-Understand the five parts of a letter (Letter writing skills)
-Compare the form of this letter to standard form now?
-Vocabulary enrichment
-Writing:  Students’ compose persuasive letters.


RL.1.1 Ask and answer such questions about key details in a text.
RI.1.5 Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
RF.1.4   a) Read on-level text with purpose and understanding. b) Read on-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings (Working towards
RF.1.4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.)

1.W-I.1. Write or dictate stories that have a beginning, middle, and end, and arrange ideas in a logical way.


Frederick Douglass’ (1817-1895).
Autograph letter signed, dated Rochester, New York, 17 August 1865, to Mary Todd Lincoln.
GLC 2472. The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Orloff, Karen Kaufman (2004). I Wanna Iguana. New York, New York: Putnam’s Sons Publisher


Warm Up

Discuss reasons for letter writing and give examples/reasons that people may have for writing letters. Put their answers on a chart. After reading the letters to the students, have them determine what they think the overall authors’ purpose was for each letter.

Read Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to his Son’s Teacher.  Have student’s turn & talk about the character traits Lincoln lists in the letter that he feels are important. Ask: How can these traits contribute to his son’s educational experience? Are these values necessary today, why/why not? Do parents have the same concerns today?

Read Frederick Douglass’ letter to Mary Todd Lincoln.
Have student’s turn & talk  Ask: Why did Frederick Douglas write to Mrs. Lincoln? Have you ever experienced what Mrs. Lincoln might be feeling?

New Material



1. Separate the students into two groups.

2. Show students a copy of each original letter – Ask what they can determine simply by
looking at the letter. (Age of letter, writer, recipient, etc….)

3. Have students complete an analysis sheet identifying the letter writers (Frederick Douglass/ Abraham Lincoln) and each recipient (Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln/A Teacher) and establish the historical importance of all figures . Also have them locate and record the date of each letter and place the date on a timeline.

4. Circle-up (whole group) Discuss the contents of the letter and its meaning. What kind of letter is it? Why was it written? What is the importance? Have one students share their analysis sheets and one share their time lines.

5. Talk about why children write letters and read a persuasive letter written by a child in the book  titled I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff.

6. Remind students of the 5 parts of a friendly letter. Have them refer to the Character Trait list from lesson one. They should write a persuasive letter to a classmate naming at least three important character traits that they should have and why in order to be good citizens at home, at school and in their community.


Use a letter writing rubric to score the students responses.
Their work should reflect a clear understanding of the meaning of words associated with civic values such as fairness, responsibility, rules and why they are important.

Closure and Reflection

Closure: After completion of the unit, have students write a reflection about their experiences (Evaluation). Give students questions to help guide their reflections: What did they learn during the unit? What was their favorite/least favorite part? Why are civic values such as fairness, responsibility and rules important?  

-Did the students meet the performance objectives?
-Do the students seem motivated to incorporate civic values in their lives at school, at home and in their community?  
-Did the students enjoy the unit, how do you know?
-What could I do to improve this lesson the next time I teach it?