I love writing letters, I love mailing letters, and I love receiving letters. Maybe it’s because my top two love languages are gifts and words of affirmation, but I just love everything about it, the magic of the whole postal system. Write something, as long or as short as you want to, stick a stamp on it, write an address, stick it in the box on your porch, and voila! A few days later, that very same piece of paper is in the hands of someone else across the country (or even across the world!)
During a STAAR reading practice this semester, our students were all completely stumped on the following question: “how much did it cost to send a letter in 1974?” Directly above this question was a picture of a stamp, with a big fat number in the upper right hand corner. None of our kids, (not even those crazy GT kids I get mad at for knowing everything), knew how to find the answer to this question. These kids have never written and mailed letters! We are living in the age of iPads and SnapChat and texts, which are all things that I love and appreciate, but somehow in the midst of this technological madness we are losing the art of writing letters. Thus began our fifth grade letter writing campaign.
As part of our fundraising for Walk4Water this year, I had our students each write and mail at least one hand written fundraising letter to one of my friends or family members. I have seen so many benefits come from this project:
- students have practiced their writing skills, specifically letter writing skills
- students have learned how much it costs to send a letter (direct question from STAAR test!)
- students banded together as a community to raise money for a good cause
- students were able to build a sense of community with others outside of their classroom walls
- Monday we will learn how to write thank you notes, further building on our real life skills
- students were genuinely invested and excited, because this is a skill they will need for the rest of their lives (and it’s fun!)
The most exciting moments of this project have been receiving letters back and reading them aloud
as a class. You would not believe the way a fifth grader’s face lights up when a letter comes to the school addressed to them! I caught one student opening his letter and rereading it over and over again throughout the day last week. It was precious.
I have loved this project so much, and I don’t want it to stop here. Next year, I want to start a letter project. A corner of the classroom will be decorated as our mail corner, and in this corner I will have stationary, envelopes, return address labels, stamps, and a mailbox. We will set a goal to write 365 letters together, as a class, through out the year, and students will be able to write letters in their free time as well as during designated letter writing time. I think we can do it! And we will write and receive letters all year long, keeping the magic alive.
This idea has also been bred from two things that I love in my life outside of school right now. Writing letters is not just something that I want my students to do, but something that I want to do more in my own life also. I am obsessed with Happy Mail, a monthly stationary subscription service (their stationary is in the photo featured at the top!). You should check it out, because it really doesn’t get any cuter than this. The other inspiration for this project came directly from this project by Green Fingerprint.
I can’t wait to get this project started in the Fall. Maybe we can even team up with some other classrooms from across the country!