For the past two years I have been a big fan of the Postcrossing site. It is free to join and you send postcards to random people in the world and likewise receive postcards from other random people. For the cost of a postcard and a stamp I found this to be a very rewarding activity for a couple of reasons.
1. It got my students to write (especially reluctant ones) and to edit before they wrote on the actual card.
2. The students had to cooperate to write the postcard in small groups – boy/girl groups on average worked better together than same-gender groups.
3. It was a responsibility that all students wanted to do – after all, who doesn’t love getting a piece of snail mail?
4. The students learned about people, geography and history of other places in the world.
It was interesting how much learning went on from questions raised about where the country was (I had a map permanently up in the classroom), the language, culture and history (especially when people such as Joan of Arc were mentioned).
Over the first year the students received about 40 postcards but in the second year it was over 70.
Here’s what I did (hopefully I don’t miss any steps)
- I joined Postcrossing as a group and introduced the class. I have used the same account and just adapted the paragraph to suit each year as the more postcards you have sent the more you can do at the same time.
- I bought a cheap mail box from the hardware store along with these letter: M A I L
- Mum made me a custom weight to put inside the mail box to stop it flying off the shelf – I also put a couple of those clear sticky dots that stop sliding.
- I bought a two draw mini container from the local cheap shop (not pictured as I can’t remember which box I put it in). In the top draw I placed “Airmail” stickers and in the bottom was a selection of postcards. I got most of the postcards in packs to save money but was also fortunate to be given a stack by a parent and the school also had their own available.
I also got a cheap photo album (though be warned – postcards came in all sizes so I had to buy a packet of photo corners to put the larger/odd shape ones in)
- I would take down the details of our assigned postcards and the students who had completed work to a high standard/shown improvement got first picks to choose their group and postcard recipient.
- 1 student was assigned the responsibility for a week to check the mail box (though I didn’t start that for 2 weeks to allow postcards to start arriving.
- When a postcard arrived we recorded the date it was received, the country and the name of the person (if it was written)
Here are some pictures: