Even though they came from different states, different districts, and different schools, one project helped a group of second-grade pen pals see they have a lot in common.
Two groups of pen pals, one from Indian Creek Elementary School in the Center School District and one from Crestview Elementary in Shawnee Mission, met for the first time this spring.
Their first meeting followed a year of getting to know each other through writing letters.
The project was supported by a grant Indian Creek teachers Cayetana Maristela and Amy Mierowsky received through the Center Education Foundation. In addition to supporting writing skills, the project also was designed to help English Language Learners enhance their skills and help second-graders learn about the topic of citizenship.
“I hope they learn about communication and also that even though they have differences, they also have similarities with all people,” Mierowsky expressed.
As pen pals, the students were encouraged to write about topics like what they want to be when they grow up, favorite holidays, and what they like to do at recess.
Each letter provided an opportunity to enhance writing skills such as how to include a heading, a closing, and how to write the body of the letter. Students also practiced asking questions and ways to make a letter not all about themselves, Lindsay Ash, English Language Learner teacher at Crestview added.
Finally the writers got to meet in person this spring at Crestview Elementary. Soon after meeting and practicing introductions, the second-graders gathered for an activity. Their teachers encouraged them to stand up if the statement they said was true for them. Statements included: “I like pizza,” “I like recess,” “I have been to the zoo,” and “I like to play a sport.”
The prompt that got everyone to stand up was about liking writing letters and meeting new friends.
It was fun getting to write letters throughout the year, and the project helped Maya Kay Rogers’s handwriting improve, the Indian Creek second-grader said.
“I’m hoping we can be the best of friends so we can be in touch more,” she said
Key’Asia Sowell, an Indian Creek second-grader, said this project helped her realize that just because someone is different than you doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them.
“I’m happy to meet my pen pal because it is someone you can be friends with,” she added.
Alteleed Thamer, Crestview second-grader, said he was excited to meet his pen pal who he said was like him. Both of the students moved to the Kansas City area from neighboring countries and now attend neighboring school districts.
“It is nice to meet a person who has a similar culture as me,” Thamer shared.
As the day continued, the students attended recess together and worked on a plant-related project. It was just fun to have the opportunity, Zion Rose, second-grader shared.
“I like making new friends,” Rose expressed.