Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Postcards, Elvis and the Banana...

Okay, who loves getting postcards?  Everyone, right?  Who doesn't love going to the mailbox and seeing something colorful and exotic and (drumroll, please....) Hand-Written!  It's the next best thing to a love-letter in my opinion.  Postcards say, "I'm thinking of you, even though we aren't together."  Sometimes they say "I got to go to Hawaii and you didn't, so nah nah nah nah nah nah nah."  But mostly they say, "Wish You Were Here".

That's why I was excited to learn about Postcrossing!
Have you heard about Postcrossing?  Well, it's been around for awhile, but I just heard of it about a year ago from another Homeschooling Mama.  It's a completely free postcard program that allows you to send postcards all over the world to randomly selected members.  Once they receive your card and register it on the site (with a unique code that you write on the top of the card), you will be next in line to receive a card from a completely different randomly selected member. 

That's my son, Denver showing his Aunt Heather where our latest card has come from!
 We keep a giant world map and a giant US map on our classroom wall and stick a map pin on the city/country each time we send or receive a new card.  So far, we have received cards from 5 different continents, mainly because we have denoted that we speak only English--that has ruled out communication with alot of the African countries (or maybe they just don't have a high participation rate, or maybe access to post offices and postcards is difficult--who knows?).  Here is a picture of our first few months of participation:

Today, I counted the postcards in our Postcrossing box--136 for the school year!  Not bad.  Once you get going, you will be allowed to have 3 cards in rotation at a time, then 5 then 7 and so on.  They just don't want you signing up in the beginning and leaving dozens of people hanging on the other end.  So three is a good number.  I'll never forget, our first friends that we were assigned to were from Spain, Portugal and Belarus.  And judging by the fact that I didn't know how to locate Belarus on the map, I needed this project just as much as my kids did!

Our favorite cards are from the Asian countries.  They always have the most beautiful stamps, usually with some sort of glittery ink, and so many of them add little Anime drawings in the margins.  They really take the time to make the cards special.  As opposed to many American ones I've gotten that just say "Hi."  Lazy, geographically-illiterate Americans.  That's us.  LOL.

Our town is famous for swans.  What's your town known for?
He likes to use his spell check to make sure every word is "just so".

So, if you'd like to add a geography project in your classroom that generates a little writing, a little know-how in the "how to address a letter" department and also provides TONS of EXCITEMENT several times a week at the mailbox (I think we squealed with the first one--literally squealed), then give Postcrossing a try! 

Just think about it.....Where do you think you could go to pick up some inexpensive postcards in your area?  I found that they were everywhere--Hallmark stores, hospital gift shops, any kind of historical or tourist place, even our local hardware store had some.  We have some neat ones in our local art museum gift shop but they are pricey!  You may want to get just a few of these for your stash for a special, deserving person.  Get some with maps of your state, local recipes, local animals, area attractions, an artist, inventor or statesperson that is from your area, etc.  People really appreciate something different than their norm. 

I was surprised to find how many requests I got for Disney cards.  I take it for granted that the mouse is just a half-hour from me.  So, I went to the most God-awful tourist trap in the world on International Drive in Orlando.  The place where they sell shot glasses and cheap t-shirts.  They had THE ULTIMATE POSTCARD STATION.  Hundreds to pick from!  You might have a touristy place near you where you can score big in the postcard department.

How will you store your cards when they arrive?  We just use an old cigar box, but I know some homeschool teachers who post them on a bulletin board on the classroom wall.  Others punch a hole in the corner and put them on a giant key ring.  I like being able to see the front and read the back whenever I want, so I'll just stick with the box until I can spring for this baby.....The Postcard Carousel!

I know some people who keep their postcard stash organized by category, because when you are assigned that special person, they often will have specific requests as to cards they like to get.  Some people collect the "Did You Know?" cards that have lots of local facts.  Some people collect lighthouse cards.  I just had someone request an Elvis Presley card because I was from the US.  I had to break it to her that Memphis is pretty far from me!

By the way, did you know that you can mail anything as long as you can write on it and place proper postage on it?  Or at least I got lucky one year when I was in college.  I mailed my best friend a banana, placed the stamps on, wrote the address in black Sharpie---and she received it!  Why, you ask?  Why do we do anything that we do in college?  Because we're young and ridiculous...

Happy Postcrossing, Everyone!


Melissa said...

Yay! It's fixed :)

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