Teaching preschoolers to write letters at home

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Letter writing can be fun, help children learn lớn compose written text, và provide handwriting practice — & letters are valuable keepsakes. This article contains activities to help children ages 5–9 put pen khổng lồ paper and make someone"s day with a handwritten letter.

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Introduction

Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails & text messages, everyone has khổng lồ write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters, letters requesting changes or making suggestions — the menu goes on and on. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, social & handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing & structuring letters.


Within schools

Letter writing can be included in a school"s curriculum. Visits khổng lồ museums or farms prompt thank you letters, for example contacting schools in other countries & exchanging letters liên kết into geography. Writing imaginary letters lớn historical people can encourage understanding of a historical period or topic. Writing letters encourages good social skills, learning khổng lồ say thank you và asking for information politely.

At home

Letter writing has many purposes, including the following:

It encourages good manners, especially writing "thank you" lettersChildren can write invitationsChildren can write letters khổng lồ friends & relativesPen pals are always popular, giving insights into other children"s lives, especially overseas

In this article:


What"s so special about receiving a handwritten letter?

Quite apart from curriculum requirements, being asked khổng lồ write letters is a task that will appeal to children. The sheer fun of sending & receiving letters appeals to every child. There is something special about putting letters into the post box and then having letters delivered by the postman… the brightly colored stamps, seeing your name on the envelope và knowing that inside is a long awaited letter from a friend or thành viên of the family. It shows someone cares và has taken the time to sit down & think about you.

Handwritten letters have a charm of their own. You can take time lớn think about what you want khổng lồ say. You can keep letters khổng lồ read again and again. You can admire the handwriting; chia sẻ dreams and thoughts. Responding by letter is very different to lớn the immediacy of a text message or an email.


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Activity 1: Warming up lớn letter writting

Use the above themes to encourage the children khổng lồ discuss letter-writing. Ask the children khổng lồ put their hands up if they have ever received a personal letter. Ask for one or more volunteers khổng lồ talk about how they felt lớn receive the letter. Here are some initial questions that may help:

What was in your mind as you read the letter?Did you keep the letter lớn read again?Did you mô tả your letter with anyone?Did you write back?

And some questions for whole class or group discussions:

Can the class describe any differences between the handwritten letter và an email?Do the children think there is ever a time when only a handwritten letter will do?

Ask the class to lớn interview each other to find out each individual"s experiences of writing & sending letters. This can be recorded in a chart.


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Activity 2: Introducing letter writing

Collect a supply of different types of letters — both formal and informal. Ask the children khổng lồ sort them out into two groups. Which were written to lớn friends? Which are formal letters from businesses? Which features or characteristics distinguish formal from informal?

Having done that ask the children to look for differences between the two groups. This allows a discussion to take place about the different types of letter. Draw up a chart for each group covering:

Address — business or private?Greeting — formal or informal?Style of letter — friendly or business?What is the message?How does the letter end?

This will allow the children khổng lồ find out for themselves the differences between formal & informal letters.

This could be followed by a discussion of the type of letters the children or their families write. How many occasions can they think of which would deserve a letter khổng lồ be written? For example:

Letters of congratulationExchanging newsWriting to lớn friendsLetters saying sorry for doing something wrongMaking appointmentsAsking for informationDealing with banks or storesLetters khổng lồ family members who live some way awayLetters to Santa ClausThank you lettersLetters showing how much you appreciate someoneLetters responding lớn someone who has had bad news — showing how much you care by trying to giới thiệu their sadnessLetters of complaintLetters khổng lồ newspapers và magazines

In each case the children should decide what type of letter would be most appropriate in each case — formal or informal? Draw up a chart for each group.


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Activity 3: Formal letters

These are sometimes known as business letters. They are written in a strictly formal style. Such letters are always written on an A4 (8" x 11") sheet of paper. They can be folded three times so that the address to lớn which the letter is being sent can appear in the window of a business envelope. The layout is always the same.

Structure:

The senders address is put at the đứng top right hand sideInclude telephone number and thư điện tử if availableThe address of the person receiving the letter goes on the left hand side below the sender"s addressThe dateGreeting — Dear Sir or Madam. You can use the titles Miss, Mrs. Or Mr. If you know the name of the person to lớn whom you are writingThe messageComplimentary close — Yours faithfully or Yours sincerelySignatureWrite name in block letters (this is khổng lồ ensure that the person receiving the letter knows exactly who has sent it. Signatures may not be very clear)

Typical layout of a formal letter


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Tips for writing good letters

Make sure that they are well written. It can be very annoying for someone khổng lồ have khổng lồ struggle lớn read handwriting. Always use your best và clearest handwriting.Make sure all your tương tác details are clearly written down at the vị trí cao nhất of the letter. If they are not, then you might not get a reply. The correct address is essential.Think about what you want to say. If necessary make some notes on a separate sheet of paper first. This will ensure that you vày not forget anything.Think about to whom you are writing the letter. Use the right style of writing và language — formal or informal, business lượt thích or friendly.Lay out your letter using paragraphs. This makes it easier for the reader.

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Activity 5: Letter of inquiry & letters providing information

Suitable for school, children ages 7-9

These are formal letters and messages need khổng lồ be precise & detailed, covering all the required information. Two types of letters can be undertaken — a letter requesting information; và a reply providing it.

Out in the Milky Way, there is an alien curious about Earth. He writes a letter asking for information about liquids and gases. These bởi vì not exist on his planet và he finds it hard to lớn understand what they are.

