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Elementary Teaching Blog
Posted by Linda Kamp on December 5, 2022 • Leave a Comment
Friendly Letter Activities for 2nd Grade Students
How do you teach your students how to write friendly letters? In this post I’ll share fun friendly letter activities that will help your students learn the parts of a letter, how to write a friendly letter, and how to address an envelope to mail a letter.
Inside this post you’ll find:
- How to write a friendly letter
- The parts of a letter
- The purpose of writing friendly letters
- Friendly letter topics
- An example of a friendly letter
- Learn the journey of a letter once it is mailed
- A list of friendly letter writing ideas
- Friendly letter lesson plans
- Letter writing templates
There are a multitude of social and emotional benefits to teaching students to write friendly letters . But the biggest academic benefit I’ve seen is that writing letters helps students become better writers by making them better storytellers.
What is a Friendly Letter?
A friendly letter is a personal, informal letter you would write to a friend, a family member, a peer, or someone else you know. You may also write a friendly letter to teachers, neighbors, and pen pals.
What is the purpose of a friendly letter?
You can write a friendly letter for a lot of different reasons. Most often they are written to say hello, ask a question, thank someone, invite them somewhere, or to inform them of something. Friendly letters can also be written to congratulate someone, send best wishes, or to share a story.
An Example of a Friendly Letter
Here is an example of a friendly letter. For which purpose was this letter written?
Purpose of a friendly letter PowerPoint lesson ( source )
Friendly Letter Topics
By writing letters students learn manners and polite ways to address people. These are some of the topics most often written about in a friendly letter.
- Thanking someone
- Inviting a friend
- Apologizing to a friend
- Sending a reminder to someone
- Requesting help or information
- Congratulating a friend
- Wishing someone a speedy recovery or a happy birthday
How to Write a Friendly Letter
This kid-friendly How to Write a Letter video made by the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a great one to share with your students. Students learn how to write a friendly letter a friend or a family member, how to address an envelope, how to mail a letter, and the journey a letter takes after being sent, through the post office, and delivered by a mail carrier!
The United States Postal Service website has some interesting articles and a fun Letters to Santa Program during the holidays.
The US Postal Service also has a USPS YouTube Channel with lots of videos you may want to use in the classroom.
Parts of a Letter and Friendly Letter Example
A friendly letter has five parts:
Each part adds important information to the letter. The date tells when the letter was written. The greeting is where you say hello or greet the person you are writing to.
Parts of a letter PowerPoint lesson (source)
Every letter has a body. The body is where you write the main message of the letter. A letter’s closing comes after the main message at the end of the letter. It is where you say goodbye to the person you are writing to.
Then finally, after the closing the writer signed the letter in what we call the signature.
One thing I teach my students to do is to ask questions in their letter or at least end their letter with a question. That way the recipient has something to say when they respond to the letter and write back to the sender.
Friendly letter PowerPoint lesson (source)
Fun Friendly Letter Activities & Writing Ideas
This list is just a small number of ways you can have your students write letters.
- Write Friday Letters to families and caregivers
- Write reminder letters to families and caregivers about upcoming conferences
- Make a list of letter-writing ideas with your students
- Write a letter to your future self in ten years
- Become pen pals with another class
- Write letters to favorite authors
- Write a letter to someone an invite them to speak to or teach something to your class
- Write to companies to thank, inform, or persuade them to do something.
- Write a letter to the company that makes your favorite toy or a restaurant that makes your favorite food telling them why you like it.
- Write thank you letters to volunteers, visitors, and school staff
- Write to the mayor of your town about an idea you have that will improve something in your city
Write letters to a favorite author
This is an example of one of the letters students wrote to our favorite author, Tomie dePaola, during our Tomie dePaola author study . Students make Strega Nona Cottage Booklets to hold their letters before sending them off to Tomie dePaola.
Write Friday Letters to Families and Care Givers
One way I keep parents, families, and caregivers connected to my clasroom is by having my students write Friday Letters. Writing these weekly letters helps to foster a home and school connection and I gain valuable insight about my students and they gain social, emotional, and academic benefits .
Friendly Letter Lesson Plans
If you need detailed, ready to use friendly letter lesson plans I’ve created a no-prep, easy to teach unit that includes everything you need to teach a unit on writing friendly letters.
