Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Letter writing is the idea of communication between two people through writing. It has been around since ancient times, and throughout most cultures.
Letters have been written on various different materials, including metal, lead, wax-coated wooden tablets, pottery fragments, animal skin, and papyrus. They have been seen as works of art, insight into history and even as literature.
With technological advancements, the idea of mailing a letter to someone to communicate with them seems archaic since electronic mail (email) can be delivered almost instantly to someone. It is this advancement that has led us to categorize letters sent through the postal system as snail mail. Yet, historically mail delivery by horse and rider was seen as express (the faster way of getting mail delivered).
I have a new unit study which looks at some of the ways mail has been delivered throughout history, some of the interesting things that were delivered (yes they used to mail children!) and what some of the innovations in the postal system are about (like stamps and postal codes).
My Dad collected stamps as a child, and I had some interest in collecting them when I was a child. I liked to get the collector books and match the different stamps. My son, also showed an interest in stamps and he has actually inherited my Dad's collection.
Stamp collecting takes a bit of patience and although it is interesting none of us are active in collecting anymore. I do find that you can learn so much from stamps now that they are more than just the heads of state. There is so much history and geography that can be found in stamps making them a fun and interesting way to learn about the world.
The Stamp Collecting Club for Kids might be a good place to start if your child has an interest.
Postcards are another interesting way to learn about other places in the world. I have been collecting postcards since I was a child, family and friends always made an effort to send me one when they were on holiday. I have kept all of the postcards as they are all too pretty to destroy. Through them I learned about fascinating places, tidbits of history and appreciated the little notes written to me.
I joined postcrossing a little while back as I thought it would be fun to collect postcards from all over the world, and maybe even create a geography unit study with them (around the world in 80 pages). I really loved getting the postcards in the mail, and writing out some to send to others but time got the better of me and it stopped becoming a regular thing. Of course I saved the postcards and they are tucked away safely in case I do decide to create that unit study.
One of my most favourite postcards is this airplane one. But it is not the picture that is important but what is on the other side. When I was just a baby my family emigrated to Canada from England. My Dad came first to get a job and a place for us to settle. He sent this postcard of the plane he travelled on, back to us in England. Since I was too young to have that memory myself I cherish this special connection to that major part of my life.
Send a letter
Making cards and writing letters is a great family activity. You can send to friends, family, or adopt a senior in a care facility. Sending a letter is like sending a hug, and receiving a letter can be a bright spot in someone's day. It doesn't have to be for a specific reason other than you are thinking of them.
Not only can it be an activity to do together but also an opportunity to practice writing skills, (even cursive writing if you want to teach that), learn about geography (the different aspects of your own address) and introduce a different way of learning some social skills.
Friends 4 Kindness is an organization that sends birthday cards to kids who feel alone on their birthday. Supporting this organization helps promote friendship, kindness, acceptance and inclusion. You can ask for some addresses to send your home-made cards to, you can donate cards to the organization or you can offer some financial support so that they can keep sending cards and holding un-birthday parties for the kids.
“Writing isn’t letters on papers. It’s communication. It’s memory.”
― Isaac Marion
Letter writing is a form of communication - as is the television. Check out this blog post that offers some history of the television as well as ideas to help limit screen time for your children!