Let’s talk about art projects, because they’re part of learning, too.
I’ve been collecting stamps for years. Stamps can be quite beautiful works of art. A few weeks ago I found two tins of postage stamps (some of them old, dating back to 1947) that my paternal grandmother saved, and some that I had saved, too, because she taught me to look for stamps. My grandma loved her stamps — I have her collection in a great book. She gave it to my dad, then it was passed along to me. Anyway, it’s fun to look through. My own kids have never taken to it, and that’s fine. It seems so old-fashioned now, I get that.
(Or “vintage,” as I prefer.)
I’m always looking for new ways to educate/entertain/engage my students, and when I came across those tins, and some construction paper, and lined paper… Well, there you have it.
I spent some time constructing little books out of the construction paper — all different colors, so that made it fun. I stapled 6 or 8 sheets of lined paper inside, found some glue sticks and scotch tape, and we were ready to go. (The stamps — most of which included the postmarks — were already trimmed and ready.)
This turned out to be one of the best lessons I’ve ever come up with, and it cost me nothing in supplies; I already had everything on hand.
I had enough stamps for two classes, and hello, I’m no fool. I wanted someone who would share my goofy joy in stamp collecting. Hi, 3rd graders, let’s get going on this fun project.
* We practiced saying “philatelist” and it is really fun to say. Philately! One of the world’s most popular hobbies! I had to dial the lesson way back once I realized that many of them weren’t familiar with the following terms:
1) postage stamp
2) cost of postage stamps
3) “snail mail”
4) stamp collecting
Seriously. We do so much by auto-pay now, e-mail and texting, the kids aren’t really sending/receiving much mail, seeing letters appear in the mailbox at home, any of that. So we talked about penpals, too. I explained that “real” stamp collectors (like coin collectors) go for the uncirculated items, in pristine condition, and that no, glue and scotch tape aren’t recommended. (Acid-free paper, collections kept in boxes, inside safe deposit boxes, etc.) Smart kids — right away they wanted to know, Are these worth money? How much? And started looking for the oldest ones. I told them that they are welcome to go to a stamp/coin dealer and talk business, but that I’ve always been in it just for fun.
I suggested that they ask their parents, neighbors, grandparents, teachers, anyone, really, to save stamps for them, if they’re interested in collecting them. They each got to pick out five stamps from the tins, and we ended up with enough for both classes, plus a few extras. They decorated the covers, showed them off a bit, and really, it was super fun. We also talked about some of the things they like to collect, including (but not limited to):
Coins, rocks, dolls, video games, shells, agates, toys! and now, stamps.
One of the boys asked me if he could have a blank book and stamps, since he missed school the day we had the lesson. One of the 5th graders heard about it, and requested books and “starter stamps” for himself and his 2nd grade sister. One of the girls asked me for an extra book, “I already filled mine up!” Please bring it to show me, I asked her, and she did.
It’s just beautiful. Lovely stamps from around the world. Where did they all come from? I asked.
Some things don’t change.
Have a great week.