Every year during the second week of January, our country celebrates National Letter Writing Week. The art of letter writing may seem foreign—or antiquated—to a generation surrounded with instant messaging, texting, and social media platforms that make communicating with people across the world almost instantaneous. Once you review the basic parts of writing—heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature, students can write letters of all kinds to anyone! Check out the ideas we have below as you celebrate National Letter Writing Week!
Read books about writing letters. Big Universe has several books on letter writing as well as those using letters as a central theme in the book. Check out a few of our titles, such as Cecilia Minden and Katie Roth’s How to Write a Letter, Jacqueline Halsey’s Peggy’s Letters, K.L. Denman’s Rebel’s Tag, and Martha Reith’s The Case of the Forged Letter. We have these and more in our library of over 10,000 books.
Start a pen pal club with another class. Whether it’s a class within your school, across the country, or in another country, pen pals are traditional ways for students to practice writing letters and to build friendships with others. It’s encouraging if teachers take part as well to model what great letters and responses look like.
Do different kinds of letter-writing activities each day. Teach children how to create hand-written invitations. You can get them to send postcards to a loved one (or pen pal) far away. Have students write a letter responding to an article listed in a magazine. Students can write thank you or business letters. Even emails work in this case!
Integrate other content areas into the writing process. Letter writing skills are not confined to reading and language arts areas alone. Encourage your students to use their writing skills to express their views to an elected official about their education and community needs. Write a letter to your favorite scientist or inventor explaining how important their discoveries or inventions are to you and to your world. Study chemical reactions as students write letters using invisible ink—use lemon juice to write with and grape juice to discover the message. Have students correspond with a Holocaust or World War 2 survivor. Study the role of carrier pigeons while learning about World War 1.
Create a time capsule chain using letters. This activity can be done throughout different periods of the school year, and it’s one of my favorite activities to do with students. Students would write about different events that happened during the year (e.g. winter break, end of school year, welcome letters for kids). At the same time each school year afterward, have students read the responses from the previous year’s students and then write their own.
Happy Letter Writing! Share your ideas in the comment section below!