What’s in a name? Yangsook Choi’s book about Korean-born Unhei and her journey to valuing her name is an amazing read-aloud for your elementary class. Beyond literacy-specific lesson plans that encourage different responses to literature, this story naturally lends itself to social-emotional learning lessons and explorations of your students’ own personalities and self-concepts. Elementary teachers can task students with delving deeply into what makes them, them through these unique prompt ideas, group activities, and other extension lessons.
1. What Makes Me Unique?
The Name Jar is an excellent book to utilize at the beginning of the year as part of an “All About Me” unit. One excellent group activity involves drawing an anchor chart with a giant jar. Children record attributes that make them unique on sticky notes to add to the jar!
Learn More: The Imagination Nook
2. “See, Think, Wonder”
This simple book activity is perfect for developing comprehension skills as students interact with The Name Jar. Children use the associated graphic organizers to respond to a “keyhole” snapshot from the book. They use a routine called “See, Think, Wonder” to share their initial thoughts, and then reflect after reading!
Learn More: Laura Lit Lab
3. Class Name Jar
If you’re reading Yangsook Choi’s book at the beginning of the school year, or if your class needs a reset, use this engaging, community-building activity. Create a large “name jar” anchor chart and then have children contribute sticky notes with traits of a positive classroom environment.
Learn More: Mom2punkerdoo
4. Peer Interviews
Extend The Name Jar activities into your friendship theme by encouraging students to create portraits of their friends, and then interview them! Peers can ask, “Does your name have a special meaning?” or “What is something others might not know about you?”. Include the interview answers in your display!
Learn More: Art Bar Blog
5. Wh- Questions
Co-create an anchor chart targeting question words who, what, when, where, why, and how with respect to The Name Jar. Work together to identify the main characters, setting, and other key details as you review the plot and seek out the lesson it teaches.
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6. Mystery Jar
After contributing to a whole-class name jar, have children create personal name jars where they write or draw unique attributes about themselves. The kicker is, they should not label their jars with their name! Let peers try to guess whose jar is whose based on the qualities included!
Learn More: Mom2punkerdoo TPT
7. The Story of My Name
Like Unhei in the book, you can inspire children to learn more about their names with this sweet writing activity. Children will interview their families or conduct research into the meaning of their names to share via this writing prompt. Integrate the visual arts by including a self-portrait too!
Learn More: Fun in Fourth
8. Story Elements and Characters Traits
Get this great printable from Sweet Integrations to help children organize their thoughts after your initial read-aloud. Children use the graphic organizers to map Yangsook Choi’s story elements, then analyze Unhei and her character traits. Follow up with some of the suggested, fun activities for further exploring names!
Learn More: Sweet Integrations
Let children’s creativity soar with this beautiful activity based on The Name Jar! Students incorporate their given name into this jar design, but can also add nicknames, adjectives, or doodles that they feel represent them. This activity is perfect for the first days of school or as a quick stand-alone activity.
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10. Word Art
Grab this fun arts-integration freebie activity for your students to use to reflect upon their own personalities. Children will explore a piece of word art created from adjectives that describe the artist. After considering this piece, children will create their own using the silhouettes provided. Frame them as a gift for students!
Learn More: Obsessed with Learning
11. Sensory Jars
A simple but fun sensory activity is making your own, literal name jars! Add letter beads or manipulatives to a liquid or gel base within a jar. This is a fun extension activity perfect for learners on the younger end of this book’s target audience!
Learn More: Preschool Inspirations
12. Name Recognition
Another simple activity for your youngest Name Jar readers is to pull and read names from a jar! Children can sort out their own names from the rest to practice their name recognition and counting skills. This is one of those fun-name activities that can be quickly prepped if you are short on time.
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13. Literature Companion
This comprehensive literature companion is chock-full of teaching ideas that cover areas such as exploring emotions, making text-to-real-world connections, reviewing syllabication and alphabetical order, and contributing to a class display. This resource also explores the main character’s nation of Korea, which is perfect for integrating social studies into your literacy block.
Learn More: Globe Trottin Kids
14. Graphic Organizers
The Name Jar’s poignant theme and author’s purpose are perfect for exploring with your students as you consider Yangsook Choi’s lovely story. Students can work individually to complete graphic organizers where they brainstorm their ideas, then contribute to a whole-class chart to practice collaborating and sharing thoughts.
Learn More: Laura Candler’s Teaching Resources
15. Boom Cards
These pre-made digital activities about The Name Jar are full of comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, and other virtual manipulatives. Use them as a quick comprehension check that children can complete independently, or complete the deck together after your read-aloud. Boom cards are always one of the most engaging activities because of their self-checking capabilities.
Learn More: L & I’s Learning Lab