Conversations and Family Connections!

I have to start out by saying that I did not come up with this idea....but I wish I had! For the past several years I have had my kids keep a Family Message Journal. The idea of the journal is for the student to reflect (difficult concept for most!) on their week at school. Every Thursday my kids write, in a friendly letter format, to a member of their household (mom, dad, sibling, pet, etc.). That evening I ask that the family member read over the child's letter with them  and ask questions....basically have a conversation. The family member then responds to the child's letter, again, having a conversation about what they wrote.

This activity is so meaningful because it not only opens up communication and makes students reflect, but the journal ends up as a beautiful keepsake. I have read entries from families that actually make me cry! Just this past week I had a little boy write to his dad. As it turned out the dad was out of town and the mom called him and the dad dictated his letter over the phone. I thought that was so special.
My own son kept a Family Message Journal when he was in 3rd grade and it is one of my most precious possessions today.

Here are some of the journals written this year. These are 3rd graders who have never been asked to reflect. I've included some parent responses, too! Not too bad!

I guide them through the first letter in order to teach the friendly letter format and reflecting. The forms below get stapled into the front of their notebook so they have a letter format example (and it doubles as the directions) and they have a reference sheet for reflecting (that one is half sheet...sorry about the screen shot). I do tell them they need to write about school & academics.

It really is a meaningful homework assignment. Be flexible if their family member can not respond that night....I assign on Thursday, but they have the weekend.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!


  1. This is one of the neatest ideas I have ever seen. I may just have to try it with my firsties later in the year. Thanks so much for sharing this!!!

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory

  2. We were just looking at Marzano's Revising Knowledge. Those prompts are great for that! I love this! Thank you!


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