by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
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.
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