Learning Names in Preschool with ALL 5 Senses!

Sensory Names in Preschool with ALL 5 Senses

This week the Early Childhood Educational Team has compiled awesome activities for learning names in Preschool and Kindergarten!  With just a few simple supplies, parents, childcare providers, or teachers in the classroom can offer name explorations through playful learning!


Some of the first letters preschoolers begin to know are the letters in their own names!  Exploring the letters in names through engaging ALL 5 SENSES is not only FUN play for preschoolers, but the sensory layers help encourage name and letter recognition skills.

In order to explore all 5 Senses, preschoolers need to know what primary body parts provide sensory information:  Hands, Nose, Mouth, Ears, and Eyes.   In many sensory activities, more than one body part will provide information.  Activities that provide learning opportunities that engage more than one SENSE will help young kids retain information for longer periods of time.   Come explore all the sensory ways to encourage name and letter recognition in Preschool and Kindergarten through playful learning!

Sensory Names in Preschool-TheSense of TouchLearning Names:  The Sense of Touch in Preschool

DIY Name Rubbing Plates

Materials needed:

  • Liquid Glue
  • Heavy Paper (cardstock or cardboard)
  • Unwrapped Crayon
  • White Paper

Invite the kids to “write” their names with liquid glue on a sheet of heavy paper.  Glue bottles are great fine motor work, but younger children may need assistance (some bottles are easier than others to squeeze)!  Allow the glue to dry overnight.  When thoroughly dry, have the kids place a clean sheet of white paper over the name.  Rub the raised letters with the side of an unwrapped crayon and watch the letters appear.  Preschoolers think rubbing plates are a bit magical!  The dried glue template can be re-used over and over for name and letter practice!

Cornmeal Names

Materials needed:

  • Liquid Glue
  • Dry Cornmeal
  • Heavy Paper
  • Small bowl and spoon

Have the kids use liquid glue to make the letters in their name.  For younger children, write the letters of their name on a separate piece of paper and see if the kids can copy the letters with the liquid glue.  Before the glue dries, the children can use a spoon to sprinkle cornmeal over the letters.  Show the children how to dispose of any leftover cornmeal by holding the paper upright and shaking it gently into a tray or garbage can.  Allow the cornmeal letters to dry overnight.  Invite the kids to trace the cornmeal letters with their fingers for tactile letter and names play!

Learning Names with the Sense of Smell in PreschoolLearning Names:  The Sense of Smell in Preschool

Disclosure:  this post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links.  Please see the ABOUT US Page for full disclosures.

Spicy Names

Materials needed:

  • Any spices the children might like (our kids used pumpkin pie spice, cloves, and nutmeg).
  • Liquid Glue
  • Heavy Paper
  • Small bowls and spoons (one per spice used)

Have the kids write the letters of their name with liquid glue – assist younger children as necessary.  Place a small amount of the chosen spices in small bowls and invite the children to carefully smell each one (supervise so the children do not inhale the spices, but gently smell them). Before the glue dries, have the kids sprinkle a different spice onto the various letters in their name.  Dispose of any extra spices on the paper by lifting the paper and carefully shaking the excess into a tray or garbage can.  Dry the spicy names thoroughly.  When dry, invite the kids use their sense of smell to determine which spice was used on each letter.  Do the children remember the scents from the smell alone?  The sense of smell is powerful learning for children and it gives the room a delightful fragrance, too!

Sensory Scented Names

Scented Markers make letters and name writing a sensory exploration for kids!  Our kids love the Mr. Sketch markers with all the various scents! For a playful learning game to try, make random letters on a page with the scented markers (include the letters that make up your child’s/student’s name).  Invite the kids to circle all the letters that form their name and see if they can tell which scented marker was used to make the different letters.  Once the children locate the letters in their name, see if they can write the letters in the correct name order with a marker of their choice (see photo above).

The Sense of Sight_Sensory Names in PreschoolLearning Names:  The Sense of Sight in Preschool

Sugar and Mirrors Name Writing Trays

Materials needed:

  • Granulated Sugar
  • Acrylic Mirrors
  • Writing tools (paintbrushes, Q-tips, craft sticks)

Allowing kids the opportunity to use various writing tools helps promote fine motor control for letter formation skills.  We use sugar on mirrors for writing (and playing) as it’s a great visual activity for gaining important sensory information.  Provide index cards with the names of each child for practice with letter formation and transferring skills!

