A major highlight of my trip to the Raleigh, North Carolina area two weeks ago was my time with the fourth and fifth grade classes of Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary School. I spent an hour with each grade exploring the ins and outs of the National Postal Museum’s Arago website.
Few crowds match the frenetic excitement of thousands of teachers looking for free classroom resources, and once a year, the Smithsonian embraces our local educators. Once a year, the Smithsonian invites Washington area teachers to explore classroom offerings from different Smithsonian units and encourage the local teaching community to use their Smithsonian as a classroom partner. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History hosted this year’s Teachers’ Night on Friday, October 23rd. The Postal Museum joined dozens of other Smithsonian units to promote our teacher resources, but you can see from the pictures, we might have had the most popular table there!
Starting up the school year means getting ready for Stamp Stampede, the Postal Museum’s busiest guided school tour. Stamp Stampede targets early elementary school students (Kindergarten through third grade) by emphasizing theatrical and visual connections to classroom content.
Tour guides, or “docents” as we call them, make Stamp Stampede an unforgettable experience for students. Docents lead students on journeys back in time, delivering mail with a variety of transportation systems (stagecoach ride, anyone?). Docents also organize kids into a miniature version of the modern US Postal Service, assigning students jobs like delivering mail or repairing delivery trucks. Students enjoy visiting Owney the dog, the unofficial mascot of the railway mail service, and writing him an imaginary letter. The tour wraps up with a healthy dose of philately, where students practice sorting and organizing topical collections.
A loud rendition of the ABC’s rang out through the National Postal Museum today, signaling the unmistakable start of another great year of school tours. The cacophony of 18 three- and four-year olds singing really is magical, and we even had a few visitors join in to sing the ABC’s with us. The song announced that the pre-kindergarten Listen, Look and Do program had begun again, featuring Hispanic Heritage through a study of culture and cuisine. What better way to engage young students than through song, the alphabet, and of course, food!