Every morning my students sign in as part of their morning routine. Students are learning right when they get in the classroom! Their morning routine is to put their items in their cubbies, say bye to their family, answer the question of the day, sign in, and do the morning activity on the table. You can read more about how I do Question of the Day HERE.
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In August, my sign-in sheets are blank. We are just practicing our morning routine and building confidence in writing or scribbling our names. I want students (and parents) to be proud of however they are writing their name even if it is a scribble. Scribbles are meaningful!
It is also a way for me to collect their first name sample for their portfolios and assess where each student is at in regards to writing their name.
Once I have assessed where each student is at, I can create a daily sign that is at each student’s own individual level. Here is a sample of how sign in sheets might look in August. I have a multi-age class with 3, 4, and 5-year-olds. Kids are tracing the first letter in their name, tracing their name in uppercase or lowercase, and writing their name with a model.
What do you do if a child doesn’t recognize his/her name? My favorite trick is to make their name a different color or put a sticker by it (they would need to have the same sticker by their name every day). Levi and Declan are an example of kids who do not recognize their names yet. Just so you know, these are not my real sign-in sheet from my class. I made up these sign-in sheets for this post.
I know that everyone has different opinions about the order to teach children how to write their names. Above is the order I teach students to write their names based on current research and my own teaching experiences. And yes, I teach students to write their names in all capital letters first. A quick bit why…the world they see is mostly in all capital letters (aka environmental print), and capital letters are easier to write and require less fine motor strength. I do teach my students to write their names in lowercase when they are ready.
At the end of each month, I put out blank sign-in pages for a few days to see what students can do without a model or support. For example, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I will put out a blank sign-in sheet. Then on Thursday and Friday, I will put out the sign-in sheets I created for them with their names and various supports. I save the blank pages and the sign-in pages I made with supports for the whole week. Typically I toss the pages from the previous day each morning. Then I look over the name samples to reassess students and keep one name sample for their portfolios. I make adjustments to the sign-in sheets based on each student’s growth and print them off for the next month. I print and/or copy a month of sign in sheets at a time. I staple them together, making it easy to rip off the one from the previous day and have a new one ready to go each morning.
I add pencil grips to the pencils I use for signing in after about a month or so. These pencil grips are from The Pencil Grip, and they are my favorite! The grips are squishy and comfortable to hold for students. They have three different kinds of grips. My kids’ favorite was The Crossover Grip because they pretended the top was a superhero cape! It helped them place their fingers on the pencil. They would say, “I’m using my superhero grip.” Grips provide training for kids to use a solid tripod grasp. It guides them to hold their pencil in the correct position and stops fingers from crossing over. I’m super excited to be giving away a set to one of you! Don’t forget to enter at the bottom of the post!
Sign-in sheets can get boring for some students. Make it fun by putting out various writing tools for them to use. Skinny markers, pipsqueak markers, pens or glitter crayons will add some spark to your sign in table. The pencil grips work great on skinny markers too!
Sign-in sheets are NOT just for signing in the morning! Use them all over your classroom to provide students with meaningful reasons to write their names all day long. Do you have a new activity, game, or center that everyone wants to play? Keep a stack of blank sign-in sheets to use as a waitlist for any popular activity or game in your classroom.
I always have a sign-in sheet at the computer with a pencil grip.
My tablet has a sign-in sheet next to it too. They won’t even realize they are practicing their names! If a child is scribbling, you can write their name tiny after they walk away. It usually only takes me a week or so to be able to “read” their scribbles. Each child has their own way of making their name scribble. I have had kids just make circles, zigzags, and lines for their name scribble.
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Don’t forget to pin this for later too!