The unit includes
- minilessons on PowerPoint
- parts of a letter posters
- friendly letter worksheets
- interactive notebook pages
- letter writing templates
- friendly letter writing assessment
See the friendly letter teaching unit in my TPT shop!
Free Letter Writing Templates
Start writing Friday letters with your students! Grab this FREE Friday Letters starter kit with letter writing templates, book covers, and editable parent letter.
Try these friendly letter writing activities with your students to help them build social skills and become better writers. Save this post for when you plan your letter writing unit!
Prefixes & Suffixes
Decodable Phonics Passages
Help your students turn isolated phonics skills into reading text as they practice decoding, fluency, and comprehension all in one resource!
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I’m Linda Kamp, a 20 year primary grade teacher with a passion for creating educational materials that excite students and make learning fun! I'm so glad you're here!
Grade 2 - Letter Writing
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An Introduction to Letter Writing
Letter writing can be fun, help children learn to compose written text, and provide handwriting practice — and letters are valuable keepsakes. This article contains activities to help children ages 5–9 put pen to paper and make someone’s day with a handwritten letter.
On this page:
What’s so special about receiving a handwritten letter, activity 1: warming up to letter writting, activity 2: introducing letter writing, activity 3: formal letters, activity 4: informal letters, activity 5: letter of inquiry and letters providing information, activity 6: thank you letters, activity 7: letters of invitation, activity 8: letters of complaint, activity 9: letters to santa, activity 10: letters to newspapers and magazines.
Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, everyone has to write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters, letters requesting changes or making suggestions — the list goes on and on. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, social and handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters.
Letter writing can be included in a school’s curriculum. Visits to museums or farms prompt thank you letters, for example contacting schools in other countries and exchanging letters links into geography. Writing imaginary letters to historical people can encourage understanding of a historical period or topic. Writing letters encourages good social skills, learning to say thank you and asking for information politely.
Letter writing has many purposes, including the following:
- It encourages good manners, especially writing ‘thank you’ letters
- Children can write invitations
- Children can write letters to friends and relatives
- Pen pals are always popular, giving insights into other children’s lives, especially overseas
In this article:
- What’s so special about receiving a handwritten letter?
- Warming up to letter writing
- Introducing letter writing
- Formal letters
- Informal letters
- Letter of enquiry and letters providing information
- Thank you letters
- Letters of invitation
- Letters of complaint
- Letters to Santa
- Letters to newspapers and magazines
Quite apart from curriculum requirements, being asked to write letters is a task that will appeal to children. The sheer fun of sending and receiving letters appeals to every child. There is something special about putting letters into the post box and then having letters delivered by the postman… the brightly colored stamps, seeing your name on the envelope and knowing that inside is a long awaited letter from a friend or member of the family. It shows someone cares and has taken the time to sit down and think about you.
Handwritten letters have a charm of their own. You can take time to think about what you want to say. You can keep letters to read again and again. You can admire the handwriting; share dreams and thoughts. Responding by letter is very different to the immediacy of a text message or an email.
Use the above themes to encourage the children to discuss letter-writing. Ask the children to put their hands up if they have ever received a personal letter. Ask for one or more volunteers to talk about how they felt to receive the letter. Here are some initial questions that may help:
- What was in your mind as you read the letter?
- Did you keep the letter to read again?
- Did you share your letter with anyone?
- Did you write back?
And some questions for whole class or group discussions:
- Can the class describe any differences between the handwritten letter and an email?
- Do the children think there is ever a time when only a handwritten letter will do?
Ask the class to interview each other to find out each individual’s experiences of writing and sending letters. This can be recorded in a chart.
Collect a supply of different types of letters — both formal and informal. Ask the children to sort them out into two groups. Which were written to friends? Which are formal letters from businesses? Which features or characteristics distinguish formal from informal?
Having done that ask the children to look for differences between the two groups. This allows a discussion to take place about the different types of letter. Draw up a chart for each group covering:
- Address — business or private?
- Greeting — formal or informal?
- Style of letter — friendly or business?
- What is the message?
- How does the letter end?
This will allow the children to find out for themselves the differences between formal and informal letters.
