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Lesson Plan

A Genre Study of Letters With The Jolly Postman

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A Genre Study of Letters With The Jolly Postman

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, The Jolly Postman is used as an authentic example to discuss letter writing as a genre. Students explore the letters to the storybook characters delivered by The Jolly Postman. They then learn how to categorize their own examples of mail. The Jolly Postman uses well-known storybook characters, from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, as recipients of letters. This children's storybook is therefore ideal for using as a review of these genres of literature and as a means of helping children begin to explore rhyme and a variety of writing styles. Several pieces of literature appropriate for use with this lesson are suggested.

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Picture Books That Feature Letters: This printable booklist contains a list of children's books that feature letters in the story.

Letter Attributes Chart: This printable chart describes the characteristics of friendly, business, and persuasive letters.

Letter Generator: This online tool allows students to read about the parts of a letter. They can then write and print their own friendly or business letter.

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In "Reading to Students as Part of Genre Study," Dick Koblitz explains, "One of the reasons I read aloud daily to the six- to nine-year-old students in my multiage primary classroom is to introduce a genre. This has deepened the more intensive genre study that my students and I do in our literature group discussions" (1). In Koblitz's classroom, "Constructing meaning from a text or about a particular genre of literature occurs before, during, and after the read-aloud session" (1). Before beginning to read, Koblitz shares basic information about the genre. During the reading, Koblitz pauses to explore vocabulary and identify conventions. After reading, students make predictions about what will happen next. Koblitz concludes that "using interactive read-alouds can be powerful in helping students to discover the literary elements of a particular genre of literature. They always want to read more books by the same authors or in the same genre. And they will often begin to write their own stories in the genre, incorporating many of the same rules and structures of the more experienced authors" (2). This lesson plan follows a similar process, using The Jolly Postman as a read-aloud text that leads to genre exploration and serves as a model for students' own writing.

Further Reading

Koblitz, Dick. "Reading to Students as Part of Genre Study," School Talk 7.2 (April 2002): 1-2.

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