Whenever I had free time growing up, I would write letters. To everyone. I have a vivid memory sitting on the back porch of my aunt and uncle’s house in Germany. My parents would send me there for the summer and I would get quite homesick.
So, I spent my time writing letters to my friends and family. With my address book sprawled open on my lap, I would write letters to each person listed.
And they weren’t just a couple sentence post card. These letters included details about my travel, the weather and how much I missed them. There’s a reason I wanted to start a stationery shop when I grew up.
The best part was receiving some mail in response. Back then, I had friends that actually wrote back. And without the Internet, social media or other means of communication (even placing long distance phone calls could get expensive), this was one of my only windows to what was happening back home during those many weeks away.
As we are now in another worldwide crisis, I have heard that letter writing might be coming back into trend. Although much of the world is shutting down around us, the post office is still open (at least for now). Mail delivery still arrives at our home every afternoon. And the joy of receiving snail mail has never been more exciting. Especially when I haven’t seen people in person for awhile.
Many of our kids also have a lot of free time on their hands right now. This is the perfect time to introduce a letter writing challenge.
Here’s how it works. Download the Free Printable 14 Day Letter Writing Challenge here. Each day has a different type of letter of focus on. Some letters are meant to be sent. Some are just fun to write. Others will just be for you.
For this challenge, you will also need some stationery, envelopes and stamps. If you aren’t going to the post office right now, you can also pick up stamps at your local supermarket.
You can find printable stationery designs in our shop or just use a piece of copy paper. Then, you can decorate the copy paper to match the letter writing challenge that you are currently working on.
Business or A6/A7 envelopes work well for the letters that you do decide to send. I keep a supply on hand as well as stationery so the kids can write letters whenever they feel like it.
If your child is too young to write an entire letter, have them draw a picture instead. You can also add a sentence or two that they want to say underneath. The idea is to spread love through snail mail. Not stress the little ones out. Choose what’s the best way for your kids to participate.
This letter writing challenge isn’t limited to kids only. You can also participate and follow along. We have a letter writing time every afternoon and I enjoy writing letters alongside them.
A few notes about the letters to write…
International Pen Pals
Do you remember the days of pen pals? They actually aren’t that far gone. We just don’t hear about them as often. There are a number of services though that will match your child up with a pen pal. Check out these websites to find an international pen pal.
Still having trouble? Contact a few friends or put a call out on social media to see if anyone knows someone internationally who would like some mail.
Someone in the Military
When I was a teacher, my students wrote letters to our troops every Veteran’s Day. This was one of my favorite activities we would do each year. The questions my second graders asked and information they just had to share was priceless.
Our military needs snail mail as much as anyone else. Many are stationed away from their families and, although they probably receive care packages from them, everyone always loves additional letters.
To find someone in the military to write to, start with the people that you know. Is there anyone stationed somewhere in your community? A parent at school? Someone at church? You could write directly to them or send them a package of letters that they could distribute to others.
Another option is to register to be a letter writer through Operation Gratitude. They deliver letters directly to our troops and have lots of tips about what to write about to our military servicepeople.
A Person in a Nursing Home
One of the places that needs snail mail the most are the nursing homes. Even when family can visit often, the elderly need ways to brighten up their days.
Check with your local nursing homes and see if they are accepting snail mail letters for their residents. You can mail them to the home or drop them off personally. Sometimes they will even let you deliver them directly to residents that they know need a special boost.
Add a Bag Full of Hugs
Okay, I can’t take complete credit for this idea. My little came up with this idea after a week of not being able to see his friends. He wanted to send them a hug. So, he wrote “a bag full of hugs” on an empty baggie and included it in his letters. It was pretty adorable.
If you have letter recipients that live further away or you don’t get to see that often, consider including “a bag full of hugs” in your letter. I am sure they will enjoy it too.
Download and print your Free Printable 14 Day Letter Writing Challenge. Gather the other supplies you will need – paper/stationery, stamps, envelopes, coloring supplies and stickers. Stickers are optional, but I used to love decorating my letters with stickers. Your kids might too.
Start on Day 1 and write the first letter. If your child is new to letter writing, here are some ideas to help them get started.
Ask your child to think about who they are writing to. Consider what you know about the person, where they live and what they are interested in will help you write a good letter. Plan out what you would like to write about. What are some things you want to share? What do you think they’d like to know about?
All of the letters in the kids letter writing challenge are informal, friendly letters. This means that you are writing to someone that you know or sort of know. Even if you don’t know the international pen pal or military soldier personally, the tone of the letter should be conversational and kind.
If your child knows more formal letter writing skills and the parts of a friendly letter – heading, greeting, body, closing and signature – then feel free to use them. The Kids Letter Writing Challenge is meant to be fun and encourage kids to remain socially active while having to distant themselves during these trying times. So, I haven’t been too bogged down by specifics.
For each challenge, I let my littles write a letter, make a card, draw a picture or any other way they want to complete it. My goal is to get them communicating via snail mail. I don’t want the challenge to feel like a chore.
After you’ve completed the first letter, decide what you want to do with it. Is it a letter that you will send? Keep for yourself? Deliver later on?
If you plan on sending the letter, address the envelope correctly. Add a stamp and put in the mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.
If you’ve written a letter that you don’t plan on sending, think about other ways that you can share it. Read it to your favorite stuffed animal. Share it with Planet Earth. Read it to your favorite pet. They will all appreciate your letters too and that you took the time to share them.
The Last Day
On the last day of the Kids Letter Writing Challenge, the task is to write a letter to your future self. This is one of my favorite letter writing projects to do with kids. Have them write about what they are doing currently, what they hope to do and who they want to be when they grow up.
Then, keep the letter. Save it for a couple of years or even longer. This is the perfect letter to present to them on graduation or another important adult milestone. It’s so much fun to look back at who you once were and what your dreams were then.
Ready to get started? Gather your letter writing supplies and download your Free Printable 14 Day Letter Writing Challenge here. If you can’t get to all 14 letters, just pick your favorites.
For those of you who love letter writing, 14 letters might not be enough. If you want to write more letters, you can. Once you complete the challenge, brainstorm other people that you can write to. Or do the challenge again, but send your letters to new recipients. Any snail mail is sure to brighten someone’s day.