How to Teach Writing a Friendly Letter to Third Grade Students

Written by molly thompson
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How to Teach Writing a Friendly Letter to Third Grade Students
Third-graders may start to eagerly anticipate receiving friendly letters from their pen pals. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Handwriting personal letters has become a lost art for many young people in this age of texts, e-mails and webcams. Consider a pen-pal exchange to help students learn the enjoyment of sending and receiving friendly letters. Include letter-writing in classroom units on penmanship, communication methods or U.S. history. In lieu of the traditional, "What I did on my vacation" essays or standard book reports, instruct students to write a letter to a friend describing their vacation or a book they've read.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sample letters
  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Letter template worksheets
  • Stationery and writing implements

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  1. 1

    Talk to the students about how friends communicated with each other before texting, instant messaging and e-mails. Show them examples of friendly letters from references such as the Letter Writing Guide ( or The Writing Lover's Website (, or your personal collection.

  2. 2

    Make a large poster diagram of the elements in a friendly letter: the date, salutation, body, closing, and signature. Describe each element to the students and use the poster to teach them the correct sequence of these elements in a friendly letter.

  3. 3

    Create a template worksheet for a friendly letter with blank lines for the students to fill in. Direct them to complete the worksheets by supplying the relevant information. and ReadWriteThink ( offer printable worksheets with several ideas already entered to help the students complete a letter correctly. Collect and grade the worksheets and return them to the students. Review them in class, reminding the students of what information belongs in each section.

  4. 4

    Give each student stationery and a pen or pencil to write an actual letter. Explain that writing the letters by hand, rather than on a computer, makes them more personal. Tell them it is also a chance to practice their penmanship.

  5. 5

    Direct the students to write the letter to a friend their own age or a relative. Give the students a choice of three or four themes for their letters: their experience at summer camp, describing a favourite book or movie, or how much they enjoyed a recent class field trip, for example. Tell the students their letters must include all the elements in the diagram, in the correct sequence.

  6. 6

    Read several of the letters out loud to the class without revealing the writer's identity. Identify the types of words and phrases that make the letters interesting to a reader. Ask the students to help suggest ideas to improve future letters. Mail the letters.

  7. 7

    Propose a letter-writing exchange with pen pals from another state. Help the students research and safely establish the connections with peers from far away. Continue the letter-writing exchange during the school year. Review the students' letters throughout the year to recommend changes, praise improvement and ensure the content is appropriate.

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