Written by Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.
Often, one of the first things a young child learns to write is her own name. From the first scribbles to finally mastering a tricky e, name-writing is a very satisfying confidence-booster!
When my girls were preschool-age, I wrote their names on large index cards and laminated for durability. They loved to carry around their name cards, trace the letters with their fingers, and scribble on the cards with dry erase markers or crayons.
Here are a dozen playful ways to explore forming letters and name writing. Of course, if your child is not interested in his name right now, and would rather spell and write dinosaur or butterfly or Grammy, those are fun words to practice, too!
1. Put salt, sand, or cornmeal in a shallow box or pan. Trace letters with finger, stick, or Q-tip.
2. Use fingers to draw letters in finger paint, shaving cream, or pudding (yum!).
3. Offer a variety of writing toys, such as a doodle board, chalkboard, or dry erase board.
4. Form letter shapes using yarn, play dough, or Wikki Stix. Yarn sticks nicely to sandpaper and clear contact paper.
5. Write letters in the dirt, mud, or wet sand with a stick or rock. (I can still remember my girls’ preschool playground filled with the kids’ autographs – it was awesome!)
6. Use alphabet stamps and a washable stamp pad for practicing letter recognition and order.
7. Make big letters with sidewalk chalk outside. Try writing your child’s name with chalk, then letting her paint over the letters with water.
8. Try paint bag writing – place a small amount of finger paint in a sturdy freezer zip-top bag. Smoosh it into an even layer, then use as a writing and tracing pad.
9. Write your child’s name on an index card and cut the letters apart for a simple name puzzle activity.
10. Paint or write your name at the easel. Some little ones find vertical surfaces easier for writing, as their fine motor skills continue developing.
11. Spell your name with cooked spaghetti noodles. Sauce is optional!
12. Provide real opportunities for name-writing, such as signing cards or artwork. Writing your name with purpose is quite motivating for little ones.
Quick Tip: Markers are great for beginning writers! They don’t require a lot of pressure for good results, unlike pencils, which can be frustrating for little hands.
Have other name play ideas for little writers? Please share!