Digging up the letters of our name in preschool

We use our colored rice in a variety of activities and for a variety of purposes in our classroom. On this occasion, we combined the experience of scooping and brushing rice with a little name and letter recognition…

To play this simple but engaging name activity, start by putting name cards on a tray then pour some rice on the tray too. We laminated several sets of name cards so they can be used for a variety of activities this year…

The children can use their hands or brushes to search for their names and the names of their friends. This is a wonderful way to help the children identify not only their own name but all the names of the children in your class…

Once the children get pretty good at recognizing their names as a whole, then you can cut up the name into individual letters and invite them to search for the letters in their name…

This is also fun to play with a partner. One child hides all the letters under the rice then the other child searches for the letters but for younger children – they like to hide and find their own names….

Just the scooping and brushing rice makes for a wonderful sensorial experience…

Combining name recognition or a letter search with rice makes for a fun, playful, learning experience!


By |2011-09-01T18:00:45+00:00September 1st, 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. Amy A September 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Deborah, This looks like big fun! I bet if you painted the letters in glue or puffy paint, it would be even more engaging… kind of like excavating bones, but letters instead… . hmmmmmmn, the ideas are rolling ;).

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      Haha – I love it when the ideas start rolling! I will have to add more ideas like that Amy – the kids would love it!

  2. Andrea September 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Oh, this would even be fun the plastic magnet letters – a bit easier to grab, and the kids could feel the shapes of the letters as they are digging…. I love it!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      I didn’t think of using plastic letters – Great idea!

  3. Jill @ a mom with a lesson plan September 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! It would be a great way to work on sight words (since we’re moving up to “big kids” now;)

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 6:26 am - Reply

      Yes – great for you big kids:)

  4. Cat September 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    I was thinking of doing something like this with Sebastian’s foam ABC letters he has in the tub. know what I mean? He loves those and rice, such a bummer his name is so long. Who would do that to a kid?…LOL oh yeah, ME haha

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 1:03 am - Reply

      Haha! Those long names are beautiful until you have to make learning activities for them:)

  5. Brenna September 2, 2011 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Do you have any issues with licensing when using food items for activities and projects other than eating the food? We used to use rice in the sensory table and color macaroni for threading. We painted with apples and potatoes, too. Now licensing says ‘no food’ unless the students are going to eat it.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 6:28 am - Reply

      That is such a shame too! There are lots of folks affected by that and I am sad to know this. But the good news is for this activity you can use sand and other sensory materials to cover and uncover letters.

      • kristin @preschool daze September 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

        i wonder if the food is “outdated” (or “not safe to eat” as i tell the kids) if the state would accept it?

        that is how i feel better about using food anyway and the grocery store always has a stash to donate.

        just a thought…

  6. kristin @preschool daze September 2, 2011 at 7:30 am - Reply

    it’s happened again:

    i will change my lesson plans for TODAY to include this.

    this is why i love this blogland.


    thank you.

  7. Nadia September 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    This is such an excellent idea!! You can even change this up by using alphabet magnet letters (or any other type of letter manipulative) for an older child. I like the idea of using the whole name though for younger kids! I definitely plan to try this! I tweeted this!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tweet!

  8. Jess September 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Love this idea!! My little guy will be very engaged in this activity! Thanks as always!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Your welcome Jess!

  9. Cindi September 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    We did something similar this week in our sensory table, but we used alphabet pasta that I dyed and large letter shaped beads. The children picked up the letters with tongs and tweezers. I love this idea of adding the name cards!

  10. Nikki Zang September 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I am trying to find plastic trays like these for my kids art projects. Can you tell me where you got yours? Thanks!

  11. My Oatmeal Kisses September 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I was inspired by your idea and I used it with sugar cookies and brown sugar to dig up my little girls name like dinosaur bones. I featured your idea over on my site! Thanks for all of your fantastic ideas!


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      I will hop over and take a look! I can’t wait to see:)

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