big picture · friends · letter writing · slice of life · Slice of Life Story Challenge · writing

The Big Picture: Happy Mail!!!

This is the final post of The Big Picture Series. (Ruth stated hers was the last, but after I received some mail from her today, I decided we needed to have just one more post in this Series.)

I returned home from running errands about 30 minutes ago and found a thick, manila envelope in my mailbox. It was from Ruth. What could she be sending me? I wondered. I turned the envelope over and found the words HAPPY MAIL! emblazoned on the back. I smiled immediately. I like getting mail that’s not bills, junk mail, or catalogs. I opened the envelope and found a magazine all about Slice of Life Scrapbooking inside, along with a couple of cards. It made my day to receive this from Ruth since:

  1. It deals with a Challenge we hold here every Tuesday.
  2. It wasn’t a catalog, piece of junk mail, or a bill I had to pay.
  3. It showed me that she was thinking of me.

The third item in my list is the most important. When we show others we’re thinking of them, it helps them feel special and needed in this world. Adults need this, but so do kids.

Have you ever left a hand-written note in a student’s classroom mailbox to say, “I noticed what you did earlier today and thought that was very kind. You should be so proud of yourself.” OR “I thought you might want to read this article. I know you’re interested in this topic. Let me know what you think when you finish it.”? If not, try it. Watch their face light up. Often times, the child will save that piece of mail from you. Why? Because it’s happy mail!!! They don’t have to show it to a parent. It was given to them because something made you think of them. It was only addressed to them.

Try giving each of your students a piece of happy mail at least once a month. It will improve a student’s morale. Most certainly, it will show your students that you care about them as people.

5 thoughts on “The Big Picture: Happy Mail!!!

  1. When we get new books for our classroom or I just happen to find a book that I think a student would like, I put a sticky note on it and leave it on their desk. The note usually says something like, ” I know you love horses and thought you might like to read this book.” They love to get these.

    I also write to each student over winter break. Many of them mention these cards that they receive in the “real” mail. I am happy to know that they at least read something over break!

    I will have to try to do quick notes more often.


  2. Lane:

    In addition to Wondrous Words, which I referenced in the e-mail I sent you earlier today, you can also check out Laminack’s Book entitled Cracking Open the Author’s Craft: Teaching the Art of Writing, which is available from Scholastic. Finally, Dorfman and Cappelli have a Stenhouse Book called Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K–6, which may prove useful to you as well.



  3. Lane, if you go to my site and see these couple of posts,

    I think you will see how I took two different texts and found 15-20 teaching points with one book. I did this once with Cynthia Rylant’s book. Then I did this again with Stellaluna. Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of K-6 teachers, I gave each grade level their own text and these two examples of how to use a mentor text. Then each grade level developed their own mentor text for their grade level.

    Each teacher will carry their own picture book around with the sticky notes. The sticky notes have the text written on it, the why/how also written on it so that if a writer is trying to write a simile, I can say, oh let’s look at this mentor text and see how this mentor author did this skill. Eventually by the end of the year or sooner if the students are older, more experienced writers, I find that the students start referring to the text and using it themselves. I have developed a mentor text for every grade level that I use in my Writing Every Day Works trainings. Hope this helps get you started.


  4. I have a question….this is my first year teaching Writing Workshop and using the units of study. I really would like to spend some time teaching my students how to lift text from the pictures books in my room and that I share….any suggestions on how to get them to use these? Do you suggest modeling and then letting them look through books to find great crafts we have studied so far? I’m just not real sure but I think it’s a good idea. Just wanted your thoughts

    Lane Moore


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