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Thank you letters

To consider the importance of showing gratitude.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the importance of showing gratitude.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, a thank you letter from a child.
  • Familiarity with the story.


  1. Read the following story.

    Mrs Aims heard the postman pop something through the letterbox. She got up from her chair rather stiffly and made her way through the hall to the front door. Bending down, she picked up her mail. Just another catalogue.

    She couldn’t hide her disappointment. ‘Nothing from the family again.’

    It was the middle of January. Christmas had come and gone as it always did, and the winter days were dark and dreary.

    Mrs Aims often spoke aloud when she was alone. ‘I wonder if the parcel arrived and Jamie got his gift. He must have, surely. The Post Office are usually very reliable. Maybe it did arrive but Jamie didn’t like his present. I did try to find out what he was into these days, but perhaps he already had a puzzle like it. Or perhaps it arrived and Jamie did like it but has just been too busy to let me know.’

    Mrs Aims shrugged her shoulders and walked back to her chair beside the fire.

    ‘Forget about it, Marjorie,’ she said, and sighed. ‘Just get on with things. You mustn’t expect a thank you – after all, it was a gift. There’s no condition attached to a gift. You chose to send it because you love your grandson. Young folks today do all these email things instead of writing letters.’

    She smiled to herself. It had been very different in her day. Boxing Day was the day for writing thank you letters and none of the family got up from the kitchen table until they were all done, and done well!

    She could still hear her mother’s voice: ‘First of all you must say thank you for the present. Then you must say what you like about the present and why it’s useful.’ (Even Aunt Bella’s hand-knitted socks and scarves had always to be treated respectfully.) ‘Then you tell the person what you did around Christmas, finishing with, “I hope you enjoyed Christmas, too.” And then send best wishes for a happy New Year.’

    Of course, the letter had also to be in your very best writing.

    ‘Maybe I should phone and check it did arrive,’ she said to herself. ‘I could say that I was surprised not to hear from Jamie. But then that might make them all feel embarrassed. Maybe he should feel bad. Maybe it’s important that he learn manners. But there again, Marjorie, it’s not up to you to teach manners to other people’s children.’

    Mrs Aims sighed and picked up her knitting. ‘I do so enjoy a letter, though,’ she reflected.

  2. What do you think had happened to Jamie’s thank you letter?

    (Accept answers, including that he may not have thought to write one.)

    If Jamie knew how much it meant to his grandma to receive a letter, how much she enjoyed seeing his writing on the page, how she treasured news of her family, would he have written?
  3. Read a simple thank you letter from a child.

    Say why you so enjoyed it; why you might even keep it.

Time for reflection

Encourage the children to think about someone to whom they could write a little note today. It might be to say thank you for something. It might be just to share their news.

Dear Father God,
teach us to have thankful hearts.
Help us to learn how to show appreciation to friends and family.
Help us to brighten up someone’s day with a simple thank you.


‘Our Father’ (Caribbean Lord’s Prayer) (Come and Praise, 51)

Publication date: August 2013   (Vol.15 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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