Literacy Beginnings | Chapter 20 | Names

The most powerful and effective way for children to begin learning the complex process of learning about letters is by writing their own names.” ~Carol Lyons

Retrieved from Literacy Beginnings on July 25, 2011

Today I am sharing the highlights from Chapter 20 Names: A Powerful resource for Literacy Learning by Pinnell and Fountas. This is one chapter from this amazing book blog party sponsored by Vanessa over at Pre-K Pages.

Pre-K PagesNames

According to Pinnell and Fountas, “Once children learn that their names are words and that they are made with the same letters in the same order each time, they begin to understand the concept of a word” (Ch. 20, p 194).

Children not only learn to recognize their own names but it isn’t too long before children begin to recognize the names of their friends.  Recognizing names often begins with finding the letters in their first name but once a child begins to recognize his or her name in its entirety, the child is then able to start using his or her name as a “resource” for extended learning of letters and words. For example, a child can find letters that are alike in their name or count the number of letters in their name or begin to recognize the letters of their name in other words.

Pinnell and Fountas recommend several ways for children to explore and recognize their names. Ideas include charts and graphs with children’s names displayed…

Poems and sentences where children’s names are displayed are other ways to foster name recognition as well as games made from children’s names like name puzzles

Some important tips to keep in mind are…

  • Start with children’s first names.
  • Use upper case for the first letter and lower case for the remaining letters (Lopez) unless the name requires a different approach (McDonald).
  • Keep a simple name chart out and visible for the children to refer to as a model for writing and recognizing their own name.
  • Direct the children to look for their name on the chart and refer to the chart when wanting to print their names.
  • Integrate name recognition through a variety of activities.
Next up in our book study is Karen over at PreKinders! Be sure to hop on over there tomorrow to learn more with us!!
You can view the linky below to see all the wonderful articles written about each chapter of this book as well.

Available on Amazon

By |2011-07-25T06:00:18+00:00July 25th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Leeanne A July 25, 2011 at 7:13 am - Reply

    I always start off the path to litercy with name identification. It really is amazing how much they can identify once they recognize their name and the names of their friends. Here is a link showing how I introduce this.

  2. Matt July 25, 2011 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Oh names. I have to tell you – every year, I have a few children start kindergarten with NO name recognition. Not only can’t they write their name, but they can’t even recognize it! One thing I do is label their name with a picture that has the same beginning sound to help them identify their name quickly (Deborah – with a picture of a dog, etc.). I use:

    It’s quick, easy, and FREE. Kids love seeing their name all around the room and those that need that extra support can use the picture to help them quickly recognize their name. 🙂

    • Laura (The SEEDS Network) July 25, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

      I’ll have to check out the label maker Matt – thanks for passing the link along.

      What do you use to print them out? Do you print them on a regular color printer, do you use specialty paper?

  3. Laura (The SEEDS Network) July 25, 2011 at 7:49 am - Reply

    This is great, Deborah! There are so many fun ways to introduce names to children.

    At the beginning of the year, we play a friendship song sitting on a parachute. We sing a song and pull out printed names of each child out of a bag, and insert their name into a song. The kids get all excited when they see their name! And it’s a great way to introduce all the children’s names to each other … here’s a link to the idea and song:

    The possibilities are ENDLESS for crafts, games and activities to help children learn about their name!

  4. Scott July 25, 2011 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I agree. Learning to read (and write) names opens the door to more literacy learning – kids develop a greater interest in letters and words. Using activities with names helps kids develop an awareness of their own names and the names of the other kids.

  5. Carrie July 25, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Excellent chapter and it makes so much sense. Learning has to be personal even for adults. In our classrooms we encourage teachers to have the children’s names in as many places as possible. When I’m observing, they won’t pass by me unless they have at least 4-5 instances of children’s names.

    Cubbies, name tags, job charts, birthday charts, graphs, art work, tracing strips for writing practice etc…

  6. lori July 25, 2011 at 10:57 am - Reply

    names, names, and more names. i put the children’s names wherever i can. and i’m not sure who’s more excited when they start to recognize their own names and “read” friends’ names — me or them ! at that point, the “reading” / recognition in all areas is on ! when they start to “write” their names , i grow quite proud of my three year olds. for what it’s worth, check out matt’s suggestion of i discovered it last year and will use it again for more labels and what- nots.

  7. Vanessa @Pre-K Pages July 25, 2011 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Great post Deb! I agree, using student names as a springboard for literacy learning just makes sense. It is such a meaningful and powerful strategy- and highly motivating for young children.

    I try to add student pictures to the names whenever possible too. My goal is to have at least 5 instances of each child’s name in the classroom- cubbies, name wall, attendance chart, birthday chart, question of the day and more. Then there are the class books that use their pictures, they absolutely love those!

  8. Bethany July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post! To tell you the truth, I am so sick of preschool blogs that are only about playing. I think it has to do with my grad work in early child literacy. I am so happy you are bringing to light Fauntas and Pinnell!

    Great, great, great!

  9. Little Wonders' Days July 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    This has been such a nice series of posts to read. My two youngest are starting to recognize their names and they get so excited. I’ll be sure to do some more activities with their names now.

  10. Pre-k Paradise July 26, 2011 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I love your post and can’t wait to follow your blog.


  11. Pre-k Paradise July 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I also love the “Morning Message” as a way to help students understand how words work and also a great way to show the writing process.

    Pre K Paradise

  12. Arlina July 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    I agree with all of the comments. Names are such a powerful tool in helping children learn their letters. I realized I only have the names posted about 4 times throughout the class, so I’ll be sure to integrate them once more.

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