Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Activities to Teach Reading and Writing Names with Greg Smedley

Today, we bring you another guest blog post from Greg Smedley. For more from Greg, be sure to check out  his blog !

Hi! It’s Mr. Greg from   Smedley’s Smorgasbord of Kindergarten ! Can you believe that we have already started school? My district is on a “balanced calendar” so we start on August 1 and have two-week breaks in October, December, and March. We end the Friday before Memorial Day. That means my school year is in full swing!

I work with low-income students, and one of the biggest challenges facing my students is a limited vocabulary. I work hard to build this vocabulary in a variety of ways, starting with names. I start the year off with a two-week extravaganza focused on learning our names and our friends' names. Today, I want to share some of our favorite name activities!

Sticker Names

This is a simple activity that I have done two different ways. The first and more challenging way is to pour a bunch of foam stickers or   magnetic letters   on the tables and allow the students to find the letters to make their names. The other way for students who may struggle is to give them a baggie with just the letters needed for their names. When students spell their names with stickers, these can be displayed in the classroom; when they use   magnetic letters on a magnetic whiteboard , you can take a picture and display that instead—you can even include the child in the photo!

Name Graph!

We make our name graph after talking about what our names mean and how we got our names. In past years, I have sent home a letter asking parents to share how the child got his or her name. These are some great stories that help you connect with your students. To make our graph, one child comes to the front and tells us his or her name. The child spells the name (if the child needs help, we use our name chart to help), and I write one letter per box. We read the names and count the letters in each name. Then we decide who has the longest name in our class!


Highlight Those Names!

Until students master writing their names, I use a highlighter to write each child’s name. The amount of practice they need with their names determines how many times I write the name and ranges from 1–5 times. The child traces the highlighted name and then they write their name from 1–4 times. I like using the highlighter because the child has a bright line to trace, and their pencil marks are still clear, so we can discuss how they’re doing and ways to improve. This is our morning work until they get the hang of it. Once they master their names, these sheets go away, and they receive their morning writing journals!


Bean Names!

This is one of our favorite name activities! This is great for name recognition and spelling, as well as fine motor skills. Write each child’s name on construction paper, using a black marker. I trace one letter of each name with glue and the student glues beans on the letter. You can also allow students to trace the letters with their glue. Either way works but I have found tracing the letters for them is less messy and faster. These make an awesome classroom display!


Name Circle Map!

Each child stands up during our Morning Meeting and introduces him- or herself. I write the child's name on our circle map and the whole class spells each name.

The Name Game!

This is a fun and quick activity that gets students moving and can be great when you need to fill a few minutes. This activity helps build name recognition. I create a PowerPoint with each child’s name on a separate slide. I play the slide show and the children are instructed to stand up and sit down when they see their name. The first few times we play the name game, I go through the slides slowly. After we have some practice under our belts, I set the slide show to automatic and make it go quick! I want the students to quickly recognize their names, and they love when the slides go fast!


These are some of our favorite name activities! I hope you find something new and useful for your classroom!


My name is Greg Smedley-Warren and yes, I am a bit of a rockstar! I am a male kindergarten teacher! It’s true! We are a rare species, but we do exist! I have been teaching for eight years and I have taught 5 th  grade, 2 nd  grade and kindergarten. My heart is Kindergarten! I believe that every student can succeed and that it’s my job to give them the tools they need. My classroom is full of energy and fun. We are always singing, dancing, moving, and learning. If you were to appear at my classroom door you would see chaos. But it’s really organized chaos. I am famous for my love of all things glitter, all things mustaches, and silly hats! I also write a teaching blog,  Smedley’s Smorgasbord of Kindergarten , which is a peek into my silly and chaotic life as a teacher!

I live in Nashville, TN (Music City USA) with my husband and our Golden Doodle, Butters!


To purchase magnetic letters and a whiteboard that can be used in the first activity, click the image below to visit our Letter Buddies page!