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Researching & Asking for Gifts: Fun Persuasive Letter Writing Lesson

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 3/2/2012

What student doesn't enjoy dreaming up a wish list of gifts they would love someone to buy them? And what better way to dream up a list, then to research gifts online? This enjoyable lesson seems like familiar fun, but teaches students the important skill of writing a persuasive request letter.

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    Most students love to shop. And, they love to ask for things. But are they doing so persuasively?

    This lesson plan will appeal to the older student as who doesn't like the idea of learning how to improve your chances of actually getting what you want by shopping smarter and asking better?

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    Part One: Internet Research

    A little research goes a long way. Instead of randomly surfing shopping sites, drooling over the latest electronic gadget or smartphone students would love to get as a gift, they will learn to back-up their 'wish' with facts. They will complete research on two brands of the same item, research five criteria, and make a report. This will give them the information they need to write their persuasive letter.

    Step 1 -- Tell students they will be researching one item that they would like to put on their Holiday or Birthday wish list. This lesson works best with electronic devices, smartphones, computers, small toys, and gaming systems. They need to first choose an item and then choose two name brands of the item. (Example: smartphone with MP3 Player -- brands: LG and Motorola)

    Step 2 -- Choose around five criteria for the item. This could be price, size, additional options, memory, color, service contract, etc. Have students put each criterion on notebook paper and leave space to write in information.

    Step 3 -- Take students to the computer lab to complete Internet research. The sources need to be included in the report. Make sure when students write down information, that they write down the name of the site and the web address.

    Writing the Report

    Step 4 -- Students need to write specific information for each brand of the item using the five criteria. The introduction should tell what item the student chose. Also, it should include the reason why the specific brand names were chosen.

    Step 5 -- The body of the report can include a chart of the specific criteria. Or, each criterion can be a separate paragraph where the researched information is listed.

    Step 6 -- The conclusion should sum up the information. In addition, it should list the best "buy" or the best product by using the criteria to show why the specific brand name was chosen to be better than the other. If a bibliography or Works Cited is not included, the sources should also be listed in the conclusion.

    Step 7-- Included with the report should be a clip art or photo of each brand item. The optimal situation is to take the students to the computer lab to type their reports.

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    Part 2: Writing the Persuasive Letter

    After students have completed their research and report on an item from Part 1 of this lesson plan, they are "armed" with numerous details on why the product they are requesting is a good product. Now, they need to put their research into a request letter format.

    Remind students that the purpose of this letter is to learn the process of writing a good persuasive letter. However, if they choose, they can give the letter to their parents to request the item be purchased as a gift for a holiday or any other occasion.

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    Brainstorm Ideas

    When writing a persuasive letter, it is important to understand the audience. The students should know their parents well, so this should not be a problem.

    Second, they need to think about how to best use their research to present the request and think about how this item may benefit their parents.

    Last, they need to think about objections that their parents may have about the item and any special circumstances that may or may not be in their favor when asking for the item.

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    Outline Ideas

    1. Craft a sentence or two that tells the parents about the specific product and why the student wants them to buy the gift. This needs to be written in a way that is polite and not too aggressive.
    2. List why this product is a good item and why it was better than the second product researched.
    3. List objections that parents may have for purchasing the item and give reasons or a plan of how to overcome them. This may be a point where the student might promise to do extra chores or to help more around the house.
    4. Write a summary for letter requesting the item again.

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    Writing Drafts of the Letter

    Review parts of a friendly letter before beginning the first draft. The letter should include the date, salutation, three body paragraphs, the closing and a signature. Remind students of the placement of the date and signature. Students usually put those in the wrong place.

    Have students peer-edit the letters. Make sure that students check for sincerity, writing conventions and content that is persuasive. Then, students should be ready to write the final copy to turn the letter in for a grade. They can decide if the letter will go home to their parents.

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    This lesson is always fun for the students. In the process, they learn how to write a persuasive letter that has a real application in their lives.