An Exercise in Writing–And Thinking
Give a soldier who is far away from home a special present by obtaining a journal and having each of your students include a letter to the soldier in the journal. This writing lesson will help students build writing skills and understand world issues such as wars.
Begin the lesson by passing out some articles about the war in the region where the soldier who will receive the journal is serving. Discuss key topics from the articles with the students. Ask students to speak about facts from the article that seem most important to them. Ask students to think about the issues of the war to try to understand what the soldier who will receive the journal is experiencing.
Pass out paper for students to create a rough draft of their letter to a soldier. Circulate the room to read the student letters and give feedback. Then start to pass the journal around while students are sitting in groups to ensure all students have enough time with the journal to write the final draft of their letter. Let the students know you will read all letters before the journal is sent to the soldier.
Ideas for Letters
Put some helpful ideas for letters up on the board to give students a way to start their letters. Some ideas to help them brainstorm their letters include:
- Thank the soldier for being patriotic and brave and serving to protect America.
- Tell the soldier about a recent sports event. They may be cut off from the news and eager for details about sports.
- Let the soldier know America is thinking about them.
- Give details about recent world events that are upbeat in nature.
- Describe a scene from nature of a place you recently visited.
- Write about a movie or a book you recently enjoyed.
- Describe the reasons why the soldier may want to someday visit your state on vacation.
Ask each student to express only positive thoughts to the soldiers. The soldiers are risking their lives every day. Remind students to avoid upsetting the soldiers with any negative information.
Remind students that they should not provide any personal information in the letter. They should sign the letter with only their first name.
When students are done writing in the journal read over the letters to ensure they are appropriate to send to a soldier.
If you want to include a package of helpful items in a box with the journal most soldiers need baby wipes (to clean off sand), coffee, tea, books, magazines, movies, writing paper, gloves, and snacks. If you wish for more specific requests and addresses to mail packages to soldiers go to www.AnySoldier.com.