For another way to play with visual transferring and sensory names, see Chalk Dust and Feather Writing in Preschool!

Pudding Sensory Names in PreschoolLearning Names:  The Sense of Taste in Preschool!

Pudding Names

Materials needed:

  • Any flavor of pudding (homemade or commercial)
  • Various Writing Tools (fingers, paintbrushes, small sponges, or Q-tips)

Beware:  Messy Play!:)  Pudding Painting and Writing is a hands-down favorite activity for our own kids.  Pudding writing is a great way to encourage letter formations with a “taste-safe” base for kids that still mouth materials.  Our Pre-K and Kindergarten kids still love to practice pudding writing with our preschoolers!  Set out a variety of paintbrushes and small sponges and invite the kids to create the letters in their name!  Be sure to take plenty of messy pictures as the kids will LOVE looking at themselves when the activity is finished!  The pictures make a great class book idea for the kids to read the names of their peers throughout the year!

Cool Whip, Sprinkles, and Whipped Cream are also fun for doodles, painting, and taste-safe letter/name writing!

Learning Names with the Sense of Hearing in Preschool

Voice Changer Plus by Arf Software, Inc. is a FUN app to try with kids!

Learning Names:  The Sense of HEARING in Preschool!

Voice Recorders

The sense of hearing is crucial when learning the names of peers in preschool!  Kids love hearing their own name and those of the other children.  Children learn to discriminate sounds and gain literacy skills when they have plenty of opportunities to enhance listening skills.  Our own kids love playing with digital voice recorders!  We have recorded parents at the beginning of the school year and played the game – Who Does That Parent Belong To?  We also voice record our kids saying the names of their peers.  We play the recorder back at another time to see if the kids know who is speaking by voice alone.

For a fun free voice recording app to try, see Voice Changer Plus by Arf Software, Inc. on iTunes for iPad and iPhone.

The Name Train Welcome Song

As our preschoolers come together for circle time in the morning, we sing the Name Train Song.  It’s a simple song that calls each child by name to form a seated train on the floor.  We choose the “caboose and engine” as part of our weekly classroom jobs list.  The song goes like this:

Alan (student’s name) is here today, here today, here today.

Alan (student’s name) is here today, we’re glad to have you here.

As we sing each child’s name they sit in a line (one in front of the other) to form a train.  As the last child (the engine) is called, we call out, “ARE YOU READY?” and “GO!”  The children scoot forward on their bottoms yelling, “CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHOO-CHOO!”  It is one of our favorite name greeting songs to sing!

Learning Names using ALL 5 Senses will allow preschoolers opportunities to practice and play with names while encouraging the growth and development of important early learning skills!

The-5-Senses Theme for Preschool, Home Preschool, or Childcare

The 5 Senses Thematic Unit comes with 100’s of activities for playful learning.  The Unit is an instant download with Literacy, Math, Science, Arts/Crafts, Pretend Play, and Gross Motor ideas for home, childcare, or the classroom.

For MORE great NAME ACTIVITIES, please visit some of the articles from the dedicated Early Childhood Education Team below:

Erase Me Rhyming Activity via Growing Book by Book

Spell Your Name Sensory Bin via Mom Inspired Life

All About Me Early Writing Activity via The Educators’ Spin On It

All About Me Booklet via Tiny Tots Adventures

Scratch and Sniff Names via Fun-A-Day

Fun Kindergarten Math Activities Using Their Names via Capri + 3

All About Me Math Race via Still Playing School

DIY My Name Puzzle Printable Template via Learning 2 Walk

Name Recognition Snack via Munchkins and Moms

Build my name via Rainy Day Mum

All About Me DIY Puzzles for Preschoolers via Life Over C’s




Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, Back to School for Preschool and PreK, Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Teaching Responsibility in Preschool Through Practical Life Skills! #TeachECE

If you are new to articles from The Early Childhood Education Team, you’ll find tips, tricks, activities, and playful learning ideas centered around a changing weekly theme.  Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we’ll partner with some of the best educational bloggers to bring you, our valued readers, tools to use at home, in a childcare setting, or in the classroom!  This week, the #TeachECE Team is offering suggestions for encouraging RESPONSIBILITY in Early Childhood.

