Classroom Activity

Name Towers

Overview

This large and small group activity encourages students to count the letters in their names and in those of their classmates' using Unifix cubes and sticky notes. Children will use comparative language, sort names in different ways, and make a name graph.

From the Virtual Pre-K: Ready For Math toolkit

Related Home Activities:
Counting Around the House

Number Cards

Standards

ILLINOIS EARLY LEARNING STANDARDS:

  • 1.A.ECd: Identify some letters, including those in own name.
  • 6.A.ECa: Use concepts that include number recognition, counting, and one-to-one correspondence.
  • 6.A.ECb: Count with understanding, and recognize "how many" in sets of objects.
  • 7.B.EC: Show understanding of and use of comparative words.
  • 10.A.ECa: Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs.

HEAD START LEARNING DOMAINS:

  • LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: Listening and Understanding; Speaking and Communicating
  • LITERACY: Book Knowledge and Appreciation; Alphabet Knowledge
  • MATH: Number Concepts and Quantities; Comparison; Number Relationships and Operations

Lesson Objectives

  • Count in a one-to-one fashion to determine cardinality of a presented set of up to 10-15 objects in a row
  • Compare sets using comparative language such as: same, more, less, fewer, long, longer, lowest, short, shorter, shortest, tall, taller, tallest
  • Collect and represent data on a simple graph

Literature Suggestions

  • Chrysanthemum
    by Kevin Henkes
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo
    by Arlene Mosei
  • The Name Jar
    by Yanksook Choi

Materials

  • The book "Chrysanthemum" or "Tikki Tikki Tembo" to introduce the activity
  • Unifix cubes
  • Name cards
  • 3" x 3" sticky note pads

Lesson Description

  1. Read the story at least once on a day prior to doing this lesson so the students can enjoy the story and illustrations. Create name cards for each child with each letter in a square about the same size as a Unifix cube. For your graph, draw a grid on a chalk or white board with boxes the size of a 3" x 3" square sticky note. Be sure to have enough boxes to accommodate all the letters in the names of your students, both vertically and horizontally.
  2. Read the story to your students and then write your name and Chrysanthemum's name on sticky notes, one letter per page. Hang the two names (horizontally) next to each other on your graph, and invite the students to help you count the letters in each name. Introduce and encourage the use of comparative vocabulary, such as: more, fewer, long, longer than, longest, short, shorter than, shortest.
  3. Explain that students will have a chance to count the letters in their names, make name towers, and write their names on sticky notes to compare with their classmates. Transition students to the centers. NOTE: Each center should have no more than 5 students, so you will need to direct part of the class to free play or other centers you have ready. Each of the two name centers will need adult facilitation.
  4. Small Group Center I: NAME TOWERS
    Distribute name cards and invite students to count the letters in their names. Encourage students to create towers out of Unifix cubes using the same number of Unifix cubes as they have letters in their names. With your guidance, encourage students to use comparative vocabulary to describe their name towers.
    Small Group Center II: STICKY NOTES NAME GRAPH
    Have each child write out his/her name on sticky notes, one letter per page. Then invite the children to hang their names horizontally on a chalk or white board using the grid to help align the sticky notes so they have a common starting point or 'baseline.' When all of the names in your small group have been posted, invite students to make observations using comparative language. Which name is the longest/shortest? Which names have the same amount of letters?, etc.

Teacher Tip

In advance, create your sticky note graph on a chalk or white board, making a grid so that students can place each sticky note of their name inside its own box on the grid.

Extension Ideas

As a literacy extension, label Unifix cubes with letters so that children can spell out their names on the name towers. This can be done with small circular stickers or masking tape.