did you teach your little one all the letters first, or did you just start with the ones in her name?

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