Monday, November 26, 2012

Writing Letters with Kids

Writing Letters with Kids
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com




Post letters; not chooks!
Letter writing with your kids is an excellent way to promote some valuable one-on-one learning. It gives you an opportunity to share reasons for communicating via letters, as well as areas of discussion about a range of letter features. With young children, this might take the form of tracing over their names, or finding some letters of the alphabet they know in the written letter. These little ones might like to dictate their letters, and watch carefully as you record them. With older kids, shared writing of a letter might be a time to look at how an address is written, or suitable salutations.

Choosing an appropriate time for writing a letter is important. If kids can see the need to write a letter, they are more likely to be motivated to do it. If a young friend moves away, write a letter together to invite her over for a holiday. If Christmas time approaches, suggest a letter to Santa. Sharing a triumph with a loved relative is another great reason to write a letter.

If your kids find it hard to get started, a template can help. Work out one according to your needs, and let your kids fill in the important bits. Some kids might prefer to spend time drawing a beautiful picture, and will need urging to write even a simple message. Even a little writing is some writing! Although I do believe that there are certain times in our lives that a letter must be written, whether we want to write it or not, I know that making letter writing as much fun as possible is more likely to sell kids on writing generally.

Pretty stationery and pens can be a big part of letter-writing appeal. Look out for bargains in the dollar stores, or garage sales. Mintprintables has lots of printable stationery (scroll through the categories in the right sidebar.) Or check out this printable letter writing set at Picklebums.

Part of the fun of writing a letter, especially for quite young kids, is posting it. Taking a walk to a nearby post box is also a great way to get fresh air and exercise. If the letter is to someone imaginary, or someone who lives next-door, what fun to create a special little mailing space! Think tiny letters in knot holes of trees, or inside a shell for the flower fairies. Having a special mailbox in classrooms and libraries, and maybe a postie on a trike to deliver them, also encourages letter writing as an everyday activity.

In the classroom, having your students write a letter to the editor can work well, particularly if there's an issue they're concerned about. Or you might suggest they write letters to a book or movie character. One of my favourite children's books ever is Allan and Janet Ahlberg's The Jolly Postman - a wonderful book to introduce letter writing to your kids.

If you're interested in getting kids to write, you might like to click on the Writing button in my right sidebar for more articles about this fascinating subject.

If you've enjoyed this post, or any others at The Book Chook, I'd love you to help me spread my literacy, learning and literature ideas by promoting via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, StumbleUpon, G+ or any other way you decide.

13 comments:

  1. Love this one!! I love to write letters and my son has even joined me lately, sending them to his grandparents. It's so much fun to receive responses in the mail or hear when someone has received your's.

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  2. @Tif Sweeney Exactly! What fun that your son is into letter writing too!

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  3. When I was a caregiver for three young children, we did Letter Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday we would all write to someone. A lot of times they wrote to places like the police station, fire station, or the manufacturers of their favorite foods. Even the one who was too little to write would draw a picture and dictate a letter to me. Then we'd mail them off. The kids used to get all sorts of cool replies back, often with stickers or pencils tucked into the envelopes! When I have my own classroom, I intend to do a version of Letter Writing Wednesday with the whole class.

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  4. Nothing beats a real letter in the mail! I especially love getting hand addressed mail. Hand-addressed envelopes are almost as good as the letter inside. :-)

    - Rebecca

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  5. @Angel Read What a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing it.

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  6. @soupblogTrue. And I bet you would like to get a teeny tiny letter inside an acorn cup letter box, too!

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  7. We write lots of letters - mostly to family, some to friend who have moved, but especially thank you notes and even party invitations. However, I think my girls' favorite letters are the ones they write to authors and sometimes other celebrities (such as Sasha and Malia Obama). When they ask questions about a book,I'll suggest they ask the author directly by writing a letter. We've gotten some form responses and some lovely personalized ones.

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  8. We write lots of letters, mostly to family. I am also very big on thank you notes. But the letters that are the most fun are those to authors or other celebrities (like Malia and Sasha Obama). We've gotten some form responses but some lovely personalized ones.

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  9. @Even in Australia So heart-warming to think busy people take the time to send personal replies!

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  10. I used to love writing letters as a kid. I had a lot of pen-pals . . . some from different countries! I can still remember picking out stationery in the small stationery store in my town. I hope today's kids still get to experience a little of that, even in this age of e-mail and instant messaging. :-)

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  11. @Ilana Waters There's certainly a place for digital and print. In books too, I believe. But I agree, there's something so special about "real" stationery.

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  12. This is good advice for parents too. I have a friend who helps her 8- and 10-year old boys handwrite letters every Sunday. Great exercise.

    Janet | expateducator.com

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  13. @Janet Abercrombie So much great incidental learning when parents do things like that - love it!

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