This could be followed by a discussion of the type of letters the children or their families write. How many occasions can they think of which would deserve a letter to be written? For example:
- Letters of congratulation
- Exchanging news
- Writing to friends
- Letters saying sorry for doing something wrong
- Making appointments
- Asking for information
- Dealing with banks or stores
- Letters to family members who live some way away
- Letters to Santa Claus
- Letters showing how much you appreciate someone
- Letters responding to someone who has had bad news — showing how much you care by trying to share their sadness
In each case the children should decide what type of letter would be most appropriate in each case — formal or informal? Draw up a chart for each group.
These are sometimes known as business letters. They are written in a strictly formal style. Such letters are always written on an A4 (8” x 11”) sheet of paper. They can be folded three times so that the address to which the letter is being sent can appear in the window of a business envelope. The layout is always the same.
- The senders address is put at the top right hand side
- Include telephone number and email if available
- The address of the person receiving the letter goes on the left hand side below the sender’s address
- Greeting — Dear Sir or Madam, or To Whom It May Concern. You can use the titles Miss, Mrs. or Mr. if you know the name of the person to whom you are writing
- The message
- Complimentary close — Yours faithfully (when you don’t know the person’s name), or Yours sincerely (when you know the person’s name to whom you’re writing)
- Write name in block letters (this is to ensure that the person receiving the letter knows exactly who has sent it. Signatures may not be very clear)
Typical layout of a formal letter
These are letters to friends and relations, or people you know well. Structure:
- The sender’s address should always appear on the top right hand corner of the page.
- Greeting — There are several variations that can be used depending on how well you know the person: Dear Mary, Hi Mary, Greetings
- Complimentary close — short comment, for example Love, Lots of love, With thanks, See you soon
Typical layout of an informal letter
Tips for writing good letters
- Make sure that they are well written. It can be very annoying for someone to have to struggle to read handwriting. Always use your best and clearest handwriting.
- Make sure all your contact details are clearly written down at the top of the letter. If they are not, then you might not get a reply. The correct address is essential.
- Think about what you want to say. If necessary make some notes on a separate sheet of paper first. This will ensure that you do not forget anything.
- Think about to whom you are writing the letter. Use the right style of writing and language — formal or informal, business like or friendly.
- Lay out your letter using paragraphs. This makes it easier for the reader.
Suitable for school, children ages 7-9
These are formal letters and messages need to be precise and detailed, covering all the required information. Two types of letters can be undertaken — a letter requesting information; and a reply providing it.
Out in the Milky Way, there is an alien curious about Earth. He writes a letter asking for information about liquids and gases. These do not exist on his planet and he finds it hard to understand what they are.
Write a letter explaining what liquids and gases are. How do they work? What examples could be included? What would be confusing about them? This could link to your science curriculum and could act as a revision exercise giving an opportunity for a discussion about gases and liquids.
The following day, give the children a thank you letter from the alien!
You could link up with another class in the school. One class could write letters of inquiry. These would be delivered to the second class for answering.
Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
Thank you letters are very important and can be used in lots of ways: thanking organisations for helping, thanking people for helping you, thanking someone for a lovely time. They make a good follow up exercise after receiving presents or going on a visit.
Your class has just been out on a school visit to a farm. Write a thank you letter to the farmer. You will need to say thank you and how much you enjoyed the visit. Give some examples of what you enjoyed best about the day? Was it feeding the lambs? Pond dipping? Seeing the young animals?
Everyone likes receiving invitations. Receiving a hand written letter asking you to a party or a special event makes you feel very special.
Discuss what type of event might create a need to write letters of invitation. There are plenty of examples — birthday parties, Christmas parties, a visit to a beach with friends; going out to a farm or to the cinema, a wedding or when a new baby is christened; or simply inviting a friend to stay overnight at your house.
Choose a special event and write a letter inviting a friend. What do you need to include in the letter so that they have all the necessary information? You need to be clear on the date and the time, as well as the location. Your friend would be very upset if he or she went to the wrong place. Does he or she need to bring anything with them? Does he or she need to be collected at a set time? Will outdoor clothing be needed if the weather is bad? How will your friend reach the location of the event? Should a parent bring them or will you provide transport?
