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To introduce the idea of letters and their value, picking up a biblical context with some examples from the New Testament.

by Gill Hartley

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To introduce the idea of letters and their value, picking up a biblical context with some examples from the New Testament.

Preparation and materials

  • A Bible in a modern translation
  • Some large sheets of paper
  • A broad felt-tip pen
  • Blu-Tack


  1. Ask the children to close their eyes and think back to the warm days of last summer, using the following short exercise:

Think about the summer ...
Feel the warmth of the sun ...
Perhaps you went somewhere special, on holiday or for a day out ...
Picture yourself there ... What did you do?
Perhaps you wrote a postcard to send to someone at home ...
What did you write? Who did you send it to?

  1. Ask them to open their eyes. Who sent postcards? Why did they send them? Confirm the idea that we send postcards to share our enjoyment with people who are not there with us.

  2. Ask if anyone has friends or someone from their family who live too far away to visit often, possibly even in another country. How do they keep in touch? Probable answers will include: telephone, e-mails, letters. Remind the children that at the time when Jesus was alive there were no phones or e-mails; there were only letters.

  3. Tell the children about a famous follower of Jesus called Paul.

    Paul lived at around the same time as Jesus, in Israel, the same country that Jesus was born in. After Jesus had died and come to life again and had gone back to heaven, Paul came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. He began to travel to many different countries, telling people about Jesus. Everywhere he went, other people came to believe in Jesus as well and they began to meet together in groups which they called churches, although they didn't have the special church buildings that we have - they met together in each other's houses.

    Paul stayed with each of his new church groups as long as he could, but in time he had to move on. He couldn't stay for ever - there were other countries to go to and other people to meet. When he left each group he thought about them a lot. He wondered how they were getting on as new followers of Jesus. He wanted to keep in touch with them and so he wrote letters to them. Some of his letters still exist today. You can find them in the part of the Bible called the New Testament, where they're often called epistles - an old word for letters. Each one is called by the name of the people it was sent to, and so there are, for example, Paul's letter to the people of Rome, his two letters to the people of Corinth, his letters to the people of Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and so on.

  4. Ask about the letters we write nowadays. How do we begin and end a letter? (usually 'Dear Somebody', and 'Yours sincerely,' etc.). Read a typical beginning and ending from one of Paul's letters, e.g. Philippians 1.1-2; and Galatians 6.18 or Ephesians 6.23-24.

  5. What sort of things do we put in our letters? (usually answers to questions asked in letters to us, or news about ourselves, etc.). Paul did both of these things, and he also gave the people in the new churches advice on how they should behave. Read some of his advice, e.g. Romans 12.16-18 or Philippians 4.6. (There are many other examples that could be used equally well.)

  6. Invite the children to help you write a short letter like one of Paul's. Ask them to imagine that their headteacher is away from the school for a while. What sort of advice might s/he write to them about how they should be behaving? Write up a sample of their suggestions on the large sheets of paper.

  7. Read out the suggestions to the children in an epistle-style framework, such as:

    From Ms/Mr _______, Headteacher, to the children of ________ School.
    Grace and peace to you all. I think of you often and am glad when I hear that you are working hard. I also hear that sometimes things go wrong.
    (Advice suggestion)
    (Advice suggestion)
    (Advice suggestion)
    (Advice suggestion)
    Peace to you all and love. God's grace be with you.


Time for reflection

Use the advice suggestions above as part of a prayer.

Dear God,
Thank you for all the people who care about us enough to send us letters and cards,
our friends and families who phone us or send us e-mails,
all those who work hard to deliver our letters and to keep our phones and computers working,
our parents and our teachers
and all the people who care about us enough to give us advice on how to behave.
Help us to:
(Advice suggestion)
(Advice suggestion)
(Advice suggestion)
(Advice suggestion)



'The ink is black' (Come and Praise, 67)

Publication date: March 2001   (Vol.3 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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