Sunday, 11 June 2017

Mentor texts for letter writing

Letter writing is a terrific way to encourage children to write, particularly if they are writing for a real purpose and a real audience.

As part of modelled or collaborative writing, teachers could work with the students to compose letters to the Administration Team about issues of concern in the school grounds. 

I remember a few years ago, Prep students engaged in an enquiry into the dripping tap outside their classroom, including measuring how much water was lost over an hour and throughout a whole school day.  They used the data gathered to collaboratively write a persuasive letter to the Principal about the problem, the seriousness of it in relation to the data they had gathered and what they thought should be done to fix the problem (with the Prep teacher scribing their draft ideas and final copy).  It was a wonderful real-life, purposeful learning activity.  Students are often more highly motivated and engaged in writing activities if they have a real purpose and audience for their writing tasks.
The picture books above all involve letter writing in different contexts for different purposes across the curriculum.  Students may be motivated to write personal letters using the picture books above as a stimulus and as mentor texts for writing. 
Other resources for letter writing in the early years, include:

Australia Post - free letter writing resources including online interactive games and a template to make a replica Australia Post letter box.
Post Office Dramatic Play Ideas from Teaching Mama - with free printables, links to games, making a cardboard postbox, pretend play and more!

Post Office Theme for Preschool - includes picture book links, games, letter writing, construction, finger plays and more!

Pinterest ideas for Post Office play, crafts, other dramatic play ideas and more!

Free printable Post Office play set - free templates to download

Over 15 Post Office Play ideas - includes links to picture books (not in my list above), art and craft activities, kindness postcards and links to plenty of other ideas!

There are plenty of games and educational activities from the Educatall Team about Postal Services, including Science, Social Studies, gross motor activities, games, writing tasks and many more, with free downloads!

Other activities include ideas for a Preschool Post Office theme, Pinterest Letter Writing pins and more!

How to write a friendly letter by Brianne Cronk on YouTube.

STOP THE PRESS!!!  NEW RELEASE (July 2017) AVAILABLE NOW!!!   Eric, the echidna, has big dreams to be the best postman ever!  This tale of following your ambitions/dreams, being persistent, overcoming obstacles and developing creative solutions, is written and illustrated by Matt Shanks.  The illustrations are adorable and focus on the strengths Eric brings to the position of 'postie' with regard to his individual traits as an echidna.  This is a 'must-have' addition to any study around mail delivery, persistence, resilience, Australian animals, postal services, community and following your dreams.
I just found this terrific post from This Picture Book Life about picture books about mail:  
I also found another recently published Australian title, "Tom the Outback Mailman", so this is a very popular topic (the mail) that is so useful as a stimulus for teaching letter writing. 

You can view a YouTube  introduction to the picture book here

The song, The Mailman of the Outback might be useful for contextualising the picture book. 

A Book Trailer  can be found here.

Free teacher notes for "Tom the Outback Mailman" are available from Scholastic.  Read more about the title here and here.  "Tom the Outback Mailman" was Winner of the CBCA 2013 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, so it is a terrific title to add to your collection.

This title is also useful for integrating Australian History and Geography (HASS) outcomes in the curriculum.  

YouTube clips to assist with contextualising include our very own Aussie legend, Tom Kruse:

Back of Beyond - Tom Kruse - Excerpt (1954) 2:19
Birdsville Mailman dead at 96 (2:01)  This is more a celebration of Tom Kruse's achievements than a sad story.  The description of the clip states that he died at 96, but the clip states he was 93.  This is a wonderful clip about Aussie identity and survival in the outback.
Tom Kruse Tribute (12:25)  This is awesome :)
Birdsville Track - Outback - Australia (4:55) 2012 images

Please let me know in the comments below if you have a favourite picture book for letter writing or know of any other great ideas...

Have a terrific week everyone :)


  1. Hi Kylie, thanks so much for mentioning Eric in your brilliant write up. I've had a poke around some of your other posts too, they're so full of valuable information. I'll be sure to amplify your message on my various social network occasionally. Thanks again!

  2. Dear Matt, I am absolutely over-the-top stoked that you read my blog :) I just love your picture book!!! Thank you for sharing it with the world! Kylie