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Teaching with Stamps: Primary resources for teaching America’s history and heritage.


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By @ 05/28/15 in Blog

Since 1893 The USPS has issued commemorative stamps that honor prominent people, places, icons and events of contemporary American life. These stamps tell stories that reflect the cultural development of our nation. Having done their job of moving the mail, these stamps are going back to work as teaching tools, engaging students intellectually, socially and emotionally by using familiar visual and cultural references in class instruction.

Stamps can be used as teaching tools in a variety of ways. The USPS Community Connection education program employs stamps as primary resources – using them as first-had evidence of events that took place across our country’s two-plus centuries of history. For example:

  • Students can study and chart the expansion of our nation with stamps that commemorate the admission of each state to the Union.
  • Students can examine the history of our nation’s reach for the stars with stamps that celebrate the men, the missions and the milestones of the US Space Program.
  • Students can celebrate champions of the Civil Rights Movement during Black History Month by investigating the subjects of the Black Heritage Stamp series.
  • Stamps also serve as primary resources for studying US Geography. The nation’s diverse climates, flora and fauna are beautifully illustrated in the Nature of America stamp series. The Hawaiian Rain Forest, the Great Plains Prairies and the Southern Florida Wetlands are only a few of the natural treasures represented in this series.

Stamps can also serve as tactile teaching tools. The American Philatelic Society (APS) Stamps Teach program furnishes teachers with bags of cancelled stamps from around the world for use with downloadable worksheets and activities. Students enjoy working with stamps in lessons that are made more meaningful. With Stamps Teach Plus, teachers can access these online tolls, PLUS receive a StampVentures activity center with posters and activity cards, student response cards, and a free membership to Young Stamp Collectors of America (YSCA) for students. Teachers and students are asked for feedback so that APS can continue to provide educators with meaningful teaching tools. Visit APS here.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM) resources are rich indeed. Online resources are age specific and run the gamut from early elementary through high school. NPM’s many top-notch teaching tools include curriculum on how the mail drove the development of transportation systems across the country, writing activities based on Victory Mail lessons, and history studies through Heroes on Stamps.  NPM also offers on-site learning fun with postal computer games and kid-friendly festivals. An annual Teacher’s Night Out at the Museum brings a wealth of educator resources to teachers in a fun and social setting. Visit the NPM here.

As school and home educators wind down the school year, we encourage you to bring some fun activities to your end-of-year teaching arsenal. We hope you will employ and enjoy some of these wonderful educator supports.