Learning Family Names

Posted In: All posts, Writing

The schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy are world renowned for their approach to early childhood education. I had an opportunity to attend a study tour of the Reggio schools and was deeply inspired by their philosophy behind classroom design. One important element to take into consideration when creating a learning environment is the writing center. I while I was there I took note of the following idea…

A family and friend “name chest” is a great addition to a writing area, whether it is at home or in school. I started this activity by asking the girls to help me make a list of all the people in our family we may want to write to. Next, I printed names on Avery labels and asked the girls to help me put the stickers on this tool chest. Once all the drawers were labeled I gave the girls extra copies of the of the name stickers to place inside the drawers. This was a great experience in letter and word recognition as the girls tried to match the names on the labels with the corresponding names on the drawers. Next, we attached family photos so that the names would be easily recognizable.

The moment I placed the name chest in our writing area, the girls started joyfully generating letters to various friends and family!

Resources & Materials

Letter Paper: Stage I
Letter Paper: Stage II
Letter Paper: Stage III




With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.


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  1. Where are the printed phrases kept (e.g. “I Love You”)? What was your process for printing and storing those, or did you just ask your kids what they wanted to say and help them type it into the label maker?

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