Letters are a form of communication that have been used ever since humans developed written language. Before modern technology allowed us to communicate almost instantly with someone anywhere in the world, they were used to correspond with people who were far away.
Written letters are used for many purposes. They can be very formal, such as a letter of complaint or a letter applying for a job. Informal letters are sent between friends or family members and can be more chatty.
Teach your children about letter writing using our handy topic guide!
- Use some of our ideas for the popular books Dear Greenpeace or The Day the Crayons Quit.
- Ask your children to bring the spelling of this Tudor letter up to date.
- This idea for a persuasive letter can be adapted to your situation or topic.
- Use a letter writing frame to help children structure a thank-you letter.
- Writing a letter to Santa is a Christmas activity that younger children enjoy.
- Write a letter to your favourite author asking them about their books.
- Make a class list of the kinds of letters that we send and receive. Why do people write letters?
- Use a letter as a primary source for a history topic. This lesson plan uses a letter, sent to Lord Monteagle before the opening of parliament, to explore the Gunpowder Plot.
- Help your children write first-class letters with our Letter Writing Pack.
- When your class are writing persuasive letters, you will find the resources in our Persuasive Writing Pack useful.
- This BBC Bitesize page is helpful for working on asking questions in letters.
- This site has lots of ideas for letter writing activities.
Letter Writing Facts
- The earliest known envelopes, to protect the contents of a letter, were made by the Ancient Babylonians. They wrote their messages on clay, not paper, so the message was coated in another layer of clay!
- Letters used to be folded and sealed with a wax seal instead of using an envelope.
- The first pre-paid postal service, using stamps, was introduced in the United Kingdom in May 1840.
- Most letters begin with “Dear …”, but if you know the recipient well, you can use a less formal greeting.
- A pen pal is someone who you exchange letters with, usually to learn more about them.
Dear Mother Goose
Nursery Rhyme characters write to Mother Goose for advice.
Running time: 11:16
How to write a formal letter in English
This video gives a good overview of writing a formal letter.
Running time: 4:05
Journey of a Letter
Find out how a letter gets from the writer to the recipient.
Running time: 6:20
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!