How to Write a Persuasive Letter to Santa

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Combine some persuasive writing practice with a fun activity: write a letter to Santa. State educational standards include persuasive writing for kids from around grade three and up. The key parts of persuasive writing--stating a clear position, supporting it with evidence and emotional appeals, organizing the letter and addressing the concerns of the reader--fit seamlessly into a persuasive letter to Santa. Kids won't even realize they are practicing their state's standards and benchmarks as they have fun thinking about what to ask Santa for this year.

  • Ask kids the question, "What if you found out that Santa did not have your name on his list?" Give them time to answer. Jot down a few of their answers on the blackboard or a piece of posterboard at the front of the room.

  • Give students five minutes to write down everything they would like Santa to bring them this Christmas.

  • Tell students to imagine Santa saying, "You have been so naughty this year. Why should I bring you any presents?" Let students brainstorm what they might say to Santa to address his concerns about their behavior and to convince him they deserve presents anyway.

  • Reveal to students that they have just formed the basis for a persuasive argument. They stated their position by discussing what they would do if Santa did not have their names on his list. They supported their position with details about what they would like Santa to bring them. Finally, they addressed the concerns of the reader, Santa in this case, when they thought of ways to discuss their naughty behavior with Santa.

  • Show students the proper format for a letter, if they don't know it. Options for this step include putting up an overhead slide, handing out a template or drawing the letter's outline on the board. Show students where the date and salutation go, how to separate their letter into paragraphs and how to close the letter with a signature at the end.

  • Reinforce the structure with students, showing them that the first paragraph contains their position statement (Santa should bring me presents). The second paragraph adds specifics (a list of the presents they want) and the third paragraph addresses reader concerns (why they should get presents even if they were bad). Add a final paragraph, the conclusion, and ask them to summarize what the letter said and give one more appeal to Santa for the gifts they want.

  • Let volunteers read their letters aloud, and have other students comment on whether the argument is convincing. Discuss arguments that work and those that don't and explore reasons for both. When the letter is completely done, inform students that they can follow a similar format when they work on persuasive essays for classes or during state testing.

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  • Photo Credit Santa Claus Reading Letters image by e-pyton from Fotolia.com
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