Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Dear Fifth Grader
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students review the five parts of a friendly letter and then write a letter welcoming incoming students. The purpose of the letter is to help the fifth grader transition into middle school. The new students will come prepared with helpful suggestions, inside information, and a buddy in an older grade. The letters tell about the students own first experiences in middle school and their favorite parts about their school.


One Fifty-Minute Class Period


The learners will:
  • identify the five parts of a friendly letter.

  • write letters to the current fifth graders.

  • perform peer review and self-assessment according to a rubric.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.
Students write personal letters to the fifth graders, welcoming them to the Middle School.


  • Stationery
  • Class lists of (fifth-grade) students coming into the middle school
  • Copies of Letter-Writing Rubric (Attachment One)
  • Group copy of Sample Letter (Attachment Two

Handout 1
Friendly-Letter Rubric
Handout 2
Sample Letter

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
In advance, the teacher writes a friendly letter to each student. Although the letter may have elements that are the same for every student, each letter contains a unique and special note to that student. Place the letters on the students’ desks prior to class (each in an envelope with the student’s name on it). As the students come into class they may read their letters. After all of the students have read their letters, ask them some questions to help them understand how meaningful a personal letter can be. Wasn’t it nice to receive a personal letter? How did it make you feel when you saw the envelope with your name on it? How would it make the fifth graders feel to receive personal letters from you? How would you have felt if you had received a letter from an older student welcoming you to their school?

  • Tell the class that they are going to share a little of their time and talent with the fifth graders so they can come prepared to middle school with some inside information, hints, and a buddy in an older grade. As we discussed in the previous lesson, we want these students to feel welcome at our school so we are going to write each one of the fifth graders a personal letter.
  • Put the Sample Letter (see Attachment Two) on the board. Read the letter out loud with the class. Have the students identify the five parts of the letter (date, greeting, body, salutation and signature).
  • Remind the students of their previous discussions regarding how to help the new students feel comfortable. Pass out copies of the Letter-Writing Rubric (see Attachment One) so students know what to include in their letters.
  • Give each student the name of a fifth grader to whom he or she will write. (Some students may have to write more than one letter to ensure that ALL fifth graders get a letter.)
  • After students have completed their rough drafts, have them get into pairs, switch papers and peer review each other’s letters according to the Letter-Writing Rubric (see Attachment One).
  • After their letters have been reviewed, the students should make corrections to their letters and check their work against the rubric. Then, each student writes a neat final draft on stationery (or more final drafts if writing to more than one student). The teacher checks the final work before it is sent and grades according to the rubric.


Assess student letters using the Letter-Writing Rubric (Attachment One). Teacher may add mechanical standards to the rubric.

Lesson Developed By:

Sarah Watkin
Zeeland Public Schools
Cityside Middle School
Zeeland, MI 49464


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Friendly-Letter Rubric

Item Points Possible Points received
    Peer     Self     Teacher
Greeting (Dear _______,)


  • Welcome
  • My first day experience
  • My favorite part about my school

Closing  (ex. Your friend, Sincerely, or See you next year,)
Is the letter friendly?
Does the letter use effective language that inspires confidence?
Punctuation and capitals
Possible Points:
Total Points:
Peer     Self     Teacher

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Sample Letter

March 20, 2004

Dear Samantha Jones,

I hear that you will be coming to our school next year and I wanted to be the first to welcome you.
I remember my first day at the middle school. I was a little bit scared coming to school because I would be with all of the older kids. I had never had to switch classes and I didn’t know where I would have to be all of the time. All of these things were scary, but I was really upset because I found out that I wouldn’t be in class with my best friend. At the same time as being scared, I was also excited because I would be in band and also meet new people. As it turned out, everything was fine and I made new friends in my classes.
My favorite part about our school is that we can play basketball in the gym after we finish eating our lunch. I also like my homeroom teacher. He is really cool.
I hope you have a good summer.

See you next year,

Todd Jacobs

Philanthropy Framework:


Beatriz, Teacher – Hialeah, FL7/25/2006 6:20:54 PM

It is a wonderful lesson. It will be incorporated in my lesson plan this year.

Matt, Teacher – Kettering, OH9/4/2007 6:41:38 PM

Great lesson.

Stella, Teacher – Houston, TX4/12/2012 6:37:18 PM

I will try it on my Fifth Graders who will be leaving to a middle school soon.

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