Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Message Center Class Letter Writing

Around this time of the school year, we find that friendships can be tested from time to time. It seems, one minute we’re the best of friends, and the next we "Don’t ever want to be your friend ever, EVER again!”.  It’s hard to keep up sometimes...Can't we all just get along?!
To help our students remember that friends make the world go 'round, weve introduced beginning letter writing with our Message Center routine.
Class message center for letter writing, class community building and character counts kindness activity
We keep a permanent Message Center station set up in our class. It has everything our students need to write friendly letters to their classmates. We provide paper, envelopes and stamps for the taking.
Class message center for letter writing, class community building and character counts kindness activity
We provide two cups to keep who they write to fair and square. 
Pick Me and I've Been Picked sticks help keep this teacher organized when calling on or selecting students for class lessons, activities and discussions.
One cup is labeled Pick Me with their names written on popsicle sticks (name down – no sneaky peekers!), and the other labeled Ive Been PickedStudents choose a name stick to determine who they will be writing to, then place that pulled stick into the "I've Been Picked" cup so they are not chosen again until every stick has been picked and the Pick Me can is empty.  
Class message center for letter writing, class community building and character counts kindness activity
They also place an Ive Been Picked card inside the mailbox of the recipient.  This way, if any name sticks accidentally end up back in the Pick Me cup, we dont end up with multiple letter writers for the same student or any arguments about who picked them first {insert first grade argument here - "Nuh, uh, I picked him first." "No, I did!" "No, I did!"} This happens... sometimes...a lot.  So, the extra addition of the cards was just one more reminder that they need to choose another friend...no arguments! 
Friendly letter writing prompts
Students can use the Friendly Greetings sentence starters to help get their letter going.  This also keeps some variety from letter to letter and steers them clear of the all too tempting I like you.”, “You’re cool.”, “You’re fun.”you get the idea. 

When finished, they fold it, stick it in an envelope, address it, stamp it and deliver it to their friends mailbox.  

Here is how we store the paper, envelopes, and rubber stamps.  They can choose their own stamp...nothing fancy, but these drawers hold all they need. 
Class message center for letter writing, class community building and character counts kindness activity
BIG rule in our class - 
Nobody gets mail, until everyone has mail. 
This cuts down a ton on the Can I get my mail?, Can I get my mail? chatter that you know will happen.  It's like a domino effectone asks, they all ask! 
        ~Another BIG rule thus was created~      
If you ask, the answer is no mail today. mwahahaha...

When all mailboxes are stuffed, it is mail delivery time!  The kids love reading their letters to themselves and each other. We ask them to each personally thank the person who took the time to write their letter.  Then, they take their letters home and we begin the whole process again!  

We've added our Friendly Letter Writing Message Center to our TpT store for FREE. 
Message Center friendly letter writing for the primary classroom 

18 comments:

  1. Love the message center idea! Thanks for sharing! :-)

    Crystal

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    1. It's so fun for them and gives us a lil' insight into who they are as a friend. :)

      Tammy & Christy

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    2. Hello! I love your ideas! The message center is awesome and it is so true at this time of year. I am going to incorporate this into my writing center. I do something simliar to it right now. Have you ever heard the book Have You Filled A Bucket today? It tells the important message of giving compliments, being kind, respectful, etc... and that everyone should fill a bucket(s) each day and not be a bucket dipper. I have little buckets hanging in the hallway with students names on them. Students write on a page that I have programed to say... I would like to fill """""_______'s bucket by saying_________________. I just have a checklist of who does it, and when everyone has a bucket fill, we read them together. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  2. Replies
    1. They work like a charm! Just yesterday, we had the persistent asking for letters, letters, letters....those rules were our saving grace. :)

      Tammy & Christy

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  3. Absolutely love the pick me cup and I've been picked cup. What a great way to organize everything!

    I'm a new follower :)

    Lindsey
    Lovin’ First Grade

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lindsey! They definitely keep things fair and square. We ended up adding the teachers' names to the cup as well and boy are we glad they cannot peek! They all stood around the cup with their fingers and toes crossed that they would pick the teacher. Really? We're not that cool... :) BUT, adding the teacher's name was a fun addition and it really just happened by accident because a few kids had time to write to more than one friend during their workshop time and we ran out of sticks by the last group. Sometimes accidents are the best! :)

      Have a great weekend!

      Tammy & Christy

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  4. Their sweet/kindness mode does tend to disappear around this time. What is it with that?

    Your rules for this activity are PERFECT. Thanks for the freebie. Now I need to set up 30 mailboxes somewhere! :D
    ❤Traci❤
    Dragonflies in First

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    1. Ha, ha Traci...well, get building then! :) Our mailboxes were actually left out for the trash by another teacher at school! We're by no means above 'dumpster diving' when it comes to our class so we grabbed it. We will dumpster dive for you any day, Friend. If we ever see another one it's yours! But, you'll have to meet us at Cheesecake again to get it. :)

      Tammy & Christy

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  5. I love all of your ideas! You ladies are so organized! :)

    Michelle

    Apples and ABC's

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    1. Aw thanks Michelle...well organized to a point...we won't be blogging about the area behind our desk anytime soon. :)

      Have a fab weekend!

      Tammy & Christy

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  6. I am so thankful I came across your post! I've been using the "Bucket Notes" for some time, but this year, it has been a struggle for my kiddos! I LOVE your ideas of putting their names on a stick and having them choose! Also....no one gets mail til everyone gets mail is awesome!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Swamp Frog First Graders

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    1. Hi Heidi! Oh we're so glad you found us too. We are having SO much fun with this whole blogging thing. Heading over to check yours out too. So, glad you found us so we can find you!

      Oooo...bucket notes - LOVE! We have the same experience ~ some years are better than others. Just depends upon the class. The sticks and rules help keep things in line and give us a go to when they just cannot.stop.asking. Bless their hearts. :)

      So glad to have you along for the ride! Have a great weekend.

      Tammy & Christy

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  7. Hi Tammy & Christy!

    I found your fantastic blog through TpT...I am so happy to have found you! Your letter writing center is fantastic. I think this is something I could implement in my KDG classroom as an end of the year writing center! Thank you for your great ideas...I look forward to future blogs! Would you mind following my blog as well? http://kdg-frogs.blogspot.com/

    Thank you :)

    Maureen

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    1. Hi Maureen! So glad you found us! Thank you for the kind words. We are having a blast in the blogging world-lots to learn, but we're looking forward to it. So fun to share ideas! Just visited your blog and we're your newest followers!

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  9. Found your blog through the Teachers Pay Teachers website. Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

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  10. Happy friendship messages

    Greetings.net

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