Preparations: Gather materials and create your mailbox using the tissue box and covering it with construction paper creatively
1. Ask students to get into the reading area (if you have one/use one).
2. Ask students questions to spark their interest: "Does anyone know what a pond is?" "Where do whales live?" "Do you think a whale could live in a pond?" etc.
3. Introduce the book in whatever way you want - e.g., "The book I am about to read to you all is about a girl who thinks there is a whale in a pond. During the summer, she writes to her teacher to ask for help with the whale."
4. Read the story, pausing as necessary and asking clarifying questions to the students. Ask for predictions of the end of the story. When you reach the story's end, discuss it.
5. When you finish reading, flip back to the letter. Discuss what a letter is about.
6. Using chart paper, show simple parts to a letter, illustrating each to the students. Write a simple letter together.
7. Give out paper and pencils, if necessary. Ask students to write you a letter. You can choose whatever topic you want for the students to write about, or give them the choice if you think it would work well.
8. When they finish, ask students to put their letters into your prepared mailbox.
9. You can finish up the exercise in a variety of ways. You can write response letters to your students, or you can read all the letters aloud and respond verbally. If you want the correspondence can also be done over email if you have a computer lab available.
Extending the lesson:
1. If you have copies of the book available and your class is more advanced, you can ask them to read it in a small group setting.
2. You could also provide students with a stamped envelope addressed to you to send their letter in over the summer, then could write them back. Again, you could also do email if you feel that's a possibility, but it might be hard to reach all your students that way.
Things to consider in your rubric for the letter: legible writing, a capital letter at the start of the sentence, proper punctuation to end sentences, correct or at least somewhat phonetic spelling, complete sentence, somewhat varied sentence structures, writing correct paragraphs.