Monday, August 8, 2011

Name Recognition in our Classroom

It is such a joy to prepare materials for our classroom and recently, I have been doing exactly that!  In fact, I just returned from a morning at school preparing for our Open House and first day of school.  While I had all three of my kids with me and it became a little hectic, I was nevertheless able put some annual aspects of the environment together.  When I've made and assembled all the class lists, cubby labels, snack tags, and name tags, I know that the beginning of school is just around the corner (and it makes me smile!).

One of the first concepts a child encounters at school is name recognition.  At my school, this is encouraged and incorporated in many areas of the classroom.  As simple as it may sound however, I put a lot of thought into how this will be presented.  The main reason I have to put extra thought into this concept is because I teach cursive writing in my classroom.  Therefore, I need be sure that enough opportunities are available for the child to see their name not only in print, but also in writing (cursive). I follow a simple self-imposed rule in my classroom:  Anything I write with my own hand is in cursive and everything else is in print.

Upon entering school, a child is greeted with their name on their cubby:

Children's cubbies:  Names in print, made on Word....

Next, they see their names as they hang up their backpacks, and snow pants (later in the year), on their individual hook:

Individual hook labels made using Montessori-friendly Clip Art with names written by me - in cursive.
  Now, the child enters the classroom and 'checks-in' by sliding their name over to the right, under the tag reading, "Hello!, Check-in."  When they leave, the slide their name back over to the left under the tag which reads, "Good-bye!  Check-out."  The photo shows these tags with handwritten letters which I wrote.  Periodically, I flip these cards over where the same words have been produced in print on the computer.  The children always look to see which side it is on and love when I change it up a bit....

Check-in/Check-out Board:  Name tags created by computer (and printed on watercolor paper which I painted myself...I just couldn't find what I wanted in the stores....)
Within our Montessori work time, the children have additional opportunities for name recognition, reading, and writing.

Snack tags:  The children each have a tag to set up with their snack.  Again, the images are from Clip Art with the names written by me, so they are cursive.  The images are of typical foods we enjoy for snack, but they are also intended to stimulate conversation!  Moreover, these tags are a helpful management tool - we can tell who has had a snack or not by  placement of the tags.  Those who have finished snack place their tag in a nearby basket while those who have not remain on the shelf, as in the photo.
   Whenever a child wishes to write his name or the names of classmates, we use our basket of name tags:

Name tags for writing:  This is a material specific to writing, therefore the tags are written in cursive.  This basket is kept in a special spot in our Language area near other writing materials.
Another opportunity for name recognition includes the use of our 'place-holders'.  These tags are used throughout the mornings if someone has to leave their work for various reasons - bathroom, break, end of the morning etc. These are helpful because oftentimes, a child will be in the midst of a large activity at the end of the day and the tags provide great way to give the child an option to finish when they return to school - it also helps me remember who had the work out! ;-)  The child retrieves the tag from the basket and places it on the work space. Doing so indicates to others that he is still working on this particular lesson and will get back to it soon.

'Place-holders.'  This year we are using American flags.  Last year, we used star shapes.  I try using an eye-catching shape for these tags because they can easily be seen on a mat or table where someone is working. 
Additionally, when school begins in September, I will take a photo of each child, print their name (on computer) and birthday, and mount on cards to make a birthday graph.  This will give the children another chance to see their names in print as well as make associations with the pictures of classmates.

By allowing children these varied opportunities throughout the environment for name recognition and practice, I feel they will experience a well-balanced approach to the concept.  I would be most interested in hearing what others do in their classrooms and welcome any thoughts and ideas you may have!


  1. I love this! SO great to expose the names as much as possible. And perfect that you use different ways of writing the names. Thanks!

  2. I discovered your blog a few days ago and it has already been so helpful.

    I am a stay at home mom and I homeschool my 4 year old. On Sunday, I showed him the video of your students working with the brown stair and pink tower. He loved much that on Monday he worked with our brown stair and pink tower for an hour during our school time.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, I love the videos you post. They are SO helpful!
    Secondly, your information regarding cursive has really opened my eyes and made me begin to formulate a new way of working with my child.
    Lastly, I wondered if you would be willing to post about your method for teaching language. I have not begun to work with the pink, blue, green series yet but it's coming up soon and I just recently read about a lady named Dwyer. I'm wondering which you use and how.

    Thanks...sorry for the long comment...thanks for the blog!

  3. You're welcome, Maria - thanks for leaving such a lovely comment!

  4. Shelley, I'm glad you have found this blog so helpful! I would love to post about language - I will most likey share more of an overview on the subject before going into greater detail of the actual lessons. As far as the pink, green, and blue series work, I know that they are popluar materials with which to work for the language curriculum. The materials, however, were not a part of my AMS training and I have taken a more organic approach rather than set in the confines of the pink,blue, green series. I'm sure it works wonderfully for teacching language, but I have chosen to follow the sequence of language lessons as presented in my Album with occassional additions. I will be sure to share more in the coming weeks...!

    Thanks again for your kind words!

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to use both print and cursive in the classroom. This is the method that we were taught in AMI training - and it really makes sense when you think about it. Thank you for all the pictures too - you've chosen lovely clip art!

  6. Sasha,

    Hi again. What do the children keep in their cubbies, is this for change of clothes? Where do you keep their shoes/slippers? And my biggest do you send works home and how do you store them while they are waiting to be completed...I have tried folders, they don't always come back...I have tried work boxes (that I set out at the beginning of the week...but then they are outside, and we don't have them that day. What do you do? Love your name tags, can't wait to set the check in chart for next year. Do you have a picture of your birthday chart?

  7. HI Terri,
    The cubbies are for change of clothes and slippers. Work is stored in the classroom in what I call "work bins," which are the small, plastic three-tiered, pull out drawers (not the tall ones, but the short ones which fit regular size papers and folders...). Each day before a child leaves, we empty the bin of any work that should go home while any work that needs to be completed stays in the bin - there is no special folder or box for sending things back and forth. I don't have a picture of a birthday chart - this is something we usually talk about while we are looking at the calendar.

  8. Are your hooks and cubbies in classroom? Our hooks are to the right as you walk down the small set of stairs and the cubbies are across with a space that doesn't block the stairs. I find it annoying as the cubby position a wasted space. Any suggestions? Were is your "work bins" located" can you show picture? Where do you put big paper art? In"work bins"


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