Halloween is right around the corner, but in my speech room it’s already Thanksgiving.
This year, most of my students are writing letters to soldier’s overseas who won’t be home with their family for the holidays. I was on my way to work in the morning when I heard about a program called “The Big Thank you” on the radio. (Click the link to find out more) I thought it was sweet and was about to flip the dial until I thought “Wait! Why am I NOT getting involved?!” By lunchtime I had my plan together and was so excited I e-mailed the rest of my building to see if any other classrooms wanted to participate, too. I expected a cute mini-writing activity, but what I got was much better.
Each time I introduced the activity, I could hardly finish my explanation before my students’ hands were in the air. “I’m going to say they’re brave!” “How do you spell encourage?” “My dad is in the military, but he’s home now. Those kids must feel so sad with their dads being far away!” I was completely impressed at how a simple activity had sparked so much language and conversation! My students were not only motivated to write (a less than preferred activity for most of my caseload), but they were perspective-taking, working together for ideas, and eager to jot down their ideas. After our letters were finished, I shared some with classroom teachers and some I sent with students who receive occupational therapy in order to perfect handwriting.
I so wish I could show you their letters, but some of the first information they wanted to put down was their name, where they’re from, and where they go to school 🙂 Here’s how I worked these letters into my students’ IEP goals:
Articulation/Fluency: writing words with our sounds, and then reading them from our letter (at the word, phrase or sentence level)
Language: vocabulary, sentence formulation, grammar of all kinds, describing, asking questions
Pragmatics: Thankfulness, empathy, perspective taking
If you click here, you can download the template I used (both primary and more advanced). You don’t have to go through any organization or affiliation to write letters in your own room, but if you do, here are links to some that might be in your area:
A Million Thanks
Operation We Are Here