Remember to ask them to reply saying yes or no. Give a date by which you must have their reply. This is important if food and drink are being provided, or if you need to know exactly how many people are coming.
Suitable for school or home, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
When might a letter of complaint be sent? It might be when someone has done something wrong. Sometimes people write letters to organisations or the newspapers to complain about litter or poor service.
Just imagine what Mr. Bear must have been thinking at the end of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A naughty girl had broken into his home, eaten his porridge; broken a chair and then gone to sleep on his child’s bed. Then she had run away without even saying sorry when the bears came back.
Write a letter of complaint from Mr. Bear to the parents of Goldilocks. What would he say? He would need to get his complaint across very strongly. There would be a list of Goldilocks’ misdeeds. He would ask for an apology. Would he ask for payment for the broken chair? Would he ask for action to be taken against Goldilocks? Discuss the various possibilities with the children. What might he ask? Would it be a formal or informal letter?
Every year children write letters to Santa Claus, asking for special toys at Christmas time. But how many children think about Santa Claus himself? What is his life like? What are the problems of living amid all that snow and ice?
This is an exercise that could involve two classes within a school. Both classes should prepare for the task by listening to some unusual letters. J R Tolkein wrote a lovely book entitled Letters from Father Christmas. Every December a letter would appear telling wonderful tales of life at the North Pole — how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Santa Claus’s house.
Children in the younger class should write letters to Santa. They should ask about life at the North Pole. What do they think it is like? What sort of characters live there? How does Santa Claus occupy his time for the rest of the year? Consider how they would feel living in a land of snow and ice all year round? Would they want a holiday somewhere warmer?
Once the letters are written, gather them up and take them to an older group of children. Give each child a letter and ask them to write a reply. This would give them the opportunity to use their imagination and create imaginative responses, possibly little stories about life at the North Pole. They could also add in their own ideas. But care should be taken to make sure that all the questions in the original letters are answered.
Finally, take the answers back to the original class for reading and discussing.
These are letters that aim to pass on an opinion or a message. Examples can be easily obtained from local newspapers or from children’s magazines such as DK Find Out or Aquila. They are written slightly differently to normal letters and are always addressed Dear Sir, or Dear — (name of magazine).
These are letters that are directed at a wide audience — anyone who happens to read it. The sender never gets a direct letter back through the post. Sometimes people are so interested in a letter, which has appeared in a magazine that they want to express their opinions. So they then write a letter to the magazine giving their comments.
So what might go into a letter to a newspaper or magazine? It might be a request — could you provide more stories about skate boarding, or nature? It might be a way of thanking people for providing help. Sometimes letters to local newspapers are used to thank people who helped find a lost dog or help after an accident; but who did not leave their names. By writing to the paper, the sender hopes that the message will reach the people concerned. Sometimes such letters are used to express opinions such as on climate change, treatment of animals, poor services, not enough buses, and human rights.
Letters of this kind need to be very precise. Arguments should be clearly made. Requests for action should be clearly indicated. From reading the letter, everyone should know exactly what the sender is asking.
A major issue is recycling and energy conservation. Everyone is trying to reduce the amount of energy we use. Look at all the reasons why energy conservation is so important. Then, write a letter to a paper or magazine saying why you believe we should avoid wasting energy. Give examples of how energy can be saved? What measures should we take in our homes or schools? Could anything more be done?
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My Child magazine. (2007). Letter Writing Resource Pack. London, U.K. Author. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from http://www.mychild.co.uk/docs/walw/Letter_writing_Resource_Pack.pdf.
Stories by Storie
Everyone has a story to tell. What is yours?
Friendly Letter Writing in 2nd Grade
April 22, 2015
If your second grade students are working on writing friendly letters, you may be looking for a few tools to get started. Here are some resources to help.
Friendly Letter Writing in Second Grade
I decided I’m moving forward with my series of writing posts. Today I want to delve into what friendly letters look like in my classroom.
We are in the age of technology. Kids are texting and curious about social media. It’s a great time to show them just how unique letter writing can be. Since nobody seems to send “snail mail” anymore, it is new and exciting for young students. In my class, we learn about friendly letters and then my students write to a pen pal. Last year we wrote to the students in another second grade classroom in our building. If you aren’t interested in pen pals but still want students to practice with a purpose, have students write Friday letters to their families, start a Flat Stanley project, or simply write to a class pet or mascot .
