Once each child in your group has a letter-linked image that starts with the same letter and sound
as the child's name, you can begin to use the nametags and letter-linked images as teaching and learning tools!
You will want to start by using the letter link signs or labels you have created on this site to
identify the spaces for children’s belongings, such as each child’s cubby and coat hook. In addition,
as children make drawings and other projects, help them add letter links you have duplicated for
them to their projects or encourage them, if they are ready, to write their name or copy their
letter-linked image onto the artwork themselves. In addition to these uses, you can also plan
learning activities around letter links.
The following four starting activities will help you support and extend children's emerging
understanding of the alphabetic principle, phonological awareness, sense of word, and
vocabulary. For additional activities see Letter Links: Alphabet Learning With Children’s Names, by Dr. Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Mary Hohmann, or the Spanish version, Enlaces de
letras: Aprendizaje del alfabeto con los nombres de los niños. For more information on these books,
use the menu bar above to go to RESOURCES.
- Identify names and letter links. Make a set of letter links (nametags with pictures) in two or three sizes
for each child and adult in your class. At a transition time, spread all the letter links face up on a
table or the floor where the children can easily see and reach them. Ask the children to choose their
own letter link and take it to their small-group meeting place (or whatever event comes next in the daily routine).
At a transition time, provide a set of letter links (nametags with pictures) in a box, bag, or
spread out on a tray. Hold up a child's letter link, and say "It's this person's turn to hop to
the table for snack (or whatever is next)." Wait for one of the children to recognize and say the
name of the child whose letter link you are holding.
At large-group times, use letter links from time to time to designate turns — to choose
the next song to sing, to decide which game to play next, to add on to the story you are
telling, and so forth. For example, hold up a child's nametag and picture and say "It's
this person's turn to decide the place in the room we should march to next."
Match letter links. Make a set of letter link cards (nametags with letter-linked pictures) that
will allow children to play a letter link memory game at transition times. Duplicate all of the
cards in the same size, with two for each child. Cover the cards with clear contact paper for
durability. At the end of a segment of your routine such as small-group, planning, or greeting
time, spread all the nametag cards face down on the floor. Have each child take turns turning
over a card, identifying the name, and leaving the card face up. When two cards turn up with
the same name, have the named child hop (jump, skip, or crawl) to the next activity. Let the
children know where the nametag cards will be stored (for example, in the toy area) in case
they want to play with them during work or choice time.
- Identify names. At a transition time, place a set of nametags only (without the letter-linked pictures)
in a basket or bag. Draw and hold up a child's nametag, and say "It's this person's turn to jump to the
planning table [or whatever event is next in your daily routine]." Wait for one of the children to
recognize and say the name of the child whose nametag you are displaying. If no one can identify the
name, hold up the letter-linked image that goes with it.
At large-group times, use nametags (without letter-linked pictures) from time to time to designate which
child will choose the next song to sing, decide which game to play next, add on to the story you are
telling, and so forth. For example, hold up a child's nametag and say "It's this person's turn to
decide which music we should put on for dancing." If no one can identify the name, hold up the
letter-linked image that goes with the name.
At a transition time, once most children can identify their names without referring to their letter-linked
pictures, put two sets of nametags in a basket or bag. To begin the activity, say something like this:
"I have two nametags for each person in my basket. When I hold up your name, come and get it. When
you have your two nametags, one for each hand, you can go wash your hands."
Sign in. In some preschool centers, children’s parents or guardians are required to sign their child
in when they arrive and sign him or her out when they leave together at the end of the session. For
these children, signing in themselves is particularly meaningful, in part because children love to
imitate what they see adults doing. Whether or not your parents are required to sign in, you can
make signing in a daily part of the children’s class routine that allows them to write their names
and examine the way others write.
Use the sign-up sheet print option to create a sheet for your class and have one available daily.
Even though the list provides each child with a sample of his or her name to look at, remember that
children learn to see and write their name in stages. You will see these stages in all their varieties
as children sign in each day. Some children will just make a scribble next to their names, others may
write one or more letters, and others may write their entire name. Date and save each piece for a daily
record of how each child is seeing and writing his or her name. If all children do not have a chance to
sign in as they arrive or during morning gathering, assure them that they can sign in during work or
choice time, before lunch, or at some other time that day.
Comment from time to time on what you see children writing as they sign in: "You made a J just like the J in James." "Mira and Madison, both your names start with the letter M!"