Email is nice. It’s fast. But there’s nothing like getting some real mail in your post office box. Something that someone held in his/her own hands; scribed in his/her own unique handwriting. Sometimes you learn more about your own place by learning about other places.
Bonnie’s students wrote two letters each, asking for a postcard. As anyone who has worked with 5 and 6 year olds knows, printing isn’t a natural thing and addressing an envelope can be quite a challenge. It took a lot of work and there were a lot of open mouths in the process, but everyone completed the task. With sealed letters in hand, the group trooped to the local post office to buy stamps and mail the precious letters. The next day many were disappointed to find an empty mailbox–no postcards. Some even checked mail multiple times a day hoping for something from afar. And then one day, the first postcard arrived, and they’ve been coming in steadily since.
Students, even these young ones, are learning about the geography of our country from the photos on the cards. Having a document camera in our classroom lets everyone get a good look at the picture on the front, the address (their address), the stamp, the postmark, and the message on the reverse side. Messages have included information particular to the place of origin. Everything from endangered loggerhead turtles laying eggs on the beaches of Florida, to the giant “Albert the Bull” statue in Iowa, to ferry boats in Washington, to kids still swimming in California. And others offer words of encouragement: “Work hard,” “Stay in school”.
Each postcard bearer gets to tally his/her state data and if the postcard is the first one from a state, he/she gets to color in that state on the big map in the hall. It’s turned into quite a project. Older brothers and sisters, parents, visitors to the school all pause in front of the display and many take time to carefully unpin a card and read it. Some parents even come right up to the school after checking mail to hand a new postcard to a smiling son or daughter.
Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send a postcard! Whether or not your state is represented, we’d welcome your participation in our postcard project (address: Bonnie’s class, P. O. Box 26, Shungnak, AK 99773) — because there’s nothing quite like finding out, “You’ve got mail!”