Teaching Responsibility to Preschoolers with Practical Life SkillsEncouraging kids to be responsible is an ever changing endeavor as our kids grow!  Starting early with age-appropriate activities will help our kids garner an attitude of responsibility, awareness, self-control, and accountability.  Areas of responsibility will usually fall under one of the general categories below:

  • SELF
  • WORK

Even kids as young as age two can begin the process of learning to care for their own bodies and being responsible.  By the time kids are preschoolers, they are capable of responsibilities for self-care and some household tasks when given age-appropriate opportunities to practice.  Young kids LOVE being helpers and learning to do things on their own –  ALL BY MYSELF becomes the main mantra!  Using practical life skills to encourage a young child’s desire for independence will promote healthy development (order, concentration, self-control, coordination, independence) and foster a sense of responsibility at home, in childcare, or in the classroom!

Practical Life Activities to Encourage Responsibility in PreschoolTEACHING RESPONSIBILITY in PRESCHOOL with PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS!

Practical life activities encourage a young child’s desire for independence and foster a healthy sense of responsibility that they can carry with them into the greater community.  While there are MANY ways to incorporate practical life activities into daily routines for preschoolers, below you’ll find suggestions to integrate responsibilities for self-care and age-appropriate household tasks into the classroom, childcare setting, or at home.

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.” ~Maria Montessori

Practical Life Activities to Encourage Responsibility for SELF in Preschool!

Disclosure:  this post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT US page on this blog.

Dressing Frames for Practical Life Skills in Preschool

  • Dressing (ties, laces, buckles, buttons, snaps, and buttons) – use old articles of clothing for children to practice dressing skills or purchase durable commercial dressing frames to promote independent dressing skills.
  • Putting on socks/shoes – allowing our kids to struggle a bit is OK!  Plenty of practice with minimal assistance will challenge our kids to acquire skills!  Reminder:  Patience, for adults, is a required characteristic. :)
  • Independent Bathroom Skills – as kids are ready, help them learn to take care of restroom needs independently.
  • Brushing Teeth – practice dental hygiene skills daily!
  • Brushing/Combing Hair – kids can practice on their own hair or on a doll’s hair.
  • Washing – set up a center for baby washing:  include a small bowl of water, hand soap, a small washcloth, a doll, and a drying cloth.

Pouring Activity for Practical Life Skills in Preschool

  • Pouring – provide an activity tray for plenty of practice with pouring.  Vary the containers and amount of liquid as kids gain confidence.
  • Spooning – make an activity tray where kids can practice spooning various dry items from one container to the next (suggestions:  cereal, rice, pasta, or sand).  Vary the spoon size as skills grow.

Practical Life Skills for Preschool_Folding a WashclothPractical Life Activities to Encourage Responsibility for HOME in Preschool! – Folding a Washcloth_Practical Life Skills

  • Folding Washcloths and Small Towels –  Print the simple 3-Step visuals (linked above) , laminate for durability, demonstrate the folding technique, and then give the kids a basket of washcloths to practice with!
  • Setting the Table – make an activity tray with a plate, fork, knife, spoon, napkin, and glass.  Demonstrate how to make a basic place setting and allow for practice time!
  • Sorting Cutlery – purchase an inexpensive cutlery tray and cutlery.  Invite the kids to practice sorting knives, spoons, and forks into the individual compartments.

Polishing a Mirror Practical Life Activity for Preschool

  • Cleaning Mirrors – use a spray bottle, small mirror, and a polishing cloth to teach preschoolers how to clean mirrors.
  • Crumb Collecting – use a small brush and dustpan to encourage daily clean-up in the classroom, in childcare, or at home.
  • Washing Tables – we make this practical life activity part of our classroom jobs list.  At the end of our day, students take turns washing and drying our tables.
  • Sorting and Folding Socks – provide a basket of socks for the children to match and fold.
  • Cutting Softer Fruits – allow kids to use a real knife to cut soft fruit (and other soft foods). *Demonstrate safety procedures for cutting and using knives – supervise young children as they practice and learn.
  • Washing Fruits and Veggies – kids can use a vegetable brush and towel to rinse and clean fruits and vegetables.

