Have you heard about the benefits of Friday Letters? I really can’t say enough about the insights I gain, the keepsakes they create for parents, and the writing practice my students don’t even know they are getting by writing Friday Letters. In this post I’ll share how to get your students started plus a free Friday Letters starter kit and parent letter.
What are Friday Letters?
Friday Letters are a simple, yet powerful tool that not only keep parents connected to your classroom, but offer so many different benefits to both students and their teachers. Read more about the benefits of Friday Letters here.
What’s Inside the Friday Letters Starter Kit
Inside the kit you’ll find everything you need to get started.
- 3 Book cover options
- Editable covers
- Editable parent letter
- Letter writing stationary in 2 line styles for primary & elementary students
- Graphic organizers
Next, I’ll share tips for setting up your Friday Letters routine so they can really almost manage themselves.
Our Friday Letters Routine
Here are the things I do, and train my students to do, so letter writing time is smooth sailing! You’ll want to set up a routine that works for your classroom, but here is a peek at mine.
Copy stationary ahead of time
I copy sets of blank stationary pages for 8-10 weeks at a time. Copy the Friday letters stationary 2-sided with the same writing template on both sides. I use this set of thematic letter writing stationary.
Choose a time to write the letters
I do it like this: I place a basket of the writing paper students will use on a bookshelf by the door next to our spelling test paper and homework collection basket. Students drop off their homework and pick up a Friday Letter paper and a spelling test paper. Right after we do our Friday spelling test students write their letters. Once students know the routine, I’m checking off homework and putting graded papers in their cubbies while they write their letters.
Explain the Friday Letters routine to parents
Students place their finished letters in their take home binders in a previously decided upon spot (the front pocket). I let parents know at the beginning of the year to look for a letter every Friday in their child’s binder. I send home the Parent Letter in the starter kit the first week of school but you can start writing Friday letters any time during the year. You can use the same parent letter or write your own with the editable PowerPoint included in the kit.
Instruct families on how to reply
Students write their letters to parents/caregivers/friends or family members. Anyone who can write a reply to their letter. The receiver of the letter writes back to the student on the back side of the page. (Hence copying the pages 2-sided).
For students whose families don’t want to participate or don’t return the letters, I have them write their letters to me and I reply back each week.
Receivers send the letters back to school.
I ask the receivers of the letters to send the letter back to school after they have replied. I don’t always get every single one back, but students have plenty to make a book at the end of the year.
Set up a simple storage system
In the morning when students come in, or at the end of the day before dismissal, students place their letter, in order, in a file folder. I teach them to place each of their Friday letters behind the previous week’s letter so they are (mostly) in order when I go to bind them at the end of the year. I use a file folder for each student that you can store in any way that works for you.
Bind the books at the end of the year
I have an old comb binding machine so I use that to bind all the books at the end of the year. Stapling them together works just fine too. Use one of the covers in the starter kit and place it on top with a piece of cardstock on the bottom and the letters in between.
Customize your book cover using the editable PowerPoint file in the starter kit. You can add the school year, school name, your name, etc.
See how we do it in my classroom
Need help with writing workshop? Check out this post with Strategies for Writer’s Workshop.
Well, I think that’s everything! I hope your students and their families enjoy writing Friday Letters as much as mine do!