Friendly Letter End of Year Writing


Earlier this school year I attended a Kristina Smekens workshop on mini lessons.  It was AMAZING!  Her team is always great about recommending books to use with the students and then they have tables and tables of books for you to purchase.  Marketing scheme???  Who cares though because I love recommendations.  One book that she did not get to talk about was Thank you, Miss Doover by Robin Pulver.  

This book caught my attention because every year I have my students write friendly letters to their classmates.  This is something my team started and I LOVE the idea!  We start at the end of April and we do a letter a day.  This book seemed like the perfect opener to this project because I want their letters to be heartfelt and neat too.  When I was reading the book to the class I was reading her name just as it looks.  The only easy way for me to explain was it rhymed with hoover.  When I got to the end of the book I realized it was do over.  Brilliant!  That is what I get for only skimming a book!  This worked out better than I had expected because I am VERY particular about their handwriting and neatness.  So if there are erase marks or tears in the paper you have to do it over!  They get good at being close to perfect pretty quickly.  When I realized what her name actually was I decided to decorate a hat to wear while editing the students' letters.  All I had in my cabinet was a sailor hat from a school wide theme a few years ago.  Hot right?!  The student's cracked me up.  If I wasn't wearing it and I started editing it they would bring it over to me!  Then they started calling me Mrs. Doover.  Hysterical!  There were some occasions when my aide would edit their letters and she even wore the hat.  It seems silly, but whatever gets them excited right!

For the letters I put an outline of what I would like them to include in the letter on my ELMO and project it daily.  You can find that example hereat my TPT store.  I highlighted the parts they need to focus on or change.  I just added that now, so let me know if that seems to confusing.

 As time goes on they can stop using the outline or I found that they liked adding one or two special sentences.  I did find my slower workers needed a hard copy in front of them.  That works too if you would rather do that for everyone.  Maybe laminating them for each student would be a great idea to start with.  
Some of the letters were SUPER sweet this year.  

If the student in the one that the rest of the class is writing to then they write a letter to me.  I just love reading what they have to say about me.  It seemed like we laughed a lot together.  I think that is a good thing right?!  
It is very important to keep track of who turned the letters in, so I just made a copy of my grade sheet and put a check mark next to their name when they turned it in.  You always have those 1 or 2 students who are behind several letters.  You have a student in your head don't you!

I keep all of the letters paper clipped until I receive all of them, then I create a cover.  I glue the cover onto construction paper.  Then I use another piece of construction paper and sandwich the letters between the cover and the 2nd piece, staple it, and it makes a little book.  

I hand the letters out on the last day of school and I give them some quiet time to read all of the letters carefully.  After they are done reading I have them share some of the things that they really liked.  It is cute watching the author get a smile on their face when they are recognized for writing something nice.

The students take them home and hopefully have an adorable keepsake from their class! 


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