Letter writing is an important skill for students to learn. Nowadays, while I am all for technology, writing an email and mailing a letter just aren't the same. Think about it, would you prefer a handwritten Thank You letter or an email? Using Flat Stanley as a "hook" keeps the kids interested. So now you're probably wondering WHERE ARE THE DOGS? Every teacher I've talked to has the kids create their own flat friend and mail him to a family member, in hopes that they will take a picture with him/her and mail him/her back. So why not instead of creating a flat human friend, how about a flat canine friend?
In my post "Personalize your own paper dog" I talked about having the students decorate their own dogs to look like them if they were transformed into a pooch. This "Flat Dog" activity is very similar so it would be best to choose between the two. I would still use the Fashion Angels Design a Heavenly Wardrobe but I would give the students more freedom. Suggest to them to go with their parents to the local A.C. Moore or Michaels and pick up some glitzy or themed paper, gems, stickers...etc.. and decorate their dog. If they are lucky and have extra fabric or wallpaper, those work perfectly too!
Moving back to the lesson --- the IMPORTANT PART
When teaching friendly letters, it is vital that you have an example for the students and a template for them to follow. We know very well that everyone learns differently. For my 3rd and 4th graders I created a template, a list of ideas/topics to include in the letter, and an example.
As you can see from the image, I kept up with the dog them by using stationery I found online, and proceeded by labeling each part of the friendly letter. Next, I gave my students a list of what to include, and finally an example letter to my "pretend" Uncle Frank.
February 9, 2012
Dear Uncle Frank,
We are learning how to write friendly letters in computer class following the book Flat Stanley. Enclosed is my flat dog, Koko. he is a 13 1/2 year old chocolate lab with grey eye eyebrows and a big head. Koko is a bit of a troublemaker. ONE DAY........
When he was a puppy he could sit in my lap. Today, even though he still thinks he is a puppy and tries to sit on my lap or sleep in my bed. I end up being pushed off. 1 point Koko, 0 points Miss Lindsay!
My family spoils Koko! I expect you will do the same. Nobody can say "no" to his cute, chubby face. He loves to play tug-of-war and clean the dishes in the dishwasher.
P.S. His favorite food is pancakes!