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Writing an Effective Thank You Letter

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

Everyone loves to receive a thank you letter. As people write fewer letters in this day of emails and texting, help students understand this concept of writing a strong letter of thanks. It's a skill that will help them as they move forward in life.

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    Any holiday is the right time of the year to teach students the importance of gratitude. This lesson idea helps teach students to give thanks to someone who has helped them in life such as a parent, teacher, mentor, coach, sibling or friend. Lead the class in a discussion about the way a simple letter of thanks may be something precious to the person who receives it.

    Teach students that too often people do not take the small amount of time required to acknowledge someone for helping them or having an impact on their life. This has particular scholastic relevance as they reach the age to request recommendation letters from teachers for their college applications or go on job interviews. Discuss in class the reasons for writing letters beyond the simple occasion of a gift. Writing a letter to thank a parent, a professor, or a service provider is a basic courtesy, yet as letter writing goes out of vogue it is too often a forgotten task.

    Give an example or two of thank you letters that you have received or sent and tell your students how they made you feel or how they impacted the recipient. Have the students write letters to one another for practice. A thank you letter always opens the door to further communication and is a way to continue or regain a connection with someone.

    Have essay paper available or bring in stationery. Students may also create their own stationery on the computers. Bring in envelopes, too, so students have a safe place to store the letter until they mail or deliver it.

    Remind students to be specific in their writing. Show them the structure of a thank-you letter. Tell them to describe specific events or tasks they were grateful for. Tell the class to show the recipient of the letter that they remember and value the effort put out on their behalf.

    Encourage students to fully describe how the person changed their life by helping in a big or small way. No gesture of help is too small for a thank you letter. Writing to show gratitude is polite and it also helps students appreciate all they have received in their life. It helps them appreciate others rather than take them for granted. Remind them that they liked to be thanked when they help someone.

    As part of the letter-writing experience, be certain that all students know how to address an envelope correctly.

    Go to www.MarthaStewart.com to find craft project ideas to help students create a thank you letter that is artistic and creative.

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