Digging up the letters of our name in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on September 1, 2011

in Name Recognition, Name Search

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!


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1 Amy A September 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

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 ;).

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

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

3 Andrea September 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm

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!!

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

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

5 Jill @ a mom with a lesson plan September 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm

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

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

Yes – great for you big kids:)

7 Cat September 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm

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

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 1:03 am

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

9 Brenna September 2, 2011 at 5:47 am

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.

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 6:28 am

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.

11 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…

12 kristin @preschool daze September 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

it’s happened again:

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

this is why i love this blogland.


thank you.

13 Nadia September 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

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!

14 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for the tweet!

15 Jess September 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm

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

16 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Your welcome Jess!

17 Cindy Lee September 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I would love to have you put in for Guidecraft to do a drawing for the 4-1 flipping table top easel or the gross motor sensory toys.
I love your blog and have all my teachers using it often
Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

18 Nancy September 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

The puzzles you’ve got in your giveaway look wonderful!!
Looking through Guidecraft, I’d suggest a future giveaway be the City Blocks! Like the current puzzles in your giveaway, there are endless opportunities in one block set!

Thanks for a great blog!!!

19 Cindi September 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

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!

20 Nikki Zang September 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm

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

21 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I got the big yellow trays from our educational school supply store here in town but you may be able to find some here… http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=3461&keyword=trays&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price= Which I also have but the yellow ones are just a bit bigger with nice edges – I like them best.

22 Nikki Zang September 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I saw the ones on the link you suggested before, but I like the ones you have for the same reason, they look bigger and deeper.
Can you give me the number to the store you bought them at? Maybe they will ship some to me, I can’t seem to find anything similar online.

23 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm
24 Nikki Zang September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am

THANKS!!! I have been looking for this for weeks.

25 My Oatmeal Kisses September 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm

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!


26 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm

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

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