West Moor Messy Play

Tips & games to write their names

Blog,Manchester North

Here are some fun and simple activities you can create at home to help your little one to begin to write their name. Some involve messy play and some do not! Before writing their name, you want them to be able to recognise their name. Maybe they have started to point to it in the environment? Or just noticing the initial letter is a great start too. Then, as they begin to write, they will need to order the letters of their name correctly, at the same time as forming the letters correctly; it’s a lot of juggling for them to do! So, the following games will help ease them in.

Recognising their name


  • Write a list of names and put their name in there a few times. They have to circle, stamp or tick their name.
  • Write names, including their name, on little strips of paper. Put them in a bag/box of shredded paper. Like a ‘lucky dip’, they pull out names, they say if it is their name or not.
  • Write names, including their name, on post-its and display them. They have to take their name down from the display (this is similar to what they will do when they arrive at pre-school/school in the morning!).

Ordering the letters


  • They pull the letters of their name out of the ‘lucky dip’/bag of shredded paper and place them in the right order. You might want to display the order for them, for them to match to, to support them. Or maybe they are ready to order them from memory.
  • Use permanent marker to write the letters of their name on building blocks. Mix up the bricks and see if they can build a tower in the right order!
  • Blu tac the letters to pegs. These pegs can then be pegged on to anything- the washing line, toys…we used a unicorn!
  • Stick the letters on cars and they have to ‘park the cars’ in the correct order.
  • Write their letters on to halved toilet tubes. Thread the toilet tubes along a string in the correct order. This would work the same on a smaller scale for beads on a necklace should you have any lettered beads.

Letter formation


  • It may suit your little one to start big! Using large paper/wallpaper roll, paint brushes, a sand pit, a tuff tray, make large marks using those gross motor skills! Ask them to form straight lines, arches, swirls/circles and zig-zags, eventually leading to them forming their initial letter.
  • Messy play, dry: pour sand, oats, lentils or anything similar on to a dinner tray. Using their fingers or a tool like a spoon or pencil, they make marks! 
  • Messy play, wet: pour jelly, passatta, Gelli Baff or anything similar on to a dinner tray. Using their fingers or a tool like a spoon or pencil, they make marks!
  • Pour PVA glue, thinly, on to a dinner tray then, using a tool, scrape to mark make!
  • Write their name in highlighter pen. They then write over the top of those letters as a guide.
  • Draw their name in ‘bubble writing’. or, I call it a maze (see image below). They have to write between the lines to form each letter.
  • Draw their name in ‘bubble writing’. They use string and glue to form the letters, or buttons to trace the shape.
  • After lots of practise to order and form the letters, they can now simply copy or free write their name! Using their favourite pens, the pads of paper they like… off they go!
  • This Christmas, have them write the little name cards for your Christmas dinner table!

I hope these tips are helpful! Please, just email for any questions you may have:

Our Little Learners uk shop has the pre-writing guide and all our writing support tools for you to browse:


Jen – Little Learners Manchester North

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