While we are working on learning to read, my son has to learn to spell the most important word he will need in today's world: his own name. He has a rather long name (8 letters), but he can do it. I have scoured Pinterest and the Internet in general and have found some practical and inexpensive games. The pics are below.
The first is Stamping the Letters in his name. For this activity, you need paint and alphabet cookie cutters. This activity does little for ordering the letters in a name initially. To start, it is basically for learning the letter names. Each time he stamps, call the letter name. Then later, this activity can be modified to order the lettters by putting the letters at the top of the page and allowing the child to "copy." Next, the child can be encourage to stamp his own name with you calling the letters for him. Finally, he can do it alone.
The second is Bottle Cap Names. I love this on and will likely start with it for a few reasons. It requires me to spend $0 cash. Second, it is simple to make. Third, it requires very few other skills for the child that could distract from the purpose. I also like the differentiation made possible by simply making a two cards: one with the letters in the circles and one without.
The third is Name Stegosaurus. I like this activity, but I don't have any foam dinosaurs or clothespins laying around. I also wonder how well the foam letters stick to the clothespins. Additionally, my son has a fairly long name and I don't know how well it would fit on the dinosaur. Finally,the clothespins are an issue themselves. They require motor skills that my son may not have yet, distracting from my purpose and I am 99% sure he will break the clothespins, leaving that little silver piece as a choking hazard.
I love the creativity and fun of using a dinosaur though. So I have brainstormed some solutions. I could use a bigger dinosaur and old fashioned clothespins. I could write the letters on the clothespins too.
Finally, I liked the idea of making a name picture puzzle from a photo and craft sticks. I think I would use ModgePodge to make it more sturdy though or even to transfer the image. This is a more advanced activity because it is does not have the matching component. It does however self check. If you spell it wrong, the picture will not look right.
The second activity is most focused. The third one has fine motor skills as a distraction. The last one has the picture as a distraction. In fact, for the picture puzzle, the child doesn't even have to look at the letters to put the sticks in order, but the other two are more fun!
We will likely start with the first two. The first one because my son likes to paint and the second because it is very focused.
Let's be clear, these are wonderful spelling activities for spelling words too!
Here are some more resources