I always love it when I can find a fantastic book that ties to exactly what I want to teach! The picture book, The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi is a new favorite of mine.
This particular book has many wonderful lessons. It lends itself so well to the back to school focus on building classroom community. The teacher, Mr. Cocotos, has clearly established a supportive and comfortable classroom community before the main character Unhei arrives as a new student from Korea.
One way to jump off this book is to have fun with the jar theme. It so simple too! First, create a large chart with an empty jar on it. Give students sticky notes and ask them to name things that help make a positive classroom community like the one in the story. Use this to start a discussion on what your classroom agreements will be for the school year and how your goal is to create an environment like the one Mr. Cocotos established that helped Unhei feel welcome in both her new school and her new country.
The unit includes a graphic organizer for students to record class ideas.
Another fun way to extend the jar theme and to help your students get to know each other the first few weeks of school is to give them a blank jar and have them fill it with words or pictures that symbolize their identity. To make it extra fun, make sure they don't include their names anywhere on the front. Then, have the classmates try to guess which jar belongs to which student! This could be a fun display for parents to try and guess which jar belong to their child at back to school night too!
Option: Make this a technology training lesson. Have students add clip art into the jar!
These are just a few ways to use The Name Jar to help build your positive classroom community at the start of a new school year. If you are interested in the seeing additional activities I have designed to go with this book please click the image below to see a preview of the unit in my TPT store.
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