A school-wide mail collection and delivery service? What a wonderful way to make relevant connections to our world!
Stemming from a desire to make our new Prep students feel secure in their learning environment—and the children’s keen interest in Fedor Konyukov, a Russian explorer who at the time was circumnavigating the world in a hot air balloon—soon turned into the Prep postal service, a creative whole-school endeavour with significant learning outcomes.
The project developed in phases. First, the children explored different letter writing genres, such as cards, invitations, and letters, and designed cards for different occasions. Year 5 buddies helped their young friends with writing skills, and once their finished product was ready to ‘send’, the teach provided a special postage ‘stamp’.
Later, local postman Chris visited the classroom and shared some exciting facts, such as he wakes up at 4 am to start work, the letters go in special bags on his motorbike, the letters are sorted in a big room in North Melbourne, and Chris is a good reader.
Finally, the Prep students took their project school-wide, co-authoring with their teachers an explanation letter about the postal service for each of the other learning neighbourhoods in the school. The children explained the location of the post boxes, the need for each letter to be drafted and shown to a teacher, and the requirement for envelopes to have a clear address and correct stamp. Soon letters were moving around the school, just like in real life!
The Prep postal service was particularly beneficial as a learning tool because it made the youngest students the catalysts for new connections across the entire school community. Teachers rostered and entrusted teams of three children to navigate the complex layout of the school and to seek help from unfamiliar staff when collecting and delivering the letters.
The activity embedded maths and English learning into a meaningful activity and sparked in the children a desire to proactively write. The children were keen to connect with others and to express their point.
Since all children learn at different rates, this exercise showed a range of writing skills, and so the teachers set up differentiated learning opportunities—a common aspect of Princes Hill learning.