Practical Life Skills Activities in PreschoolWhile this list is, by far, not all inclusive, the practical life activities above will provide opportunities for preschoolers to practice independent skills and garner responsibility for the tasks they are capable of doing on their own!

Preschool Practical Life Skills Resources for Home or ClassroomPractical Life Resources Hand-Picked Just for YOU!

For MORE tips, tricks, and activities for encouraging RESPONSIBILITY at home or in the classroom, please visit suggestions by the dedicated Early Childhood Education Team below!

Teaching Responsibility: Use a Morning Routine Checklist via Mom Inspired Life
Morning Routine Chart for the Preschool Classroom via Fun-A-Day
Teaching Responsibility: Simple Daily Routine Chart for Kids via Learning 2 Walk
Using Group Goals to Teach Responsibility in Kindergarten and Preschool via Capri + 3
Teaching Kids to be Responsible through Literacy Activities via Growing Book by Book
Responsibility Interactive Mini-Book and Memory Game for Preschoolers via Life Over C’s
Homeschool Lesson Plan Checklist via Still Playing School
Teaching Children How to Be Responsible for their Own Backpack by The Educators’ Spin On It



Posted in Back to School for Preschool and PreK, Fine Motor Skills for Tiny Fingers, Parenting and Values, PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Playful Learning Literacy Games for Preschool and Kindergarten!

Playful Learning for Teaching the ABC's in Preschool and KindergartenThis week The Early Childhood Education Team is offering tips and suggestions to help young children learn the ABC’s!  Whether you are a teacher, a childcare provider, or a parent teaching your own child at home, you’ll find valuable resources to encourage early literacy, letter awareness, and promote playful learning at home or in the classroom!

Early Literacy to Try at Home!

Parents are a child’s first teacher! Some parents may not even be aware of how daily interactions with their children are teaching letter recognition and awareness.  Letter awareness and general literacy begins even in infancy.  Listening to stories, looking at printed words in books, pointing out the names of common household items, and listening or vocalizing to music will create wonderful opportunities for young children to become aware of print, sounds, letters, and words.

Disclosure:  this post and others on this blog contain affiliate or distributor links.  All opinions are our own.
  • Read to your children daily and have books available that are age appropriate (cloth books and board books are best for very young children as they are durable).
  • Try singing or saying letters and the sounds they make – even infants will try to vocalize the early sounds!  Don’t worry that your singing voice may not be the best. Young children don’t care about the quality of our singing voices, they just want to hear YOU!
  • Label household items and/or say the beginning letter and sound that item makes.  For example, say the word EGG and the sound the letter E makes in the word (it may feel a bit awkward at first, but soon it will simply become a part of normal routines).  Place beginning letter labels on common items (like the Refrigerator).  Post-it brand notes work well for easy labeling and removal.
  • Daily discussions and trips can include early letter and word recognition (for example: What letter does STOP begin with? The words GREEN and GO both begin with what letter?)

Through intentional, yet simple, daily engagement and interactions, young children develop an awareness of sounds/letters and will soon be ready to begin activities that promote letter recognition, sounds, and early words through playful learning.


Learning through play is crucial in preschool and kindergarten.  When presented with opportunities to learn through play, children will naturally absorb information that they can apply to their everyday world.

Playful Learning with SticksPlaying with Nature Items:

  • Playful Learning with Sticks – the letters in a child’s name (and those of family members) are some of the first letters preschoolers will use daily.  Take learning OUTSIDE for playful FUN!
  • Rock Words and Letters – use chalk on rocks for intentional play with nature!

Apple Printable AlphabetPrintable Alphabet Play:

Apple Stamping Alphabet – a seasonal printable alphabet with playful learning suggestions.

Gingerbread Alphabet/Picture Matching – a printable picture/alphabet matching game.

