Teaching students to write a basic letter, or a friendly letter, can be difficult because there is a good deal of formatting involved that the students will have to get right if they are to be successful with letter writing. Not only is the format important but the letter will also need to be well written. The easiest way to teach students to write a basic letter is to give the students some kind of template that they can follow. Start with a handwritten letter and then move on to the computer as a second draft. If you write the template once, you can give it to them for both drafts.
Open a new document in Microsoft word or whatever word processor you are familiar with. When the blank document opens, click "File" and then "Save As" and name your file "Letter Template." Click "Save."
Type in at the top of the paper "House Number, Street Name," hit Enter and type "City, State, Zip Code," hit Enter again and type in "Month, Day, Year." Hit Enter two more times to bring the cursor down. Then, select the words you typed. Hit the "Tab" button on your keyboard eight times. The words should move to the right-hand side of the document.
Click on the left-hand side of the screen, so the blinking cursor appears again on that side. Type "Dear ____," and hit Enter. In the space shown, the children will place the name of the person receiving the letter. If you wish, you can also type that text on the document as an explanation.
Hit Enter again to skip a line under the salutation. Type "(Indent)" and then type "Body Paragraph 1." Then, in parenthesis, write special instructions for the first body paragraph. For example: "Write a little bit about yourself and explain what kinds of things you like to do."
Repeat Step 4 for two more paragraphs, each time instructing the kids what you would like them to write in each paragraph. For example, paragraph 1 may be about the student; in paragraph 2, the student can ask questions about the person he is writing to; then, in paragraph 3, the student can tell the person what they would like to do later on, such as: "I can't wait to see you this summer. When we meet, we should ...." Have the student fill in the blank.
Hit Enter again to skip a line after the final body paragraph. Type "Sincerely," and hit Enter twice, then type "Your Name" and hit enter again. As with the address in Step 2, select what you just typed and hit the Tab button eight times.
Click "File" and then "Save" to save the document. Then, print the document and make copies for each student in your class. Give the students the template and instruct them as you go through it while they write their letter on a sheet of notebook paper in class. Then, place the document on the computers they will be using and have them type their letters into the template on the computer.
Do not just give out the template and let your students get to work. Your students will still need some guidance from you. Explain each step to your students as you go through the process. You can also make the letter longer or shorter if you wish by adding or deleting body paragraphs.