A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: VOICE Support Trait: WORD CHOICE

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Unusual Friendly Letters

A R.A.F.T. assignment that relies on
persuasive writing techniques

The writing of author Mark Teague is currently inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of voice and word choice. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

Use these samples to inspire your student writers! Discussing the strengths of published student samples before, while, and after using this on-line assignment is important. If your students are engaged in trait- or skill-inspired discussions about any of the samples we've posted here, they will produce better writing, especially if you help them take their writing all the way through the writing process.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.

Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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Student Samples: Second Grade

Toy Department
Store Shelf #2
March 3, 2010

Dear Crayon Box,

I am squished in your small box. I do not like it at all! My friends and I do not like being so close to each other. We have nowhere to sleep. We have nowhere to play. No one wants to buy us because our box is too small. We are so so squished! We need a bigger box. I think it is more squishy than yesterday.

I think that orange is gaining weight, but don’t tell orange! When you close our box, it is so dark in here.

Your friends,

The Crayons
(and 2nd grader Kourtney)

(Click here to view/print Kourtney and two of her classmates' letters
to show your own second grade writers.)

Student Samples: Third & Fourth Grade:

Dakota’s House
Highway 44
January 14, 2009

Dear Freckles the Cat,

I would really love it if you would pretty please let me chase you. I can’t chase you when your owner yells at me. I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t hide from me. I promise I won’t hurt you, if you let me chase you once in a while. I would also appreciate it if you wouldn’t run up trees. The wood hurts my paws!

If you don’t let me chase you, I’m stuck with my owner watching dumb shows and listening to my owner screech; they call it singing, but that’s not what I hear!. It’s terrible. If you would just let me chase you four days every week, I would be happy.

One other thing, around our owners, we don’t get along! –Secret Friendship. Thank You!


Shimms the Dog
(and 3rd grader Dakota)

Aliens from the nine planets
Unknown place
February 20, 2008

Dear Humans of Planet Earth,

Are you insane? You are coming into our property of space and putting all this technology junk (space stations) right into our territory. You have your property, and we have ours. Don’t go anywhere near outer space, or we will invade your planet. I mean, if that’s OK, because we’re not trying to be rude, of course.

Another reason, not only you are coming into our space, but you are also landing on our property with your space shuttles. Then you always explore the planet that you landed on. Is that rude or what!?

Can we satisfy the leaders of your planet by having some U.F.Os stop by for a visit? If you get everything that you put in our galaxy out, then that can be arranged. The thing that we are really mad about is that you are going to shoot missiles at a satellite in space. That satellite, which you humans built, is as big a school bus. What if one of the missiles went at one of our planets?

You know that space probe thing that looks around Mars? I mean, come on. Now not only you humans are exploring, but you are also using machines! What if we started exploring your planet? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

We need to calm down a second… there, that’s better. We just hope that you humans will listen.

From the destroyers,

(and 4th grade writer, Trevor)

(Click here to view/print Dakota and Trevor's letters
to show your own third and fourrth grade writers.)

Student Samples: Fifth Grade

Classroom #6
Lead, Colorado 36290
December 14, 2010

Dear Teachers,

I want to nicely stand my ground and say I’m tired since I have to write all day long. I also think the students aren’t so happy, too. Why can’t they use pens? The cool teachers let them. I see why you like them to use us, since they could erase if they need to, but I am getting tired, and so are the students.

There are dozens of pens just lying around. I think they feel left out. The students could use them and just scribble out the mistakes. I hope you do understand because I am getting aches and breaks everywhere.

So please lower the work or switch to the lonely pens. Please! Trust me, the kids will not mind. My siblings and I believe that if you don’t stop using us, that our heads and bottoms will just fall off. So, please, please lower the work or switch. Please lake our advice!


Leady , the hurt pencil
(and 5th grader Kelsey)

(Click here to view/print Kelsey and two of her classmates' letters
to show your own fifth grade writers.)

Student Samples: Sixth Grade

21 Lumber Lane
Black Bear Forest, NJ, 07937
October 14, 2010

Dear Larry, the Lame Lumberjack,

Over three-percent of trees in forest areas are cut down each winter! Our forest community understands that wood is essential during these cold months; however, hear us out before you begin to gather your axes and chop!

First of all, your process of taking down our trees can severely impact our lives. Hundreds of animals hibernate in Black Bear Forest each winter. While we are deep asleep, you take down our homes and when we awaken, our environment is destroyed! In addition, food supplies will diminish due to the fact that many forest animals will not survive under these conditions. Finally, bird watchers and animal lovers enjoy coming to these woods during fall months. If the trees are taken down, the beauty of this spot will be destroyed.

I think we both agree this is an unjust act. We must come to a compromise in which both of our species will thrive. Relocation is always an option. Tree Tower Woods, located about half a mile northwest of here, is unoccupied. Of course, there are other options, as well. Set aside a space where no animals currently live and you will be free to take as many trees down as needed.

The residents of Black Bear Forest will not simply standby. If needed, hostile actions will be taken. We will attack! You must understand how shocking these acts are to our council and community and what horrendous results they bring upon us. So please stop cutting down our trees!

Yours Truly,

Berry, the Bear
(and 6th grader Dennis)


(Click here to view/print Dennis and one of his classmate's letters
to show your own sixth grade writers.)

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