You've Got Mail!
By Jen Holmstrom
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
This lovely and poetic quote is inscribed on the James Farley Post Office in New York City. Although it is not an official creed or motto, the quote is often associated with the US postal service.
In a world that is going paperless, we often forget the value of postal services. What did we do before email, the Internet, and telephones? What would we do if one day we were left without those things? These are great questions to ask our children to get them thinking about these scenarios.
Throughout history mail delivery has grown from horses and stagecoaches to planes and trains. And behind the advances in these methods, were the efforts of many admirable postmasters and mail couriers.
Postmaster General John E. Potter states, “Above all, the history of the United States Postal Service is about the men and women whose daily efforts have provided our nation with the finest, most efficient mail service in the world. United States postal workers take pride in processing, transporting, and delivering the mail to the people of our great country.” The publication “The United States Postal Service: An American History” is a fascinating read. It paints a much clearer picture of how the postal service was developed and explains it’s importance. (source: https://about.usps.com/publications/pub100.pdf)
Visiting your local post office can ignite an interest in how mail delivery works. If you request it, they may even offer a brief tour of the building and an explanation of the various services provided. This type of field trip is also a perfect way to introduce younger kids to letter writing and how to mail a letter or package.
Here are some educational activities which can supplement a field trip to the post office:
Dramatic Play - Put together a post office play kit.
Art/Graphic Design - Design Your Own Stamp.
Art/Graphic Design - Design Your Own Postcard.
Language Arts - Write a letter and mail it.
Language Arts & History – Read “The United States Postal Service: An American History” and write a report about it.
Social Studies - Start exchanging letters with a pen pal.
Geography - Map out all the local post offices in your county.
Community Service - Leave a note of gratitude for your postal worker who delivers your mail.
Did you know that one of the most unusual methods of delivery is a mule train in AZ? Each mule carries about 130 pounds of mail, food, supplies and furniture down the 8-mile trail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, averaging 4,000 pounds per day.
Did you also know that the Postal Service moves mail using planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, subways, float planes, hovercraft, mules, bicycles and feet?
And did you know that the first Postmaster General of the US was Benjamin Franklin?
Introduce your children to the origins of long distance communication, and help them gain a greater respect for the postal service organization. We certainly would not be where we are today without the efficiency of distant communication and the cherished relationships past generations have maintained because of that service.