Textured Name TrainsSENSORY Play with Letters and Early Words:

Chalk Dust Feather Writing – transfer letters with non-traditional writing tools (pre-writing/writing).

Textured Sensory Name Train – create letters for names with textures – free printable TRAIN for sensory letter play.

Orchard Playdough Mats Letter Printing – free tree mats with playful learning suggestions and activities.

Sugar Sensory Letter Trays – writing letters in a sugar tray is FUN practice for letter recognition and writing skills.

Ocean-themed Alphabet Discovery Bottles – shake, look, and record letters found in a sensory bottle.

Creating a Graphic Alphabet – create items that BEGIN with a letter of the alphabet!  Suggestions for items that correspond to each letter.

Band-aid Letter Matching – capture preschoolers love of band-aids and play with letter matching.

Braille Alphabet – expose young children to a sensory alphabet through tactile and sensory play!

Wet Chalk Kites – learn letters, names, and early words with a free printable for kite bow games.

Created Beginning Letters – free printable to explore the creation of the beginning letters for early words.

Magnifying Glass Letter Scavenger Hunt – use a created magnifying glass to hunt for letters in favorite books!

Christmas Sensory Name Train – tactile created letters for a name train in preschool and kindergarten.

Valentine Sugar Sensory Tray  – a sugar tray for sensory alphabet stamping.

Learning Letters in Preschool and KindergartenSight Words, Word Families, and Alphabet Playful Learning:

5 Little Acorns – locate and circle the beginning letter after reading a FUN FALL POEM for kids!

Popcorn Sight Words Free Printable – explore basic sight words with this free printable popcorn game.

Use lettered clothespins or tiles on the harvest word cards

Use lettered clothespins or tiles on the harvest word cards

Harvest Letter Clipping Cards – printable cards for seasonal play with letters and words.

Pumpkin Sight Words and Pumpkin Letter Tiles – practice letters and sight words in seasonal printable for playful learning at home or in the classroom.

Pilgrim Feathers for Letter Matching – free printable feathers for letter matching.  Additional game and activity suggestions are offered for preschool and kindergarten.

Thanksgiving Letter Matching – a free printable seasonal letter game.

Christmas Words Letter Clipping – Clip letters with clothespins that correspond to seasonal words.

Candy Cane Sight Words – a free printable for seasonal play with words and letters.

Mitten Matching – printable mittens and game/activity suggestions for matching in preschool and kindergarten.

Snowman Word Families – explore missing letters and word families with a free snowman printable.

Zoo Animal Letter Clipping for Preschool and KindergartenZoo Animal Letter Clipping – play with clothespins and clip corresponding letters for favorite zoo animals.

Ice Cream Cone Letter Match – match “scoops” of ice cream labeled with letters.  Free printable for words/letters/sight words and activity suggestions.

Patriotic Literacy Stars – clip letters in a fun (and frugal) beginning words and letter activity – good for any Patriotic holiday (U.S.)

For MORE ways to learn and play with ABC’s, please visit the wonderful activities offered by the dedicated Early Childhood Education Team – #TeachECE offers great resources for use at home or in the classroom!

Teaching the Alphabet with a Class Name Book by Fun-A-Day
Capital or Lowercase?  Alphabet Activity for Kindergarten or Preschool by Capri + 3
Playful Ways to Learn Alphabet Letters by Still Playing School
Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk
Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book
Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms
A Giant List of Alphabet Activities by Mom Inspired Life
How We Learn Our ABC’s by  Tiny Tots Adventures
Learning the Alphabet Ideas plus FREE ABC Poster by Powerful Mothering
Teaching the Alphabet Activities for Children by The Educators’ Spin On It




Posted in PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Tips for Helping Preschoolers BE a Good Friend! #TeachECE

This week,  The Early Childhood Education Team is offering tips and suggestions for MAKING FRIENDS in preschool!  As an educator, I’ve had many conversations over the years with parents of children who are concerned their child may not know how (or are scared) to make friends with others.  With a few suggestions and helpful advice, parents can encourage and guide their children to develop early friendships with peers.

