Teaching a wee one to print can seem like a huge task. But reading and writing can be broken down into very simple pieces. As a Kindergarten Teacher, the very first “piece” we work on is learning about names.
Children’s names are clearly meaningful to them. They also recognize that it is (usually) different from other children’s names. This is a great starting point for learning to read and write!
Here are 5 Steps to Learning to Print a Name
These are 5 activities that build on each other. I have found, with Sammy, that it has been very important to go through these steps slowly. I am very excited for him to learn to print his name, but I know it will be better for him to truly learn and understand each step.
Step 1. Recognizing a Name
The first step is for a child to recognize his or her name. A great activity that helped Sammy learn to recognize his name was ‘Setting up a Post Office’. We played a version of this in Kindergarten as well.
Step 2. Create a Name
Once we had played a lot of games with Sammy’s name and I was sure he could easily recognize it, we moved on to activities where he created or built his name. Two activities that he really enjoyed were:
Pumpkin Name Puzzle – Sammy cut up his name on a pumpkin and glued it back together.
Sight Words on the Pumpkin Patch – this one was a bit more advanced. Sammy found his name letters in many other letters and created his name by pinning the letters onto a pipe cleaner.
Here are even more ‘creating a name activities’ from Creative Learning fun.
Step 3. Tracing a Name
After Sammy could recognize his name and build it himself, he began to trace it. There are many different ways to practice this: gluing beans onto the letters, putting hair gel into a ziploc bag over a name and tracing, or using a Bingo Dabber. I really like using a Bingo Dabber as it is nice and thick so great for helping wee ones with their pencil grip.
Step 4. Copying a Name
Sammy is right around this stage now. He can trace his name quite well and he is just beginning to practice copying it down on his own. A copying activity Sammy really likes is writing his name in sand, cornstarch, or flour. Usually with his finger, but sometimes with a stick – we always seem to have sticks lying around the house!
Step 5. Printing a Name
Finally, of course, the last step to learning to print a name is — well — printing the name. Sammy is not quite at this step yet, but I wanted to see how close he was! I coloured a piece of paper with chalk and gave Sammy a paintbrush with water. I was quite impressed with how well he did! Yay Sammy (I mean Sam)!
Learning to print your name is a wonderful skill for a Preschooler to practice. There is so much learning and fun that can be done in the process!
Of course there are many different ways to teach a wee one to print and read, but this first step is one that I have had success with so many times (and with so many different wee ones) that I wanted to share it.