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Name Cakes

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A name recognition activity

Helping your toddler or preschooler learn to recognise their own name will certainly help them become more independent, especially if they are starting in a school setting soon. This play dough cake activity came off the back of our previously posted Magnetic Name Match activity and was all led by Miss 3 herself…

So yesterday, I presented Z with the name match and she began today requesting the same activity. After a while, she requested to make ‘cakes’ instead. Z put out the muffin cases and squished in the play dough herself, then stamped in the letters that made her name.

I did the top line of her name, then she followed suit with the rest. Afterwards she decorated them with tiny beads which helped her start to process the formation of each letter. She played for at least 30 minutes, which is a big win – I always find that the child let activities get way more engagement than those led by me. Children tend to know exactly what they want!


  • Play dough
  • Muffin tin (if the name is short enough!)
  • Muffin cases
  • Beads

Key Benefits

  • Building strength in hands and fingers with play dough manipulation
  • Boosting fine motor skills and pincer grip by picking up the beads
  • Early introduction to letter and name recognition
  • Sensory experience from the scents of the play dough.
  • Language development / phonological awareness- talking about the sounds each letter makes

Age recommendation

You can try the letter squish from the age of two – this isn’t the first time Z has made letter (or number) cakes so she was familiar with that part. I’d recommend the beads from 3 – they can be quite fiddly so a good pincer grip and fine motor development is needed first. If you’re child isn’t there yet, you could also try pompoms or cheerios instead.

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is the founder of Teach Investigate Play. She helps parents navigate the early years by providing meaningful and simple activities. She also owns 'Get Set Social Media' - a social media consultancy for small businesses. From the UK, now living in Vienna (via Australia). About page has more!

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