Children’s Words, Part 1

Writing a thank you letter is a favorite activity in my classroom.  First, children ‘write’ the words – this isn’t so easy.  Every writer knows that.  For children, they need to think about who the letter is for, and what words are the right thing to say.  Children want to express their feelings, too.  A thank you letter may be simple, but those words – every word-  have been voted upon and debated before pen has met paper.  Or before marker has met chart paper in the case of preschoolers.

Today we began writing thank you letters to our neighbors, the people in our community who help us.  We wrote to our public library:

Dear Groton Library, Thank you for sharing your books with us.  We love the books.

The children didn’t see that we borrowed the books.  They saw that the library shared the books.  Two very different perspectives.

We wrote a letter to our firefighters:

Dear Firefighters, Thank you for saving us.  We love the firetrucks.

Truer words were never spoken.  The children knew that saving people was the most important thing firefighters do.  They wanted that to be first and upfront on their letter.  And of course, they love fire trucks.

Wait till I show them their letter is hanging in the fire station alongside the firetrucks.

Children’s words are important.  They need to be aknowledged.  Teachers and parents need to ask children questions.  Questions stimulate thought, and thought stimulates words.  Words bind us together.  When we help children write those words, we are giving them tools for life.  The feelings and excitement that accompany those words are the icing on the cake.

Stay tuned for Part 2


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, preschool, teaching, Teaching young children, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Children’s Words, Part 1

  1. beetleypete says:

    Teaching children to write letters in this electronic age is so good to see. I hope they continue to send letters as they get older. Thanks for a lovely post, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. beth says:

    this is so important for so may reasons – wonderful

  3. joylennick says:

    You are such a thoughtful, inventive teacher, Jennie. Bless your cotton socks. Hugs xx

  4. What a wonderful activity Jennie! You’re absolutely right that through activities such as this will help them through life. And I love you encouraging them to show appreciation for the people in the community around them.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Kim. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Anytime I can teach life lessons, it is far more important than teaching the ABCs. When children love it that speaks volumes.

  5. srbottch says:

    Wonderful exercise for the children, Jennie. And, yes, even as an adult, struggling to find the right word is, well, a struggle

    • Jennie says:

      It is hard! Hopefully these exercises will help children down the road. I certainly didn’t have activities that helped me with words when I was a child. It was the teacher speaking and the student listening. Thank you, Steve.

  6. Opher says:

    I love that. And I bet it means a lot to the people who receive them!

  7. Wow! This is very amazing, Jennie! Like Pete commented a very good idea too. Michael

  8. quiall says:

    I just finished one post that had me sobbing and this post continued the trend! My Mother taught me early the importance of thanking people, especially with the written word.

  9. Ritu says:

    This is absolutely wonderful!

  10. IMHO- thankyou notes never go out of style or become outdated…
    In your class activity, their feelings of thankfulness (abstract) are guided to pinpoint it’s origin (tangible)…especially fun when it comes to loving those fire engines!

  11. Your post and kids are so heart warming, love them.

  12. Jane Sturgeon says:

    Gratitude and creativity weaving together. ❤ Jennie.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    At Five Guys there is a bulletin board to post thank yous as well as paper and crayons. It is wonderful to see the things kids write and put up there.

  14. Your writing lessons just blow me away, Jennie! Clearly a lot goes into each one!

  15. petespringerauthor says:

    Fantastic, Jennie! One of my regular annual writing assignments with my students was to have them write a letter to a family member or friend. It was shocking how many (even kids in sixth grade) had never written a letter before. Not only did they have to learn the essential parts of a friendly letter, but lots of children didn’t know what to write. Even addressing an envelope was brand new to most. (Thanks for helping me remember this. I may write a blog post about it.)

    The real bonus was when some of them heard back from the person they wrote to. Because we teachers try to capitalize on these moments, I encouraged them to read their responses aloud. These were moments of pure joy for me, watching their excitement.

    At the end of the year, I used to give out my address to my students, hoping to hear from them over the summer. I was never disappointed as most years, a couple of students would write. Quite naturally, I’d write back to them, and the cycle continued.

    • Jennie says:

      I just love this! I can picture you helping sixth graders write a letter. As shocking as their lack of any such thing must have been, I know exactly how you handled it, and how you encouraged children. And then they read aloud the reply letter. Wow! That is huge!! Add to that a letter over the summer. Dominoes. There are so many layers here in what you have said. I really do hope you write a blog post.

      I have layers, too. You will love Part 2. I might also have to write a Part 3.

      See, we’re doing the same thing, just at different ages. We know what is important. We also know that we first have to engage children and develop a relationship. After that, they want to learn, because they like us and trust us.

      Apologies for the ramble, Pete. Your stories always inspire me. Thank you!

  16. That’s a beautiful and meaningful writing lesson! 💕🚒📚📖

  17. Words, words, wonderful words… Wonderful letter writing! Kudos to all and thanks to you, Jennie, for sharing. 🙂 xo

  18. Darlene says:

    Writing thank you letters is important at all ages, so thank you for instilling this habit in the preschoolers.

  19. So nice to teach the idea of saying thank you. Well done, Jennie.

  20. Dan Antion says:

    This is a wonderful story, Jennie. First, you’re teaching children the importance of thanking someone and the fact that it can be in the form of a simple message. What I really like, though is the fact that the firemen out the thank you car on display. There’s some positive reinforcement.

    • Jennie says:

      The simple basics of thanking someone carry a huge weight down the road. If I can teach children this early on and make it meaningful and fun, the seeds are planted. Yes, the firefighters were thrilled. They couldn’t wait to stand in front of the fire truck for the photo. Then, they showed me exactly where they planned to hang the thank you letter. The children loved seeing that photo today and hearing the story.

      That will make writing thank you letters down the road a positive thing. Thank you, Dan.

  21. Oh! That’s a big letter. How fun. I remember a couple of times, way back in grade school that (as a class) we wrote a letter, but it was never as fun as yours. It’s wonderful that the firemen have it. Hugs on the wing.

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another excellent post from the extraordinary teacher, Jennie!

  23. Annika Perry says:

    Beautiful letters and such an important lesson to carry through in life! 😀

  24. Pingback: Children’s Words, Part 1 — A Teacher’s Reflections – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

  25. A lovely post, Jennie. It is nice to know the children are so interested in writing letters. It feels like it is a dying skill.

  26. abbiosbiston says:

    This is so lovely! A letter from a child is so precious!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s