If you have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, godchildren, or the odd-straphanger with whom you’d like to share a bit of things philatelic, one of the most delightful picture books is "Mailing May" by Michael O. Tunnel and illustrated by Ted Rand.  Even before I became a stamp collector, I read this wonderful story to third graders as an excellent example of the genre historical fiction.  A new post office regulation was the result of what happened in this story!

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The focus of the presentation was how to get started using postage stamps, where to find stamps, and some excellent websites that provide lesson plans which can be used as-is or adapted.  Attendance at this session was about 35 school librarians at all levels, elementary to high school.  During the session, attendees expressed interest in the topic and asked excellent questions. Exhibits of fiction and nonfiction children’s books that can be used with postage stamps were on display during the session.  Handouts from the session will be posted on the TASL website. 

"Mailing May"  

A Book Review by Karla Norman,   Rivercrest Elementary School Librarian, Bartlett and MSCS Member

Mr. Pierstorff knew about parcel post—packages could weigh up to fifty pounds, and being a wiley sort, thought there might be a way around sending May as a passenger.  The postmaster said smelly things couldn’t be mailed but baby chicks could.  May and her little suitcase were weighed on the postal scale and came to just under the fifty pound limit at forty-eight pounds and eight ounces.  She was mailed, classed as a very large baby chick, and sported the whopping amount of fifty-three cents of stamps.

As an elementary school librarian, this was the first year that I’ve used postage stamps, both U.S. and international, as an instructional device as part of my library instruction.  The interest of students was definitely piqued.  The stamps were more interesting to the students to use as research prompts rather than just questions I devised.  These are good tools to use with the students to help them strengthen their skills using basic research works like almanacs, atlases, and encyclopedia.  Students also noted the use of words like “anniversary,” “centennial,” “bicentennial,” and “sesquicentennial”  appearing with some frequency on postage stamps, so we made good use of the dictionary.

Based on the response of the students as well as some of their questions, there are a number of topics I’d like to address in more detail with students. 

These are:  --Letter writing:  Students need to know how to write a letter, the parts of a letter as well as how to address an envelope.  This shouldn’t be a hard topic because there are any number of children’s books that feature “letters/correspondence” as a feature of the story.  

-Note taking:  My students need more practice in what note taking is and how one makes notes.  Useful for the more in-depth stamp research activities we do and very helpful for the fifth graders going off to sixth grade (middle school) next year.

--More sorting & classification activities:  A kindergarten teacher has given me several ideas that coordinate topics from their curriculum that would fit well using postage stamps.  Students need practice identifying things that are alike and different and be able to explain their thinking.  Learning to manipulate stamp tongs would be great for little fingers mastering fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. 
--Combining art & postage stamps:  We have a marvelous art teacher at our school and she wants to collaborate on lessons about how to design a stamp.

There’s been a great deal of preparatory work to get the stamp lessons ready to teach, but the pay off in learning has been tremendous.  Since I am a new stamp collector, I am still learning “stamps” and in turn, making useful connections in my library instruction.  My principal has been very pleased with what she has seen the students do using postage stamps.  We may have a Redbird Stamp Club in the future!

Review of a Year of Using Postage Stamps as a Teaching Tool

​by:  Karla Norman, Librarian, Rivercrest Elementary, Bartlett, TN

The Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL) held its annual conference in Murfreesboro, TN on September 9-11, 2018.  Among numerous session presented, Karla Norman and Tammy Phillips presented a session, "Using Postage Stamps for Instruction in the Library".  Karla Norman is a member of MSCS and Tammy Phillips was the first-ever recipient of an MSCS teacher grant.

MSCS is elated to announce we have approved two, fall semester 2018, $150.00, grant application awards, with the opportunity to re-apply for the spring 2019 semester.

The first goes to Mr. Doug Wyatt of the West Memphis Christian Academy for his 5th Grade class project, "We the Readers". After selecting an historical event depicted on a stamp the students will use at least three resources to research the event. After completing the factual research the students will select a historical novel based on the event depicted in their selected stamp. The students will read their books, research the author, main characters, story elements, etc. The students will design a stamp which includes the main character, one element of the story and one element found in the research.

The second award goes to Ms. Sarah Hubbard of the Elmore Park Middle School in Bartlett, TN.  The 6th - 8th grade project is entitled, "The Stamp of History: Researching the Lasting GRAPES of Ancient Civilizations".  
Sixth and seventh grade students study world history in middle school social studies, usually with an overall emphasis on a thorough understanding of the GRAPES (Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economics, Social structure) of a civilization. They will utilize research and skills learned about stamps/ stamp identification to determine the stamp's current country of origin and conduct ethical research on that country's current GRAPES. Students will then compare it to the GRAPES they have learned about for that country/ civilization in their social studies class (the ancient history portion), focusing in particular on the changes seen in the country/ civilization over time, and share their research findings through a self-created product.

Area Teachers Awarded Grants by MSCS

The U.S. Post Office Department introduced domestic parcel post on January 1, 1913.  Mr. and Mrs. Pierstorff of Grangeville, Idaho realized that they could not afford the cost of a train ticket to send five-year-old May to visit her grandma in Lewiston, Idaho.  The towns were only about seventy-five miles apart but had no decent roads so the best way to travel the distance was by train.

Karla Norman and Tammy Phillips

Leonard Moehel, Mrs. Pierstorff’s cousin, minded the “poultry” in the rail mail car to Lewiston and delivered the “parcel” to her surprised grandma.  This was May’s first ever train ride.

And the new regulation? Children could not be mailed as parcels.

Bookmarks are among the projects the children have created using stamps.

Memphis Stamp Collectors Society

Memphis, Tennessee