Mr. Lincolns Whiskers
Arts and Humanities
--- Language Arts
Use a popular children’s book about Abe Lincoln to teach the five parts of a letter.
letter writing, letter-writing, Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Lincolns Whiskers
Begin the lesson by asking students, Have you ever received a letter in the mail? After giving students a chance to respond and to share their experiences, ask Have you ever written a letter to someone else? To whom did you write that letter?
Share with students that you are about to read aloud a story about a girl who wrote a very important letter. Explain that after they have finished listening to the story, they will be writing their very own letters.
Read to the class the popular childrens book Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers.
About the BookAfter reading the story, ask students what they thought of it. Ask them to tell about their favorite parts.
(Kindergarten-Grade 4.) In 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell wrote to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he grow a beard. Lincoln responded to the letter. On his way to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration, his train stopped at her hometown and a bewhiskered Lincoln introduced himself to Grace. Too amazing to be true? Well, the letters exist to prove it, and they are reproduced at the end of this interesting picture book. The story is presented simply and with authenticity. Children will identify with this independent young girl. Grace, her large family, and their solid small-town home are depicted in an American folk-art style appropriate to the period. The girl's letter is a perfect example of the manners and speech of that time, and the relationships among the siblings and parents ring true. The greatness and humility of Lincoln are shown as he takes the time to respond to a child and meet her, and, remarkably, accept her advice. Containing a wonderful piece of history beautifully and succinctly presented, this story can be read in groups or individually to entertain and to teach. [Reviewed by Marlene Gawron (Orange County Library System, Orlando, Florida) for School Library Journal]
Next, hand out to students copies of Grace's letter and Abraham Lincoln's letter. Instruct students to place the two letters side by side. Ask them if they see any similarities between the two letters. If students do not volunteer the answer, guide them toward identifying that the letters follow the same format; each letter has the five parts of a traditional letter
Write the parts of the letter on a board or chart as you identify them. You might even have produced transparencies of the letters to display on an overhead projector; you could label the parts as they you share their identities with students.
Ask students to use a pencil or pen to identify the five parts of a letter on the letters in front of them. If you teach young students, you might ask them to use different-colored crayons to underline the different parts of each letter.
Then ask students to take out their writing journals. Explain that now that they have a model of a letter in front of them, each of them will write their own letter to a friend or family member. Instruct students to write about the book Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers. They might tell about a favorite part of the book.
You might have students write a rough draft of their letter first; they can share the draft with another student, who will proof read their letter. Once proofed, students can write their final copies on lined paper.
Ask students to place the model letters in their writing journals for future use.
Once students have completed their letters, ask them to identify the five parts of them to you.
Submitted ByMichele McKinnon is interning at Liberty Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland
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Last updated 2/13/2012