Making Friends in PreschoolOutside of immediate family, neighborhood children and families have long been a source of early friendships and play.   Neighborhood play has declined over many decades for reasons that are beyond the scope of this particular post.  However, with that decline,  participation in structured play groups, childcare, community activities, and organized preschool have become avenues to help young children develop social skills and emotional intelligence.   While all of those settings are influential, even crucial, to healthy development, parents are still a young child’s FIRST resource for learning appropriate skills for social interactions. To help young kids have a successful start, the tips below can assist parents in preparing preschoolers to BE a good friend at home, in the classroom, in the neighborhood, or in the larger community.

Tips for Helping Preschoolers Make Friends

Being a Good Friend in Preschool

  • Positive Family Relationships:  Family is the first practice young children have at  positive interactions with others.  How children play with others in their family is an indicator of how they will play with friends.  Siblings sometimes play differently than friends do, but some of the early communication patterns will remain the same.  Observe children playing for clues on aspects of communication that may need improvement.  Encourage family communication to resolve problems, encourage fairness and taking turns, promote positive attitudes, and to plan play time for the whole family so children can practice manners, try new things, and refine developing skills for good sportsmanship.
  • Introductions:  Role play with children who are fearful of meeting new kids.  Invite your child to practice introducing himself and asking other family members or familiar children to play.  Through role play, young children will gain confidence and the skills necessary to approach other children and ask them to play.
  • Qualities of a Good Friend:  Explore characteristics of a good friend with your child.  The passage, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a great guideline.  It is easier to gain friendships when a child exhibits qualities that make a good friend.  Simple expectations for preschool friendships are:  be kind with your mouth and your body, be helpful and honest, take turns and be fair, tell about hurtful or dangerous situations with friends, but don’t tattle, and allow others an opportunity to choose what they want to play.
  • Look for Common Interests:  share with your children some visual clues they might look for at school (or in other social settings) to find a friend that may have similar interests.  Backpack characters, decorations on folders, characters or logos on clothing (if a dress code is not in force), and games that other children like to play are all good clues.  Remind children that by listening to their peers and observing, they will gain valuable information about what other children like.  Those clues will give a child something of value to ask another child about.  We ALL enjoy talking about the things we LIKE – preschoolers do, too!

Qualities of a Good Friend Pony Bead Craft for Kids – QUALITIES OF A GOOD FRIEND

Pony Bead Friendship Reminder Bracelet CraftDIRECTIONS:  Invite the kids to make a friendship pony bead craft.   Print the Qualities of a Good Friend PDF file (linked above) and review with the children.  Have the children place the corresponding color of pony bead on a piece of string or yarn as each quality is discussed. The bracelet or chain can be worn or made into a backpack zipper pull (simply add a key ring to the string or yarn) to serve as a reminder to always BE a good friend to other children.  **Please supervise young children who still mouth objects carefully as pony beads can be a choking hazard.

Books to Read About Making Friends

Books for Preschoolers about Making (and KEEPING) Friends!Making Friends (Mr. Rogers) by Fred Rogers

Daniel’s New Friend (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) by Becky Friedman

Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

How To Be A Friend – a Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

For MORE Tips, Tricks, and Activities for Helping Preschoolers Make (and BE) a Good Friend, please visit other articles by the #TeachECE Team!

Role Playing How to Be a Good Friend by Mom Inspired Life
Songs About Friendship for Kinder and Pre-K by Capri +3
Teaching Kids About Friendship and Being a Good Friend by Raising Lifelong Learners
Making Friends: Teaching Kids to Learn and Respect Different Names by Munchkins and Moms
How to Play with Friends a Preschoolers Visual Guide and Game by Powerful Mothering
Helping Your Homeschooler Socialize by Still Playing School
Making Friends Even When You Are Homeschooled by Learning 2 Walk
Making Friends: Qualities We Look For in Friends by Tiny Tots Adventures
Book Friends by Growing Book by Book
Free Friends Play Dough Printable by Life Over C’s
Working Together to Create a Classroom Community by Fun-A-Day!
Teaching Kids How to Make Friends by The Educators’ Spin On It

Posted in Emotions, Parenting and Values, PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments