Here you will find some examples of literacy activities you can do to explore the topic ‘My Special Name’ with your children. I planned this topic based on the book ‘Chrysanthemum’ by Kevin Henkes.
Although, this section focuses mainly on the literacy aspect of this topic, some of examples of the activities given integrate other learning areas such as arts and crafts, sensory activities and fine motor skills as well.
Activity 1: Read ‘Chrysanthemum’ by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum book is recommended for children age 4 to 8 years old. From my personal experiences, it may be a little bit too complex for 4 year-olds and I think it is more enjoyable for 5 year-olds and above. Below you will find some activities and questions that you can do / ask to actively engage your children when reading the book. After the story your children should be able to retell some parts of from the story (e.g. plot, characters, main events, problems, ending, etc.), share their thoughts about the story, relate with their own personal experiences if any or imagine what they would have done, said or felt if they are to be put in the same situation / predicament as the main character, etc.
Below are the lists of some suggestions for activities and questions that you can ask your children before and after reading the story.
Before Reading Activities
There are three different activities below that you can do before reading the book to your children. You do not have to do all three, just choose one.
Introduce the story to the children
For example: Today we are going to read the story ‘Chrysanthemum’ by Kevin Henkes. It is about a little mouse named Chrysanthemum. Do you know what chrysanthemum is? Do you think that the little mouse like her name? Do you like the name Chrysanthemum? Do you know anyone with that name? etc.)
Go through the book with the children without actually reading the story but just looking at the illustration and talk about it. For example it may go something like this: Today we are going to read this book called Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (show the book to the children). Let’s look at the illustration on the cover, there is a mouse and a flower. Before we read the story, let’s look at all the illustrations and see what is happening. Let’s look at the first page, Oh...I see a sleeping little mouse in a little bassinet. Let’s turn the page and see what happens next, Oh...there are many pictures of the mouse, let’s see what she is doing...
Talk to children about their names
Ask them questions like:
What do you think about your name?
Do you know who chose the name?
Do you know anyone that has the same name as you?
What do you like about your name?
What do you not like?
If you can have another name, what would it be? Why?
After Reading Activities
After reading the story you can review the storyline and get children to share what the think about the story, the characters, find out if they have had similar experience as the characters, let them try to put themselves in the character’s shoe, let them imagine what they would have done, etc.
Some examples of questions you can ask:
Why did Chrysanthemum parents choose this name for her?
How did Chrysanthemum feel about her name in the beginning of the story?
What happened that change her feelings about her name?
What did Chrysanthemum’s friends do that make her sad?
What did her parents do to make her feel better?
What happened at school in the end that help make Chrysanthemum feel good again?
Do you like the story? Why?
What do you think about Chrysanthemum’s friends?
Has anyone ever make fun of your name? or Anything about you?
What would you say to Chrysanthemum if you could?
What would you have done if you are Chrysanthemum?
Activity 2: Learn the letters in your name
Learning the letters in the name help your children to recognize and to form their names. Depending on your children’s abilities you can start by focusing on the first letter of their names and then move on to the rest or learn the names as a whole.
Some examples of activities that you can do are:
My Name Starts with the Letter...
This is an art integrated activity. For this activity you can use a printable that I have created. Children have to choose the letters that their names start with and then they decorate it in anyway they like using various craft tools and materials like glitters, markers, oil pastel, water color, loose parts, yarns, dot markers, etc. You can print the printable on A4 size drawing block if you want your children to use paint or water colors to decorate the letters.
Click on the picture below to find out how you can download these printables.
A logical skills integrated activity. A fun and easy activity that you can prepare before school starts to help your children recognise their names. I have created a printable for template of tracing lines that I am going to share but you can just write on a plain strip of paper (preferably thicker paper).
Write each student’s name with enough space to draw lines in between
Using a highlighter or color markers to draw zigzag or curved lines in between each letter
Let children cut out their names puzzle following the crooked lines. Put the puzzles in a ziplock bag and the children practice putting their names together.
Click HERE to download the template
Clothes Pin Name Activity
My students enjoy clipping and unclipping using clothes pin. This simple activity help them to recognise their name. Print or write their name on a name tag. Write the letters on clothing pegs and the children have to pick the pegs to match the letters on their name tag.
Build your name
Another art integrated activity. Print a tag with a child’s name and let them try build their names with various items like magnetic letters, wooden letters, form name with play dough, letter cut outs, form the letters using twigs, loose parts, etc
Color the letters in your name activity
A printable that you can use to help children recognize their names through coloring the letters in their names. Click on the picture to download the free printable to use in your class.
All about my name printable
A printable that you can use for children to practice writing their names, know the first letter of their names, count the number of letters in their name, etc. Click on the picture below to download the free printable.
Activity 3: Practice tracing and writing own name
Name is often the first word that your child learn to write. There are many fun ways you can let your children practice writing their names such as:
Using sensory writing trays filled with shaving cream, sand, glitters, colored rice, etc.
Using squishy bag for a mess free alternative. Create your squishy bag by filling a zip lock bag with some paint, shaving cream, hair gel, etc. Seal the bag and make sure there are no air bubbles. Your children practice writing their names with Q tips, their fingers, crayon, etc.
When your children are more confident in writing their names, you can use the name writing printables that I have created for more practice.
Choose the printable you like and on the pictures below to download.
Activity 4: Name Poem by Jean Warren
Has a name
Some are different
Some the same
Some are short
Some are long
All are right
None are wrong
My name is___________
There you go, four different literacy activities with many ideas on how to integrate other learning areas to teach a topic. I hope you find the ideas and printables useful.