Teach your children gratitude, and you share both an important social skill and a positive worldview. When children give thanks, they acknowledge the kindness and generosity of others and recognize their own good fortune. They become part of the cycle of giving and receiving. Saying thank you is more than good manners; it’s a way for children to give back.
When a gift, a favor, or a visit calls for a special thank you, nothing says it like a handwritten note. You can hold a note in your hands and savor the writer’s unique script, the texture of the envelope, the colorful stationery. And notes, unlike email and phone calls, often find an honored place on the refrigerator or are tucked away with treasured souvenirs.
Since handwriting and letter writing are part of every elementary curriculum, penning a thank you note also helps children with schoolwork. So inspire your kids, avid and reluctant writers alike, with our free downloadable stationery, step-by-step directions, and the following tips.
- Make it fun. Keep a supply of kid-themed stationery geared to your child’s age and interests. For starters, you can download our free stationery. When it’s time to write, let children choose from the collection.
- Make it easy. Teach your children a short, simple letter format. For younger children, three sentences are plenty.
Sentence 1: Say thank you and mention the gift.
Sentence 2: Tell how you’ll use the gift or why it’s special.
Sentence 3: Say thank you again.
Older children may want to write more, inquiring about the other person and sharing their own news.
- Make it a family affair. Be a role model. Sit down with your children and work on your own letters or business correspondence.
- Follow through. Let children stamp their own letters and, if possible, deposit them in the post box.
- Share the praise! When Grandma calls to share her excitement, call your child to the phone. If a friend or relative displays the letter, make sure your child sees it next time you visit.
Ready to write? Follow these easy steps:
- Download and print the stationery and writing samples:
GiftBox.pdf and GiftBoxEnvelope.pdf
Snowflakes.pdf and SnowflakeEnvelope.pdf
StarryGift.pdf and StarryGiftEnvelope.pdf
SampleThankYou.pdf and EnvelopeFormat.pdf
Let children pick their favorite stationery. Notice that GiftBox.pdf has room at the top for date only and no return address, so it’s suitable for shorter letters and/or younger children.
- Use SampleThankYou.pdf as a guide to help children fill in the return address (if lines are provided), date, and greeting. Then help children brainstorm ideas and write and sign their letters. If desired, let younger children dictate letters while you act as scribe.
- When finished, show children how to fold the letter in three. First fold the bottom third up, and then fold the top third down.
- Use EnvelopeFormat.pdf as a guide to help children address their envelopes. When finished, fold back or cut off the triangular sections at the top of the envelope where marked. For GiftBoxEnvelope, you can trim around the bow or leave as is.
- Fold the envelope, place the letter inside, and seal with tape or a sticker. If you are enclosing something, tape the sides of the envelope. Let children stamp and mail.
- Make a cool fold-over note! Print the letter stationery, and then reinsert the sheet and print the matching envelope on the other side. (Be sure to insert the top of the page first.) Fold to create an all-in-one fold-over note. These notes work best when printed on heavy stock paper.
- Create your own Letter Writing Kit. Print multiple copies of our free downloadable stationery and put them in a box with pens, pencils, markers, stickers and other goodies. Add note cards, postcards, and an address book. Keep the writing box in a convenient spot to inspire young writers.
- If you own Stationery Studio, let children choose their own stationery from hundreds of motivating designs. See below for details.
The letter and envelope templates used in this project were created with Stationery Studio,
an innovative software program from FableVision, Inc. Stationery Studio
lets children choose from 226 inspiring borders and shapes that can be customized with appropriate writing line styles, line widths, and layouts to suit children’s developmental level and writing task. Children type stories, reports, letters and more at the computer or print lined stationery to write by hand. All the art in Stationery Studio
was created by award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. For more information or a tour, go to http://www.fablevision.com/stationerystudio
About the Author
Peggy Healy Stearns, Ph.D., (www.peggyhealystearns.com) is an educator, a parent, and the designer of eight award-winning children’s software programs including Graph Club, Stationery Studio, and Neighborhood MapMachine.
For more Do-It-Yourself cards and gifts, don't miss Gifts Kids Can Make.
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