A great book resource: James, Elizabeth, and Carol Barkin. Sincerely Yours: How to Write Great Letters. Clarion, 1993.
Here’s a fun creative letter writing activity: Have students write letters from one book character to another. In the example that follows a Mother Goose character writes to another. For extra fun, read the resulting letters aloud leaving off the name of the character writer. See if kids can guess the identity of the character from the letter clues:
I was sorry to hear about your accident. What were you doing sitting on top of that high wall anyway, you old egghead?
Seriously though, I know how awful head injuries can be. Remember that time I tumbled down a hill? I had splitting headaches for weeks after that. To this day, I don’t know how it happened. Jill claims I tripped over a stone.
Anyway, I hope your stay in the hospital is a short one. Trust the doctors–they know a lot more about medicine than do all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.
Get well soon, Eggie,
Sixth graders at the school where I taught go to a week-long camp every year. A favorite writing assignment of sixth grade teachers afterward is to have students write letters to their camp counselors, thanking them for being there, and describing favorite camp activities. To help kids revise their letters, have them discuss the two letters below. The first letter is one I made up to be similar to many “generic” letters some kids write. The second letter is one written by a former 6th grade student. To ask your students: Which letter would they rather receive if they were counselors? Why? What makes a good letter? What suggestions would they make to the authors of these two letters to help them improve their letters?
Thank you for being my counselor. Camp was really fun. I had a good time, even though the food was just “okay.” My favorite thing was when we sang songs around the campfire at night. I hope you have a good year!
Dear Mr. Jon,
Thank you for missing a week of school to be at Camp T-Bird with all the campers. Thanks for teaching me: friendship, respect, and being patient with some cabin mates. You were a real emotional, friendly leader and role model for our cabin and the camp. Thanks for helping us get organized with our friendship circles; and making our posters. You helped me feel really comfortable at camp and in our cabin. I liked the note that you and Mr. Ben wrote to me. It made me feel special. I know it was hard being a counselor (High School Leader) but you did it.
My favorite moments were: working on cabin skills challenge with you and standing on our porch just crying our heads off while you were handing us our touchstones. My favorite thing in the whole camp was square dancing (especially when I was teaching Mr. Mark how to do the electric slide). My favorite outdoor activities were: woods craft, animal pelts, weather, water study, rope making and compass. I liked the hike on Ridgeview Trail and Outer Loop West. It was fun learning about the stump that was burned on the inside but not the outside (fire sculpture). Seeing the Opossum, Skunk, and Owl was really cool. Thanks again for making my week at camp a lot more enjoyable.
From the Writing Curriculum Files of Children’s Author, Suzanne Williams www.suzanne-williams.com