Books about Writing Friendly Letters
Before I tell my students that we’re beginning a letter writing unit, I casually read picture books with letters inside. As a bonus, I can determine the schema my students already have without them even knowing! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Sincerely Yours: Writing Your Own Letter
- I Wanna Iguana
- Sincerely, Emerson
- Can I Be Your Dog?
- It Came in the Mail
- Toot and Puddle
- Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School
- Dear Mr. Blueberry
- The Jolly Postman
- The Day the Crayons Quit
- Yours Truly, Goldilocks
- Dear Dragon
Click on the picture below to find even more friendly letter writing books on Amazon.
we are a participant in the amazon services llc associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Getting started with writing friendly letters.
Once I have gone through my favorite books, I will begin teaching the 5 parts of a friendly letter and I usually start with our anchor chart. I LOVE seeing anchor charts on blogs & Pinterest, but to be honest, I HATE making them and hardly ever take pictures of mine. In fact, there are only two things I love about anchor charts (using Mr. Sketch markers and knowing my students are using them). Here are some pics I found online that helped guide me to making my own anchor chart.
This one is from Following Optimism in 2nd Grade:
Here’s a little freebie that would be great to print and place inside your students writing folders or journals as a reference tool. This is from The Colorful Apple:
Another way to teach your students the parts of a friendly letter is with this handy flipbook: (source: Teaching Maddeness)
Sometimes we’ll even sing. Now, if you knew me in real life, you know that the only people I sing in front of are my own children (who treat me like a rockstar) and my students (when NO other adults are present). So, I make sure that the classroom door is closed and belt out this tune with the kiddos (PS – if you know the original source for this one, please share):
Soon, we’re ready to begin writing. I start by writing a letter to the class. Okay, remember how I said I hardly ever take pictures of my anchor charts? You’ve been warned. Here’s one of mine:
After identifying the questions as a group, we’re ready to start our pre-write.
It isn’t fancy (or pretty), but we always do two things on our paper:
First, we write out the questions asked along with answers that restate the question. Who wants to read a letter that says I like blue, pizza, and 9:00? Writing letters is NOT like texting or e-mailing. You don’t get to go back and look at the questions you asked someone else. So I expect my students restate their answers.
Next, we write new questions. In my classroom the kids must ask 3-5 new questions. Why 3-5? Well, second graders don’t always realize that in order to keep a conversation going, you have to give the other person something to comment on or answer. On the other hand, if I don’t put a cap on the number, I would have a few kiddos writing our 67 questions. No joke! In my opinion, 3-5 is a fair and reasonable number for all of my students.
Once they finish these two steps, they must have an adult check their work. Then it’s time to start their first draft:
Once they finish their first draft, they bring the paper to me for corrections. Sometimes I correct on the spot and if there are time constraints, I will collect the papers and make corrections another time.
When students get their corrections back, they get to choose the paper for their final copy. I usually offer two choices:
Here are some final copies:
Notebook paper is great, but sometimes you just need the “fancy paper” to motivate your kids to write neatly. If you don’t have the time (or patience) to create your own, here are two great places to grab some papers. First, I love the seasonal paper packs from Forever First Grade by Lindsey Brooks. The lines are the perfect size for my 2nd grade writers. Click below to check out the spring pack, but she has them for fall, winter, and summer, too! I used this paper for their final copies.
This set is a freebie from Literacy Spark:
If you missed out on the other writing posts, no worries. Click below to check them out!
- Opinion Writing
- How-To Writing
- Daily 5 Writing
You might also enjoy these posts:
- A Letter From Your Teacher Activity
- Book Lists Organized by Topic
No related posts.
April 22, 2015 at 9:20 pm
I hear you with the 67 questions from second graders! We've been writing penpals, too, but my students have been slightly perplexed by the idea and their third letters sound much like their first!
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Grade 2 Language
Writing learning activity.
- Minds On: Introduces the learning concepts to be explored in the Learning Activity.
- Action: Offers a focused activity to explore the content and discover key concepts.
- Consolidation: Provides students with an opportunity to deepen understanding and reflect on learning.
- choosing a selection results in a full page refresh
- press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection