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K-5: Love Letters:Using imagery to convey feelings

by Jennifer Reid, Learn NC

After listening to Arnold Adoff’s Love Letters, students will write and share their own love letters. This lesson is especially fun around Valentine’s Day.

A lesson plan for Grades 2–4 English Language Arts

Students will:

  • read or listen to the book Love Letters by Arnold Adoff and analyze for main idea, tone, imagery and author strategies
  • write a letter, similar to the letters in the book, that use description and analogy to convey feeling

Teacher planning: 90 minutes

Materials/resources

  • Love Letters by Arnold Adoff
  • chart paper
  • student paper or writing journals
  • envelopes
  • materials for publishing such as stationery, colored paper for background, or colored pencils

Pre-activities

Introduce topic. “What are some different kinds of love? What is the difference between saying ‘I love my grandmother’ and ‘I love chocolate?’ What are different ways of letting someone know he or she is loved?”

Activities

1. Share Love Letters by reading a few aloud and sharing pictures. Then call up students to read aloud and show pictures. Discuss each letter:

  • Who is writing the letter?
  • Who is the recipient?
  • What feelings are being expressed?
  • What imagery or analogies does the sender use to convey her feelings?
  • What is the mood or tone of this letter?

2. After sharing the book, write a class love letter to someone you appreciate (the principal, another teacher at school, the custodian, the secretary, etc.). Model using imagery and analogies to describe the class’s feelings for that person.

3. Have the class brainstorm together on chart paper the various “people” who could send or receive love letters. Simple suggestions could include friend to friend, daughter to mother, teacher to student, or grandchild to grandparent but other suggestions made by fourth-graders have included storyteller to story, stomach to tastebuds, pencil to paper, sun to moon, and tooth to tooth.

4. Tell students they are going to write their own love letters. They can be real letters to real people or imaginary letters between imaginary characters. (This is a good time to do a mini-lesson on letter writing, if needed.)

5. Students plan: (1) to whom and from whom the letter is being written; (2) what thoughts and feelings are being expressed; (3) what could be said, compared, promised, or described to show those feelings (use senses, memories and imagination to brainstorm).

6. Students write rough drafts and share with the class for responses, praise, and suggestions.

7. Publish the letters by rewriting them neatly on stationery or notebook paper and tucking the corner into an envelope (some students enjoyed creating crazy addresses on the envelopes). If the stories are to be displayed, a giant mailbox shape makes a great background.

Assessment

Observation of student responses and participation during class discussion.

Evaluation of detailed descriptions, coherence, and comparisons in students’ finished writing.

Supplemental information

Love Letters ISBN: 0-590-48478-8 (by Arnold Adoff, illus. Lisa Desimini, Blue Sky Press (Scholastic), New York, 1997.

Comments

I have done this lesson a few times with fourth graders and have been surprised at how receptive they were, considering their usual response to “mushy stuff.” They especially enjoyed reading them in front of the class and showing the pictures afterward. Some of them even wrote responses to their own letters and published the two together on the board. I give a lot of license in how they decorate them and am usually rewarded with some wonderful craziness.

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