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Celebrating Identity with The Name Jar Activities for the Classroom

The Name Jar follows Unhei as she moves from South Korea to America and grapples with maintaining her identity in a new environment. As Unhei navigates the complexities of fitting in while preserving her Korean heritage, the narrative reveals themes of belonging, self-awareness, and the power of embracing one’s true self. The Name Jar activities in this post include problem-solving, inference, and sequencing activities.

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The Name Jar Summary

The Name Jar book follows the story of Unhei (pronounced ‘Yoon-hye’), who moves from South Korea to America. She starts her first day at her new school, but her unique name becomes a source of teasing on the bus.

When asked to introduce herself, Unhei hesitates and claims she has yet to choose an American name. This prompts her classmates to help her by creating a ‘name jar’ filled with suggestions.

The name jar mysteriously vanishes on the day she is to reveal her new name. Undeterred, Unhei announces her decision to keep her given name, expressing her acceptance and love for her Korean identity.

The Name Jar Activities

The Name Jar activities promote understanding and discussion around belonging, self-awareness, and tolerance.

This post focuses on cause and effect, making inferences, and drawing connections activities.

The Name Jar Read-Aloud Questions

The Name Jar questions are designed to enhance students’ reading comprehension and encourage them to consider the implications of Unhei’s experiences on their own lives and perceptions of identity.

  1. Who is the main character in The Name Jar, and what problem does she face?
  2. Why did Unhei decide not to tell her classmates her name on the first day of school?
  3. What is the significance of the “name jar”? What purpose does it serve?
  4. How do Unhei’s feelings about her name change throughout the story? What causes these changes?
  5. Why do you think Unhei decided to keep her Korean name?
  6. How does Unhei’s relationship with her classmates evolve throughout the story?
  7. What role does Joey play in the story? How does his attitude toward Unhei and her culture affect her?
  8. How does the story illustrate the theme of cultural diversity and acceptance?
  9. How do the reactions of Unhei’s classmates to her name make her feel, and why?
  10. What would you do if you were in Unhei’s situation? Why?

activity pack includes over 80 The Name Jar questions to use before, during, and after reading the book. Here are some questions you can ask before reading the book.

Cause and Effect Through The Name Jar Activities

The story presents several instances of cause and effect. For instance, Unhei’s decision not to reveal her name on the first day causes her classmates to create the name jar.

Unhei’s Decision to Hide Her Name: Unhei’s decision not to reveal her name on her first day at school causes her classmates to create the “name jar”.
Activity: Ask students to list other possible effects of Unhei’s decision to hide her name.

Creation of the Name Jar: The creation of the name jar leads to Unhei considering whether to adopt an American name.
Activity: Have students discuss or write about alternative scenarios if the name jar hadn’t been created. 

Joey’s Discovery of Unhei’s Real Name: Joey’s discovery of Unhei’s real name and his decision to respect it influences Unhei’s final decision.
Activity: Students can debate or write about how the story would have changed if Joey hadn’t discovered Unhei’s real name. 

Unhei’s Decision to Keep Her Name: Unhei’s decision to keep her original name affects how her peers perceive and accept her.
Activity: Ask students to predict how Unhei’s school experience might change after this decision by inferring future events.

Educational poster illustrating cause and effect scenarios for student learning activities.
Click on the images to explore cause and effect activities for The Name Jar.

The Name Jar Making Connections Activities

The Name Jar activities emphasize making connections, encouraging students to relate Unhei’s experiences to their own, to other literature, and to the world.

Cultural Diversity: The book showcases a variety of cultural backgrounds, which students can connect to their own experiences or those of people they know.
Activity: Have students research their own names – their meanings, origins, and why they were chosen.

Identity and Acceptance: Unhei’s struggle with her identity is a theme many students can relate to, fostering text-to-self connections.
Activity: Ask students to write a short reflective piece about a time they struggled with self-acceptance and how they overcame it. This task strengthens understanding of the theme as your students reflect on personal experiences.

New Environments: Unhei’s experience in a new school in a different country can be connected to experiences of starting something new.
Activity: Invite students to discuss a time when they were new to a place or a group and how they felt. This will help them understand and empathize with Unhei’s feelings and develop their critical thinking skills as they interpret their own experiences.

Problem-Solution: The book’s narrative structure, presenting a problem and its resolution, can be connected to similar structures in other texts.
Activity: Encourage students to identify a problem-solution pattern in another book they’ve read and compare it to The Name Jar.

An educational worksheet titled "making connections" featuring sections for text-to-self connections, with a promotional banner stating "free bridging worlds: making connections with the name jar.
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The Name Jar Inference Activities

The Name Jar is suited for teaching inference as it offers situations where the characters’ thoughts and feelings are implied rather than explicitly stated, encouraging students to “read between the lines”.

Unhei’s Feelings About Her Name: Unhei’s discomfort with her name is hinted at but not directly stated.
Activity: Ask students to find evidence in the text that suggests how Unhei feels about her Korean name. 

Classmates’ Attitude Towards Unhei: The classmates’ reactions to Unhei’s unique name can be inferred from their behaviour.
Activity: Have students discuss or write about how Unhei’s classmates might feel about her different name and why.

Joey’s Actions: Joey’s actions reveal his feelings towards Unhei and her situation.
Activity: Students can write a paragraph analyzing Joey’s actions and what they suggest about his character. 

Unhei’s Decision: Unhei’s final decision to keep her name implies a newfound confidence and acceptance of her identity.
Activity: Ask students to infer what led to Unhei’s decision to keep her name and how this might affect her future interactions.

Educational worksheets on making inferences titled "reading between the lines: the name jar.
Click on the images to explore inference activities for The Name Jar.

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