When your preschooler becomes interested in learning their name these easy, hands-on name card activities are a great way to help them learn to recognise, and later write, their name.
Learning to recognise and write your name is a vital early step in developing literacy skills and it’s also an important way to establish a sense of personal identity and self-awareness. Recognizing their name allows preschoolers to develop a sense of ownership and belonging and it’s a great beginning reading and writing activity.
At around three years of age children often show signs that they are ready to learn to recognise their names. They might start asking questions about their name, or other people’s names, or they may become interested in reading or writing letters.
When my youngest child started preschool, his name became very interesting and important.
“Does that say me?” he asked constantly.
It makes sense. They put your name on everything at preschool.. on your locker, on the hook for your hand towel, on every painting and drawing and collage you do, it’s everywhere! Suddenly learning your name becomes an important skill to master, so it’s a great time for some hands-on name activities.
Name card activities are a great way for preschoolers to learn to recognise and write their names.
If you are looking for a fun crafty idea for learning names try this name letter craft.
How to Make a Name Card
Making a name card is quick and easy.
You can either handwrite, or print your child’s name onto an A4 (or letter sized) piece of paper. Make sure the name is nice and large and fills most of the page.
If you are printing your name make sure you choose a font that is easy to read, without any fancy or irregular letters (I especially look at the a and g), and with good spacing and height. These free fonts for beginning writers have some good options.
Laminating or covering the page in contact paper is a good idea so it can be used over and over and in lots of different ways.
We chose to make our name cards the size of a full sheet of paper, but you might choose to cut the paper in half to make two long strips if you prefer.
Hands-On Name Card Activities for Preschool
These name card activities offer some simple, hands-on, ideas that you can do at home, or with your preschool class, that are perfect for preschoolers to work on recognising their name.
These name card activities are designed for young preschoolers who are just beginning to show an interest in letters and writing, so they are not about teaching children to form letters correctly or to actually write their names. They are all about playing with names to help children remember and recognise their own name.
Of course, a happy by-product of these play-based, name recognition, activities is the more children see their names in print, and play with their names, the more they are working on prewriting and prereading skills and taking the first steps towards writing their own names.
Drawing on your Name Activity
This is a super easy activity to set up, but lots of fun and with lots of opportunities to learn to recognise his name, and even begin to write it. All you need is your name card, some whiteboard markers and something to wipe the marker off when you are done and want to start again.
Preschoolers will have lots of fun drawing on and colouring in the letters of their names. For young children this activity is not so much about learning to write your name, but about becoming familiar with your name.
Later, some preschoolers might be interested in naming each letter, and trying to trace/write over the top of them beginning to practice forming the letters in their name. When your child is interested in writing this is a great time to revisit this activity so they can practice writing their name.
Loose Parts Name Card Activity
Use the name card as a pattern card with loose parts. This simple activity is often a hit with preschoolers who love arranging various small items along the lines of the letters that make up their names.
Choose small items like beads, small gems, or small mosaic shapes, and use the largest name card you have to make it easier to keep to the lines.
This simple activity is a great opportunity for practicing lots of letter recognition and pre-writing skills. Preschoolers are learning about the shapes and lines that make up each letter which is an important first step to recognising and reading their names. My preschooler learned that the capitol N ‘goes up and down’ and that the O is just like a circle.
Salt Tray Hidden Name Activity
Adding a sensory element is a great way to engage kids in hands-on learning.
Put the name card into the bottom of a small tub and cover it with coloured sand, and ask your child to find their name. You can add paint brushes to brush off the sand to uncover the letters, but we encourages using fingers to find and trace the letters in the sand.
Preschoolers will have a lot of fun revealing one letter at a time, then covering them all up again, and tracing the letters over and over which a great way to begin to learn how to write them.
If your name card is laminated you could also use other sensory items to cover the name. Shaving cream is messy but lots of fun, coloured rice is another great option. You could also add coloured hair gel to a large zip lock bag (sealed well) and put the name card under the bag and have your preschoolers trace their names for a no mess option.
More Prewriting Activities for Preschoolers
If you have a preschooler who is beginning to show and interest in letters and writing, these play based, hands-on, activities are a great way to encourage that interest and develop pre-reading and pre-writing skills:
These free printable alphabet pattern mats are great for hands-on letter learning.
Setting up a drawing basket is a great way to encourage writing and drawing anywhere, any time.
This free printable post office dramatic play set is a great way to encourage writing.
There are so many fun ways to play with name cards, we’d love to hear your ideas for how you use them to help your preschoolers learn their names. Leave a comment below and share your ideas.