Encouraging Reluctant Writers – Happy Mail

Happy Mail

If you have a reluctant writer, you know that getting your child to get even a sentence down on paper can be an exercise in extreme frustration for you both! I explored lots of different ways to get the not-so-enthusiastic writer in my family to write, and one thing I found that worked was to have him write letters! I arranged for my son to write letters to everyone from the president, to family members, to restaurants. He worked hard to get his letters just right and was always excited to get a response tucked in our mailbox. Over the years we saved the letters he received back, and some of them will always be treasures, like the letters from his beloved grandfather who has since passed away.

While working on my up-and-coming language arts curriculum, I was looking for some books to get students writing in a creative way and stumbled across Happy Mail. I will be adding it to my curriculum schedule in the writing assignments. The writing portion of my curriculum is being designed to be a gentle, non-pressure introduction to writing for grades 2-6. I’m taking my experiences with students who both LOVE and HATE to write and incorporating these into my book and resource choices.

Happy Mail is the perfect book to get kids and young teens engaged in the old-fashioned art of letter writing and card making. It starts out with an introduction to letter writing tools – all the fun stuff the artist in me loves like felt-tip pens, card stock, and even the humble black crayon. Some of the supplies call for a craft knife, so an adult will need to supervise or assist with a few of the projects.

The next section covers letter writing basics: parts of a letter, salutations, how to address an envelope, and so on. After that there is a section of simple writing prompts (perfect for kids who would otherwise stare at a blank page for hours), as well as a 30 days challenge with plenty of letter writing activities and ideas for your budding writer.

The next section covers lettering styles. Each letter style shows a complete sample alphabet and is followed by a lined practice page like this:

Letter writing for kids

There are 5 lettering styles:

Paper Cut Alphabet, Brush Lettering, Open Alphabet, Ribbon Alphabet, and a Storybook Alphabet

The book emphasizes that there is no need for perfection, and kids are encouraged to add their own touches and styles to their lettering.

After playing around with some hand lettering, there are several projects that are shown in detail with all of the needed supplies listed. Some of these projects are:

Cut Paper Love Notes, a Quote Note, Emoji Note, I Love You More Than…, a List Letter, Birthday Card, Wildly Grateful Thank You Card, Salty Pretzel Sorry Card, and plenty more for a variety of occasion like holidays, congratulations, etc. There are even simple instructions on now to make a homemade envelope. I like the Letter to Your Future Self idea. It’s something I did when I was a kid, and it’s fun to look back as an adult on some of my younger self’s ideas and dreams!

Letter writing ideas for kids

The last section of the book has some pre-designed cards, notes, and templates with cute and full-color art, along with some black-and-white samples your child can color in.

card projects for kids

Happy Mail is a good book to get your child off the computer and into the world of pens, pencils, and the excitement of sending off a letter or card the old-fashioned way!

E-English Tutor

Writing tutor, english tutor

My daughter is starting an email tutoring service for English and/or writing in order to help her remain debt-free through her college studies. She has a lot of experience tutoring students of all ages (from elementary age through college), including ESL (English as a second language) and EFL (English as a foreign language) students.

She has a variety of course options available and will even help grade and/or edit writing on a per paper basis!

Please check her website out and keep her in mind if you are looking for someone to teach, tutor, mentor or assist your student(s) with writing!

Cinquain Poetry

Recently Otter did a project in History Pockets where he learned about how the Egyptians worshipped cats. He made a cat booklet and wrote some poetry inside after learning about several different styles. I like combining different subjects when he learns about things. This was, of course, a combo of language arts and history.

His attempt at a couplet:

Oh cats, they’re so lovely
when they cuddle up on your chair

And then they merrily walk around
and you don’t hear a sound.

 

His cinquain:

Tabbys
Soft, happy
Jump, crouch, purr
They snarl at dogs.
Cats

Here’s the site we referenced to write the cinquain: Cinquain Poetry.

Bastet

Online Activities for Reluctant Writers

Otter doesn’t like to write. It’s a challenge for me to find writing assignments that will actually engage him! Recently he’s been really interested in comics, especially Garfield (which totally takes me back to 6th grade!). So… one of the recent things I’ve come up with to get him writing is creating comics! He thinks it’s just a lot of fun. I know he’s practicing important skills. wink

Here are a couple online activities I found to help his comic writing process along and add a bit of interactive pizzazz!

Make Your Own Captain Underpant’s Comic
If you don’t mind the potty humor, your boys will probably especially love this one. Your budding comic writer is provided with sayings to choose from as well as a variety of characters to populate the pages. After making a couple of comics online, maybe your kiddo will be inspired to draw out some of his/her own. You can only view your comic online.

MakeBeliefsComix.com
This is a terrific site where you can create custom comics panels with a variety of character choices, thought and talk bubbles, colors and the ability to write your own text! There is also a page of some great printables that are sure to help spark some creativity. You can email or print out your creations.

Read, Write Think Comic Creator
You can choose your background, props and different characters. After you finish your masterpiece you can print it out to share!

Garfield’s Comic Creator
Build your own Garfield comic strip with characters, props, background and typeable text. You can view your comic online or print it out. You can imagine how THRILLED Otter was when I showed him this one.

Professor Garfield Comic Lab
Not only is there a comic creator with lots of Garfield goodies, there are also some how-to videos and some lesson pdf’s to give you writing ideas.

Charlotte’s Web Comic
You decide what happens to Wilbur and his friends with customizable panels, objects, talk bubbles and settings. The comic creator uses real photos for a nice looking comic. You can print out your comic when you’re done.

There are also some sites online that have more professional layout tools, but they require registration and feature user created comics which could contain adult content. If you think one of those sites may be appropriate, you can check out sites like Pixton and Comiqs.