10 Creative Ways for a Pen Pal to Overcome Writer's Block

By Sarah Hauge, Publisher, Macaroni Kid, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Centennial, CO May 31, 2019

Having a pen pal is a classic summer tradition. Not only does it help children avoid the "summer slide," but the excitement of receiving personalized letters never dulls. Writing those letters, however, can often be a struggle, so we've rounded up 10 creative letter starters to break through the writer's block.

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  1. INTRODUCTION ~ Start simply. If you don't know anything about your pen pal, consider writing a list of your favorite things:
    • Foods
    • Animals
    • Colors
    • Media (books, tv shows, movies, magazines)
    • Summer fun (vacation spots, activities)

  2. HOMETOWN HOT SPOTS ~ If your pen pal is unfamiliar with your hometown, this is a great opportunity to teach him/her a thing or two.
    • "If we spent a day in my hometown..."
    • "My town is best known for..."
    • "Famous people who grew up in my town include..."

  3. POSTCARD ~ Summer is often synonymous with vacations. Sending a postcard from your getaway destination is a fun way to switch things up.
    • Going out of town? Pick up a postcard and share the highlights of your travels.
    • Staying local? Purchase a postcard from a local convenience store and write about your travel dreams.

  4. PICTURE ~ As the saying goes, "a picture is worth 1000 words" so ditch the words to let your artistic side show.
    • Illustrate your family, home, or favorite things (see idea #1).
    • Create a comic strip.

  5. TRADITIONS ~ Every family has traditions. Think about what you do that is unique to your family.
    • What do holiday or birthday celebrations look like in your house?
    • "Every year my family likes to ...."
    • Dig into your family history. Do your ancestors share a common job industry? Do you share a name with another family member?

  6. STEP BY STEP ~ Teach your pen pal how to do something. 
    • Consider sharing your favorite recipe.
    • Write up a step-by-step tutorial for a simple science experiment.

  7. UNUSUAL PACKAGE ~ Envelopes aren't the only thing you can send by mail. While the USPS does have a list of prohibited items, there are a few unusual items that are perfectly acceptable to ship. Non-perishable foods are even fair game.
    • Want to send a potato? Mail A Spud will do it for you! 
    • Rather send some rocks? Send Some Rocks will ship them directly. 
    • Send a brick? Yep, you can do that too. Mail Bricks will even throw in some glitter.

  8. ENCRYPTION ~ Add a little extra excitement to your letters by adding a simple twist:
    • Write your note backward so that your pen pal has to use a mirror to read it.
    • Use invisible ink to write a secret letter. Be sure to let your pen pal know how to reveal the text.
    • Include a cipher with a note that's short and sweet.

  9. ORIGAMI ~ Show off your crafting skills by including a handcrafted origami sculpture.
  10. ASPIRATIONS ~ Dream big & share them with the world.
    • What are your dreams, goals, or aspirations for the coming year?

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