This is a lightly modified version of an article I wrote for Nesting.com in November 2009.
Tis the season for ‘round the clock toy commercials! The annual brigade of gadgets and widgets that entice our kids to say “Mom, can I have that?”
If your kids haven’t written that letter to you-know-who, there’s still a few days left. [And if you have 27″ of snow and can’t go anywhere, then what are you waiting for?]
Helping our kids write that letter is the least we can do to help make their wishes come true. As honorary helpers, we have a close personal relationship with the “big guy,” so we know just how important these letters are to him and the elves. Here are ways that you can incorporate some literacy into the fun of putting together a Dear Santa request.
Use Pictures. Every day, the newspaper is filled with sale pages advertising toys. Many magazines have been running ads for the last several months, too. Grab a pair of safety scissors, a marker or pencil, and let the kids have fun. Once the lists are created, hang them on the refrigerator so that they can see them every day … until it’s time to mail them. If you have a scanner, you could fax them to the North Pole!
Toddlers and preschoolers
- Cut out – or let your child cut out – the pictures of the items they want.
- Glue them to a piece of paper, lining up the pictures so that you have room to write next to or under them.
- Write a one-word description next to/under the picture. For example, if your daughter picked out a baby doll, write the word “doll” next to it.
Kindergarten through Second Grade
- Let your child cut out the pictures of the items they want and glue them to a piece of paper.
- For each picture, ask your child to write the name of the item and a short sentence about why they want this toy.
Let them Write. As kids are developing as readers, they are still writing short sentences and learning how to put their words onto paper.
Be a copycat. Once kids can put letters together as words, having them copy them is a great way to practice writing, build vocabulary, and reinforce spelling. By second grade, kids understand sentence structure and punctuation.
- If you’re child isn’t familiar with letter form, create a sample for her with “Dear Santa,” and then show her where the first sentence goes. That will get her started and then she can write a couple of sentences for her opening.
- Grabbing that toy catalog again, let your son pick the item(s) he wants. Instead of cutting out pictures, though, ask him to write the name of the object … and add a few sentences about why he wants this.
Write from scratch. By third grade, kids have mastered the basics of writing. Their spelling may not be perfect, but they can convey more complex thoughts. If your child is comfortable writing, let them write the letter from scratch.
If your child is an older sibling who has an honorary elf card, you can mix and match any of these ideas together. Instead of you writing the words … ask your daughter to help her little brother. After all, that is the kind of thing that Santa likes to see!
More about writing and literacy tomorrow.