Throwback Thursday: The Name Game

As back to school time swiftly approaches (we go back on Tuesday) I thought it would be a great time to re-share one of my favorite literacy strategies ever... teaching letters through children's names.  Because little ones LOVE the sound of their own names, this always piques their curiosity.  I find that they have been learning their letters much more quickly since I have been using this strategy!
Originally posted on October 29, 2012.  You can see the original post {HERE}

 We officially teach one or two letters per week at the beginning of the year.  However, all of the latest research points to the importance of learning letters in context rather than in a certain order.  This is why I am obsessed with teaching letters through names! 

I start playing "the name game" during the second week of school, and I go in alphabetical order.  This order is listed on our "Star of the Day" chart.  The Star of the Day runs morning meeting, is the line leader and is the first to pick their center.  It also teaches alphabetical order in a meaningful context.  The star clothespin tells us whose turn it is.

We play The Name Game every morning during Morning Meeting.  It seems like a lot, but in reality it takes less than 5 minutes and is SO worth it.  It is priceless to hear my little ones say "Oh, John has a J.  I have a J too!"  or "Bianca and Camila both have six letters!"
 Here is how we play the first round of the Name Game.
All you need to prepare is a laminated sentence strip for each child with their name and picture on it.

  1. Have the Star of the Day come up to the front of the circle and hold their name strip.  Ask the other students to notice things about the name (What letters do you see?  Is that upper or lowercase?).  I usually let the Star pick children with their hands raised.  After a few times modeling this they pick it up very quickly.
  2. Lead the students in counting how many letters are in the name.
  3. Do The Cheerleader Chant.  The teacher says "Give me a J!" and the kids yell J.  "Give me an O!" etc.  After the letter, yell "What's that spell?" and the kids shout "JOHN!!!"  I am sure that the teacher next door loves me for this one!
  4. Do a chant of the child's choice.  Some examples include: old lady, lion, cat, dog, ghost, monster, person with a cold, etc.  Anything that they can dream up, we do!  This is done in the same call and response style as The Cheerleader Chant.
  5. Next, cut the name strip into a puzzle.  Show children each letter after cutting and ask "What's this letter?"
  6. Hand each piece to the Star of the Day, who will assemble it in a pocket chart.

After being on display for a day, I place the sentence strip puzzle into an envelope with the child's name and picture on it, and place it on our puzzle shelf.  They love doing their own and their friends' puzzles, and I LOVE how much they learn from doing them!

Here is a puzzle that has been cut and placed in the pocket chart (above) and one that will be cut tomorrow (below).

On the left is an example of a puzzle with it's matching envelope.  On the right are three name puzzles ready to play with!

Helpful hint:
Use as many colors of sentence strips as possible.  Also use multiple colors of markers.  The goal is for no two names to be the same color marker and paper.  For example, I used 4 colors of sentence strips with 7 different colored markers to create 28 unique combinations.

This way, if you find a stray "a" lying on the floor you will be able to figure out whose it is. If you wanted to get really fancy you could do the same on the outside of the envelope for even easier matching (I was too lazy to do that!)

This idea is based off of the amazing Mrs. Meacham's name game.  You can check it out {HERE}.

Magical Marker Stand

I was SO excited when my friends from SmileMakers offered to send me one of their products to review.  The hardest part was picking just one out of their thousands of amazing products!  They have everything from stickers to crafts, activities and bulletin board sets.  Not to mention tons of awesome prizes for your students!
After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on the 16 Hole Marker Stand.  Isn't it gorgeous?!  

I have been trying to create a more beautiful and organized space for my students.  This marker stand will do just that.  It is a beautiful block of wood with a nice shiny coat of polyurethane on top (or something like it... I am anything but a carpenter!).  I can't wait to pop this beauty into my writing center.

I also love that it is beyond easy to use.  To set it up you just push the markers into the holes.  Two seconds and DONE!

This stand will also make it easy for my little ones to find the color they are looking for, and pop the marker back into it's cap.  My biggest pet peeve is dried out markers, so I am extra excited about this one!

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SmileMakers also has a special discount just for my readers!  To receive 10% off, no minimum order required, plus FREE Shipping with any order of $29 or more use promo code SMILE25 at checkout.  Free Standard Shipping valid in the contiguous United States and Canada.  Offer expires 9/27/13.

Happy Shopping!

I'm Baaaack!

I had NO intention of taking a huge break from blogging during our two week vacation, but the wireless that was promised never showed up!  Even worse was that my cell phone was in and out of service and had a super hard time accessing the internet.  Eek!  I felt a little bit stranded without my technology, but it was actually super nice to relax and spend time with my fiance and my family that I only get to see once a year.

We usually fly to Northern Michigan each August, but this year we decided to make a two week road trip out of it.  Here's the breakdown:

Boston to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls to Detroit
Detroit to Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan to Upstate New York
New York to Boston!

2,300 miles, 17 rest stops, 2 concerts, 1 wedding, 1 expired passport and tons of fun later we are finally home!

Here is a quick Instagram Instaglance at our vacation fun
 Niagara Falls (the Canadian side)

 C'est moi at the Falls

John Mayer live in Detroit (we also saw him last night in Boston, because we are crazy!)

 Gorgeous Northern Michigan

 Lake Michigan

 A storm rolling in over the lake

With my favorite girl!

 With my oldest, bestest friends at one of our girl's weddings in Upstate New York

 Amazing winery in New York.  Who knew that region is famous for Riesling (my favorite wine everrr)?

Also, this happened... Babbling Abby liked my photo AND commented on it!  It turns out that we have a favorite summer hangout in common.  Abby was the reason that I started blogging and I was totally starstruck when she wrote on my photo.  And she was right... the sangria was delicious!

Last but not least EVERYTHING in my store is 28% off today and tomorrow only.  There are TONS of products on sale!
Click on the picture or {HERE} to take you to the sale!