Monday, April 11, 2011

How homeschoolers do things: a letter-writing unit

In this case the point of interest is not so much how we're doing a language unit on letter writing, as the timing of it.

Actually that was accidental.

I had planned to have Crayons do some work on letter writing, starting this week.  Last week we finished reading Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs, which is mostly written in letter form.

So there you go.  Crayons' interest in letters is still high; and Judy's letters in D-L-L cover everything from descriptions of her college life, to crotchety whinefests, to apologies afterward; from purely businesslike memos to one loveydovey epistle at the end.  (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven't read it.)  A very good example of how writing style needs to vary depending on the situation.

The book we're using is a hand-me-down from the Apprentice.  It's the Reader's Digest Kids Letter Writer Book, by Nancy Cobb, published in 1994.  The bonus for us is that it's Canadian.  All the address examples, cities, provinces, postal codes are Canadian ones.  I don't know if the book was also published in an American version--maybe someone will let me know.*  (The Apprentice originally got it as part of a kit with stationery, pens etc.)

We read the list of reasons you might want to write a letter ("Help you make a new friend," "Send hard-to-say-thoughts," "Be Serious (write to the prime minister)"), and then compared the first two sample letters in the book: one "friendly," one business-style.  As a mini-assignment, I had Crayons write a short business letter to her dad or someone else that she would normally send a more personal letter.  She wrote a very economically-worded request for a particular birthday present.  (Those double-digits are coming around soon.)

There are lots of other sample letters and tips in the book.  I'm not sure how many of them we'll use, but I know there's enough to keep a fourth-grader going for awhile.

*I did find this reference to a later version--maybe this one is American?  "LETTER WRITER STARTER SET : Have Fun, Keep in Touch, Be Heard, and Get Things Done --- By Letter!"

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