Children may or may not come to school knowing the letters in their name or even being able to write their names. Using children's names can be a powerful tool in developing some emerging literacy skills. When we teach using children's names it establishes a greater sense of community and ownership in the classroom. Children love to hear and see their names; they are so proud of them! There are so many skills that can be taught with names: alphabet recognition, phoneme substitution, phoneme deletion, beginning sounds, number of letters, syllables, rhyming....the list goes on and on!
In this lesson, I used the first letter of the children's names. But, before we started reading the book, we did a fun music and movement activity. All you need is Hap Palmer's Learning Basic Skills Through Music, Vol. 1 and a set of alphabet bean bags or alphabet cards.
Lay the bean bags on in circle on the floor and let the children march around the bags -- follow the instructions on the song, Marching Around the Alphabet! The children have a great time with this song, and it's mellow pace is really nice!
After moving our bodies a bit, I read the book, Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming. This is a fun ABC book in which the little mouse uses different tools and items to build each letter of the alphabet. The children really enjoy seeing what the mouse will use to create each letter!
I then show them all of the letters that I have pre-cut out of tagboard. The letters are fairly big (I use large, rather old fashioned stencils to make them, they are probably 10-12" high). I show each letter and invite the children to come get their stencil when the first letter of their name is shown. The children have their own opportunity to "construct" their letter. I have a variety of collage supplies available to them (beans, buttons, feather, pom poms, etc.)
This is a really nice first couple of weeks activity because the children have the opportunity to be creative freely and work indepedently. Before we hang the letters up, we write our name on a slip that says, is for _________ and glue that along with our letter onto a larger piece of paper. We try to read all letter and the name before it gets hung up. The children love to use a pointer to try to read the letters and the names!
This is an idea that I got from some of my colleagues.