Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Using Names

namesIn a previous blog post, we discussed NO MORE LETTER OF THE WEEK.

To a child, there is nothing more important than his or her own name. Using names to teach letters and name recognition is a very powerful teaching tool. Names are very meaningful to children, therefore they are eager to learn to identify the letters in their own names first; it is very empowering and motivating for them. A child who is eager, motivated, and feels empowered about his or her own learning is going to learn more quickly and retain more than a child who is not.

Ideas for Letter Instruction through the Use of Names during Whole Group Instruction and/or Transitions:

  1. Each day choose one to three names during morning meeting or as a transition; can be one of the classroom jobs such as the line leader or teacher helper.
  2. The number of children names examined each day (1-3) depends on when in the day this activity is incorporated, and the amount of time provided.
    • If adding the activity to a morning meeting, you may only want to use one name to keep the whole group sitting on the carpet time short and purposeful.
    • If adding the activity to transitions, you may want to use 2-3 children’s names throughout the day at various transition times.
  3. Complete the same activity each day until you have used all of the student’s names in the classroom.

Examples of activities:

Round 1: Chant My Name

  1. Hold up a name that has been printed on cardstock with the student’s picture.
  2. Ask “Whose name is this?”
  3. That student stands at the front of the room and points to each letter as it is chanted by the class. (example with Becky)

Teacher                      Class

Whose name is this?        Becky

Give me a B                          B

Give me an e                        e

Give me a c                           c

Give me a k                          k

Give me a y                          y

What is the word?           Becky

One more time                Becky

(Can add movements for each response or a cheer such as fireworks at the end etc. If students know the letters in their names, then they can lead the chants)

  • During transitions throughout the day, pull cards and have students identify their name to line up, move to the next activity, etc.

o Extension: Teacher/TA carries the name card while traveling the hallway to chant the name in a whisper during any times that the students may need to be waiting in the hallway.


ROUND 2: Mixing Up My Namefix it

  • Show the students a name and have the child whose name it identifies the name
  • Place the letters in the name mixed up in a pocket chart and have the student sequence of letters in his/her name.
    • Differentiation: Ask students to place the letters in his/her name in sequence…
      • on top of the model of his/her name = letters are in the same font
      • under the model of his/her name = letters are in the same font
      • under the model of his/her name = letters in a different font
      • with no model in the same or in a different font
    • Encourage the student to name each letter as he/she sequences them.
    • Have all students draw the first letter of the name in the air- showing the students and verbalizing the correct path of motion. A Magna Doodle works well for this activity using the circle shape piece. Draw the letter on the Magna Doodle so that all students can see and hear the correct path of motion. (or a whiteboard)
    • Have all students say each letter in the name
    • Teacher: “What does that word spell?” Students: (say the name)


  • Extension: Graphing: Have students color in a square on a graph for each letter of his/her name. If the student has two or more of the same letters, he/she would color in that number of squares. Compare which letter is used the most in the student’s names, the least and which letters are not used at all in the names.
  • Extension: Add a large variety of letters cut from cardboard food boxes and cardstock advertisements in the art and creation station. Allow students to make posters of their names. This is a great way to add in various fonts. Capture
  • Extension: Write students names on an 8×11 or 11×14 piece of paper in large letters using appropriate upper- and lowercase letters and correct letter formation. Allow students to use a variety of hole punches to cut circles or shapes to glue onto the lines in his/her name.

For 9 more additional rounds of ideas, follow the link:

No More Letter of the Week: Teaching Letters Through Meaning


Author: DHonegger

Debra S. Honegger has worked in multiple areas of education- both general education and special education- as teacher, consultant, administrator and instructional coach- with ages from birth through adult. However, no matter where she is or what her title, she holds a firm belief in meeting the needs of each individual child while coming together as a community of learners.

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