This week, some students in Texas public schools took the TAKS test, standardized tests to see if they've learned what they're supposed to. My daughter is in the fourth grade and took the math and reading tests. Back when I was going to school, there weren't TAKS tests. We studied, we did homework and we took tests. If we did bad on a test, we studied harder for the next test so we could bring up our grades. In high school, we took "final exams," which were big tests at the end of the year, and it might have been a little stressful but it was nothing like it is today. "The TAKS test" hangs over the kids' heads all year long, with everything they do teaching them how to take and pass the test. What was school like when you were a kid? Write a letter and tell someone about one of your school experiences.
How do you deal with stress? Do you know someone who's in a stressful situation right now? Write to them and tell them that you understand. Don't be condescending, of course, but offer your help, if they want it.
I just read an article by Associated Press writer Martha Irvine about a teenage boy who killed himself after being bullied at school. Toward the end of the story, one of his friends says, "Everyone says, 'If he'd only known how much he mattered to so many people.'" She recently spoke at her school's Challenge Day about losing her friend. You can read the story here, as well as on other sites, I'm sure. To read more about Challenge Day, go to www.challengeday.org. The organization's vision is that "every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated."
Today, write a letter letting someone know how much they matter to you. It's important.
April 22 -- Earth Day. Write a letter today celebrating Earth Day in some way. Do an online search for "how to celebrate Earth Day." There are many great ideas out there.
The EcoKids website has fun stuff, such as Earth Day Bingo, Earth Day Word Search and Earth Day Facts. Maybe you can print out some of those items and include them with your letter.
Also, in honor of Earth Day, try to send the most Earth-friendly letter you can -- write it on recycled paper, put it in an envelope you make from scrap paper or magazine pages and walk to the mailbox to mail it! Have fun with it!
(The beautiful picture of the planet Earth above is courtesy of NASA. It was taken by the GOES 8 weather satellite. This pictures and many others can be seen at the GRIN website.)
A letter that is more than 180 years old was recently found in the basement of the Quincy, Massachusetts, City Hall. The letter was written by U.S. President John Quincy Adams on Sept. 8, 1826, regarding a monument to his late father, President John Adams.
Today, write a letter to someone about Earth Day and the ecology and what you think some of the most important issues facing our planet are and what we can do to help. Don't forget to offer up some solutions. If this isn't the type of letter you normally write to a friend, try writing to a politician, leader, scientist, author, etc., someone who will be interested in your opinions and ideas.
Tomorrow is Earth Day's 40th birthday. Let's give it a great party!
In continuing with my Earth Day theme this week, today, write a letter using homemade ink. What? Who makes homemade ink? Very few people, indeed, I'm guessing. But, it might be fun, especially for a letter to a child. Here's a simple recipe, that I must admit that I have not tried. My daughter and I have been wanting to try it, but we haven't had a chance.
You can use a dip-pen (often used for calligraphy) or even a toothpick or stick for the writing instrument to use with this ink.
Berry Ink. Use 1/2 cup fresh berries or thawed frozen berries; push them through a strainer so that you get pulp-free juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar (to hold color) and 1/2 teaspoon salt (as a preservative) and mix well. You can use a glass baby food jar as your "inkwell", if you have one.
Have fun with it!
Letter writing topic for April 20, 2010
(Fruit graphic complements of the Graphic Fairy. Stop by and see the great graphics there!)
As Earth Day approaches (April 22), I have eco-ideas on my mind. Today, write a letter on recycled paper. If you don't have any stationery that says "Recycled Paper" on the box, try making your own. Making handmade paper is really fairly easy, and there are instructions out there on the Internet and many great books on the topic. If you're not up for straining paper pulp in through a piece of screen, try writing a letter on a piece of reused paper or cardstock. Write a letter on the back of something you've printed out and don't need, or cut a cereal box into postcard-sized pieces and write a short letter on that. Have fun with the project and be sure to tell your letter recipient all about it.
Thursday, April 22, 2010, is Earth Day. Now is the time to get your Happy Earth Day letters in the mail! Write a letter to someone explaining what Earth Day means to you and what you do to take care of the planet Earth. Make it an annual tradition -- your Earth Day Letter.
According to a few places on the World Wide Web, today is National Stress Awareness Day. Now, considering that yesterday was the deadline for filing your income tax in the U.S., it seems that most everyone would be much less stressed today than they were yesterday. Maybe they should have made April 14 National Stress Awareness Day. But, alas, nobody ever asks me before they schedule these things. (Ha!) So, in honor of being aware of our stress, let's write a letter to someone who could use a break and invite them to do something fun. Go for a walk on the beach, go see a movie (just don't stress over the cost of the popcorn), have a picnic in the park, something fun and stress-relieving! Mail that letter today!
This blog has featured movies and songs about letter writing, but never comic strips. My mom just e-mailed me about today's Zits comic strip by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman...it's funny! Click here to see it.
If you have kids and/or grandkids or are involved in schools in anyway, you know that, for many school systems in the United States, as well as many other countries, we're in the last few weeks of the school year. Many school years end in late May or early June, and then the kids get a summer break. For students on that schedule, this time of year is a time of testing. It's also springtime around here, so the weather is warming up, flowers are blooming, and it's difficult to keep a kid interested in math and spelling when it's so pretty outside. Today, write a letter to a student, encouraging him or her to keep up the good work until the end of the year. If you can, offer to help. Be empathetic, remembering how tempting it is to shrug off the work at the end of the year but also remembering how important it is to stay steady to the end. Maybe even offer a small reward, such as a fun visit to a park or a shopping trip once the school year has ended.
