Student Contributor -G. Allen
For my project, Letters to Soldiers, I had a group of 7th grade students create letters thanking the soldiers for their hard work and dedication. After viewing the partner organization website, Support Our Troops, I noticed that there were many items that soldiers requested. On my own, I went to the store and gathered a few items that were mentioned by the soldiers. After gathering the letters that the students wrote, a picture of all the students, and the various snacks, I sent the package off.
I first explained the project to the students and why I chose this project. I told the students that this is a great way to give back to those who give so much to us. When discussing with them that we would be writing letters to our soldiers and thanking them for their service, I emphasized the fact that these letters were going to go to real soldiers. All the students became very excited when hearing this information. For the formation of the letters, I printed off a letter template with soldiers on the bottom. Students had the option to color the soldiers, but due to time limitation, many students did not have time to do so. I gave the students freedom in their writing, as long as it was appropriate. Once each student was finished with their writing, I collected the letters. I captured a picture of the students to send along with their letters. Following the project, various students came up to me and said that they truly enjoyed doing the activity and they are excited for the soldiers to read their letter. To add onto the letters and the photo, I also wanted to provide a variety of snacks to include in the care package. While I could have included the students in on this part, I decided that it was easier to collect these snacks by myself. The Support Our Troops website provides a list of items that soldiers would love to receive. I took this list into consideration when I was doing my shopping. Once I was finished with everything, I put the letters from my students, the photo, and the snacks all in one big box and shipped it to the address that was provided on the Support Our Troops website. We included an email and phone number in hopes of them contacting us when they receive our care package!
The execution of my project went great. I thought deeply about the planning and different strategies to use, so the activity with the students went very smoothly. I think that providing students with a letter template was very helpful in the case of having the letters look presentable. My plan was to have the students color the soldiers on the bottom of the letter, but unfortunately, we ran out of time. A piece of advice that I would give to anyone trying to do this same project would be to allow your students more time in creating these letters. I set aside 35 minutes for the students to create their letter and color the picture. In the future, I would have allowed 45 minutes for the completion of their letters. Another piece of advice would be to read the letters before sending them off to the soldiers. There may be a student who tries sneaking something into their letter that may not be completely appropriate.