Recurring Lesson

Student of the Day: Create Sound/Letter Understanding With Names

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time
Multiple 10- to 20-minute sessions (one session per child)
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Students can learn to identify letters and words by exploring one another's names and other words. Each student gets to be "Student of the Day," and the class will explore his or her name and life. Students will learn which letters are in their classmate's name, as well as the words for their friend's hobbies and favorite things. Students will be encouraged to draw and write messages to each other on a daily basis.

From Theory to Practice

  • Children benefit from the development of self-monitoring and searching behaviors when beginning to read and write.

  • Wordplay activities can build students' phonemic awareness and knowledge of letters and sounds.


Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Bulletin board

  • Crayons

  • Drawing paper (for each student)

  • Permanent marker

  • Scissors

  • Strips of paper




1. Be sure to read the entire lesson first, as suggestions for Sessions 3, 4, or 5 may be helpful when analyzing the first couple of student names. This lesson's sessions are set up not so much to be followed day by day, as much as to provide you with examples of how you may handle different kinds of names (e.g., duplicates, same first letter, two of the same letters in a row, short versus long) To this end, the lesson also offers sample student names that provide clear examples of how you may handle different kinds of names.

2. Write each child's name on a sentence strip. If the name is short, cut the sentence strip to the appropriate length. You will be comparing the students' names with one another, and it will be important for the students to see the different lengths. Put the names in a bag.

3. Print one Getting to Know You handout for each session (for each Student of the Day).

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Combine letters to create words

  • Rewrite their classmates' names using uppercase and lowercase letters

  • Put letters in the right order to correctly spell a studied word

  • Write and draw messages to other students

Session 1: Choose a Student of the Day!

1. Tell the students that you are going to pick a name out of a bag, and that student will be the Student of the Day. Gather the students around to choose the first name out of the bag. Make a big deal of closing your eyes and pulling out one of the students' names.

2. Have the chosen student sit in a special chair while you lead the other students in interviewing the student of the day. Ask how old the student is, what his or her favorite ice cream flavor is, how many brothers and sisters he or she has and what their names are, etc. Record this information on the Getting to Know You handout. Allow the Student of the Day to add a drawing or message about himself or herself on the handout. (Later you can bind all of the handouts together to have a class book for students to review.)

3. Focus the class's attention onto the child's name - Matthew. (Note: The descriptions here and in the other steps below are, of course, examples you can adapt from the actual names in your class.) Point to the word Matthew on the sentence strip and have the students understand that all its letters put together make a word. This word is Matthew's name. Tell them that it takes many letters to make a name. Count the letters in Matthew's name with the class - 7 letters. Say the letters in Matthew: M-a-t-t-h-e-w. Then have the students say the letters with you. Point out that Matthew has two letters that are the same right next to each other, the letter t. Write the name Matthew on another sentence strip while the class watches you. Cut the letters apart and mix them up. Have students come up and arrange the letters in the right order, using the original sentence strip as a guide. Have the other students repeat the letters to make sure they are in the right order. Put Matthew's name on the bulletin board.

4. Give students a large sheet of drawing paper and have them write Matthew along the top. Model for the students how each letter is to be written. Don't worry if the way they write each letter isn't exactly right. Your objective in this lesson is to have the student understand that names are words, that words can be written, and that it takes multiple letters to make up a word. Have students draw a picture or write a message for Matthew on the drawing paper, and give Matthew the pictures and messages to take home.

Session 2: Who's Next?

Choose another name and go through the same procedure you followed in Session 1. The second day is about focusing on the new name and comparing it to the other. For example, if today's student of the day is Cindy, say the letters in Cindy and have the students repeat with you. Count the letters in Cindy and decide with the class which letter is first, which is last, etc. Write Cindy on another sentence strip and cut it into letters. Have the students come up and arrange the letters to spell Cindy. Put Cindy's name under Matthew's on the bulletin board. Have the students compare the two names: Which has the most letters? Do they have any letters that are the same? Matthew has how many more letters than Cindy? Have students write Cindy on drawing paper and write messages or draw pictures for Cindy to take home.

Hint: For one or more students with the same first name, write surnames or surname initials on the initial sheets of paper to distinguish between them. As subsequent students come up (for example, the second Matthew in the class), use the occasion to revisit some of what was discussed previously when the name Matthew came up, and to make new connections with other names that have been discussed since the first Matthew. You might also want to introduce the ideas of middle and/or last names, which are further words that help us to identify who is who.

Session 3: Pointing Out Letter Similarities

1. Pull out a third name - Melissa.

2. Go through the interview and book composition processes. Say the letters in Melissa. Write it down, cut it up, and arrange the letters. Point out that two of the letters in Melissa are the same as one another, as in Matthew.

3. Also, point out that Melissa and Matthew both begin with the same letter and have the same beginning sound. Have each student write Melissa on his or her paper and write messages/draw pictures for Melissa to take home.

Session 4: Discussing Short Words and Rhymes

1. Dan is the name that comes out today. Do the usual activities. When Dan goes on the bulletin board point out that Dan has the shortest name thus far.

2. At this point many of the students will be looking at their names and making their own comparisons. Many one-syllable names rhyme easily with other words. Help students listen for rhyming words. Say pairs of words, some of which rhyme and others that do not. If the words rhyme, then students should give a "thumbs up." If the words do not rhyme, then students should give the "thumbs down" sign. Create the art posters and messages for Dan to take home.

3. Have students notice that the D in Dan is an uppercase/capital letter. Ask the students if they remember another name with a d in it. Students should remember the d in Cindy; if not point this out to them. Tell them that the d in Cindy is a lowercase/small letter. Tell students that some letters look different when they are uppercase or lowercase, as the letter D just illustrated. Use the letter C as an example for letters that look the same in uppercase and lowercase form. As added reinforcement have the students access The Learning Planet to practice letter recognition individually or in pairs.

Session 5: Same Letters, Different Words

1. Perhaps this time Carol is the name pulled. Have students ask questions of the student of the day. Make sure students see that Carol and Cindy both start with the same letter c but have different sounds. Explain to the students that some letters, like c, can have different sounds.

2. Have Carol and Cindy stand up in front of the class. Repeat their names, elongating and stressing the initial c sound. Tell the class that you are going to say several words that all start with the letter c. They will point to either Carol or Cindy when the word said has the same sound as one of the names. Create the posters for Carol to take home.

Session 6+: Ongoing Sessions to Discuss All Names

Continue to pull out names, making connections to other names in the class, until everyone has had a chance to be student of the day.


  • Have students learn color names, animal names, or other concrete words using the above procedure.

  • Have students write or draw their favorite words or pictures on their pages in the Getting to Know You book.

  • Once students have had some practice matching letters to their sounds, challenge them to play the online ABC Match game, which has them match initial letters with pictures while also using their memory skills to remember which cards are where.

Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Have students identify various letters in uppercase and lowercase forms.

  • Using index cards or sentence strips, have students read and write the words they have studied.

  • Alphabet Recognition Rubric

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