Letter writing topic for April 14, 2010
P.S. Today's artwork was provided by Webweaver, which offers free stuff for Web sites, including art.
Who knew April was National Frog Month? In honor of the month, send a frog-themed letter today. Include a few frog facts and maybe some froggy pictures. You might even want to direct your letter's recipient to the Save the Frogs Web site that is promoting Save the Frogs Day on April 30. Happy Frog Month! Ribbit! Ribbit!
You can also find some great froggy info at Frogland, which is where the artwork for this posting came from. Dorata, who created Frogland, drew quite a few frogs on the Web site. One of my favorites is Postal Frog, at right. (Those are the Joking Frogs) above/left.
Today, in honor of Phonelady at The Older Side of Life blog, write a letter welcoming someone new to your community. I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find someone new to write to. Look in the newspaper to see if there's an article on someone who just moved for a new job. Or, maybe your community is a little bit smaller than that...write a letter welcoming a new member to an organization or association. Phonelady just moved from Florida to Ohio, and we're all happy she's getting settled in and enjoying her new location.
Write a letter today about your family history. Recount a story that your grandparents or parents told you about their youth. Or, tell a tale from your own life. Put it down on paper for others to remember. Share your history.
April 10 is the 100th day of the year. Write a fun letter about 100 things you like. Or, make it like one of those e-mail chain letters: 100 things nobody knows about me. But, write it in a real letter and mail it to someone!
Today, write a letter of sunshine, a letter so full of happiness and brightness that it practically shines through the envelope. If you need some good news to share, look at the Pay It Forward blog. There's so much happiness there, it'll bring tears to your eyes. (Don't forget to click on "Older Posts" at the bottom of the last blog entry to see more good stories!)
Around here, they have a phrase, "git 'er done." Today, write a utilitarian letter, one that just gets a job done. Maybe there's something you've been putting off, a business letter, a letter telling someone "no," a letter asking someone to help out with a project...write that letter today. Git 'er done and be done with it.
Today, write a letter about today, about today's current events and how they affect your life. Write about what you think about what's going on in the world around you. Write about your town, your state, your country, your world. Write a letter that someone will find fascinating 50 years from now.
According to an Associated Press article, the Raab Collection in Philadelphia is selling a letter that President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his 6-year-old son, Quentin, in 1903. The hand-written letter (see a picture of it here), was written on the president's trip to Yellowstone National Park and includes a hand-drawn picture of a mule that carried his gear. The letter starts with, "I love you very much."
For more information about collectible letters and other documents, visit the Raab Collection's Web site.
According to some sources, this week is Explore Your Career Options Week. Today, write a letter to a young person telling him or her about the career you chose and why. Or, write a letter to someone who is doing what you want to do, careerwise, and very politely ask for some advice. Be specific in asking for that advice, and keep it short and simple. You don't want to overwhelm anyone.
Today, discover some useful bit of information and share it with a friend in a letter. Try a Word of the Day or visit www.handyfacts.com. For example, did you know that, according to Handy Facts, if you can't find a 2010 calendar, you can just re-use a 1999 calendar. The dates/days are the same.
At our house this morning, we've been playing a Spanish-language card game, learning pronunciations, phrases and numbers in Spanish. I'm much better at comprehending Spanish when it's in writing than when it's spoken. Can you write in more than one language? What would your penpal think if you wrote him or her a letter in a different language than usual? Try it today! If you're not fluent in another language, use a variety of resources to learn a phrase or two and include them with your letter.
The Washington Post has a great story online this week about a young Michigan mother who wrote to President Barack Obama and received a hand-written letter in return. Read the story here.
The photo above, an official White House photo by Pete Souza, shows President Barack Obama writing a response to one of the ten letters he personally reads each day after they are forwarded to him from the White House Correspondence office. Evident is the purple folder that Post writer Eli Saslow makes reference to throughout the article. For more photos of the president, check out other letter-related photos on Flickr.
For most people, when you're a kid, making friends is easy. Often kids just walk up to each other, say "Hi," and they're off and running on a new friendship. Even throughout high school and college, making friends seems fairly simple.
But, for an adult, making new friends can be a daunting venture. You can't exactly go up to someone at the coffee shop and say, "Hi! Do you want to be friends?"
Sometimes, you can be friends with people at work, but often co-workers are just co-workers or maybe acquaintances. From time to time, as an adult, you come across someone that you have things in common with. You laugh at the same jokes, enjoy the same type of food, have the same kind of pets. And, yet, it can be difficult to figure out how to take that first step toward friendship.
Years ago, I reconnected with a former college classmate by writing her a letter suggesting that we get together for coffee. She was thrilled with the idea, and our friendship was reignited. We're still friends today, but since we live in different towns now, we're more often penpals and Facebook friends than we are coffee shop friends.
Today, write a letter of introduction to a potential new friend and suggest a casual get together. Maybe you'll have a new friend by next week!
It's springtime here in Texas. That means high winds, thunderstorms and often tornados. Around these parts, it also means wildflowers and rattlesnakes. What is routine where you live? What can you expect because it's spring? Write a letter to someone today telling them what life is usually like at your house. What do you look forward to? What do you dread? Share your life with someone in letters.