I love a good writing centre, this one at The Write Start is seriously beautiful. My children always have access to lots of paper, pencils, markers, paints in all kinds of sizes, colours and varieties. They also have a sand tray, sandpaper letters, small chalkboard and a movable alphabet. However I wanted to create a tray, a set, an activity based on letter/note writing. A tray which contains everything Otis needs to write a letter to a friend or family member.
Otis loves sending (and receiving) letters and messages. He loves drawing and sealing paper in envelopes. I wanted to enable him to write as independently as possible.
Not all of his letters are for posting, mostly they are to given friends and family - we generally don't add addresses or postage stamps. Otis is still very much pre-writing. He can write his name independently however unless he has something to copy the 'i' and 't' might be around the wrong way and the 's' might have a few too many curves. The name cards are for him to copy. They are generally easy like 'mum' and 'dad', 'grandma' is by far the most difficult.
This tray wasn't initially intended for literacy or to promote or encourage writing. It was for him to participate. To write letters all by himself, whenever he wants. The 'to' and 'from' letter paper provide prompts, to help him start and finish his 'letter', in the middle of the page he will scribble or draw or add sticker or stamps - perhaps to tell a story.
These are his first real letters and the prompts teach him a little about format. As his letter writing skills (and knowledge) develop we could add the date, then addresses.
By design this tray is very simple. Only a small amount of letter writing paper, only a few envelopes. I restock when he runs out. Other lovely options to add to the tray include stickers (the cuter the better, we love stickers!), stamps, gel pens (colourful gel pens are a current favourite), glitter pens, washi tape (who doesn't love decorating their envelopes with some washi, my favourite source is here).
Otis' tray currently has retractable crayons. I use them in my office all the time (the colours are great), Otis was sneaking mine so often he now has his own set.
There are so many options we can add what we like!