We all know that writing is an important skill, but sometimes practicing writing with our children
can be a daunting task. Your child might write sloppily, start drawing on their paper, or complain
of a hand cramp. Are any of these familiar woes at your house?
A tried-and-true solution from our house is corresponding with pen pals. A few years ago, my
brother and his family moved to the East Coast. What began as a basic way for cousins to
communicate has now become great writing practice. My children anxiously await letters from
their cousins. Snail mail is definitely not as quick as email, but my children are motivated
knowing that the faster they write, the faster they will get a response.
Who can you write? Ask cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends that live elsewhere.
This is a fun activity that can be done with children of all ages.
For toddlers/preschoolers – have them start by drawing pictures, writing their name, and
dictating what they want their letter to say. As they write more and more, you can have
them fill in the blanks of a form letter. (*See FREE pen pal download). My four-year-old
daughter was complaining about having to write too much, but when reminded it was for
her cousin, she pushed through the hand cramp and got to work.
For elementary-school students – have them start with the form letter too. Keep it simple
and have your child start writing more and more of their own letters as you go. Need
some help coming up with questions to ask your pen pal? Use the FREE pen pal
download writing prompts.
For older children – have them write to someone in the military, a long-distance family
member, or someone in another part of the world. It would be a great opportunity to
learn about a new region and to see what life is like for someone else.
What other writing practice tricks have worked at your house?
Click this link to download your own Pen Pal template!