Hi, friends! It's hard to believe that school is just around the corner! With the beginning of the school year comes practicing our name in many forms and using it to complete a number of name activities. Since our name is likely the first word we learn how to read and write, it is not surprising that research supports reinforcing letter and sound recognition through the context of our own name. Let's think about that for a minute... Kids learn best when they are able to relate and connect to the activity, experience, or material at hand. Therefore, it seems only natural to begin learning about letters and sounds using a variety of name activities.
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Each year, I like to kick off our name unit with the story Chrysanthemum. The purpose of reading this story is twofold. One, I like to draw on the length of Chrysanthemum's name; and two, I like to use the events in the story to help convey the importance of using kind words, as well as to discuss the significance of being "absolutely perfect" in our own unique way. As you may know, Chrysanthemum is a delightful young lady who is very eager to go to school for the first time...only to find herself feeling "absolutely dreadful" each time her classmates make fun of her name.
Before reading the story, I show the students a large paper heart. I tell them that this is Chrysanthemum's heart and she is so happy to go to school. We build a little prior knowledge by discussing our feelings on the first day of school. We talk about how some of us were excited, nervous, afraid, etc. As I read the story, I crumple the heart each time one of Chrysanthemum's classmates says something unkind. Eventually, the heart looks nothing like a heart at all. Each time I crumple the heart more, the students shriek out with concern for Chrysanthemum. They begin to see that these unkind words are hurting Chrysanthemum's feelings... her heart.
As the story continues to unfold and Mrs. Twinkle tells about her own long name, I begin to slowly uncrumple the heart. By the end of the story, the heart is completely uncrumpled. However, it is still wrinkled. These wrinkles show the scars that are left behind from all of the unkind words that were spoken to Chrysanthemum. This simple activity really helps the students realize the lasting effects of the words we speak... Even though we may forget what people have said to us, we will never forget how they made us feel!
On the second day of our name unit, we reread Chrysanthemum... this time to focus on her incredibly long name. I write her name so that it takes up the entire board. The students can hardly believe how long her name really is! Of course someone always exclaims, "It scarcely fits on her name tag!"
To better compare our names to Chrysanthemum's, we make a name graph using each individual letter in our name. I create the chart ahead of time so that the columns are spaced two inches apart. Then, as a class we add Chrysanthemum's name to the top and count the letters in her name. At this point, I pass out name strips to each student. They choose their favorite color to trace each letter in their name. I like to use Crayola Fine Line markers for tracing these. Next, the students will cut apart their name strips into individual letters. We glue these letters on to our chart, and discuss the lengths of each. This graph provides a great visual reference for comparing our names. Plus, we can easily count how many more or how many less letters than a particular name.
On the third day, we use linking cubes to create a "name train." These trains are also a great visual representation of the length of our name. We can easily compare name trains to see whose name is longer or shorter.
I like to start by creating a name train for Chrysanthemum. The students help me count out the number of cubes. Then, I write Chrysanthemum's name on the name train using a dry erase marker. I write my name on a separate name train. We compare the length of my name to Chrysanthemum's much longer name.
Then, the students get to work making their own name trains and comparing them to a friend's name. These trains make it easy for the students to count how many more or how many less letters their name might have as compared to Chrysanthemum's or a friend's.
On the fourth day, we begin taking a look at the actual letters in our name. We start by comparing them to the letters in Chrysanthemum's name. Are there any letters the same? If so, which ones? I start by projecting a copy of the Venn diagram on the board. Usually, I'll fill in the diagram using the letters from my own name first. Any letters that are the same go in the middle. Any letters that are just in my name go in the "My Name" circle. Any letters that are just in Chrysanthemum's name go in her circle.
On the fifth day, we end our Chrysanthemum activities with this cute, little craftivity! We discuss what makes us special, or unique... and then we get to work practicing our fine motor skills!
This does not conclude our name activities! Stay tuned for the sequel post, or check them out below!
Plus, you can find more name activities on my "Name Activities" board on Pinterest.
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