Letter Writing (Grade 6-8)
Students will use appropriate grammar and strong sensory imagery to develop a descriptive letter for a friend or relative.
To write a descriptive letter.
Writing on a Winter’s Day Student Reproducible (PDF)
BACKGROUND DISCUSSION (Two 40 –minute classes)
1. Begin by asking students to think of a friend or family member who lives far away, or someone who might live close by, but whom they don’t see very often.
2. Once they have identified someone, explain that their task is to write a letter to this person. Before students ask why they’re writing letters rather than e-mails, instant messages, or text messages, explain that while those are quick ways to get in touch with people, they are going to explore an equally interesting, more descriptive, thorough type of narrative writing—personal letter writing.
3. Engage students in a brainstorming session to recall their prior knowledge about descriptive and figurative language. Some guided questions to write on the board are:
- What kinds of words are used in descriptive writing?
- How many of the five senses do readers use when reading descriptive writing?
- Descriptive language and figurative language are similar. Can you think of some words or literary devices these types of writing use?
- What book or poem have you read that used figurative or descriptive language?
4. As students discuss each of these questions, you can guide them toward the ideas that descriptive writing employs adjectives; always uses strong sensory images (word pictures); and often uses figurative language (language that goes beyond the literal meaning of words to create new effects or fresh insights into an idea or a subject). The most common figures of speech students will see are metaphors (a figure of speech that compares two things, without using the words like or as), and similes (a figure of speech that clearly compares two things by using words such as like, as, than, appears, and seems) to get readers’ attention.
5. To help outline the task, write the definitions of simile, metaphor, and image on the board, and model sample sentences demonstrating each to show students successful usage for writing their letters.
6. Explain to students that they’ll now apply their knowledge of descriptive, figurative writing to the task of writing a letter about a winter’s day to the person they identified at the beginning of your discussion. Remind students to use a proper salutation and grammar appropriate to narrative writing.
7. Distribute “Writing a Letter on a Winter’s Day” worksheet to students and have them read the questions.
8. Once they’ve completed Part I, have students complete Part II of the worksheet either during a second class period or for homework.
9. During the second class period, have students volunteer to read their letters aloud in front of the class, and send the letters to the intended family members or friends once completed.