Recently, I was planning with the first grade team at my school when we realized something that almost never happens in teaching. We are going to finish our final writing unit…early!
What should we do? we wondered.
Definitely something fun, we agreed, but nothing too complicated.
And something that will compel students to continue writing in the summer, we decided.
What fit the bill? Letter writing!
Handwritten letters are often forgotten in today’s age of instantaneous digital communication. But text and email hold nothing to the personal connection you feel upon receiving a handwritten letter, especially one in the mail. Even though they video chat with Grammy weekly, my kids get so excited at the postcards my mom mails them every 4-6 weeks. It’s just exciting to get snail mail!
Here is the list of possible letters we brainstormed for students to write in the final week(s) of school:
- Letters to their teacher next year, sharing about themselves and what they hope to learn
- Letters to the kindergarteners, telling them what to expect in first grade
- Thank you letters to their reading buddies in 4th grade
- Letters to their family, sharing their favorite moments in first grade and the most important things they have learned–these we plan to mail home before the last day of school
- Letters to their current teacher, telling them what they liked about this year and what they think should change for next year (for more on this, check out Stacey’s post on End-of-Year Letters for guidelines she gave her 4th and 5th graders)
- Letters to other adults in the school: classroom assistant, nurse, principal, custodian, PE teacher, etc.
- Letters to classmates
To encourage students to continue writing during the summer, we will send them home with letter writing supplies like paper with fun borders, envelopes, and postcards. If your school or PTA publishes a family directory, you could include a copy or link to your class page so students can send letters to each other’s homes. Students will brainstorm a list of people they want to write to over the summer to keep with their summer letter writing supplies.
Host a summer writing challenge! In the past, I have challenged students at my school to write a postcard to me, their teacher, or other staff member and mail it to school over the summer. Everyone who did was invited to a special lunch when school started in September. Use this postcard template and letter of explanation for families to host your summer writing challenge for your classroom or your entire school. Just insert your school logo and copy onto cardstock to create personalized postcards your students will be excited to write on.
Have you written end-of-year letters with your students? How do you inspire your students to keep writing during the summer? Share your thoughts and ideas below!