Here is an idea for a mini inquiry in Social Studies. Children learn about their own names as well as their classmates’ names. This inquiry leads to better understanding of each others’ cultures and development of  world view.

Read The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Talk about the importance of names in Families, the Communities and larger communities. Co-construct a list of questions the students have about their own names, on chart paper.

Title –What do you know about your name?

Sample questions:

  • Who am I named after?
  • What if we all had the same name?
  • What does my name mean?
  • Does everyone have a middle name?
  • Do all our names put together  cover all the letters in the alphabet?
  • Have you ever been teased about your name?
  • Why would someone tease you about your name?

You might add a question of your own to push them deeper, but try to let the children ask as many of the questions as possible.

Bring in a variety of baby name books and have children look up their names. Get parents involved, ask them to explain why they chose the name they did, what is the significance of the name…

An extension for grade two and three would be to inquire into whom streets, communities/cities are named after and why. Why were these people or words important enough to that community to name something after them?

Click here if you want to take the Name Jar Inquiry even further!

Other picture books I have found about names include:

  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • A Name For A Metis by Deborah L. Delaronde (available as a class set in CMC )
  • My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee
  • Eleanor, Ellatony, Ellencake, and me / by C.M. Rubin
  • Josephina Hates Her Name by Diana Engle
  • The Name Quilt / Phyllis Root
  • A porcupine named Fluffy / Helen Lester
  • Matthew A.B.C. by Peter Catalanotto
  • White Bead Ceremony: Mary Greyfeather Gets Her Native American Name is written by Sherrin Watkins
  • The Secret of Your Name by David Bouchard (as a read aloud)