Crafty letter-writing tips for kids

Dec 29, 2010 at 2:44 p.m. ET

As a child (and into adulthood!), one of my favorite things in the world is getting "real" mail. You know what "real" mail is. It isn't email, and it isn't bills or junk mail: I'm talking about letters and cards!

Checking the mailbox

An important lesson for kids to learn: If you want to get mail, you'll need to send mail!

Sending letters to friends and family members teaches even very young children many important skills. Writing skills can be stressed (using neat handwriting, correct spelling, etc.), as well as letter-writing skills (tell the recipient about something that happened to you, ask the recipient questions about themselves).

There are lots of ways to make letter-writing creative. Very young children can send drawings to friends or family members, and include a letter with some help from Mom or Dad.

Older kids can make and decorate their own cards or stationary! I used to enjoy drawing a picture with a black pen on the side of a piece of white paper. I would then draw the lines where the letter would be written (using other lined paper as a guide). My dad would take that paper to work and photocopy it to make multiples of my stationary. Each time I wanted to write a letter, I'd first color in my black and white drawing with colored pencils, then write my letter on the lines I'd provided.

Here are some more ideas to make crafty letter-writing fun for kids!

Make a letter writing bin or station

Include some cool pens, stamps, stationary or card-making supplies, envelopes, rubber stamps and stickers. Help your child make his own address book of all of his friends and family members.

Make a mailbox

Using an empty cereal box, cut off the flaps at the top. You can cover the box with paper and decorate it with markers or stickers. On the side of the box, cut out a red paper "flag" that indicates that there is mail inside the box, and attach it to the side of the box with a brass paper fastener. You can move this "flag" upwards when mail is inside.

>> How to encourage kids' creativity

Keep a birthday calendar

To encourage good correspondence habits, make sure your child has a calendar containing important birthdays and events. At the beginning of the month, sit down with her and see what birthdays are coming up. This will give plenty of time for her to make cards for upcoming special events.

Send a photograph

Again, in this age of email, pictures are often reduced to pixels on a screen. But -- particularly for older generations -- a physical photo, to show off or to keep close, is a wonderful thing to have. So mail a photo with a letter (long or short), or even use a printed picture as a postcard, and jot a note on the back. Crafty scrapbook-style accoutrements are a bonus.

>> Make a scrapbook from paper bags

Send thanks by hand

Unless somehow impossible or completely impractical, thank you notes should be handwritten. Sounds like a tough sell? Get some tips in our article, How to get your kids to write thank you notes.

Write a letter on a rainy day

Rainy (or snowy) days are perfect times to catch up on correspondence. You have time to can get as creative and as crafty as you want!

Remember: Not everything needs to be about speed and efficiency. Even some of the most amazing modern conveniences can't trump the personal power of a handwritten letter.

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