The Name Jar

Title: The Name Jar
Author: Yangsook Choi
ISBN: 9780440417996          Language: English

Classification: Fiction
Themes: cultural differences, identity, friendship

What’s it about?
This is a story about a young girl name Unhei who moves to America with her family. She is worried that the children in her class will not be able to pronounce her name and so begins a name jar – where the other children write name suggestions and pop them in the jar. One boy though isn’t sure why she won’t just use her name and offers a hand of friendship in the most endearing of ways.

I love the fact that this books addresses the feelings that children from non-English speaking backgrounds face when moving to a new country and having to deal with the constant wrongful pronunciation of their names. There are no villains in this story as the story focuses solely on Unhei and how she is feeling.

I wish the book wasn’t set in America – it might have been far more effective for it to be indicated that Unhei’s family moved to an English-speaking country in general so as to be more relateable to the rest of the countries.

My Recommendation…
This is an easy to use book that I recommend for the beginning of the year. It is a stepping stone to teaching a class about diversity and differences in cultures. I usually do an activity associated with the book where children mark on a map where they were born and then mark on the same map where their name originates from – it is always interesting to look at the results and makes for data collection to be used for graphing in math.

The Name Jar


Get to know the author



A Banquet

7 Wonders clipart (c) Phillip Martin

I have blogged before about my love of ancient civilisations. I love history and love to teach about it.

While digging through an old file (as I slow organise and burn them to CD) I came across some photos from a few years ago.

I taught in this particular composite 6/7 class for one term. They were a fairly sheltered bunch in the sense they attended a very small school and had limited exposure to different teachers – including teaching technique, style and expectations. I never apologise for the fact I have high expectations of students – how else will they challenge themselves?

The piece of work I am going to discuss was a part of an Ancient Civilisations unit. The earlier post was about the dioramas (CLICK HERE to read that one) they created. Each student did a research project that required them to find out about the general culture of the civilisations they were asked to research – this they presented as a PowerPoint but I kept none as 99.9% of all content was cut and pasted from the Internet (despite each one taking notes and despite discussing with them about keywords and plagiarism!).

Based on the information they gathered about food they needed to design a banquet/feast and an invitation. The invitation and menu were meant to be a matching set and the food did need to be authentic to the country. In the lead up we had already looked a lot at colours, design elements and evaluated other invitations and menus.

I must say that overall I was disappointed with the results. I had completed 3 examples to demonstrate different techniques but to be honest, this class just were not use to putting in effort. They were so accustomed to meeting their regular teacher’s standard (I mean meeting = the bare minimum to pass) that they feel well short of a grade 6 or 7 standard. Many of the students found their first year of high school (at a nearby town much larger) the following year extremely difficult due to the low-standard and expectations of quality and effort which did not come up to scratch at the larger school.

Back however to the results. I had planned for this task to be completed in a two week period allowing for art, design and technology, and computing lessons – a total of 3 per week (6 lessons in total of 45 mins each). It should have been plenty!

Here are the best of the bunch (some details have been erased for privacy reasons)….

This grade 7 student got the matching
part correct, included all necessary details,
and the theme resembled her civilisation.
Ancient Civilisation Menu by a grade 7.
Simple and complete.
Grade 6 invitation.
This was a Viking theme.
Grade 6 menu.
This was also based on the Viking theme

Book Week 2015 Is Almost Here!


Books graphic
(c) MyCuteGraphics

Yes, it is already AUGUST!

Can you believe how quickly it has come? Me neither, but Book Week is just a couple of weeks away!

This year the week is from Saturday, 22nd August until Friday, 28th August. What makes this year special is that The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is celebrating 70 years! I know I always looked forward to Book Week when I was in school and while I haven’t seen the library transformations like when I was a kid I am sure there are librarians and library assistants working hard to ensure they create an super-engaging environment for the students!

I have so far blogged about 6 of the nominated books – it seemed like more – but I have pinned more on my Pinterest account (Scary Night activities are my latest on there). I am unsure how many more activity blogs I will be able to write. There are a couple of fiction books I have had a lot of trouble tracking down and other books (especially for older readers) have limited “to go” activities on the Internet. I will however endeavour to add more!

In the meanwhile, I would like to offer something for FREE. I have available three sets of bunting you might like to display in your library or classroom to celebrate this year’s theme of “Books Light Up Our World”. I would appreciate if you could say “Thanks” by leaving some feedback.

Here are some samples of the three sets…Click any one to download from TPT.

65 Roses: Music Review

Song: 65 Roses
Artist: The Wolverines
Year: 2002
Nationality: Australian

disease, science, perspective

What’s it about?
65 Roses tells the story from the point of view of a young boy. His parents sit him down and tell him how his sister has got ’65 roses’. He can’t understand why his sister is getting 65 roses that makes it hard for her to breathe, tried and generally so ill she can’t play with him. As the song progresses it is revealed that his sister suffered from cystic fibrosis and it was only when he was older that he understood about the ’65 roses’.

The lyrics are very simple to understand and when the music clip is viewed is brings the message to a new level. As the young boy is “telling” the story it makes the seriousness of the disease less confronting than it might otherwise be.

Not all of The Wolverines songs are appropriate for children! I strongly recommend only purchasing “65 Roses” to use.

My Thoughts
There are lots of learning opportunities based on this song…

* It would be interesting to play the video without sound to the students first to see what they think it was about.

* Then pose the question of: How can 65 roses make someone so ill they have to stay in bed?

* Finally have the students record their thoughts about a why the boy thought what he did.

* Students might even share a time when they were younger and did not fully understand a situation or moment. 


You can purchase the song for a small fee on iTunes.

The only copy of the music clip I have been able to locate is on YouTube.



Learn more about The Wolverines on their official site.

Learn more about cystic fibrosis on the Cystic Fibrosis Australia website.

Day After Day

One of the first things we learn about are the names of the days of the week. This is usually closely following by the order of the days and finally how to spell them!

As the English names can be a bit on the dull side this week I turned my attention to my Japanese resources. I have created a series of both posters and cards that feature the days of the week in Hiragana, Kanji and English and have a matching picture to represent the Kanji word meaning.

Finding easy to understand View Post