Sending a Letter Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about mail, the postal system, and sending letters. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Sending a Letter. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Though many children use e-mail to send messages to friends and family members, it is still important for students to learn how to write and send letters. A letter has five basic parts—the heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature. The heading contains the address and date. The greeting is where the writer addresses the recipient of the letter—“Dear Annie,” “To whom it may concern,” etc. The body contains the message; it is the main part of any letter. The closing is a way to conclude the letter. The closing is always capitalized and it always ends with a comma—“Sincerely,” “Your friend,” etc. The signature is the part of the letter where the writer signs his or her name.

There are two main kinds of letters—friendly letters and business letters. Friendly letters are written to people one knows—the tone is familiar. Business letters are formal; they often have a serious tone. In friendly letters, the recipient’s address is in the heading. In business letters, the writer’s address is in the top center or left of the page and the recipient’s address is below. Friendly letters can begin with “Dear Annie,” or “Hi Annie!” Business letters almost always start with the word “Dear” followed by the person’s name. Using Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and the last name is the standard practice. When sending a business letter to an unknown party, “Dear sir or madam,” or “To whom it may concern,” is the standard practice.

More jovial or informal closings are used with friendly letters, such as “Keep in touch,” “Your friend,” etc. For business letters, the closing should be even with the tone of the letter, such as “Sincerely,” “Regards,” etc. In business letters, the name of the writer is often written underneath the signature.

To mail a letter, the recipient’s address should be placed in the center. The return address, or address of the writer, should be in the top left corner. A stamp is placed in the top right corner. Postage, or the cost to mail a letter, varies when a letter is mailed internationally. Postcards carry less postage than letters. Postcards are small cards; one side often contains a picture, and the other side has a space for a brief message and an area for the address and stamp.

Encourage your child to write a letter to a friend or family member. Letters allow children to practice their reading and writing skills, learn a useful skill, and have fun.