Beyond Texting: Teaching Kids the Art of Letter Writing

By Amy Trowbridge-Yates on August 9th, 2021
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So often, it’s the littlest hearts and hands that have the biggest ideas, the hugest hopes, the greatest love. And there are so many small ways you can help them send love and kindness into the lives of others—like teaching kids to write letters and notes.

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Why teaching kids to write letters matters

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I remember rushing to the mailbox after school to see if a pink envelope with Lisa Frank stickers had arrived from my pen pal. I’d love my girls to experience the joy of receiving and sending physical letters to read over and over again and reply to (and to find something other than bills in the mail).

Introducing children to the art of letter writing is a perfect way to help express themselves and spread happiness. But there’s more:

  • It’s a great skill for their future endeavours and a fun way to learn handwriting, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • It gives little ones who struggle with shyness or social skills a way to practice communication without being put on the spot and lets them have time to think through what they’d like to express.
  • It’s also a screen-free way to keep in touch and to connect with faraway family—all with the loving touch of hand-drawn illustrations and handwritten signatures.

And it’s a great start to teaching kiddos they have the power to change the world…with a heartfelt message and a stamp!


Letter writing 101: Basic format

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In case it’s been years since you had your own pen pal, here are the basics for letter writing:

  • Date
  • Salutation
    If they’re writing a letter to someone they haven’t met, talk to them about using titles, such as “Dear Madam Vice President,” or more open salutations, like “To Whom It May Concern.” But for pen pals they know and love, the greeting doesn’t have to be as formal as “Dear Grandma.” Let them choose what feels most like their voice: “Hi, Nana!” works, too.
  • Body
    The main part of a child’s letter, especially when they’re writing to a loved one, can be pretty simple—a sentence or a short paragraph.
    Let kids lead the way on what they’d like to express or inquire about. It might be occasion driven, or you can give them suggestions, like: Write three things you’d like to share with the recipient and three things you’d like to ask the recipient.
  • Closing
    Help them create a “wrap-up” to the letter, whether it’s a request for a response or an expression of love or “I miss you.” And then talk to them about the differences between an appropriate “Sincerely” or a heartfelt “Love” before their signature.
  • Signature
    My kids love practicing their cursive, so this is a great place for them to try a “fancy” way to sign their names.
  • PS.
    Explain that this stands for “postscript” and is a quick, often fun add-on to the letter. Maybe a note about their pet? A “Can’t wait to see you this summer”? A mention of a fun memory they’ve had with the recipient?
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How to make sending letters easy for kids

Make sure your kids have everything they need handy. Stock an organizer with:

  • Notecards, stationery and postcards
  • Their own address book or notebook
  • Stamps (you can let them pick their own designs at the US Postal Service website)
  • Writing utensils
  • Stickers and washi tape

Letter writing tips for younger children

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Letter writing is a wonderful way to express gratitude and writing thank-you notes is an easy place to begin, especially for younger kids. Start after a birthday or holiday and show little ones how to show gratitude for a gift received or time spent together.

A few more tips:

  • If they can’t write just yet, ask them to tell you what they’d like to say in the letter—capturing it verbatim can be adorable. Let them decorate it with pictures and stickers. It’s also fun to let them “sign” (or cutely scribble) their name.
  • If they can write a little, come up with a “fill-in-the-blank” letter where they can add a few words they know. Or help kids practice handwriting by printing what they’d like to say and letting them copy your writing onto their stationery.
  • When they can properly write sentences, simply help them with structure and coming up with just the right words and expressions.

Changing the world—one piece of mail at a time

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Letters aren’t just for sending to grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and faraway friends. Kids can express big thoughts to companies, people they admire, elected officials and groups.

They can make suggestions, offer criticisms, convey admiration or support, ask questions and share their gratitude. Letter writing is a great way to show kiddos how to use their voices for change and to constructively express their ideas, thoughts and feelings—the world is listening!

A few recipients to start with:

  • The president or elected officials
  • A company that makes a product they love—and one that made a product that disappointed them
  • Someone who does a job in a field that interests them
  • Someone they admire—famous or otherwise
  • A nonprofit group they support
  • Children’s book authors (my kids have received some really fun replies!)

Once they’ve decided who to write to, you can teach them how to find addresses online. We’ve got instructions for addressing envelopes.

Ten picture books about mail

Hallmark Editorial Director Emily Akins hosts The Beginning of Your Life Book Club, a blog and podcast about the magic of picture books. She’s got a giant spot in her heart for teaching kids to write letters and recommends these books to help pass on a love of letter writing.

  • A Letter To Amy by Ezra Jack Keats
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
  • Dear Juno by Soyung Pak, Illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
  • Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends: The Letter by Arnold Lobel
  • The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley
  • Snail Mail by Samantha Berger, Illustrated by Julia Patton
  • Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk
  • Never Mail an Elephant by Mike Thaler, Illustrated by Jerry Smath

However your letters come out—sweet and scribbly, long and lovey, colourful and cutesy—it doesn’t matter. What matters is showing kids how to express themselves with the written word, how to share emotions and how to show you care with one little stamp.

Letter writing is so much more than putting pen to paper…putting love into motion.

Find the new Little World Changers collection of books, cards and gifts at your Hallmark Gold Crown Store.