Month: December 2014

A December Writing Challenge Write a Letter to Santa . . . With a Difference

It’s that time of the year to write a letter to Santa.  But with this writing challenge, how about writing a letter to Santa with a difference?


Write a letter to Santa as if it was composed by someone other than yourself. (If you’re a teacher, we recommend using the Christmas Bonus Word List found in the shared lists tab. Any word list will work, however.)  Choose a character from a book, movie, video game, an animal, an object, or any other character imaginable.  The sky’s the limit!  What would Cinderella write in a letter to Santa?  What sorts of presents would a penguin request?  What would a pet fish have to say to Santa?  Have fun with this, and let the imagination run wild!

When you’ve written your letter to Santa, read the letter to a friend or classmate, but don’t let them know who the imaginary letter is from.  After you’ve read your “Letter to Santa,” see if they can guess which character the letter is from.

Here’s an example.  Can you guess who this letter to Santa is from?

Dear Santa,

I have three requests for things you can send me.  But first, let me tell you, it’s been a very tough year. 

There was this kid named Jack.  Somehow, he got ahold of these magic beans and grew a beanstalk right up into my neighbourhood.  Then, the little rotter sneaked into my castle not once, not twice, but three times!  And each time, as I digested my meal of boiled, roasted or baked boy, I dozed off, and the little rotter stole my most valuable possessions (except for my My Little Pony collection when never gets out of the locked cupboard.)  And the last time, I tried chasing him down the beanstalk, but he chopped it down when I was only half way down!  (Lucky I was wearing my parachute.)

So, for this Christmas, please bring me a replacement hen that lays golden eggs, a magical harp and a bag of gold.  Also, please bring me a very tall ladder so I can climb back up into the clouds and return home. 


Your pal,


Looking for ways to improve your students’ reading comprehension? Try writing. Three Simple Ways Writing Can Improve Reading Comprehension


Let’s start with a horse and cart. In literacy terms, reading is generally regarded as the horse, and writing the cart. Teach someone to read, and writing will follow.

But wait a minute. Recent studies, including one undertaken by the Carnegie Corporation in 2010, give cause to re-examine this ‘Horse and Cart’ analogy. It turns out, increasing the amount students write and improve their skills in writing has a dramatic effect upon reading comprehension. So, which is the horse, and which is the cart?

Three Simple Ways to Use Writing to Improve Reading Comprehension

  1. Spend More Time Writing

    The National Commission on Writing in 2003 recommended that schools double the amount of time students spend writing. The 2010 Carney Corporation study found that increasing how much students wrote improved their reading comprehension of other texts. Effective ways of increasing the amount students write include cross-curriculum writing in a variety of subject areas and writing more at home.

  2. Students Write About What They Read

    When students respond in writing to a text they have just read, a marked improvement in reading comprehension is the result. The writing can be personal responses, interpretations, or analyses of texts in a variety of subject areas such as language arts, science and social studies.

  3. Develop Writing Skills that Transfer to Reading

    Skills and processes required to create text, such as sentence and paragraph formation and text structures, are directly applicable when a student reads a text for comprehension. In other words, the skills of writing are transferable to reading.

Yes. That’s it. Three simple ways. Nothing earth-shattering or revolutionary. All a teacher really has to do is recognize that the proverbial horse is now being pushed by a motorized cart.

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