Empowering Writers

September 2017 Lesson of the Month

What! August already? Where did the summer go? Many of you do not begin your school year until September, but we all know that it takes weeks to get ready for the new year. As you begin planning for 2017-2018, remember, two new writing lessons (one intermediate elementary and one K-1) will be sent to you each month in your inbox. Many of the lessons are adaptable for multiple grade levels. Plus, you can find all prior newsletter lessons, archived online. AND, on top of the newsletter, be mindful that here at Empowering Writers, we are always available to help. You can email us through the website or email one of the trainers presenting at a workshop. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we will certainly ask and find a solution. Good luck to you all and “HAPPY WRITING!”


This month’s lesson is based on the book, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, about a little girl with a Korean name. There are many other great books about names to use if The Name Jar is not available – My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry, My Name is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry, My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee, The Change Your Name Store by Leanne Shirtliffe, or Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. With one of these books in mind as a jumping-off point, this month’s lesson will require each student to embrace their own name. They will use first-hand evidence to learn the foundation of their name. Plus, a few optional ideas to use with the “Name” theme are available at the end of this lesson.

The Overview:

After sharing a book about names with the students, they will inquire about and examine their own name. They will be asked to find out information about their name from a parent, grandparent or other relative.

Here’s what you’ll do:

1) First, read and discuss a book about a name, either from the above list or from a favorite book in your own library. For example, share The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. While reading this book, besides talking about the little girl’s name, discuss respect for one another, diversity and cultural sensitivity.

2) After reading with the students, talk about the names of students in the class. Ask if they know why their name is special, where their name came from, if they were named after someone special, or if their name was only because it was a favorite.

3) For homework, have each student ask their parents or grandparents why they were named _____? The next day in class, have the students write a short informative piece about why their name was chosen for them.


There may be students in the class who are adopted, or children that don’t live with a relative that would know about their name. If you have students with varying circumstances, let them choose from the optional ideas to create a writing sample.

4) Let students also add a sentence or two about why they are special, sharing some of their talents and/or hobbies.

5) If The Name Jar book was used as the jumping off point, the students can write their final copy on the “jar” template available with this lesson. Click here for the Jar Template.

Optional Ideas:

  1. Have students research the Meaning, Origin, and History of their name.
  2. Let students look up their name in another language (Spanish, French, Latin, German, etc.).
  3. Find famous people with the same name.
  4. Write and say your name in “pig Latin”. Let the students listen to their name spoken by an online translator.