Free Activities for Writing Letters in Elementary School

Some may think that letter writing is a dying art, but written communication is still used on a regular basis. Your elementary students may have a lot of experience with written communication already, but you can use the following free lesson ideas to teach them how to write a traditional letter.

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How to Create Letter Writing Activities for Your Students

Starting as early as kindergarten, students are expected to express opinions through writing. One way to do this is by writing letters. Although technology has made paper mail somewhat obsolete, letter writing is still an important skill for students to learn because it provides a basic understanding of format, style and tone. There are several free activities that you can use to teach your students about the proper structure of a letter while still allowing them to have fun.

Letter Writing Activities by Lesson

Parts of a Letter

Remembering the proper format for a letter may be difficult for some students, but there are activities that let them practice writing letters by section. Each part of a friendly letter can be correlated to a body part. Start by providing a drawing of a person with labels for each part of the letter. You may want to create a large poster that can hang on the wall for your students to reference easily during class.

The diagram should show the person's head as the header, mouth as the greeting, body as the body, legs for the closing and toes for the signature. Provide a quick example for each so that your students can recall what each part should include. For instance, explain that the greeting is used to say hello to the reader. With practice, students will have the confidence to write letters on their own without the chart.

Writing Etiquette

There are several different but similar activities you can use to help your students get a firm grasp on letter writing. Many of these activities can be linked to lessons from other subjects.

Letters to Authors or Government Officials

The first option is to have your students write letters to an author. Using the body diagram from the activity above, students can craft a letter with questions for the author and plan what they want to say. Although traditional letter writing is great, this activity is free if the letters are sent by e-mail.

Your students can also write letters to government officials to request information for history or geography reports. Most students will receive a response with the requested information, and the letter they receive back will be a good example of proper format.

Correspondence with Pen Pals

The traditional activity of writing a pen pal from another school is a great way to teach your students how to write friendly letters. This can be done for free by using e-mail. Most students love writing to other kids their age, but they can also learn a lot about letter writing, technology and e-mail etiquette.

Notes in Class

Students may be tempted to pass notes in class, and this activity allows them to do so while eliminating distraction. Tell your students that you understand that they like to write notes to their friends, but instead of passing them during class, you're going to provide a way for them to learn while having fun. Set aside ten minutes once a week for students to write a friendly, properly formatted letter to another student in class. Let students create their own mailboxes to sit in the classroom, and notes will be placed in the boxes. You may want to ensure that each student receives mail so that no one feels left out.

Thank You Letters to School Workers

Writing thank you letters to school employees is a quick and easy way to give your students additional letter writing practice. Once a month or so, have your students choose someone at the school - a librarian, janitor, cafeteria worker, etc. - to write a thank you letter to. Have them follow the proper format, and allow the students to personally deliver the letters.

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