Lesson Title: Writing a Friendly Letter to My Soldier www.mysoldier.com
By: Anne Gold, Communications Professor, Manhattanville College
Grade Level: Elementary, or Middle School
Students will develop empathy for soldiers while they write letters using the traditional,
five-point, friendly letter format with proper writing rules. Letters will build morale for U.S.
soldiers and let them know that someone back home cares about the sacrifices they are
making to protect democracy and freedom.
The traditional art of “letter writing” is a valuable skill for students to develop, one that is
often overlooked in our modern age of e-mail and text messaging. This lesson plan for
writing a friendly letter will provide a foundation for students who will later go on to write
more complex versions of letters including the business letter.
Students will be able to
Name two patriotic holidays in May that honor the military, and state why it is
important for Americans to observe them.
Express empathy and appreciation for others.
Express thoughts and ideas about feelings and events that happen in their life.
Create readable documents with legible handwriting in upper and lower case.
Write and edit a friendly letter complete with heading; greeting, body, closing and
signature, and make sure each part is positioned correctly on the page.
Correctly use spelling, and commas in greetings, closures and with dates and
words in succession.
RESOURCES & MATERIALS:
Pens or pencils
Handouts (templates supplied)
Soldier contact information will be supplied to those who email a request to
firstname.lastname@example.org and put the phrase “request contact” in subject heading
ACTIVITIES & PROCEDURES:
I. Warm Up
To begin this lesson, the teacher will gain the student’s attention by asking inquiry-
based questions to stimulate discussion about patriotic holidays and letter writing. The
teacher will offer a preview by telling students that they will learn the traditional format
for a friendly letter and each write a letter of their own.
What is the purpose of a holiday?
(To honor a person or event)
The month of May has two patriotic holidays that honor the United States military.
What does it mean to be patriotic? What images or symbols represent patriotism?
(Love for your country: flag, eagle, and statue of liberty)
Can you name two patriotic holidays that are celebrated during the month of
May? Can you tell me why Americans observe them? (Armed Services Day &
Armed Services Day, celebrated the third Saturday in May, honors those who
have or are currently serving in all branches of the services, offering their time
and talents for the defense of our nation.
Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday in May is a day of remembrance
for those U.S. men and women who have died in military service for their country.
How can we honor the men and women who are currently serving our country?
(Brainstorm, write all replies on the chalkboard. Discuss all responses but focus in on
Do you think writing a letter to a soldier is a patriotic act? Why?
(Writing a letter to say thanks to a soldier demonstrates love of country)
Have you ever written an email to someone? Who? Why?
Have you ever written a traditional letter to someone? Who Why?
Have you received an email and/or Letter?
How does opening an envelope containing a letter differ from opening up and
reading an email?
Today we are going to write letters to soldiers serving overseas.
How do you think it will feel for a soldier far from home to open a thick envelope
filled with our class’s letters? (This question should trigger an in-depth discussion
that involves expressing empathy for these service men and women who are far away
miles from their homes and families. Teacher should make sure that students recognize
how receiving a letter from home can provide a morale boost and let them know that
someone back home is thinking about them and values their commitment).
II. Developmental Activities/Steps in writing a Friendly Letter
Modeling: Pass out the friendly letter template and sample format 5 pt. letter (both can
be downloaded please see files at end of lesson) to make students aware of the proper
format for a friendly letter.
Discuss the five basic features that every friendly letter must include and position
correctly on the page.
The heading of a letter should be placed in the upper right corner. It contains the return
address, which includes the street address on one line, followed by the city, state and
zip code on the next line. The third line is the date.
Skip a line after your heading and start your greeting
at the left margin . In a friendly letter, a comma follows the salutation.
The body presents the information you want the letter to communicate.
To prepare to write the body of the letter, and to promote empathy the teacher will show
some photographs of patriotic images including soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. If
teachers wish to download the “We Remember PowerPoint show” the file of images can
be found at the bottom of this lesson.
Ask students to look at the photographs and make two lists that contain
Different reasons that they appreciate soldiers.
Things they would like to tell (or ask) the soldier
After the students have completed the lists, they can take their ideas and put them into
the body of the letter.
The closing is like saying good-bye. It always starts with a capital letter. If there are two
words, only the first word begins with a capital.
A signature identifies the writer and is placed directly underneath the closing. The
signature should be signed by hand, never typed (even if the letter is typed).
III. EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
Family Writing Project
Students interested in creating an ongoing, pen pal relationship with a soldier can adopt
a soldier at www.mysoldier.com as a family writing project. Family writing projects can
create a bond for a common cause, which deepens familial ties and gives the family
something new to talk about. As the family takes part in the letter writing process they
will learn the values of service and community and the knowledge that one person can
make a difference.
Children enjoy expressing themselves through art projects. Consider two art projects My
Soldier has adapted from Enchanted Learning ®. Please note, My Soldier is not
affiliated with Enchanted Learning but does find their free website
www.enchantedlearning.com useful. Worksheets based upon two of their lessons can
be downloaded (see bottom of page). Here is a brief description of both:
Make a five-pointed star by folding a piece of construction paper a few times and then
making one cut.
Create a pendent that can be worn to celebrate patriotic U.S. holidays.
*About My Soldier
My Soldier is a program that puts politics aside and lets
U.S. soldiers know that someone back home cares. Sgt.
Juan Salas, who served for 14 months in Iraq, established
the program with the help of his school, Manhattanville
College, when he returned from the war. The goal of the
program is to show support for troops serving in hardship
areas — Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa — by establishing pen-
pal relationships with them. When a person enrolls in the
My Soldier program, they agree to adopt a soldier. They
receive a “starter kit” with guidelines for writing letters to their deployed United States
Armed Serviceperson and for obtaining a “MY SOLDIER” bracelet. Participants may
also choose to send care packages, which are greatly appreciated (but not expected) by
the soldiers. The program is free, but voluntary donations that are strictly applied to
operating costs are encouraged from those who can afford it.
About Manhattanville College
Manhattanville College offers a rigorous academic experience within a nurturing
environment. 1,500 undergraduate students from more than 37 states and 53 countries
enjoy the suburban location along with the resources of New York City, which is just 30
minutes away. There’s a strong social justice and community service focus at
Manhattanville — last year students at our small school logged over 19,000 community
service hours. My Soldier is a natural outgrowth of the school’s mission: to educate
students to become ethically and socially responsible leaders for the global community.
Templates and Files can be downloaded