Mo Willems Writing Activity: Thank-you Notes
Mo Willems captures children’s hearts with his adorable characters and their silly humor and messages of friendship. In The Thank You Book, Piggie wants to thank everyone she can think of who is important to her. This offers the perfect opportunity to teach your youngsters how to write a thank-you note!
Begin by talking about the importance of showing gratitude to those who have made a difference in our lives. Who can students think of that they want to thank and why? Thanking friends and family members for birthday or holiday gifts is a great place to start. But stress to students that it’s also important to thank those who have made a positive difference in our lives in other ways. Kids might want to thank their next-door neighbor for walking their dog, a family member who helped them finish their science project, or their librarian for helping them discover a favorite book series. (If students need inspiration, have them check out www.thankorama.com to spin Elephant & Piggie’s Thank-O-Rama wheel!)
Putting It Into Words
After students have decided on someone they want to thank, have them think about what they want to say. Explain that this is an opportunity to express why the gift or action meant a lot to them. The note need only be two or three sentences. For example, if the student is thanking Uncle Karl for coming to see the school play, he might say, “Thank you so much for coming to watch me in the school play. I was so happy to see you sitting in the audience! It meant a lot to me that you were there.”
Tell students that the most important thing to remember is that a thank-you note should come from the heart. It should also be sincere; even if they are thanking someone for a gift they didn’t particularly like, they can still say something that is true: “Thank you so much for the sweater you knitted for me. You remembered my favorite color is blue! It was a very thoughtful gift.”
When students are ready to put pen to paper, remind them to begin their letter with a salutation (“Dear Uncle Karl,”) and end with a proper closing (“Love, Bella”). This is also a good time to teach students the proper way to address envelopes.
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Ask students to think about their favorite Mo Willems characters — Gerald, Piggie, the Pigeon, Trixie, Knuffle Bunny … the list goes on! Have each student choose two characters. Ask, “If the characters were to write thank-you notes to each other, what would the notes say?”
For example, Piggie might thank Gerald for always looking out for her, and Gerald might thank Piggie for all the smiles she brings to his life. Or, students might get creative, and think about what the characters would give each other for their birthdays. Encourage them to use their imaginations! Then, have students pair up and share their notes with each other.
For more writing, math, science and social studies activities, as well as games and crafts, check out Upstart’s Fun with Mo Willems Activity Guide, as well as the blog posts “How a Librarian and Elephant & Piggie Changed My Life” by Liz Bowie and “How to Use Mo Willems Books to Inspire Student Projects” by Andy Plemmons.