Firsties Wild about Letter Writing (Plus..a sale!)

Can we all just take a moment to recognize how awesome our little learners are? Forget the test scores, forget academic buzzwords, forget the standards for a second, and think of your kids when they walked into your classroom on the first day of school. I welcomed 19 students into my class this year with a wide range of abilities. On the first day of first grade, many of my kiddos were non-readers, unable to write a complete sentence or solve a simple math problem. 

When I look at my students now, I'm amazed at their growth! As a first grade teacher, I always feel that these incredible gains are most apparent in their writing. My students started the year using guided writing activities to tell me what they, they are writing opinion pieces, reports, narratives, and - my favorite - friendly letters!

In the digital age, it can be easy for us to forget that letter writing is a life skill. I'm always sure to remind my students of this. As older students and grown up, they will be expected to write letters in many different forms. Emails, thank you notes, cover letters...the list goes on and on! I love that we are preparing them for these experiences already in first grade.

Like many of you, I use the Adams family parody to teach the five parts of a letter: heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature. We take some time to get familiar with this by labeling letters that I've written. This is an important first step! 

After some more modeling and guided writing experiences, it's time for the students to write their own letters. For day one of letter writing, we all write to the same person. This year, my students chose to write to our "next door teacher," Miss I. Again, we start with a guided writing experience to model proper format, grammar, and spelling. We then build a temporary white board word wall together to determine which words we might need while writing our letters. Then, I release my kiddos to write their own letters using differentiated writing paper

On day two, students are given more freedom...they are able to write a letter to anyone who learns or works at our school! This year, most of my students wrote to their Kindergarten teacher and told her all about first grade. I thought that was so sweet! We put all of our letters in a mailbox in our writing center (pictured above) to be delivered. Some of my co-workers take the time to write back when they receive their letters...the kids are so happy when this happens! 

Day three of our letter writing week is always my favorite. My students write to celebrities! Over the years, my kiddos have written to Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton, LeBron James, and everyone in between. We've even had some responses from these celebrities! In fact, here is a list of famous people you can write back to who will respond. This little list is tried and true. My firsties have written to these addresses and received responses all within the past few months!

  • The President of the United States, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC, 20500
  • Mickey Mouse, The Magic Kingdom, 1675 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32820
  • Her Majesty the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
  • Michael Jordan, Jump, Inc., 676 North Michigan Ave, Suite 293, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
  • Miss America, MAO, PO Box 1919, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 08404
  • Your Miss America State Title Holder (find your state on, then find their "Contact" link)
  • MLB teams and their minor league affiliates (Pick your team on MLB's website, then scoll down to click "Contact")
  • NFL teams (Pick your team on NFL's website, then scoll down to click "Contact")
  • Local politicians (a quick Google search will help you find an address!
For all other celebrities, I simply Google their name plus "fan mail address" and choose the most reliable address. Some celebrities have their fan mail address on their website, but I've also used On each students' letter, I place a simple note that says, "We'd love to hear back from you!" with our school's address.

The most exciting part comes next...we begin to receive letters! Look who wrote to us this year right before he left office!

Of course, I remind students that we may not hear back from every celebrity. After all they are very busy people and have many important things to do. I've found that this does not discourage my students at all. In fact, if time goes on and they haven't received a response, my students oftentimes head to the writing center and write to someone new! We send out letters to people all over the world throughout the year, and have had some great responses and new-found pen pals.

As with all writing assignments, I use a rubric to grade my students' letters. I like to differentiate my rubrics for the simple reason that my students have a wide range of ability levels. Differentiated rubrics challenge all of my students yet give them opportunities for success, no matter what level of writing they are working at! 

Check out my Differentiated Letter Writing Kit, now on Teachers Pay Teachers! This kit has made letter writing assessment so much easier for me this year. In this kit, you will find three leveled rubrics, draft letter writing papers, plain writing paper, and seasonal writing paper. Each letter writing format is differentiated to meet the needs of your students. This 56 page resource is sure to help you all throughout the school year. And...just for you, it's on sale for half off for the first 24 hours! Click here to enjoy this savings (sale ends Monday, January 30, 2017 at 3:00 PM EST).

Happy letter writing!

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