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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exploring Names

This is kind of a departure from my usual posts. As in it's not really reflective, it's more my suggestions of the way things could be.  Though, when I think about how this came up, I suppose even this is reflective.  During my graduate school internship, I was working with a group of instructional coaches who work with PreK-3rd grade teachers.  One of the coaches and I were talking about ways to help her PreK teachers understand that there is so much more that needs to be done in PreK than having children sit down and do drills on writing their names.  So this is what I came up with (based on knowledge of child development principles).  And because I do believe so strongly in play and exploration I thought that I would share it with you.  (I also believe that these are solid ideas for kindergarten as well as Prek.) 

Exploring Names in Prekindergarten: It’s Not about Name Writing

Value of Name Play in PreK
  • Recognizing one’s name helps children feel important
  • Recognizing others’ names builds community
  • Introduces concepts of print
  • Begins the process of site reading
  • Supports beginning math concepts
Fine motor skills must be developed before writing begins.
  • Focus on drawing with details (self-portraits, observation drawings in nature, sketches of creations in block area)
  • Playing with play dough (rolling with palm on table/between palms, squishing with fist, using finger and thumb to roll balls)
  • Drawing/tracing name in salt/sand trays 
  • Using tweezers to transfer object and eye droppers to transfer water
Names in daily routines:
  • Write each child’s name next to their photo and place in cubbies
  • Write each child’s name next to photo and use in home or school chart
    • Children move their name from home to school upon arrival and from school to home upon dismissal
    • Can integrate math into routine by exploring which column of chart has more names, how many children are in school, how many are at home
  • Write every child’s name on a sentence strip (or several) and laminate. Place in a basket where children can use the names to label block creations, art in process, etc.
  • If you have a word wall, the children’s names should be the first words that occupy the wall.
Name Activities:
  • Name puzzles; write child’s name on an index card, using magnetic letters/letters on bottle caps/cut up index card write name again so it can be moved around.
    • Talk about how many letters are in child’s name, what is the first letter in their name, what other letters do they see in their name
  • Tactile letters; use tactile letters that spell the child’s name for the child to finger trace.
  • Build the letters in their name with pipe cleaners.
  • Place child’s name card next to sensory bin with letters buried in sand and have child find the letters that match their name.
  • Name Sorts
    • Sort the children’s names by placing name cards under the correct letter that each name begins with.
    • Sort the children’s names by length.
    • Sort the children’s name by matching individual names to that child’s photo.
  • Create a class book with each child’s name and photo for children to read during choice time.
Writing their Names:
  • Children are ready to learn how to write their names when they 
    • are showing an interest in writing their names 
    • are holding pencils with the correct grip
    • are creating recognizable drawings
    • are able to tell you the letters in their names
  • At this time, it is important to guide children in the correct formation of the letters that make up their name.  Working individually with the children who are ready, model for them how to form each letter in their name and help them practice how to do so.

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