How about having a "note-passing" time among your students? I did this last year with my 6th graders as a positive way to respond to the note-passing happening in my classroom. I told them that I noticed how much they loved to write to each other, so I was going to allow them to continue---but with a catch.
My students had to use the friendly letter format, which we had already learned, on paper that I passed out. I allowed them about 10 minutes at the end of the day to write their letters to each other, and then I collected them after they were read. Of course, guidelines were established to curb inappropriate discussions.
My students were very eager to engage in writing notes to each other and looked forward to responding to their notes. In fact, knowing that we "might have time" at the end of the day motivated them to stay on task.
This year, I hope to have a mailbox set up in my classroom (I have yet to find a small one) and allow the kids to keep the friendly letters going :)
Kids always enjoy writing letters! Here's a collection of ideas to use when having your students write their own letters.
I have taught 1st graders how to write a friendly letter. I've found it helpful that they write using authentic experiences, and thank you notes are a good place to begin. We've written dozens of thank you notes to the people of our school- janitors, cafeteria workers, and former teachers for the good work that they've done.
In the beginning, I've found it useful to number the various lines on the primary paper to assist them in formatting their papers. For example, #1 corresponds to the date, #2 corresponds to the greeting, etc. That way, they don't lose their place in copying off the board, or forget the placement of parts of a letter when they do their work independently.
Also, we plan on writing postcards for a US postcard exchange.
I wish you the best of luck.
This is what I used.
Head = Heading
Hand = Greeting (shaking someone's hand to greet them)
Belt = Body
Foot = Closing (like you're going out the door)Toe = Signature ( toe print)
I have attached the entire plan I used as well - it includes the template I used. Hope it helps. :o
is an excellent book to introduce letter writing--just don't let the kids handle it if you want it to last!
I did the following earlier this year to intro basic friendly letter format:
Let's pretend that your mom was at home with your dad one night and she heard a knocking sound. She'd want to know where it was coming from. When someone gets a letter it's just like knocking on their door, so you need to tell them where it is coming from (return address). Then your mom would roll over in bed and look at the clock to see what time it was. If it was a letter your mom would look to see when it was written. Next, your mom hears someone calling to her, "Dear Mom!" Now she would know that whoever is at the door wanted to talk with her, not your dad. A letter always has a greeting to let the reader know who they want to talk to, too. Next, you mom hears the voice say, "It's snowing outside!" Now your mom knows what the person wanted to tell her (the message/body), but she still doesn't know which one of her kids woke her up to tell her that is was snowing, since the kid is still hiding behind her door. The kid calls, "Love," (like saying goodbye just before you close the door--the closing) and then the kid tells her which one of the kids he is, "John". (the signature) After this silly little story, we acted it out with different messages before moving on to writing one together on a chart tablet.
Here are some stories that are written like friendly letters.
Yours Truly, Goldilocks
Dear Peter Rabbit
With Love, Little Red Hen
Dear Mr. Blueberry
I have a friendly letter in a center that they have to put together.
Also, when we are talking about the parts of the letter, I tell them to think of their body. First comes the heading (think of their head on top) then you greet someone(think of waving your hand). Then come the body (think of your body next). Then your closing (think of always saying goodbye when you leave someone). Then the signature (you always sign your name). This may sound corny, but corny works for my kids---they remember.
I've done this with k and 1 students. I make it a very structured kind of center. Students are given a range of materials they can use to write letters, plus a sample of what the envelope needs to look like. In our class they write during centers time. I have a post office set up where they can "buy" stamps, paper and envelopes. Later in the year we do away with that piece and put the stamps, etc. at the writing center.
Rules for the center include writing positive things to others and we talk about what that might look like and why we do it. The letters must have an address AND a return address or they will not be delivered. This prevents anyone from writing a poison pen letter. Any letter that doesn't have this information goes in the dead letter office (trash can). Letters are mailed in our class letter box and a student cancels the stamps and delivers them to the kids' mailboxes. I use the stickers that come with those magazine subscription order forms as stamps because my students can't read them. If you have older students you might have to resort to stickers or go stampless.
Having my students write letters has been a great incentive to writing in general. They love to do it and it improves their skills. This fall I hope to add a computer and printer to the writing area so they can type a letter once in a while.
My fifth grade students learned to write business letters this past week. I used the "World of Language" textbook to teach the proper format. They identified the parts, as taught by the textbook. We did the exercises on that first day.
The second day, I brought in a catalog which I received in the mail from Dell Computers. The catalog was filled with various electronic products, including digital cameras, computer games, PC's, etc. I gave the students a sheet which had lines on it where they were to write the parts of the letter as they composed it. I felt that this helped them remember to write the heading and inside address, particularly. I told them that they were to write a pretend letter to Dell Computers, asking that they contact them about technical support for problems they were having with a product they bought. They were to identify the product number, which they could find on the catalog page. (I photocopied several pages out of the book and passed them out to each group to use.) The kids enjoyed this activity.
