Fairytale Mail is a resource I developed as part of my language arts curriculum. In the primary grades I did an entire comprehensive unit on fairytales that infused readers' theatre (for oral language development), fractured fairytales (to teach storytelling and sequencing), and imaginative writing.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to motivate students to write. I have found that this activity provides enough scaffolding and support to enable even my students who struggled with writing to produce a strong final product. Also, following a staged writing process has been shown to be a successful method for supporting students through the writing process (Spandel, 2009). As such, this activity is structured into stages to help organize the students as they progress through their writing.
Description of Activity
Fairytale mail provides a fun, engaging way for students to learn how to craft formal correspondence. I would normally begin this lesson by reading my students the story The Jolly Postman to help familiarize them with letter writing and a variety of fairytale characters. Then the students will pick a character that they would like to be and craft a letter to another fairytale character.
Read The Jolly Postman to the class. As a class, discuss letter writing and the reasons why people would send a letter.
Model how to write a letter and highlight the areas that each letter needs to have (e.g. to whom it is addressed, the content, a sign off and a signature). This would also be the time to teach your preferred writing and editing procedures if you haven’t done so already.
Have students brainstorm the two characters they will use for this activity. I often have my students use a chart to organize their thoughts, so they can write down their two characters and a list of ideas that these characters would discuss. They are then able to pick one idea before moving on to the draft.
Allow the students time to write their draft on lined paper.
I always did a two staged editing process where the student self-edits first, and then either has a peer or myself edit a second time. The student then makes the appropriate corrections to their work to make it ready to “publish”.
Now the student can write their good copy on the Fairytale Mail handout. As part of the publishing processing, I also gave my students envelopes for them to address since learning how to address a letter so that a postman is able to deliver their correspondence is important. They would make up their own street names and addresses, and I always encouraged creativity.
For students who finish early I often would allow them to color their letter, create their own stamp for their mail or add embellishments to the envelopes that they feel would represent their character.
How this activity aligns with Common Core Standards:
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
Write routinely over …. shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Spandel, V. (2009). Creating writers through 6-trait writing assessment and instruction (5th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson.