The end of the school year is creeping closer and closer, and your students need something different A friendly letter is just the answer! Students have so much to say about their time in your classroom, and letter writing is a skill that’ll be useful throughout the years.
Giving kids the opportunity to write their thoughts in the form of a letter is a great way get kids excited about writing. And having kids write letters to their future teacher or to you lets them express their excitement and give you an idea of their feelings about the current school year and their hopes for the next year. Students tend to show their feelings about their strengths, likes, and dislikes in writing and they’re able to articulate feelings they may have felt throughout the year but felt uncomfortable sharing. For instance, just how much they love you.
If your students are new to the friendly letter format, it would be safe to say they’ll need a lesson on how to write them. Here I have several letter writing activities for you to follow to give your students the foundation they need to get started.
Friendly Letter Parts
Start by showing your kids a friendly letter sample. Invite them to read the letter with you and have a discussion abut the components. This sample gives your students a clear idea of what a friendly letter looks like. This anchor chart shows the 5 parts of a letter–the date, a greeting, the body, a closing, and the writer’s name.
Once you have discussed the friendly letter poster, your students can now complete the worksheet by labeling the parts.
After discussing the parts of the letter talk about why you would write a letter and chart your students’ ideas. For instance, just to say hello, to say thank you, to tell someone about a trip. . . Keep these ideas posted for future writing activities and keep your friendly letter anchor chart in a spot for students to reference as they’re writing their own letters.
Some students may need instruction on writing dates. I know, I know, your students see it each day written on your board, but I’m willing to bet some still don’t use the correct format. There’s definitely some rules that need to be taught. For example, capitalizing the first letter of the month and where to place commas when writing dates. While I’m not a huge fan of printables, you might want to have your kids practice with this writing dates worksheet.
The greeting of the letter names the recipient. The basic greeting is Dear ____, but this would be a fun time to come up with a list of ways we greet people. It’s also a good time to discuss the differences in how we greet our teacher and how we might greet a friend. My students enjoy a little game we call Musical Greeting.
This music activity is quick and easy. After brainstorming various greetings, have your students stand up as you begin playing some music. Ask the students to walk around the classroom. When the music stops, have them stop and find the nearest person. Then have the students shake hands and use a greeting. For instance good morning, Christina. Give the students a moment to greet each other then start the music again. Continue with this activity for a few minutes. Your students will love this activity and they get to move around.
This is where the bulk of the friendly letter goes. It’s where your students share something with their reader. In the case of writing a letter to a teacher, your students can use a friendly letter graphic organizer to help them plan out what they’ll be writing before they begin their letters. Give students the opportunity to write without getting caught up in conventions. In this type of writing, students are talking about themselves and they have so much to say.
Of course your students can write letters anytime of year. A brainstorming web can be an important tool in narrative writing because it helps students come up with ideas for their writing. In the case of a friendly letter, let kids know that it can include a personal narrative about something they have done.
Friendly Letter Closings
Much like friendly letter greetings, there are many closings your students can use. And similar to the greeting, it’s good to know which closings are appropriate for their audience. Create an anchor chart with ideas for closings and as a tool for students to reference.
Friendly Letter Ideas
Once your students start writing letters, they’ll probably want to keep it up. Create a friendly letter station with different types of paper, cards, and postcards. Students can see the many ways we use the friendly letter to write to others. You could have students write a letter to a friend, make a thank you card to a relative, or make a postcard pretending they’re on vacation. In this post, 9 Easy Ideas for Writing Centers for 1st and 2nd Graders, you can find a postcard template that your kids will love!
Paper and Checklist
Because choice is so important in writing, giving students the opportunity to choose the paper they’d like to use can fill that need. It could be blank paper, friendly letter writing paper, or even a postcard. Whatever it is, your students will love the choice and will be so excited to write. Also provide a friendly letter checklist for students to make sure they have all 5 parts. This should help to teach your students to hold themselves accountable for their work.
Mentor texts are always the best way to show students the connection between authors and themselves as writer. This article, 11 Picture Books That Teach Kids About Letter Writing, has some of my favorite books to use while teaching friendly letter writing.
If you’re looking for more engaging writing activities, check out Main Idea Activities for First and Second Graders. And don’t forget to download your Friendly Letter Kit.