Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation




Children will use the number of letters they have in their names to count and graph and then compare and contrast.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Data Analysis and Probabilty
  • Numbers and Operations
  • Measurement
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
  • Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems and processes of measurement
  • Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data
  • Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching & counting strategies
  • Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals
  • Directly compare two objects with a measureable attribute (letters in a name) in common, to see which object has “more of”/ “less of" the attribute, and describe the difference
  • Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them
Increase your knowledge
Print this lesson (PDF file)
Share with parents (Word DOC)
Comment on this lesson
Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • The book, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Index cards, 5 x 8
  • Markers
  • Easel
  • Large chart graphing paper to record collected data 

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Explain to the children that together you are going to read a story about a little mouse who has a very unique name.  Explain that each of us has a special name and we are going to use our names to solve some math problems.
  2. Ask children about their names. “What is special about your name?”,  “Is there someone else in your family who has the same name that you do?” “Can you tell us anything about your name?”
  3. Explain that the one thing that all of our names have in common is that all of our names are composed of a certain amount of letters. For example say: “My name is Stephanie and I have 9 letters in my name. S – t – e – p – h – a – n – i – e.”  While you spell out your name, hold up a finger to represent each of the letters of your name so that when you are finished spelling out your name, you are holding up the correct amount of fingers.
  4. Distribute the Index cards. One to each child. Ask them to print their name on the card. Some children might need help with the spelling of their names or with the formation of the letters in their names. For younger children, you can already have the child’s name printed on the index cards and you can ask the children to look at their names on the card.
  5. Ask the children what they notice about their names. You are looking for quantitative answers such as, “I have 3 letter S’s in my name,”  “My name has 4 letters.” Later we will be analyzing the data supplied by the letters in each of the children's names.
  6. Introduce the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Explain that together you will read a book about a little mouse with a big name. Her name is Chrysanthemum and she loved her name until she started school. There are many themes imbedded in this book, the most obvious one is bullying and respect. There are many cross-curricular teaching opportunities but for the sake of our math focus, try to keep the children’s focus on the length of the children’s name.  Ask: “Have you noticed that the name Chrysanthemum has A LOT of letters?”,  “I wonder if it was difficult to learn how to spell Chrysanthemum?” 
  7. Read the book. Pause when you come to the part of the book where the name is written out on an envelope.
    • Book reads  “Chrysanthemum loved the way her name looked when it was written with ink on an envelope. She loved the way it looked when it was written with icing on her birthday cake.”
    • Ask: “Let’s see just how many letters Chrysanthemum has in her name. Can anyone make a guess before we started to count?” As you count the letters, point to each letter as you count, reinforcing one-to-one correspondence.  Say: “Wow!  13 letters in her name. Ask: Do any of you have 13 letters in your name? Can anyone think of a name that also has 13 letters?”
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Explain to the children that they will now investigate their own names. Say: “Everyone look at your names. Ask: How many letters does your name have?” Have the children write the number of letters on the other side of their index card so that their name is on one side of the card and the number of letters is on the other side.
  2. Categorize the children into groups according to the number of letters in their name. Say: “Everyone who has 2 letters in their name, please stand up and sit in a group over here.” And so on until all of the children are in a group.  There may be only one child in a group and you may not have any children for certain numbers (for example, you may not have any children who have 5 letters in their name).
  3. Chart their names. On the graph paper on your easel (this activity also makes a cute bulletin board!), graph the children’s names according to the letters in their names. Title the graph, Our Name Graph. Across the bottom label with numbers going from 0 to the largest number in your class. Then, have the children come up as you call the numbers and glue their name going up the side. Say: “All of you who have 2 letters in your name, please come up with your index cards and place your card in the space next to the number 2.”  Again, continue this until all the children’s named Index cards are up on the graph.
  4. Compare and examine the collected data. Look at the graph and ask questions that use the vocabulary the most, more than, less than, the least, the same. For example ask: “Who’s name has the most letters?’,  “Does David have more or less letters than Amy?”, “Which names have the same amount of letters?”
  5. Extend the Activity by identifying, counting and sorting by letters. For example, you can count the numbers of vowels each person has in their names. Or, you can count the amount of syllables each person has in their name.  Again, all of this data can be recorded and displayed in the classroom. This is an activity that you can build upon as the children’s skills increase and it ties into many other subject areas.

Additional Extensions

  • Once the children are able to identify vowels within their alphabet, they can count, compare and record the number of vowels each person has in his/her name.
  • This activity is a wonderful introduction to Syllabication. You can have the children clap out the number of syllables in their name and again, compare and record. 
  • This can also be a special Home Project. Children can interview their parents, siblings and other relatives asking them the correct spelling of their names and then together, they can count the number of letters in each of their family member’s names. The children bring this information back to school and construct a Family Tree and organize their family members in numerical order according to the amount of letters in their name.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • More – A value that is higher or greater in number (e.g., "Sally has more letters in her name than Ted, Jane and Amy.")
  • Fewer – A value that is smaller in number (e.g., "Ed has fewer letters in his name than Sally.")
  • Greatest amount – Largest amount; the one with the most (e.g., "Chrysanthemum has the greatest amount of letters in her name.")
  • Equal – To be the same in number or amount (e.g., "Jane and Noah have an equal amount of letters in their name.")
  • Numeral – The symbol used to represent a number of “how many” (e.g., "The numeral “5” represents how many letters there are in the name Brian.")
  • Data – Information we collect (e.g., "The numbers of letters in our names is an example of data.")
  • Graph – The tool we use to display our data so that everyone can see it and understand it

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Not know how to spell out their own names.
  • Not have one-to-one correspondence.
  • Not be able to recognize all their numbers or letters.
Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Be able to identify vowels in the alphabet.
  • Be able to identify syllables within words.
  • Have a working knowledge of letters and how to form their letters and may be able to use invented spelling to write the names of family members and friends.

Home child care providers may:

  • Provide assistance when children are counting the letters in their name.
  • Write the number of letters that are in the child’s name on the back of their index card.
  • Help the child read and recognize letters in their name.


Home child care providers may:

  • Provide opportunities for the children to sort and count the letters in their name based on vowels and consonants. 
  • Help the children to identify the syllabication patterns in their names by clapping out the beats in their names and allowing the children to notice that each of the beat is a syllable. 
  • Help the children to count the syllables in not only their names but in other objects in their environement.


Books Books
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2007)
  • Crisantemo by Kevin Henkes (Everest De Ediciones Y Distribucion, 2008 [Spanish version of the book])
Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • This activity can be taken outside to a place where there are a variety of flowers. The flower does not necessarily need to be a Chrysanthemum.
    • Looking at several types of flowers, children can count the petals of the flowers and graph that data. For example: Rose has 16 petals, Daisy has 10 petals etc. Compare and contrast the flowers using the recorded data.
    • Children can also sort flowers according to color and then graph that information. For example: There are 4 yellow flowers, 7 red flowers etc. Compare and contrast the flowers using the recorded data.
Explore links Web Resources




Empty speech bubbleComment on this lesson




To report a problem with the site, please email us.

© 2011. M.A.T.H.