5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

Names are a great place to start. Creating a love of reading can begin with student names.  Student names can be as unique as each student.

Connecting literacy activities with names can make a lasting impression on students. Beginning the school year with name activities can be a great way to start the year off right.

Name Charts

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

Please, please, please have a name chart, but don’t make it ahead of time, make it with them.

I don’t put names on the word wall…because some names aren’t easily decodable.  

You can:

  • Highlight the beginning letter with a different color marker. Having students assist with the beginning letter, can provide quick instruction with letter identification and letter formation.
  • Circle all the A names, B names, C names, and so on. By circling the letters, students will see connections automatically.
  • Add a picture, if you’d like.
  • Use the name chart to find letters in the alphabet.
  • Use the name chart to help decide who is going to write a letter during interactive writing.
  • Use the name chart to find similarities and differences.
  • Use the name chart in the centers.  For example, in a listing center, students can find 5 friends names and write them on the provided paper.

Name Books

Everyone has probably heard of Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes.  

It is such a quintessential kindergarten book.  

Watching Chrysanthemum love her name, then fret over her name, then finally LOVE her name again with the help of the wonderful music teacher is heart-warming.  

They’ll send it back in a week later, decorated and unique.  I also love A my  name is Alice.  It’s a fun play on beginning sounds.

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

I read the book to students then send home their name in bubble letters for their first family project.

I love giving the students a fun oral activity with the sound chart: _____ is on the ____.  They’ll write silly sentences like:  Austin is on the apple.  It certainly brings the giggles.

Finally, my favorite book about names is an oldie:  Just Only John by Jack Kent. It’s about a little boy named John who doesn’t like his boring name so he takes a magic spell to get a new name. The spell isn’t exactly as great as he think it will be. Of course, in the end he wants to be “just only John.” It’s the cutest story.

Name Connections

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

Names aren’t just for reading, they can be used in other areas, as well.

Using the letters in their names, students will help create a chart counting letters in their name.

In the picture above, we used an A-Z letter chart and a Bingo dauber. Each student called out the letters in their name while I pressed a dot on the chart.

We counted how many times letters were in their names. We also made a chart to count the total letters in their name (yellow chart above).

They were given their name written on one-inch graph paper. They needed to count the letters and add it to the chart. Finally, later in the year, we also used our names for an anchor chart on syllables. You can also use names for a math lesson on adding: number of letters in my name plus the number of letters in my friend’s name.

Name Games

Helping students compare their names with friend’s names is a perfect way to make connections.

I wouldn’t give them directions at first, let them make discoveries.

Do you have a letter in common with a friend.

Do you and a friend have a capital/lowercase combination?

They will make great connections. Of course, you can pair students and know who will have connections, but they will love comparing names with their friends.

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

Name Art

5 Tips for Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

I have a funny story about my son making a “name bug” as a beginning of the year activity and I wasn’t happy about it.

Maybe because he was in the eighth grade and I had been promised he would be challenged in that particular class…but I do love Name Art.

If you would like a FREE letter apple sheet, make sure to click the link.

I hope this post gives you an idea or 6 about using names to promote literacy skills throughout your day and across content.

Cathy Collier
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

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