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Thank-you note fun with youth

Engage youth in a hands-on experience to write a good thank-you note.

Youth writing a thank-you note
Youth from Alabama Cooperative Extension Service's Chilton County 4-H writes a thank-you note. All photos by Gay E. West, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.

Hand-written thank-you notes are an important part of our personal and professional lives, and despite changes in technology, still have a large impact on society. Using the “Seven Steps to a Great Thank-You Note” resource from Michigan State University Extension, adults can work with youth to practice writing a great thank-you note.

The first step is to help young people brainstorm when and why thank-you notes are important. Youth can brainstorm as a group and record on a sheet of paper or share in small groups. Reference the hand-out to share reasons they might not come up with on their own. Ask youth how thank-you notes make them feel and share how writing a thank-you note allows them to pass this feeling on to someone else.

Next, cover the “Seven Steps to a Great Thank-You Note.” Give out the handout at this time and have youth look at the examples. 

The fun comes when you move on to the hands-on experience. There are two approaches to this:

  1. Create samples of thank-you notes (both good and not-so-good) and have youth critique and make changes to those notes, locating the seven steps.
  2. Youth create their own thank-you notes.

Having youth create their own thank-you notes is often a more meaningful activity. Start by brainstorming who they might want to send a thank-you note. This process helps youth find direction and practice overall gratitude. At the least, offering your name, as facilitator, can be a starting idea for youth who might struggle to come up with a name.

Have youth write out their thank-you note on loose-leaf paper. Then, have them exchange it with another person, if comfortable, and check the note for all seven steps. If they are not comfortable sharing with a peer, have an adult, mentor or facilitator in the room review with them. Have youth record the seven steps using a marker or tab a post-it note where the seven steps are located.

Thank-you noteOnce a final version of the thank-you note is ready, have varieties of thank-you note cards available for youth to use and transfer their corrected note onto a thank-you card. It can be fun to have youth decorate their thank-you notes with stamps or other supplies as was done in Chilton County 4-H with Alabama Cooperative Extension Services (see photos).

At the end, have young people send their thank-you notes to their recipients. You may have to cover appropriate steps for addressing envelopes. Some groups have written thank-you notes addressed to a similar individual or organization at one group meeting. This could be to judges, guest speakers, 4-H leaders, parents or program sponsors. This is a great way to not only teach a skill, but to thank those who help make the program possible.

Thanking never goes out of style!

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education or entrepreneurship, contact 4-HCareerPrep@anr.msu.edu.

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