Many schools use the Wee Deliver program, which the United States Postal Service (USPS) promoted for years. It appears, from the lack of information on the USPS Web site, that the program has been disbanded. But many schools continue to use the program, and the Web offers many resources to help schools set up and maintain this program that teaches practical skills such as responsibility and letter writing. So long as there are plenty of resources on the Web to support schools' Wee Deliver efforts, we will keep this article live on our site.
In this instant message, e-mail age, many children haven't experienced the excitement of getting a hand-written letter. One popular program, though, allows students to write letters and work in an in-school post office and mail delivery system. Included: See how it works, try it in your school.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor untied shoelaces can keep Kent Primary School's second-grade letter carriers from their mission of delivering mail to classmates and teachers.
For the past four years, the school in the Carmel (New York) Central School District has run its own post office in conjunction with a school-wide unit on letter-writing. This year, Kent's program, named KP Mail, gets underway February 1, and ties-in with Valentine's Day.
|Student postal workers in front of the Kent Primary School "post office."
(Photo courtesy of Kent Primary School)
"There is really a lot of excitement in the building at this time of year," said second grade teacher Allison Keating, who oversees KP Mail. "For them to get mail is such a big deal."
With the help of parents, school staff members have set up a mini post office in the school's lobby for the program. During the time KP Mail is operational, students are greeted in the morning with the song, "Please Mr. Postman," playing on the public address system.
The Carmel post office provided the school with an actual mailbox to use, and its "own" ZIP Code. Kent's unit originally was part of the U.S. Post Office's Wee Deliver program, which was launched to help children practice writing and learn about the post office. More than 1,000 schools across the U.S. have participated in the Wee Deliver program.
Note: The U.S.P.S. Web link above is not working 5/25/2009. But that doesn't mean that schools cannot use a system modeled on Wee Deliver. This resource provides all the information you will need to start up a Wee Deleiver postal system in your school.
At Kent Primary, mail is collected and delivered twice a week by the second graders during their lunch periods. Each classroom has a mailbox and an address based on the teacher's name.
Second graders run the post office because they used to be the school's senior class; now the school has students in grades K to 4. KP Mail employees are issued vests and mailbags. Parent volunteers help the students sort and organize mail and determine if any has to be returned to the sender for having an incomplete or incorrect name or address on the envelope.
"All the information has to be on the envelope," Keating told Education World. "If the envelope is missing the ZIP Code or anything else, the letter is returned to the sender." Some teachers use stickers for stamps, while others have their students design their own.
Before the program starts each year, second graders attend an assembly where they learn about the jobs in the mail delivery program, including sorting, delivering, stamping, and checking for errors, according to Keating. Each class gets one day to do all the jobs. At the end of the program, each child gets a certificate for participating.
"It's nice for them to write letters and to see how it's really done," Keating noted. "The second grade social studies unit focuses on communities, and the post office is part of the community. This shows them all aspects of how the mail gets to the door."
While teachers work on student writing all year, the KP Mail program focuses specifically on letter-writing, which has become less popular in the e-mail age, noted school principal Joan Pinkerton.
"It's a dying art and shouldn't be dying," said Pinkerton about writing letters. "There has to be a reason to write. This gives them a reason to write and to read. Even the kindergarteners can draw pictures."
As part of the letter-writing unit, students learn to write a few sentences about themselves in the letter and then ask the person to whom they are writing some questions. They also learn how to properly address an envelope.
"We stress they have to use their best handwriting and try to use their best spelling because someone else has to read it," added Keating.
To ensure that every child gets a letter this year, all the students will pick a name out of a mail bag and send that person a Valentine, Pinkerton said. Students may get a chance to meet their pen pal. After the first Valentine, students can write as many letters as they want. Many parents also write letters to their children and mail them at school.
As principal, Pinkerton is a popular choice for a pen pal, and the KP Mail unit is an especially busy time for her. "I get tons of letters and I write back to all of them," she said. "They tell me about themselves and ask questions. They ask if I have any pets and ask about my favorite book."
One third-grade student started writing to Pinkerton in kindergarten, and continues to write to her regularly.
"The kids get so excited waiting to get mail," she continued. "When kids can express themselves without a computer, they are a little more expansive. This builds up reading and writing skills."
Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Copyright Â© 2010 Education World
Originally published 01/30/2007
Last updated 07/22/2010