A good friend of mine recently received a “Postcrossing Kit.” Basically, it was an envelope with 5 unique postcards, several colorful stamps, and a web address to Postcrossing.com. When you sign up for an account, you are given 5 random addresses around the world. Your job is to send a postcard to each of these addresses; in return, 5 random people are given yours. Within a couple of weeks, you receive postcards from around the world.
Each postcard is given a unique identifying number that you must write on it; when someone receives it, they log onto Postcrossing and leave a message. From your account, you can track the miles the card has traveled, and start your own gallery of cards sent and received.
I started the project with my 8 yr. old daughter, Alexandra, about a month ago. We’ve already received postcards from Brazil, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia & Germany. I was amazed at how excited she was to get them. As each postcard arrived, she immediately wanted to go to Google Earth and see where they came from. We were able to use the satellite view to see the exact address and virtually explore the towns they came from! She was immediately hooked!
We’ve now taking it to the next level; we have an album to keep all of our postcards, and a printed world map to track them all. With one simple little website & a couple of postcards, I’ve managed to get my kid thinking about the world.
I plan on expanding this plan for my classroom. You can create travel books, learn about other cultures, contrast and compare geography. Use Google Earth to explore the towns & compare what they see. You can have kids use the Internet to discover more about the towns; kids are amazed how much these worlds look like theirs. Kids can design and make their own postcards. You can use a world map and create a classroom “travel center,” and each kid becomes a “travel agent” who specializes in a particular city.
The downside to this program is the cost of stamps, so if you’re on a budget, I’d recommend one account per class. But if you can find some way to scare up funding for stamps (maybe a stamp drive, or have your spouse steal a few from work), I’d recommend letting each kid create their own account, and have the postcards come directly to your school. The more kids involved, the more postcards your class will receive, so it’s really up to you.