Once we finished this project, I told them that they could pick ANY business of their choice. We reviewed correct letter writing format, then I let them write their letter. They could write a letter of complaint (I had to emphasize politeness), or a letter of compliments for a product of service that they used. Students chose stores, like Bath & Body Works, Hershey Foods, or Wal-Mart. I did this last year, too, and the kids loved receiving a real letter reply back from the companies. Some sent coupons and/or product samples.
I hope your kids enjoy this experience.
I have a great way to introduce letter-writing skills. I write an immaginary letter from the mud daubers on construction paper (they are insects that build nests in our class, and the kids always freak out over them flying everywhere) telling the class to calm down when they are in the room, that they are just trying to learn about what Miss X (me) is teaching them, etc. Then I cut the letter into the five parts, like a puzzle. We all sit on the floor and I tell them about these pieces I found, we put it together, and I go over the parts of a letter. Then I glue the pieces onto a large piece of tagboard with the parts labeled to hang in the room for reference. I re-enforce the skills every day in my morning message to the class.
The kids think it's silly, but cute. My favorite year was when we had a roach problem in our bathroom, and the roaches wrote a letter -- they were outraged that the kids kept bothering them in their home. One of my friends has a classroom cat, and she had the cat "type" a letter on the computer. The kids absolutely believed that the cat had typed a letter!
I love to introduce letter writing using the book Letters From Felix. In the book, Felix (a stuffed rabbit) writes letters to his owner about all of the different places around the world he is visiting. The envelope is glued to the page. You can talk about how he correctly addressed the envelope. When you look inside, Felix has written you a letter and sometimes includes a picture. Students really love to see an "actual" letter from Felix. That leads them to write a response to Felix.
A friend once shared this idea for teaching the parts of a letter. Draw a man with a top hat and coat. Label his hat "Date" because the man is getting ready for a date. Label his mouth "Greeting" because he has to think of something to say when he sees his girlfriend. Label his coat "Body" for all that they will talk about. The "Closing" is used on his shoes because he walks her to her door and must say goodbye. The "Signature" can be footsteps walking away.
Really cute! Hope this helps!
This takes a lot of work on your part but kids really get into this. I have each of my 57 students write me a letter and tell me about them and they can ask me questions. Then I handwrite each one of them a letter back and ask them questions. They then respond to me.
It takes several hours but the questions that they ask are so funny.
eg: If you were a student now, who would be your favorite teacher?
When you were little and I know it might be hard to remember since it was so long ago, what was your favorite food?
I just love doing this and it teaches them how to love to write friendly letters and how to address envelopes. They even design their own stamp and glue it on.
This has worked for my 5th and 3rd graders. Maybe you could also have them write to the class pet or stuffed animal and then you write them back as if the pet/stuffed animal had answered it.
I tied in writing letters to our state reports. Each student picked a state and wrote to the capital for any maps, tourist information, booklets available. Some states were very generous and all replied. We used the pictures from the tourist booklets and maps for our travel poster for each state. We did this 4 weeks in advance and most states replied within 2 weeks.
We also wrote to our mayor, governor, and the President. We received a letter and autographed picture from all. Write the PResident on his birthday also.
I have made mailboxes for my class using sturdy boxes with dividers, from the liquor store and covering them with paper, or painting them , to cover the advertising.
I then label each box with a child's name and put
paper and pencils out. The rules are; you may write a note to a friend before school, during breaks, or if you finish your work early. You may not pass notes in class, they must be placed in the mailbox. The notes MUST be signed and they MUST be positive. I then model notewritng by placing short notes into each box...Great Work today! I saw you sahre with Ann! Thank you! etc.
They loved it. First graders have a hard time with letter writing because most have never received a letter. Start small and build.
There are sites online where you can create and print letters fro them from Santa, etc. I cannot remember just where at this moment but will look for the addy.
During February I introduce a post office unit. The kids love it so much that some years it stays up until the end of school. One part of that is learning to write a letter, putting it into an envelope and addressing it. This is how we do that:
1. Have students write a short letter to a buddy. I assign each student a buddy to begin this process so no one is left out. Our group has low reading and writing skills so I give them an actual letter to copy with spaces for their buddy's name and their own name at the bottom.
2. We read a book about the post office. There are several good ones. A favorite is "The Jolly Postman". Talk about how the letters were delivered.
3. As an interactive writing activity, address a very large envelope. Discuss ahead of time what must be on the envelope in order for it to get to the correct person. In our classroom we have students write "From Susie" in the upper left corner, "To Jake, Room 6" as the address. We then use one of those stickers that come from magazine companies (publisher's clearing house, et. al.) as a stamp. On your interactive writing envelope you can use a large sticker or even draw on a stamp.
4. Now the kids use this template to address their own envelope. If you want to make it more official you can have them write their letter to a parent, address it to their own home and stamp it with a real stamp.
Don't know how much of this you could accomplish in one session, but it is always a good idea to be continuing on with something started earlier when you're going to be observed. It helps your evaluator to see the continuity of your lesson plans.