Write a letter explaining what liquids và gases are. How bởi vì they work? What examples could be included? What would be confusing about them? This could links to your science curriculum & could act as a revision exercise giving an opportunity for a discussion about gases và liquids.

The following day, give the children a thank you letter from the alien!

You could liên kết up with another class in the school. One class could write letters of inquiry. These would be delivered to the second class for answering.

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Activity 6: Thank you letters

Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

Thank you letters are very important & can be used in lots of ways: thanking organisations for helping, thanking people for helping you, thanking someone for a lovely time. They make a good follow up exercise after receiving presents or going on a visit.

Your class has just been out on a school visit to lớn a farm. Write a thank you letter lớn the farmer. You will need to lớn say thank you and how much you enjoyed the visit. Give some examples of what you enjoyed best about the day? Was it feeding the lambs? Pond dipping? Seeing the young animals?


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Activity 7: Letters of invitation

Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

Everyone likes receiving invitations. Receiving a hand written letter asking you to lớn a tiệc nhỏ or a special sự kiện makes you feel very special.

Discuss what type of event might create a need to lớn write letters of invitation. There are plenty of examples — birthday parties, Christmas parties, a visit to lớn a beach with friends; going out to lớn a farm or to lớn the cinema, a wedding or when a new baby is christened; or simply inviting a friend to stay overnight at your house.

Choose a special sự kiện and write a letter inviting a friend. What vì chưng you need to include in the letter so that they have all the necessary information? You need lớn be clear on the date and the time, as well as the location. Your friend would be very upset if he or she went khổng lồ the wrong place. Does he or she need to bring anything with them? Does he or she need khổng lồ be collected at a set time? Will outdoor clothing be needed if the weather is bad? How will your friend reach the location of the event? Should a parent bring them or will you provide transport?

Remember to lớn ask them to reply saying yes or no. Give a date by which you must have their reply. This is important if food và drink are being provided, or if you need to know exactly how many people are coming.


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Activity 8: Letters of complaint

Suitable for school or home, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

When might a letter of complaint be sent? It might be when someone has done something wrong. Sometimes people write letters to lớn organisations or the newspapers lớn complain about litter or poor service.

Just imagine what Mr. Bear must have been thinking at the end of the story of Goldilocks & the Three Bears. A naughty girl had broken into his home, eaten his porridge; broken a chair & then gone to sleep on his child"s bed. Then she had run away without even saying sorry when the bears came back.

Write a letter of complaint from Mr. Bear to the parents of Goldilocks. What would he say? He would need to lớn get his complaint across very strongly. There would be a menu of Goldilocks" misdeeds. He would ask for an apology. Would he ask for payment for the broken chair? Would he ask for action to be taken against Goldilocks? Discuss the various possibilities with the children. What might he ask? Would it be a formal or informal letter?


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Activity 9: Letters to Santa

Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9

Every year children write letters khổng lồ Santa Claus, asking for special toys at Christmas time. But how many children think about Santa Claus himself? What is his life like? What are the problems of living amid all that snow và ice?

This is an exercise that could involve two classes within a school. Both classes should prepare for the task by listening to some unusual letters. J R Tolkein wrote a lovely book entitled Letters from Father Christmas. Every December a letter would appear telling wonderful tales of life at the North Pole — how the reindeer got loose & scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole & fell through the roof of Santa Claus"s house.

Children in the younger class should write letters lớn Santa. They should ask about life at the North Pole. What vày they think it is like? What sort of characters live there? How does Santa Claus occupy his time for the rest of the year? Consider how they would feel living in a land of snow & ice all year round? Would they want a holiday somewhere warmer?

Once the letters are written, gather them up and take them to an older group of children. Give each child a letter and ask them to lớn write a reply. This would give them the opportunity to lớn use their imagination & create imaginative responses, possibly little stories about life at the North Pole. They could also địa chỉ cửa hàng in their own ideas. But care should be taken khổng lồ make sure that all the questions in the original letters are answered.

Finally, take the answers back to the original class for reading & discussing.


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Activity 10: Letters lớn newspapers và magazines

Suitable for school, children ages 7-9

These are letters that aim khổng lồ pass on an opinion or a message. Examples can be easily obtained from local newspapers or from children"s magazines such as DK Find Out or Aquila. They are written slightly differently lớn normal letters & are always addressed Dear Sir, or Dear — (name of magazine).

These are letters that are directed at a wide audience — anyone who happens to lớn read it. The sender never gets a direct letter back through the post. Sometimes people are so interested in a letter, which has appeared in a magazine that they want to express their opinions. So they then write a letter khổng lồ the magazine giving their comments.

So what might go into a letter lớn a newspaper or magazine? It might be a request — could you provide more stories about skate boarding, or nature? It might be a way of thanking people for providing help. Sometimes letters lớn local newspapers are used khổng lồ thank people who helped find a lost dog or help after an accident; but who did not leave their names. By writing to the paper, the sender hopes that the message will reach the people concerned. Sometimes such letters are used to lớn express opinions such as on climate change, treatment of animals, poor services, not enough buses, và human rights.

Letters of this kind need to lớn be very precise. Arguments should be clearly made. Requests for action should be clearly indicated. From reading the letter, everyone should know exactly what the sender is asking.

A major issue is recycling và energy conservation. Everyone is trying to lớn reduce the amount of energy we use. Look at all the reasons why energy conservation is so important. Then, write a letter to a paper or magazine saying why you believe we should avoid wasting energy. Give examples of how energy can be saved? What measures should we take in our homes or schools? Could anything more be done?