As the Back to School season approaches us here in Australia, it’s a super exciting time (and maybe a little nerve-wracking!) time for us and our little learners, especially those gearing up for their first ever school experience! One of the most empowering, foundational skills we can gift our children as they start this journey, is helping them get familiar with their own name! That’s right, diving into some fun-filled name activities for preschoolers – it’s not just about scribbling letters, but giving them a little nudge of confidence and a whole lot of love for learning!

When our little Elliot was 3, he became a letter detective, spotting the letter E wherever we went and shouting with glee, “Hey, that’s my name!” It was the perfect chance to chat about letters in our everyday adventures and begin exploring the differences between letters and words, all directed by him.

In this blog, I’m going to share a heap of fun, hands-on name activities that are perfect for preschoolers. They aren’t just activities though, they’re little steps towards big learning leaps, all while having fun!

Art and craft activities

Setting up a quick craft session can be a fun and creative way to get your little learners to start recognising their name! Create a simple and engaging name collage invitation by sticking a few sheets of paper together and writing your child’s name in big letters. Set them up with a few craft supplies and you’re done! You could give them some coloured paper, scissors and glue to make a name collage, some dot markers to mark on the lines of their name (one of my personal favourites!) or even just some markers or highlighters to trace the letters.

If you want to try something a bit different, you can create a nature name collage! This is a great way to get out for a walk and look for letters along the way (street names, signs etc) while filling up a basket with some leaves and flower petals along the way. When you get home, turn those special finds into a beautiful piece of name art!

From the Pantry

There are so many things in your pantry that you can use for name learning activities for preschoolers! I love all things sensory play, so a lot of the bases you would use in a tub can also be a fun way to add some name recognition into your play.

Our go-to activity is play dough – it’s an incredible tool for fine motor skill development but it’s also a really fun and easy way to inject some name recognition into your play. Whether you stamp the letters out for them to fill with loose parts like buttons and beads, or you invite your little learner to form the play dough into the letters in their name, play dough is a wonderful tool for name learning. Here’s my favourite no-cook play dough recipe!

Have you ever heard of a Montessori sand tray? Used to help practice letter formation, they are a great way for little fingers to practice forming the letters in their name before they pick up a pencil. If your child isn’t quite ready to form letters, you can use a sand tray to practisce forming shapes and lines like zigzags, crosses, circles and downward strokes in preparation for forming letters later!

You can create your own DIY Sand Tray by grabbing a shallow tray and adding some table salt to the tray. We love using these puzzle trays from Kmart but any tray will work just fine. You can even add some food colouring to your salt to add another fun layer to the activity – just add the salt into a small container with a couple of drops of colouring, pop the lid on and give it a good shake! We also love using coloured aquarium sand for this activity.

Around the House

I always talk about the play potential of items around your house, and name activities are no different! There are so many ways that you can create simple activities around the home to give your little learners an opportunity to ‘play’ with their name. Something as simple as shaving cream can provide a wonderful sensory experience, as well as an opportunity for little fingers to practice their mark making and letter writing. Just pop some on a flat surface and away you go!

That wraps up our little treasure trove of hands-on name activities! But remember, this isn’t just about keeping the kids busy – it’s about nurturing those tiny steps towards big and exciting learning adventures! Through the crafts, sensory fun and everyday explorations I’ve shared, your little learner isn’t just learning to spot and write their name, they’re building up their self-esteem and sense of self, working those all-important fine motor skills and sparking their brilliant little minds!

Each of these activities is super easy to set up (because we know life’s already a juggling act!), and they’re all about making learning a joy-filled adventure. And if you’re on the hunt for even more creative and playful ways to get those names sticking, our Name Practice Task Cards are a total hit for play-based learning and exploration! They’re packed with 17 fun activities, like shaping names with play dough and creating pebble masterpieces. Swing by the store and grab a set to keep the fun going!

As you embark on these activities with your little learners, I’d absolutely love to see the magic happen – so please share your stories, photos or even little ‘aha’ moments over on Instagram @littlelifelonglearners. Tag us with #littlelifelonglearners and let’s show everyone how exciting and fun learning should be! Our community is all about sharing and inspiring one another every step of the way…can’t wait to see all the fun you get up to!

About the author

Casey is an early years teacher turned homeschooling mum of three who passionate about helping other parents create a play-filled home. She loves adventure days outside in nature and loves a good sensory tub. You can follow Casey on Instagram right here.

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