teaching thoughts · writing

Name Practice

If your child is going into pre-K or kindergarten, one thing that will help before they enter is working on their name. First they need to know their given name. Many children have only heard their nickname and are confused when adults use their given name. Most teachers will call children their nickname, if they are asked to by the child/family. But, there is still a need for your child to know their given name. Kindergarteners should know their first and last name.

Next start working on recognizing their name in print. Most teachers use names to label items in the classroom. Being able to recognize their name in print will help him/her find their spaces in the classroom. Practice picking out their name from others that start with the same letter. Often children learn to recognize the first letter and then get confused when there are multiple with the same letter.

Kindergarteners will need to know how to write their first name and will quickly move onto writing their last names. Names should be written with only the first letter capitalized, unless their are multiple capital letters in their name. Lori not LORI or McKenna not MCKENNA. When your child is doing art, have them write their name on their art. Use various medium to practice writing their name.

More information on name activities, check out this post of from last year.

STEAM · teaching thoughts

Lego Name Fun

Children love doing activities with their names. Check out other name activities (name writing, name flower pot, and name art for a few). When you work with your child on his/her name, I strongly encouraging you to have your child write his/her name with the first letter as a capital and the rest lowercase. This will be one of the first things your child’s kindergarten teacher will work on, so why not teach him/her that way to begin with?

Today we will have some Lego fun, who doesn’t love Lego blocks? Well, we don’t like to step on them, but they are a fun learning and building toy.

I decided to play with my blog name for a change! I also made my sons’ names too (oops! I made Blake’s “a” backwards… see even teachers make mistakes).

Here is what I want you to do…. “Let’s have some fun with Lego blocks today” Now… let your child do whatever he/she wants to do first. Trust me, if you let the children play with the manipulative before giving him/her a direction it will work out a lot better.

“I have a challenge for you! Can you build your name out of Lego?” That’s it! Do not suggest more, do not model, do not tell your child how to do it.

If your child is not confident in writing his/her own name, then write the name on a sheet of paper or tape it on the surface they are building on, and again… say nothing else.

You will probably be surprised at their solution to this problem. Give him/her time to problem solve BEFORE you jump in and help. If the struggle is real, then sit down and say… hmm what if I make my name like this? And start working on your own name, or a sibling/pet name. Do not work on your child’s name… that is you doing the work/problem solving not your child.

Some letters are going to be a LOT easier than others. Trust me I struggled on Blake’s capital B!

You might notice that I used three different methods to build the letters. In the “My Day,” I stood the Lego up the way you stand up dominoes. In the “In Pre-K” I just laid the Lego flat on the table. For the boys’ names, I stacked them up. Colby’s name could stand, but I didn’t finish the process of linking the blocks for Blake’s name.

These are NOT the only ways this can be done. Please, please, please… let your child explore with the concept. There is no right or wrong way. This is how STEAM projects work in early childhood… they are engineering, building, constructing and problem solving… they need to do this!! It should be fun, they are learning through play. (:

art · family activity · story

Let’s draw Pete the Cat and Name Art

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Children love to draw characters they read about in books. Check out Arts for Kids Hub for their video on drawing Pete the Cat, and hear another Pete story! When I used Arts for Kids Hub in my classroom (or any type of direct drawing), I always have my students draw the illustration with pencil first, then go over it with black crayon or maker and finally color in the picture. I do this to show them that they can go back and erase the pencil to fix the pictures. This is important to show them as well as to erase yourself while doing it with them. Children need to know it is ok to make mistakes and they aren’t something to get upset about, but instead they need to just fix it and move on!

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The second drawing activity today focuses on your child’s name. Children need to master writing their name correctly, not all in uppercase letters. Children in pre-k should work on recognizing and writing their first name. Children in who have mastered their first name should begin working on writing their last name.

Have your child write his/her name in the middle of a sheet of paper. (You can show them how to use block lettering if you want, but it isn’t necessary) Now create an illustration around your name, or use your name as part of the illustration. In my sample, I used the letters of my name as buildings.

Drawing projects are fun to do at the same time as your child. Children pick up on details to add to their illustrations when they draw at the same time as adults. You do not have to be great at drawing (I certainly am not!), your child won’t care. They see that you are doing the same thing as them and they become more invested in the project. So… draw!

art · letter of the day

Letter of the Day– Nn

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, outdoor, nature and water
high falls, Asheville, NC

I’m back! It feels like I took a month off, but it really was just over a week. My family and I traveled to Asheville, NC and enjoyed getting away. We did a lot of hiking and visited many waterfalls. This website, allows you to travel to Asheville virtually if you want a chance to check it out yourself.

But, now I’m home again and it is time to get back into the alphabet. We last worked on Mm (which is the 13th letter, so we are half way done). So onto…

Jack Hartmann Nn song

Printing Nn

Capital N– start at the top, straight line downnn, jump back up to the top, slant down, straight up

lowercase n- straight down, back on the same line, curve and down

When thinking of letter activities, Nn was easy… names! Names are so important. We need to learn to respect other’s names, learn to pronounce them correctly, only use nicknames when the child asks, and remember that a name is big part of your identity.

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recovits– Yoon recently moved to the United States. She is struggling to adjust and does not want to learn to write her name in English. She loves that it means shining wisdom and the way it looks written in Korean. Over time she learns it still means shining wisdom and learns to write it in English.

Learning to write your names is a big skill in both preK and kindergarten. When your child enters kindergarten, he/she will be expected to write their name with only the first letter capitalized (unless your names has multiple capitals such as McKenna or Daisy-Mae). I teach this starting day 1 in my preK class, but I know it is very common for preschools to teach children to write names all in capital letters. Personally I think this is wrong because now your child needs to unlearn this behavior.

Teach your child to spell his/her names while writing it. Putting the name into a song usually helps as it creates an additional connection to the letters. Click here and here for two blogs talking about putting names into songs.

Have your child write his/her name on every paper they use, every artist signs their artwork. Write names with crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, water and paint bush on the sidewalk, colored pencils, MagnaDoodle… and any other medium.

layered crayons
over and over and over

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal. Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks her name is too long until she learns the significance of each part of her name.

Teach your child the significance of his/her name. If he/she has a nickname, make sure you teach their given name too.

When your child become proficient at writing his/her first name, begin practicing their last name.

art · family activity

Friday Fun- Name flower pot

Colby and I were discussing what to do for our fun Friday activity. I considered giving you a spring scavenger hunt, but there are so many of those out there I know it is easy to Google that and find a ton. I thought about doing a craft, but then realized that I don’t have any construction paper here, and there is a good chance you don’t either. We considered doing another direct drawing, but could not decide what to do that was spring and not a flower like last week.

Ms Lori’s name flowers

Colby said he always thinks of flowers when he thinks of spring. So we decided to create a drawing project. Have your child draw a flower pot or bouquet of flowers. Draw one flower for each letter in his/her name.

We started off by drawing everything in pencil. We both drew the pots first. Then drew the plants. I outlined in marker and Colby just used marker to color his.

Colby’s name plants

I took the project very literal…. Colby well not so much. Just to give you an idea, he is 11, almost 12, and very, very creative. So the fact that he has a grape vine, apple tree, family tree, aliens and more in his drawing does not surprise me. Part of the reason I’m showing this is to remind you that there is no wrong to this project. Let your little one be creative.

I would encourage you to have your child write their name correctly. Yes, I know many preK teachers have children write their names all in capital letters, but I will tell you that the first thing a kindergarten teacher will do is correct this so that the name is written with only a capital for the first letter. So, I encourage you to help your child learn to write it correctly.