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December 15, 2017

Teaching Letter-Writing Skills With Santa

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Oftentimes, students who have an aversion to writing are lacking a sense of purpose. As teachers, we aim to help students with that connection. This is one of the reasons that composing a letter to Santa is such a popular writing activity during the month of December.

    My struggle with this assignment, however, has always been how to scaffold the students' writing so they aren't doing countless revisions and then become discouraged. This year, when I got my November/December issue of Let’s Find Out, I noticed their Rebus Reader section was about mailing holiday cards.

     

     

    After checking the online resources for this issue, my letters to Santa writing assignment really took shape for the first time.


    In the printable section of the online content for each issue are two worksheets (Spanish versions of both sheets are also available). The two pages for this month's Rebus Reader were just what I needed. The first is the "Design Your Own Stamp!" sheet, which I distributed to the class, providing many copies for each student. I explained that I wanted them to make different stamps that would show me a bit of what they learned from each of the cultural traditions that we studied from our Holidays Around the World unit.

     

    The other sheet is a letter to a friend where students draw a holiday picture and fill in the blank on the letter template. It is the perfect introduction to the idea of letter writing before you ask your class to write their letter to Santa.

    While I'm a big fan of the magazine and find the resources to be big timesavers, you do not have to take my word for it. You can get a 30-day free trial where you will have access to, not only all of the online resources, but also the great teacher guides that come with the issues.

    One of the ideas that I thought was pure genius was in the teacher guide. It suggested that before the students complete their holiday letters, the teacher provide envelopes for each student to place their finished letter. I placed a different sticker in the area of each envelope where the recipient’s address would typically go. I then placed a corresponding sticker on each student's cubby. The stickers served as a unique address for each student. Each student received an envelope, put in their finished letter, and delivered it to the cubby with the matching sticker. This awesome activity allowed each student to not only write a letter, but to receive one as well.  


    After this classroom fun, my class used the letter to a friend to model their letters to Santa. This gave my struggling writers some level of comfort as they started to write. Every child completes the letter to Santa because it’s writing with a purpose of the highest degree!


    This pre-letter to Santa work really improved the overall skills that my students were able to show in their finished product. Want to expand your letter-writing instruction even more? Check out Please Write Back by Jennifer E. Morris which features a series of letters; Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and illustrated by David Catrow, which is one letter from a father to his children; or It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton, about a child who desperately wants to get a letter.


    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


    I can’t wait to see you next time!

    Oftentimes, students who have an aversion to writing are lacking a sense of purpose. As teachers, we aim to help students with that connection. This is one of the reasons that composing a letter to Santa is such a popular writing activity during the month of December.

    My struggle with this assignment, however, has always been how to scaffold the students' writing so they aren't doing countless revisions and then become discouraged. This year, when I got my November/December issue of Let’s Find Out, I noticed their Rebus Reader section was about mailing holiday cards.

     

     

    After checking the online resources for this issue, my letters to Santa writing assignment really took shape for the first time.


    In the printable section of the online content for each issue are two worksheets (Spanish versions of both sheets are also available). The two pages for this month's Rebus Reader were just what I needed. The first is the "Design Your Own Stamp!" sheet, which I distributed to the class, providing many copies for each student. I explained that I wanted them to make different stamps that would show me a bit of what they learned from each of the cultural traditions that we studied from our Holidays Around the World unit.

     

    The other sheet is a letter to a friend where students draw a holiday picture and fill in the blank on the letter template. It is the perfect introduction to the idea of letter writing before you ask your class to write their letter to Santa.

    While I'm a big fan of the magazine and find the resources to be big timesavers, you do not have to take my word for it. You can get a 30-day free trial where you will have access to, not only all of the online resources, but also the great teacher guides that come with the issues.

    One of the ideas that I thought was pure genius was in the teacher guide. It suggested that before the students complete their holiday letters, the teacher provide envelopes for each student to place their finished letter. I placed a different sticker in the area of each envelope where the recipient’s address would typically go. I then placed a corresponding sticker on each student's cubby. The stickers served as a unique address for each student. Each student received an envelope, put in their finished letter, and delivered it to the cubby with the matching sticker. This awesome activity allowed each student to not only write a letter, but to receive one as well.  


    After this classroom fun, my class used the letter to a friend to model their letters to Santa. This gave my struggling writers some level of comfort as they started to write. Every child completes the letter to Santa because it’s writing with a purpose of the highest degree!


    This pre-letter to Santa work really improved the overall skills that my students were able to show in their finished product. Want to expand your letter-writing instruction even more? Check out Please Write Back by Jennifer E. Morris which features a series of letters; Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and illustrated by David Catrow, which is one letter from a father to his children; or It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton, about a child who desperately wants to get a letter.


    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


    I can’t wait to see you next time!

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