A guest post by Hilary Meehan of Mirthos
Did you ever have a pen pal as a kid or make some homemade greeting cards? I did both in my elementary school years – and beyond!
Thinking of You Week is an excellent opportunity to plan a creative lesson or two around sending cards with your classroom.
Whether or not you have dedicated Art classes at your school, the creative activity of making cards can be part of civics, social studies, grammar, spelling, or penmanship lesson plans. Share information about the United States Postal System (USPS) and how they operate as part of our government to streamline and enrich our lives. Ask students about mail that they’ve received or sent. Tell them about how much their aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, babysitters, or beloved coaches enjoy hearing from them.
As a young person, this helps connect them to a larger world outside of themselves and forge more robust relationships with extended family and caregivers.
Kids are growing up in a very digital world these days and many know more about texting or face time than they do cursive or proper addressing on envelopes. Have a discussion around who they might like to send a card to for Thinking of You week, and discuss why. Ask them to get addresses from their parents & a stamp.
If you have a classroom budget to buy envelopes & stamps, all the better! Perhaps these could be supplied by your PTA or parents group. Allow time for the students to plan what they want to say and practice writing it on plain paper first. Teach them the proper way to address an envelope including where to put the return address and allowing for a stamp.
If there are supplies, allow them to draw or cut shapes to design their own card! Is there something in their message that might inform the images they draw or the colors they use that tie the art to the words? Make sure to give them all the leeway to make their own masterpiece! Every hand made card will be cherished, there’s no right, wrong, or bad art when it comes to staying connected!
Even if plain paper and markers are all you can supply, this will still be a fun project to complete with your class. Consider asking an office supply store or stationery store to donate card stock and envelopes. Do you know a local printer or copy shop that could help, too? Perhaps your own school office has some extra card stock or construction paper on hand.
Another fun idea is to send out pen pal requests to other schools. Have each student pick a city they would love to know more about. (Bonus geography and state capital lessons!) Each card or letter can then be addressed to “Any 3rd Grade Student, Any Elementary School” then the city they chose with the state and appropriate zip code.
When I was younger, I had to use the phone book or go to the post office to find out the zip codes of new cities. Now you can easily find this online! Use 3rd or 4th grade, as appropriate to your students, of course! You may want them to use the school address as a return address to start off.
The students may or may not all get mail in reply – although this is a point to discuss that sometimes you send good Thinking of You notes just to brighten someone’s day without expecting anything in return, too!
When a student gets a reply, this would be a good time to have them talk to their parents about using their own return address to continue writing if they choose to.
We are inspired to help students get more involved in Thinking of You Week by the UK GCA and their efforts to have students from Ghana share letters to students in the UK. You can read more about this here. We are inspired and hope to see more students getting excited about sharing mail with loved ones and new friends!
Remember, Thinking of You Week is September 19th – 25th. Plan your card and mail activities to take place all week or just one day. Our goal at the US GCA is to send a huge wave of feel good mail all across the country “just because” – fun mail is such a great surprise and always brings a smile. Let’s teach the art and joy of snail mail to our children!