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Activity

Write Letters to Friends and Family

 

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Write Letters to Friends and Family

Grades 6 – 8
Activity Time 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of communication
Activity Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois

 
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here's What To Do

  1. Share a letter with children making sure all letter-writing elements are included: date, salutation, body, closing, and postscript.   You can provide an actual letter you have received or an example found online.
  2. If desired, use the Letter Generator to identify all the essential parts of a business letter or friendly letter by reading the descriptions of each part of the sample letters included in the online tool. Once children have become familiar with letter formats, the tool can be used to write letters using a simple template. Visit the Letter Generator Tool page for more information and ideas.
  3. Once children are familiar with all of the components of a letter, invite them to write their own letters, possibly choosing one of these options:

    • a friendly letter to family, classmates, neighbors and friends
    • a business letter to businesses in their town and neighborhood, thanking them for their services or asking them if they can carry their favorite products
    • a letter to the editor of the newspaper, sharing their opinions
  4. If a computer with Internet access is available, children can use the Letter Generator to write the letter. Have children follow the steps in the tool and fill in specific fields in the template (e.g., heading, salutation, closing, signature). They may even add a decorative border and postscript to the friendly letter. The finished letter can then be previewed, edited, and printed.
  5. If children decide to write a letter to the editor, they can look at examples in children's literature:

    • A letter that Harry Potter writes to The Daily Prophet to correct misreported information or state an opinion on Ministry actions in relationship to any of the books in the Harry Potter series.
    • The letter that Byron Watson, from Christopher Paul Curtis' The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, writes to the newspaper in support of the civil rights movement after the church bombing.
    • A letter that Leo Borlock, from Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, writes to the newspaper about bullying and peer pressure in schools.
    • The letter that Stanley Yelnats, from Louis Sachar's Holes, writes to the newspaper arguing for the reform of the juvenile correction system.
  6. An alternative to letter writing would be to write and send a postcard.  Children can transfer their knowledge of letter writing to postcards.  Children can make their own or use the online Postcard Creator. The interactive Postcard Creator discusses the parts of postcards and creates the text for children's own postcards. Children can then illustrate the front of the cards using markers or other art supplies. Visit the Postcard Creator Tool page for more information and ideas.

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More Ideas To Try

  • Read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, which is full of letters between a boy and an author. Invite children to write to their own favorite authors or celebrities.
  • Visit the post office to mail the letters or postcards.
  • Find pen pals in another city or state.
  • Have children send e-cards to friends with e-mail addresses using the following sites appropriate for children:

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Glossary

Friendly letter

 

A form of written communication, also known as a traditional letter, written between two people who know each other well. Friendly letters, unlike business letters, do not follow as rigid a format or style guidelines.

Formal letter

 

A form of written communication, usually between two people who don’t know each other well, that follows strict format and style guidelines. Examples include business letters, private communication between companies and their customers; letters to the editor, public communication between a single reader and the larger readership; and persuasive letters, or letters that aim to convince the reader to feel, believe, or act in ways the writer recommends.

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