To help students prepare for the rigors of argumentative writing in late elementary, primary letter-writing units should expand to include more than just “friendly” letters. Reveal many types of letters–friendly, business, persuasive, apology, invitation, etc. Each has a different purpose and audience. Check out The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters. The book includes samples of different types of letters (e.g., an apology letter, a business letter, some junk mail, a persuasive letter). The letters reference different fairy tale characters that children will easily recognize.
Take note, the CCSS outline expectations for the youngest writers to generate opinion pieces. Kindergarten students must be able to write “opinion pieces” where they “state an opinion or preference.” For first grade, students must also “supply a reason for the opinion.” Letter writing is a great way to share such opinions.
To expand your persuasive writing activities, try some of these strategies for your youngest writers. But don’t fret, primary teachers, your students have already dabbled with persuasive writing when they did the “Dear Santa” letters in December.
- Share some favorite picture books that are based on persuasive letter writing: Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, and I Wanna Iguana.
- Download a list of Primary Persuasive Topics. Encourage your students to form an opinion and to express it in a sentence. Then ask them to include a reason (or two) explaining why they feel that way.
- You can also encourage persuasive letter writing by providing students an audience–each other. Re-purpose a cardboard shoe storage box to create mailboxes for your students. Invite students to write letters to each other offering opinions, asking permission, and making requests.