Did you ever have a pen pal when you were little? I did. We moved around a lot and in those days the only way of keeping in touch with your friends was by post, so that’s what we did.
I used to love writing letters and drawing pictures in them, and then carefully addressing them and popping them in the post box.
I also used to love receiving letters – wondering if today was the day the post man would bring one for me, and the anticipation of opening a letter if I did indeed get one.
Of course for today’s generation things are totally different – messages are conveyed via phone, email and text and snail mail tends to be used as a last resort.
So when stationery brand Smiggle got in touch to see if we’d like to take part in their #backtosmiggle pen pal campaign, encouraging kids to put down screens and pick up pens, (if you haven’t come across Smiggle before take a look – think sweet shop for stationery lovers) I remembered everything I loved about writing letters when I was little and thought yes! We should so do this!
With the exception of postcards and thank you notes, at five-years-old I don’t think BB had ever actually written a proper letter. Which is rather sad when you think about it.
Smiggle sent us everything we needed to get started – a fun notepad, a magic pen (it turns out these have come a long way since the 1980s – forget writing something in ‘invisible’ ink and colouring over it to read the message, Smiggle’s version comes with an LED light on the lid so the message is permanently hidden and only visible to the person with the special light), pencils, a pencil sharpener with a rubber and a ruler.
They paired us up with fellow Smiggle blogger Hannah over at Hannah and the Mini Beasts, and BB was all set to get writing to Hannah’s son Noah, eight. During this process it occurred to me that pen pals should really make a come back, and here’s why.
5 reasons pen pals should make a come back
1. Letter writing encourages creativity. BB was fascinated with the aforementioned Smiggle magic pen and has spent all summer writing ‘secret’ messages not only in her notepad but on pieces of paper all over the house.
2. Letter writing is a chance to practise reading and writing. BB is just learning to read and write so writing and receiving letters is great way to reinforce everything she’s doing at school in a fun way. And hopefully, in an age of LOLs and BTWs, writing words out properly in longhand will stand her in good stead.
3. Having a pen pal makes them think about the wider world. BB was full of questions when Noah’s letter revealed he lives in Kent ‘right by the seaside’. She wanted to know exactly where that was, how far from our house and how she might get there if she wanted to visit.
4. Having a pen pal teaches patience. And patience is a virtue etcetera etcetera. Communicating with BB’s friends when we’re at home usually goes something like this:
BB: “Mummy can we meet so-and-so at the park?”
Me: “I’ll just text her mummy”. Five seconds and a beep later: “Yes her mummy says they’re free.”
In our digital age of instant gratification I think waiting for the postie is no bad thing.
5. The look on their face when a letter comes addressed to them is priceless. And reinforces the idea that good things are worth waiting for. Here’s BB with her letter from Noah complete with a Pokemon picture he drew just for her.
Did you have a pen pal when you were little? Do you think pen pals should make a come back?
Smiggle very kindly sent us a pen pal pack full of goodies for the purpose of this post – thank you Smiggle!
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