This lesson is lots of fun, as the kids begin to notice how their name is similar, or different, to that of the other children in the class. I usually start by writing each child’s first name on a sentence strip, just so we have a reference tool. I then prepare a grid. I use one inch squares of colored paper, and I create a grid that has space for every child’s name according to how many letters it has. You do need to be careful to count each child’s letters carefully to ensure you have a place for everyone. This year I did a rainbow, but you could easily do patterning practice here too! Here is a photo of my grid:
Once you have completed the prep work, you can either do this activity all at once, or add a few names whenever you have a few minutes available. Pull a name from the pile (The kids are always very excited to see whose name it is!). After you have identified as a group whose name it is, count the letters in the name together. Finally, work together to find a place on the grid where the name fits. Once you have a few names in each area (7 letters, 3 letters, etc), this gets faster. This week my kids were very excited to say things like, “Put me right underneath Brett!” or “I have the same number as Ava!” As you add names to the chart they notice more and more things about everyone’s name.
Once you have the chart completed, you can ask some compare and contrast questions. For example, whose name is longer? shorter? How many friends have names with four letters? I keep this chart posted in my room all year. It is a great reference tool, and we use it for lots of extension games as well. It is great to be able to use names for clues. For example, “I am thinking of a friend whose name ends with y and has five letters. Who could it be?”
What extension activities could you come up with to use with a name grid like this? I would LOVE more ideas!