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Thursday, January 21, 2010

All children are writers, we just need to show them how!

A guest post by Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup!

What’s the first word a child learns to write?
His or her name! Start with the name - add a picture and you have the makings of a letter to a friend.

We know that kids love getting mail.
Writing letters gives kids a gratifying purpose for writing – gratifying because most of the time, you receive a letter in return.

Read about it first!
Before you begin writing letters, read Max and Ruby’s book, "Bunny Mail" or "Toot and Puddle" about sending and receiving mail.

Gather the supplies
Gather supplies like scrap paper, note cards, envelopes, scissors, markers, pencils, stickers, ink stamps.

Make a mailbox
Make mail boxes for each child out of shoe boxes.

Scaffold your letter writing instruction
Model writing a “letter” to each child. First draw a picture and talk about who you think you want to give the picture letter to – maybe your friend, Mariah. Write / sign your name and give the letter to Mariah.

Adding on . . . Model writing another letter with pictures and words. The children listen for the letter sounds, then write the letters they hear. When done, sign your name and give the letter to the a friend.

Now, add writing the friend’s name or at least, the beginning letter of his or her name. (Another idea is to put name tag stickers on each child’s table. Friends can stop by and peel off the name sticker and use that on their letters.)

Finally, model using an envelope in which to enclose the letter. Show how to write the friend’s name on the front of the envelope. Model where to put the stamp -- a sticker -- in the upper right hand corner.

Depending on the age of the children you are teaching, you may choose to stop after step one or two. Or you could also scaffold the lesson over a week’s time. You know your students best so make this fit for their abilities.

Remember, all children are writers. We just need to show them how!

Happy letter writing!
P.S. This would be fun for Valentine’s Day!

Melissa Taylor is a teacher, writer and mom of two with an M.A. in Education. She writes a learning activities blog at and can always be found on Twitter too

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share your expertise and experience with us!



Kim said...

What a great idea. I will have to do this with my son soon.

Elise said...

We can often be found hanging out at our mailbox just before lunch as my three year old daughter loves seeing the postman and whether or not he has any mail for her.

We are getting into the habit of sending thank you notes. My daughter will create a picture and together we write a note to send off.

Teacher Tom said...

We really need mailboxes at our school. This has motivated me to create them as part of V-day and then keep them for the rest of the year.


Scott said...

I've discovered that anytime I can introduce writing into an activity, the kids take it in new directions. When we added clipboards, pencils, and paper with the doctor kit, the play (and the writing) increased dramatically.

Michelle said...

We always do a writing themed center during Valentine's. I love to add all the little Red and Glittery things to "spice" up the writing area and it gives the kids that little push they need to get them interested again :)

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Great ideas - I love the idea of adding simple items to attract the kids attention to writing and spark new ideas.

Debbie said...

I love this idea. I will have to incorporate some of this in our home. Selena hasn't quite learned to write her name yet, but it's starting.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I will be following yours and frequent often, you have great ideas here!

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