The Month of Letters Challenge
Mystery Friends Intergenerational Pen Pal Event
The concept of Mystery Friends is to bring children and elders together through letter writing. This Intergenerational Program idea brings together so many wonderful elements and can be adapted to fit any program.
Our Mystery Friends story happens every January at our church. It works like this: children and adults give their names to the ‘Mail Mom’ (me) during coffee hour and I magically pair up the ‘friends’; an adult or older child with a younger child. Then over the next three Sundays, senders ‘mail’ hints of who they are to their Mystery Friend child. Mail is deposited on those Sundays in a mail box at the back of the sanctuary. After the service on the third and final Sunday, all is revealed during our coffee hour Mystery Friend Tea. Imagine 40 children and elders all sipping tea together, planting miniature intergenerational gardens & sharing Little Free Library books. It is pure Magic!
Mystery Friends has become a tradition in our church. Each year we have a line of both children and adults signing up. While waiting, both children and adults share stories of their past Mystery Friends while looking at old pictures. The secret sauce? A revival of the lost art of letter writing! This year we have a handful of older children who are “graduating” and becoming a Mystery Friend. They will write letters for the first time. Therefore, I put together some simple guidelines to writing a great Mystery Friends letter.
Simple Guidelines: Writing a Mystery Friends Letter
Creative letter writing is the essence of Mystery Friends. As a Mystery Friend you will be writing three letters. You may choose to incorporate the garden theme to your letters, or not. What makes a great letter?
Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, a cutting from the newspaper, a seed, and/or a feather you found on a walk. Whatever it is, add creativity. Do not go and buy little gifts. Think of your letter as a simple gift. Your letters will be the foundation for our NEW “Intergenerational Garden.”
Step One: The First Impression: The Envelope
- The envelope should have the child’s name on it.
- Decorate with stickers and/or fun lettering
- Can be wrapped up like a scroll & sealed your in a unique way
- Think: Garden theme
Step Two: First Clue: The Stationary
- This can be fun stationary that reveals your interests
- Or a simple blank white paper, decorated with stickers, markers, etc.
- Your letter can folded into any shape or form….be creative!
- Think: Garden theme
Step Three: The Mystery: The Letter
Each letter should have three clues about you. Choosing your clues is the trick to Mystery Friends letter writing. Imagine yourself dropping seeds on a trail leading up to the big reveal tea party. You do not want give yourself away in the first letter. Important: Sign your letter…..’Your Mystery Friend’
Here are a few ideas for clues to get you started:
- Clue: Describe your hair color or physical appearance
- Clue: Reveal if you are dad, mom, grandmother, young person
- Clue: Things you like to do: sport, crafts, gardening or interests
- Clue: Something that you tend to wear or
- Clue: Where you sit on Sundays in the sanctuary or describe your family members
- Clue: Favorite colors
….Not a Mystery Friend? I have a challenge for you?
The Month of Letters Challenge:
1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post each day. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture or a cutting from a newspaper.
2. Do not use email and write back every person who writes to you. This counts as a one of your posts.
There are 28 days in the month of February. If you take away four Sundays, you are left with 24 days to mail at least one item through the post. Will you join me and take the challenge?
Collect addresses and write a love letter, thank you’s, or simple notes to say you miss an old friend. Think of your letters as seeds. Who knows….you might be part of a larger “spreading goodness” movement.
I want to hear from you. What do you think about the lost art of letter writing? Can you incorporate letter writing into your Outdoor Classroom? Did you take on the challenge? Tell us about it in the comments below.