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Age: Key Stage 2

Time: 15-20 minute starter

What you can see if you are me

How do you describe where you live to someone from a very different place? In this starter activity for penpal writing, children think about what makes their area unique and decide what to share with penfriends from another town or even country.


  • Coloured paper
  • pens and pencils
  • pictures (or a street view) of the place the children are writing to
  • Optional: glasses cut-out shape

1) Spot the Difference

Find some pictures of the area the children will be writing to. Google Street View can be handy for this – you could even put it up on the whiteboard and ‘travel’ around the area as a class.

Get the children thinking about these questions, and note down some ideas:

  • What can you see?
  • What do you think you can hear or smell…?
  • Imagine: what do you think it’s like living here?
  • Can you think of any differences between life here and where you live?

2) Making glasses for your penfriend

Explain that the children will be making glasses to help their penfriend understand what it’s like in their home town. The idea is that the penfriend can put on the glasses and ‘see with their eyes’.

The children can first design the glasses on coloured paper and cut them out. Make sure the glasses have thick frames, so that the children can write in these if needed. The lenses don’t need cutting out, as the children can draw in these.

3) What you could see if you were me

When the group have drawn their glasses, they are ready to fill them up. They can draw or write, giving ideas about ‘what you could see if you were me’.

If any of the children are stuck, they could look at the answers the group came up with about differences between their hometown and where they’re writing to. Alternatively, get children to think through what they’ve done and where they’ve been that morning or over the weekend.

Once the children have prepared their glasses, they could write a letter explaining more about what they’ve included. The glasses can be posted along with the letters!

Thanks to Sydney Story Factory  for sending us their paper glasses!

Related Activities

Want to give your class more support in writing about their local area? Try our insiders’ guide activity