Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Alien Pen Pals

Michelle Barlow


Students write a friendly letter to an alien informing it about the planet Earth. Students use editing skills and brainstorming skills to produce a final product.


The student produces final documents that have been edited for-correct spelling-correct use of punctuation, including commas in series, dates, and addresses, and beginning and ending quotation marks-correct paragraph indentation -correct usage of subject/verb agreement, verb and noun forms, and sentence structure and -correct formatting according to instruction.

The student uses a variety of strategies to prepare for writing (for example, brainstorming, making lists, mapping ideas, grouping related ideas, keeping a notebook of ideas, observing surroundings, answering questions posed by others).


-Overhead projector
-Overhead transparency sheets and markers
-Transparency with a sample friendly letter to be edited with the class
-Transparency with a sample brainstorming list for a friendly letter
-Transparency with the editing marks
-Transparency that has all the parts of a friendly letter labeled
-Pencil and paper for each student
-Student checklist for each student
-Enough copies of the grading rubric for each child's work


1. Secure an overhead projector and overhead markers.
2. Create a transparency with a sample friendly letter that needs to be edited.
3. Create a transparency with a sample brainstorming for ideas to be included in a friendly letter and a transparency with the editing marks.
4. Run off enough student checklists for each student. (See attached file.)
5. Run off enough copies of the grading rubric for each student's final product.
6. Be sure to have pencils and paper available for students.


1. Gain students' attention by telling them that they are going to write a friendly letter to an alien.

2. Place a transparency with all of the parts of a friendly letter labeled on the overhead and review with students. Explain to the students that in order for their letters to be complete, their letters must have all the components of a friendly letter.

3. Place the overhead transparency with the editing marks on the overhead. Review with students the importance of editing their work before turning in a finished product. Briefly review each editing mark and how it is used.

4. Place the sample friendly letter to be edited on the overhead. Allow student volunteers to use editing marks to edit the letter, and then discuss it.

5. Tell students that they are almost ready to begin writing to their Alien Pen Pals. Explain to students that before they begin, they should brainstorm what they want to tell their alien friends about Earth. Put the overhead transparency with a sample brainstorming activity on the overhead.
Students may simply use a list to help them decide what information they wish to include in their letters, or they may be more elaborate with a graphic organizer.

6. As students prepare to write their letters remind them to do the following things:
A. begin by brainstorming the ideas they want to convey to the alien,
B. make sure they include all parts of a friendly letter, and
C. make sure their final drafts are neat and have been edited for mistakes.

Help students to evaluate their own work by giving each child a check list that will allow him or her to check off each expectation as they feel they have met it. (See attached file for student checklist.)

7. Allow students about 25 minutes in class to work on this assignment. For students who need more time, allow them to finish the assignment for homework. Encourage students to be creative as they write their letters. Tell students that the alien can be from any planet, and it may have any name they wish to make up.


Students will be assesed according to the checklist in the attached file.


Students who have mastered this activity can take it a step further by exchanging their original letters and writing back to each other as the alien. This activity could also be extended by securing real pen pals from other states for each child who is ready to progress. This would be a wonderful way to incorporate the use of the Internet.

For the students who need improvement, allow for more practice with an adult volunteer or a peer tutor.
Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.