When I taught fourth grade, we were departmentalized and I taught writing to all students. Letter writing was one piece of writing that most of my students enjoyed. Here are some ideas for teaching the parts of a friendly letter, along with ten meaningful ways to easily incorporate letter writing into your curriculum!
Parts of a Friendly Letter Motions
When my son was learning to write letters, he just couldn’t remember what the different parts of a letter are called. He might recall one or two, but he couldn’t identify them all, nor give them in the correct order.
One day I decided to make up motions for each of the parts of a friendly letter and it clicked! After going through the motions a couple of times, the names stuck and he hasn’t forgotten them since! He even still sometimes does the motions when he’s writing a letter to help him remember the order he needs to write.
- Heading- Point to the head. This is the first part of a friendly letter and includes the return address and date the letter is written.
- Greeting- Point to the mouth. We greet people with our mouth by saying, “Hi!” or smiling. The greeting of a letter usually starts with the word “Dear” followed by the name of the person the letter is to, and a comma after their name.
- Body- Point to the torso. The body of the letter contains the message to the person receiving the letter.
- Closing- Make a motion like you’re closing or fastening a belt. The closing lets the reader know that the letter is almost finished.
- Signature- Make a motion like you’re tying your shoes. Shoes or sneakers both start with “s” like the word signature. They’re also usually the last thing you do when you get dressed. The signature is simply the name of the person writing the letter. It’s the very last thing in a friendly letter.
Parts of a Friendly Letter Poster
Learning the motions helps students learn the different parts of a friendly letter, but what exactly do those parts look like? Write a friendly letter together with your students on chart paper. Label each part.
Here’s a friendly letter poster that’s a great visual reference for students. It’s included in my grammar posters resource for first and second grade. Hang it in your writing center for students to refer back to when writing a letter.
Meaningful Letter Writing Ideas
Now it’s time for students to try letter writing on their own. Here are ten fun letter writing ideas you can meaningfully integrate into your curriculum:
- Write a letter to Santa Claus during the month of December.
- Write a letter to their parents or a family member on Friday telling them what they learned about that week.
- At the end of the year, write a letter to next year’s students in that grade level telling them about what to expect or things they can do to have a great year.
- Write a letter to the principal or their parents to tell them about a goal they’ve achieved.
- Write a letter to someone you’re learning about in science or social studies. For example, if you’re studying the solar system, write a letter to an astronaut asking them about their time in space. If you’re studying a historical time period, write a letter to a famous figure during that time. Tell them what they admire about them or ask them questions they wished they knew about them.
- Write a letter to a community helper such as a fireman, policeman, nurse or member of the military thanking them for their service.
- Write a letter to their favorite author. Tell them what they love about their books and ask them something they wish they knew about the books or characters.
- Set up pen pals with another class or group of students. Regularly write letters back and forth.
- Write a letter to a sick student or teacher, or perhaps children or patients at a local hospital or nursing home, to encourage them and brighten their day.
- Want to see something changed in your school or community? Write a letter to the principal or mayor telling them about what they’d like to change and why.
More Writing Resources
Do your students not enjoy writing or groan when it’s time for grammar? Check out these fun, engaging writing and grammar resources that will hopefully change their minds!