Dear Whiskers Lesson Plan
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
Subject Area: Language Arts
Reading Level: 3.0
Jenny initially dislikes her fourth-grade class assignment. The students are supposed to write letters to a second-grade class, pretending to be mice living in the second-graders' desks. Matters are only made worse when her second-grade partner (Sameera) turns out to be a recent emigree from Saudi Arabia. At first Sameera doesn't seem to understand the assignment and isn't interested in a pen pal. However, Jenny learns that Sameera isn't fluent in English, and in the end, everyone benefits from the assignment.
Students will practice letter writing skills.
Standard: Writes personal letters (e.g., includes the date, address, greeting, body, and closing; addresses envelopes; includes signature)
Communication can take many forms.
- Hold a classroom discussion about various types of communication. Ask students to list as many types as they can. These could include: television, radio, books, newspapers, magazines, fax, email, etc. Record the list on your blackboard.
- Have your students think about the last letter they received in the mail. Was it a birthday card? Holiday greetings? A letter from a camp friend? Ask students to think about how it felt to receive the mail. Was it better than an email? A phone call?
- What are the pros and cons of communicating through the mail as opposed to other, faster methods?
Help your students practice their letter writing skills!
- If feasible, talk to a teacher in a younger classroom about duplicating the exercise presented in Dear Whiskers. Your students would write letters to his/her students and vice versa.
- If this is not possible, have students write letters to one another, or you might arrange to have them write letters to the residents of a local nursing home.
- Discuss basic letter-writing skills. Ask students to observe the conventions you present.
- Once a complete exchange of letters has been accomplished, have each student read aloud the answer to his or her letter.
Thank You Matters
Stress the importance of thank you notes.
- Think of someone in the school to whom your students could write thank you notes. Possibilities include the teacher to whose students your class wrote letters in the earlier exercise, a school janitor, librarian, cafeteria worker, principal, or volunteer parent.
- Discuss the components of a thank you note.
- Ask each student to compose his or her own, unique thank you note to the person you've chosen.
- Read over the letters for correct style, then deliver them to the recipient. If possible, conduct the delivery as a class.
- Back in your classroom, ask your children to think about how the recipient felt about the notes.
- Encourage your students to continue letter-writing at home.
More Books About Letter Writing
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Leigh begins writing to Mr. Henshaw, an author, as part of a school project. However, Leigh never dreams that he'll still be writing four years later!
Luv, Amelia Luv, Nadia by Marissa Moss
Amelia and Nadia's friendship deepens as they exchange letters relating personal experiences, triumphs, and disappointments.
The Gardner by Sarah Stewart
A little girl is sent to live with an uncle in the city when her family falls on hard times. A series of letters home reveal her unintentional impact on her uncle and others around her.
Other Books by Ann Whitehead Nagda
Canopy Crossing: A Story of an Atlantic Rainforest
Bamboo Valley: A Story of a Chinese Bamboo Forest
Snake Charmer (Books for Young Readers)
Tiger Math: Learning to Graph from a Baby Tiger
Tiger Territory: A Story of the Chitwan Valley
World Above the Clouds: A Story of a Himalayan Ecosystem
Lesson Plan by Rebecca Gómez.