The proposal for a postcard exchange with the SDA Homeschool Families Facebook group caused my creative side to jump up and down with enthusiasm. However, my logical side merely stood with arms folded, foot tapping and an eye roll trying to remind me of other commitments needing attention. Ignoring my logical side, I signed up for an opportunity of creative learning in exchange for some expenses and a bit of work.
A total of 30 families joined the project. Two families from Canada, two families from Australia, one from Barbados and the rest from the United States representing 16 of the states. A secret Facebook group provided security sharing addresses. A schedule divided six groups of families to mail postcards to each group over six weeks during September and October.
The excitement swelled as families began the exchange. Some families lived remote enough that they traveled long distances to purchase postcards and postage. Some families opted to make their postcards. Each family had to decide how to approach the language arts activity of writing and deciding content of a brief message. Skills needed for addressing and placing postage on the card became an issue of age and legibility.
Some families followed the mailing schedule with great accuracy. A few vacations or moves delayed some, however most of the postcards eventually got to their destination. (With various delays, my family did get them mailed, but some of the postcards will arrive after the families have read this.)
Reports indicated that other family members joined in the enthusiasm as cards arrived from distant places. Pictures were posted of postcards arriving, postcards in the clutches of delighted children, and postcards next to maps.
Each family possesses a pile of postcards bursting with potential educational opportunities. Families not a part of a postcard exchange can adapt the ideas using a list for friends and family. Or families may wish to make list of missionary families from Adventist Frontier Missions. Somehow make a list of addresses or locations and join in.
The most common activity reported was using maps to show participant locations. This can be done with wall maps or printing out maps or making a notebook. I like the notebook idea for long term learning. Put together some pages with maps and flags and a pocket for the postcard. Add additional information studied about that country/state/province.
Use the postcards to launch into a variety of educational activities. Below are some ideas you may use. I’m looking forward to using them for a long time. Maybe my logical side will eventually forgive my creative side as the learning opportunities continue.
Map reading skills include compass directions, latitude and longitude. Determine who lives the farthest north and south, east and west.
Learn about the International Dateline. Who begins Sabbath first?
Learn about the hemispheres, biomes, bodies of water, land formations, climates, and seasons in the various places represented by the postcards.
Compare the land mass of the different countries, provinces, and states.
Social Studies, History, and Economics
Learn about the postal system for your country and the other countries. How are zip codes determined? Are zip codes different in another country? When and why were zip codes introduced? What kinds of jobs are connected with the postal system?
Discover flags from the places represented by the postcards.
Compare population ratios of the represented countries, states/provinces.
How many forms of transportation are found in pictures on the postcards?
Find pictures on the postcards representing urban and rural areas.
Research what industries are common in different regions.
What exports are common from the different regions?
What currency do the different countries use?
Are there any historical places, events or people represented on the postcards?
What icons or symbols are used to represent different regions or countries?
What relationship does Great Britain have with each country historically and currently?
How similar/dissimilar are each country’s government?
Can you discover any Church history from the regions represented?
Music and Art
Can you think of or find folk music from the regions represented?
Find recordings and listen to the National Anthems from each country.
Compare the different architecture represented in pictures on some of the postcards.
Look for work done by an artist on the postcards.
Design your own postcard staying within the regulations for the postal system.
Counting skills: count all kinds of things from the postcards themselves to items on postcards.
Calculate the expenses used for postage and postcards.
Orient the postcard’s pictures using the terms vertical/horizontal or portrait/landscape.
Measure each postcard. Calculate the area and the perimeter of the largest and the smallest ones. You may find similar sizes with different proportions to compare how it affects perimeter and area. If you have a scale that can do it, weigh the postcards. Is there a big difference in the weight of each card compared to its area? How much do all of them weigh together?
Learn more about plants, animals and birds found in pictures on the postcards.
Look for anything reflecting engineering, physics or chemistry.
Learn about any unique geological features represented on the postcards.
Look for letters of the alphabet.
Practice reading different handwriting.
Alphabetize names of regions, last name of sender or other items on the postcards.
Learn to spell names and the abbreviations of countries/provinces/states.
Learn the abbreviations used commonly for addresses and learn to spell the full words correctly.
Relate the settings from literature to the regions represented from a postcard.
Have your student be a travel agent and plan an itinerary for a road trip to visit a certain number of families. Adjust to the student’s abilities. Use math skills to determine distances between destinations. Calculate airfare to be able to visit each family. You could increase the difficulty with finding out the estimated expenses for the trip including fuel, motels, and visiting any attractions in the area.
Take a look at each stamp. Compare similarities and differences. Can you read the information from the cancelation stamp? Was the stamp cancelled in the same city the sender lives in? If not, how far did the postcard travel before the stamp was cancelled? Can you find out why some are cancelled in different locations from where they were probably mailed?
Many postcards have barcodes printed on them, so learn more about barcodes.
Sort the postcards by various categories, such as ones that have a certain color, ones that have a picture of an animal or bird, ones that have a building pictured, ones that picture a form of transportation, and ones that are not photographs and so on.
Look for more information from the pictures, stamps, addresses, names, and messages on the postcards which can be used for learning opportunities.