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I never knew the world of pen pals and postcard exchanges that was out there until just recently. Before, I always tried to hook with a classroom in the district, and then we would meet for an end-of-the-year picnic. Nice, but also difficult and very limiting. Now I know some resources for finding pen pals in other states and countries, and can't wait to get started. Take a look at the links below and find your own sister-class!
These can be national or international. If you want to communicate with a classroom out of the country, you can also do e-mail. Have students type up their communication and save it in a word document, and then send them all once as attachments. I'm still a fan of good ol' fashion snail mail, as you'll get to see the cool post-marks on the envelope and compare handwriting styles..
The Teacher's Corner- Such a cool pen pal page. Find ones from all over the country!
A-Z Pen Pal Page- Post a request and see what happens!
I'm signed up for two of these this year, and can't wait to get started. The basic premesis is that an organizer collects teacher addresses from each state in the country and compiles them in a list. The list is sent to you, and your class sends a postcard representing your state to all the other classes. In turn, you get 49 postcards back. I'm signing up for several just to make sure we get a postcard from each state, as sometimes other teachers flake.
A-Z Postcard Exchange for 2008-09- Sign up and get on board! We still need a ton of states!
If you don't want to buy 49 postcards, use the Vista Print offers and use your 100 free postcards for this project. You can upload a picture for $3.99-I'm going to take one of the kids dressed as famous Californians, or standing in front of a landmark, or holding CA stuff, or something like that. Get creative!
You can also write your message as a class, and then type it up and print it out on large labels to stick on the back, so you aren't re-writing it a hundred times. Literally. If your students can write small enough, this is a great handwriting practice activity, but if you have younger students, labels are a great alternative.
Make a States Scrapbook with the postcards. I'm going to find one of those albums that have clear pages you can slide postcards/pictures into, so students can look at them. We'll keep a scrapbook for each year, so students can read past years' mail as well.
If you don't make a scrapbook, let the kids have a postcard to take home with them at the end of the year. This is a great item to stick in their memory books.
Keep a list of all the addresses you've mailed postcards to, and then cross them off as you get their postcards.
To display, put a giant map of the USA on the wall. If you have room, surround it with the postcards as they come in. If you do not have room, simply stick a star on each state as you get their postcard.
Penpal Paper- Large spot on the top for a picture, hands passing a letter, lined
Penpal Paper II- Space for sender's address, greeting and letter, lined