Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 1, 2013

Christmas Thank You Letters

Writing Christmas Thank You Letters

Wow! Now here’s an “old school” idea. Who writes letters anymore? And Christmas “thank you” letters?

Imagine the thrill of receiving such a letter. Why not take a walk down nostalgia lane and try this with your students.

Step One – ask students to bring special paper and a favorite pen. If possible, provide some of your own – a selection of colored paper would be a start as would a supply of some gel pens, speedballs, good quality ballpoints and maybe even a fountain pen.

Step Two – while you’re waiting for the supplies to arrive, try a practice copy. We’re talking “friendly letter” here so the format is simple. The date and a salutation are all that’s needed to get started. Even the term “salutation” may need to be explained.

Step Three – getting started. Introduce the idea of leaping right in to the purpose for the letter. I always used to start mine with “How are you? I am fine. I’m sorry it has taken so long to write but . . . then fill in some lame excuse.” My parents would force me to write my annual thank you letters but gave me little guidance.

The most obvious beginning is to say thanks for the gift. Name the gift. Talk about why you like it or what you’ve done with it. Give some specific details. CAUTION – depending on the gift, don’t immediately compare it to others that were more extravagant, larger, or more expensive. e.g. Thanks very much for the socks. I love the color purple and the cool lightning bolts that go down the sides. I also got new downhill skis, a helmet, and a digital camera. Too cool, eh?

 Step Four – Talk about the Christmas holiday and your life in the last weeks or months. Doing this makes the letter sound a little less like a chore being fulfilled – saying only thank you and nothing else.

 Step Five – This is an option and should only be considered if you really want to hear back from whomever you’re writing to. Ask questions – not necessarily about Christmas but anything you are truly interested in.

 Step No Number but Throughout the Writing – have a piece of scrap paper beside you. As you write, jot down other ideas that come to mind while you are in the midst of talking about something else. Use the scrap list to add the ideas at the appropriate moment. Also use the scrap paper to check words that are hard to spell. Sometimes I need to see a word written several ways in order to determine which one looks right.

 And have some fun. Add your latest joke. Draw a little picture. Share a cute saying you’ve heard. Sign off with something other than Love or Yours Truly – be creative. If you can, spice up the envelope a bit – color and a bit of calligraphy – and add a slightly different stamp.

 Step Six – show students the two ways to fold letters – see the iMovie. Because you’re just practicing, use the outside of the folder letter to act as an envelope and put the ideas noted above to use. Likely, you will have to show how to put the return address and sender’s address on the envelope.

 Step Seven – share. If you’ve had your kids write “pretend” letters for practice, it should be both fun and instructive to let your class look at a variety of samples.

 Step Eight – after Christmas, allow some class time for those who wish to participate to write the real McCoy. As an option, allow the writing of any friendly letter. While the kids write, write one of your own.


Responses

  1. Always the master teacher! Take a very simple activity and teach twenty different concepts. I bet a guy like you could string a letter out for the whole year and teach the whole curriculum.

  2. Hi.
    I have a couple of ideas for you. I am a retired teacher and thought you might like to try one of these. I used them with fourth graders but they could be adapted to your older students.

    At the beginning of December I cut out a large brown paper bag that stretched across most of the bulletin board. (I realize this might be a little corny of your students, but it helps to visualize.). The caption read, “What would you give Santa?” Each student got a letter of the alphabet made to look like a gift tag. We then brained stormed about what the poor, worn out, old man would appreciate. Excedrine, replacement reins, hand warmers, a local map (to this the child stared all the students homes!), etc. Yes, this was one of the seemingly youngest bulletin boards – but they loved it. They had to bring in the actual object they were giving to Santa and it went up on the board with their gift tag.. I really don’t think any of my students still believed in Santa, but once i explained the idea i heard nothing but excitement. They really got on board! The thinking that went in to this was amazing. Many objects were very thoughtful, many were very funny.

    This next one is more age appropiate. Journal entry early in December “It was the beginning of December, the Christmas season has begun. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.”

    With that starting them off, the students were to divided their page in half and write discriptive items under each column. (The best…The worst) Wow, lots of insight from this one.

    I hope these are of use to you. If you do, let me know how it went. Thanks.

    Mrs. Sibbett


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