Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Name Recognition Caterpillars

My son, Jonathan, is 2 years old (26 months, to be exact).  Since his second birthday, he's been pretty interested in learning the alphabet and playing with puzzles.  I decided to combine the two activities to introduce name recognition.

I found this idea from Pinterest (scroll down to "#6 Bottle Cap Names") and thought that milk caps were more age-appropriate for my little guy's toddler hands.  I also thought it might be helpful to trace circles to help him place and match the milk caps to the letters.

He loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, so on a whim, I turned them into caterpillars.  

Want to make your own?  Here's what I did.

Materials Needed:
bottle caps* (one for each letter in the child's name)
permanent marker 
laminating sheet
scissors or cutting tool
clear tape

*Use caution with the size of bottle caps you choose, especially if your child likes to put things in his/her mouth.

1.  Trace (clean) milk caps to make caterpillars.  The caterpillars will vary in length depending on the number of letters in each name.  Since I had a couple yellow caps, I decided to make the capital letters a different color.  I used Sharpies to trace, but realized later than it would have been simpler and clean-looking to use regular markers.

3.  Fill in the circles with the child's name.  Again, plain markers will do just fine.  Since Jonathan's name has 8 letters, I cut the rows of circles into two paper strips and taped them together to make an extra-long caterpillar.  (I also made one for his BFF, Micah.)

4.  Use a permanent marker to label the milk caps with corresponding letters.  I prefer to write on the insides of the milk caps so they are less likely to rub off with use.

5.  Laminate the sheet of paper.  This step is optional, but preferred (since little hands will be playing with it).  Use scissors or a cutting tool to trim edges.  If you are making a long name out of 2 strips of paper, tape them together carefully.

6.  Guide your toddler through the activity.  

You can point and name each letter, discuss the difference between upper case and lower case letters, and count the number of milk caps.

Since he's two, I just let him focus on matching the caps to the circles.  For kids who are a bit older, you could ask them to place the caps in order, and maybe even have them practice writing their names afterwards.

(You might also consider underlining the letters so your child doesn't get confused between letters like "n" and "u" or "d" and "p"...)
"Does my name have a 'u' in it?"

Can you tell he enjoyed it?

His favorite part?  Shaking off all the caps once he was finished!

This activity is pretty adaptable. I think it could be easily used in the classroom (especially for centers) to teach and reinforce sight words!

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