Formal letter writing is becoming somewhat of a lost art with the constant use of the more informal e-mail. Allow students to improve their written communication skills by writing different types of letters. Before students begin writing, discuss the various parts of the letter including the heading, body and closing.
Ask students to pick a family member, friend, fictitious character or famous person and write a friendly letter to that person. Encourage students to write about an interesting event that recently took place in their lives and to include questions for the recipient.
If the students are reading a book in class, ask students to pretend to be a character from the book and write a friendly letter to another character in the story. Have students exchange letters and write responses.
Discuss with students the similarities and differences between a friendly and business letter and the different reasons people write a business letter. Ask students to submit a business letter to a company of their choosing. Allow students to choose the intent for the letter, such as a form of complaint, suggestions for improvement, thank you for superior service or a request for service. Have students address the envelope and send the letter. Discuss the responses the students receive.
Letter to the Editor
Letters to the editor allow the writer to express his opinion on a particular topic written in a newspaper or magazine. Ask students to bring in a magazine or newspaper of their choice, read the published letters to the editor and select an article they feel strongly about. Each student prepares their own letter to the editor expressing their thoughts and opinions about the topic. Encourage students to submit their own letters to the publication.
Ask students to pick a topic, charity or problem that matters a great deal to them. Examples include heart disease awareness, a species at risk of endangerment or the need for more people to switch to solar power. Have students write a letter to their fellow citizens encouraging them to support their chosen cause. Allow students to read their letters to the class and discuss if any of the students changed their mind about a topic or felt inspired by any of the letters.
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