Ever have one of those days where you just can't come up with a writing mini-lesson, or just don't have the time to put it together? Maybe it's near report card time, or you are pulled for a meeting and need to leave something easy for an Assistant. Or maybe you're going to be out and need something to leave for a substitute! This activity is one I always keep in my "sub tub"! Run off the letter and envelope back to back, and you'll have a letter on one side, and the other side can be folded into an envelope.
I like to start off by having each student fold and address an envelope to himself/ herself. We have the "Wee Deliver" program in my school, where children mail their letters in a "real" mailbox, and once a week, students work with a parent volunteer to process and deliver that mail. Everyone in the school has an "address" according to their classroom. (My street is "Broadway", as I'm a big musical theater fan!) Even if you don't have this program, you can assign a "class address" for each child, since using home addresses might not be recommended for privacy purposes.
For younger students, the envelopes can be pre-addressed. My second graders struggle to remember all the parts of an address, so I make several copies for each child and keep them for "those days". (Another advantage to this activity... it can be repeated over and over!)
Once the envelopes are addressed, the teacher collects them, and shuffles them. Then the children choose one of the envelopes (making sure they don't get their own) and write a letter to that person.
With younger students, I spend some time making sure the children have ideas for letter writing. We brainstorm a list, which I keep in the view of the children. I'll spell key words for them, and make sure they have plenty of ideas.
If someone is absent, I'll have early finishers write to them, or even better, I write to them myself.
I find this activity to be rewarding for all involved: it's easy on the teacher's valuable planning time, the children enjoy interacting with each other, and it has "built in feedback"! When the children get the letters, they respond! If they enjoy the letter, that's feedback! If they have trouble reading the letter, that's feedback, too. Honestly, when the children have a captive audience of a classmate or friend, they tend to focus on writing so their audience will enjoy it!
Brain research tells us that authentic feedback is the best feedback of all. It also tells us that interaction with others and activities with true meaning are motivating to children. What's more motivating than
passing notes in class... writing letters to classmates?