Cross-Curriculum Study of the Post Office:
a School-Wide Post Office
Grade Level: Elementary First
Authors: Barbara Chavez and Kimberlee
P.S. 1M, New York City Public Schools
Collaborated with Kathy Huey, District
Two Technology Staff Developer
first grade social studies curriculum encompasses the study of the community. Within this study, it is important that the children realize that each
part of the community, i.e., the fire station, the police station, the
doctor’s office, and so on, plays a vital role in the functioning of the
community. First grade children
must realize that people fill these important roles, and without them, the
community would not serve its purpose.
to launching this study, students should already be familiar with the post
office. They should visit the post
office at least once, and they should understand that people write letters to
communicate with others. Many trade
books can be used to introduce the children to the concept of letter writing,
including Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James (Scholastic, 1991), Mr.
Griggs’ Work by Cynthia Rylant (Orchard Books, 1989), and The Jolly
Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Little Brown & Co., 1990).
a culminating activity at the end of a yearlong community study, the children
look forward to opening their own school-wide, student-run post office. As well, students in other grades enjoy writing letters to their friends
and teachers, and the first graders have the important role of ensuring that
their mail will be delivered in a timely manner.
students operate the Post Office, they will learn many math concepts and skills
such as the concept of money, keeping numerical records, counting and adding by
fives, collecting money and making changes, categorizing and sorting………..
technology media will be introduced and used to supplement and enhance this
project. The project integrates
across most curriculum areas – social studies, literacy, math, and technology.
Goals and Objectives:
§ To help children to understand and
appreciate the important role that the post office plays in our community.
§ To help children understand the process
of mail delivery and the important jobs within the postal system.
§ To help children become familiar with
the value of money and to be able to count change.
§ To give the children the opportunity to
be an integral part of their school-wide community and to understand the
important role that they can have on a community
§ To introduce children to the Internet
and other technology media.
Lesson 1: A
Guided Tour of the Post Office/
How Mail Moves
Time Required: Approximately 3 Sessions
· Students will learn how the mail moves
within the postal system and community
· Students will learn the concepts of
“order” and “steps”
the Mail Moves by Gail Gibbons (Harper Collins, 1982)
· Observation sheets (one per student)
· Paper, glue, scissors
· As part of a community study, the
students should be familiar with the post office, having visited it as part of
their community walks. For the
first visit, the class can spend twenty minutes in the lobby of the post office,
making observations. What is the
function of the post office? Why is
it an important part of our community?
· The teacher will introduce the topic by
reading aloud How the Mail Moves.
· The teacher and students will discuss
in the correct order the various steps that move the mail within the postal
system and the community. Why is it
important to follow this sequence of steps?
· Discuss the various jobs that postal
workers have (Teller, Mail Handler, Sorter, Stamper, Letter Carrier). How do the people doing these jobs work together to get the mail from the
mailbox to someone’s home? Why
are they each important?
· The class will revisit the local Post
Office and meet with a postal worker for a “behind the scenes” tour of the
Post Office. Discuss the
associations between the book and what they see on the visit. Where is the mail sorted? What happens to it after it is sorted?
· Students will fill out observation
sheets after each visit to the post office.
· Students will be able to recognize the
distinctive features of a Post Office (e.g. the US flag, the eagle emblem, the
red, white and blue colors).
· Students will be able to discuss how
the mail moves and who the postal workers are.
Lesson 2: Post Office Jobs
Time Required: Approximately 4-5 Sessions
· Students will learn about the different
Post Office jobs and their functions to expedite the movement of the mail in a
student-run post office
· Students will work cooperatively to run
their own post office.
Pete by Val Marshall and Bronwyn Tester (Mondo
· Special stamp-shaped paper
· Crayons, markers
· Read aloud Postman
· Discuss what a postman does. Why was Postman Pete important to the community? What is his job?
· Discuss the other jobs at the post
office. How is each job done? What supplies does each job need?
· Students will be able to write a
description of one job and draw a picture.
· Students will decide which job is their
favorite and argue why they would be good at performing it.
· Students will perform their jobs
accurately when their post office is open.
Lesson 3: Mailing a Letter
Time Required: Approximately 1-2 Sessions
· Students will understand that a letter
needs to have an address in order to be mailed.
· Students will understand that there is
a specific order that an address is written on the envelope.
· Students will be able to assign an
address to each classroom in the school building.
· Students will appreciate that the
numerical sequence correlates to the locations of houses, apartments, streets,
· The teacher will show students how to
address an envelope to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
· The class will discuss how addresses
are designed. Are street numbers
randomly assigned? Discuss how
confusing it would be for the mailman if there were no specific orders in
assigning street numbers.
· Take a walk around the school and
notice how the room numbers go in order. Why
does it work this way? What would
happen if it didn’t?
· Have students discuss how they could
address mail for the school. Could
they use room numbers? Why would
that be a good idea?
· Come up with a school-wide address
system using classroom numbers. For
New York, NY
· Students will be able to decide that
classroom numbers would be the most logical choice for the addresses.
· Students will be able to address an
Lesson 4: Using Money for the School-Wide Post
Time Required: Approximately 3 Sessions
· Students will be able to count by
· Students will be able to identify and
distinguish different coins and understand their individual values.
· Students will be able to record their
stamp sales on a chart.
· Students will be able to use a T-Chart.
· Chart paper
· Play and real money
· Stamp sales worksheet
· The teacher will introduce coins to
students and discuss their individual values.
· The teacher will bring students to the
school library to get access to the Internet USPS website. They will examine postal rates around the world.
· The class will decide that a five cents
stamp rate is reasonable for the mail delivery within the school building.
· The teacher will explain that the
stamps that students will sell will cost five cents each.
· Discuss how much money is needed to buy
two stamps, three stamps, etc.
· Make a T-chart on large paper as they
· Show the children the Stamp Sales
worksheet. Explain that some
children will have the job of recording how many stamps are sold each day. Practice filling out the chart together.
· Students will be able to use the
T-chart as a reference when the post office is open.
· Students will be able to count out
· Students will be able tot use the stamp
sales worksheet accurately.
Together of the Lessons -
and Running The School-Wide Post Office
Time required: One to Two Weeks
this time period, the children need to design stamps that they will advertise
and sell to the school-community. To
set up the Post Office in the classroom, an area needs to be established for
each job position to work in. The
sorter needs the most area. They
need to have an area to sort the mail by floor numbers and then by classroom
numbers. Cubbies or class mailboxes work well for this purpose. Stampers will need rubber stamps and ink, letter carriers need a bag,
mail handlers need a basket, and tellers need a counter, money, and a sales
a certain period of time each day for the post office to be open for stamp
sales. About an hour each day works
well. Keep in mind that there will
be down time, so others can design more stamps while waiting to do their jobs. Once the post office is closed, the other “employees” can do their
jobs, such as picking up the mail, stamping it, sorting it, and delivering it.
Drop Boxes (plastic US Postal mailboxes bought in stores or painted cardboard
boxes) are placed in different locations throughout the school building. Specific collection time is indicated on the box. Post Office opening hours should be posted outside the classroom.
At the end of each day, the class will discuss
how many stamps have been sold and how much money has been collected. Pictures will be taken for a culminating project and as celebration of
students’ hard work.
Supplementation throughout the Project
§ The Internet
§ Students are introduced to the Internet
while they access the USPS website to examine postal rates to different part of
§ While on the USPS website, students can
also see the different designs of stamps which they use as reference and ideas
for their own designs later.
§ The computer and computer software.
§ Students are encouraged and given
opportunities to use the computer to record their observations, to draw pictures
of their observations, and to design stamps.
§ Students are also given opportunities
to enter information recorded on the Stamp Sales worksheet onto a Spreadsheet
set up by the teacher and see how efficiently numbers are added up by the
computer software. They can also
confirm their hand calculation after they enter numbers onto the Spreadsheet.
§ Digital cameras are introduced and used
to take pictures of the Post Office activities. These pictures are downloaded and printed that become a part of a class
§ Scanners are used to capture stamp