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Slow Communication: Snail Mail

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Slow Communication: Snail Mail

I am an out and out social media lover and my phone bings and dings at me day and night with emails from five different accounts. It would be fair to say that I have embraced technology, and my palms sweat at the thought of not having wifi access at all times.

Having said this, I still love old-school letter writing and I still send 100+ handwritten Christmas cards every year – last year’s can be seen here. There is something wonderful about receiving mail (of the non-bill variety) – from the stamp, to the handwriting, to the knowledge that someone cared enough to sit down and write card or a letter – I adore everything about mail.Snail Mail

Despite the profits of Australia Post declining, snail mail is experiencing somewhat of a revival, and in the same way that we have seen the rise of the ‘slow food movement’, there are also people who enjoy ‘slow communication’ in the form of letters, cards and postcards, handwritten with care.

Our Junior School Library has a makerspace zone, and we incorporate many high tech and low tech makerspace ideas into our library planning and teaching – you can read more about this here and here. I have naturally evolved into the more low tech side of the operation (I manage the Earth Angels’ school kitchen garden and enjoy nothing better than creating with hands on materials) and my teaching partner Jackie #bestteachingpartnerever blogs here about her high tech makerspace endevours! Combining our love of literature, language, sustainability and creating has seen us create a makerspace zone that is flourishing and student engagement with the library is at an all-time high.

Snail Mail

Over the holidays I read a beautiful book called ‘Snail Mail’ by Michelle Mackintosh (who you can read more about here), and I was inspired to create for our students a ‘Slow Communication Station’, which is now nearly finished (my mind works over-time and I simply had to have this done for the start of term!) and it resides opposite our Lego walls, coding club equipment and robotic Lego – high and low tech happily co-existing! More photos will follow – but thus far we have a booth, some vintage library drawers full of all manner of stamps and tapes, pens and pencils, and a gorgeous letterbox like the one below is on its way from House of Cherub.

Image Source: House of Cherub

Image Source: House of Cherub

Extension English this term will focus on the art of handwriting, as well as formal and informal letter writing skills.  We’re going to put aside our beautiful laptops (as hard as this can be!) and take time to focus on the flow of handwriting and forms of calligraphy and lettering – any other children of the 80s/90s LOVE ‘The Lettering Book’ and ‘The Lettering Book Companion’? Look no further, I found the cool, ‘so on trend’ and NOW version – ‘Creative Lettering and Beyond’. We will plan, draft and publish letters, cards and postcards to be sent internally to peers and externally to families and we will look at literature in which letters form part of the narrative.

Some of the Content Descriptors from the Australian Curriculum that we are focusing on include:

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714)

Reread and edit students’ own and others’ work using agreed criteria and explaining editing choices (ACELY1715)

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714)

Understand that strategies for interaction become more complex and demanding as levels of formality and social distance increase (ACELA1516)

To add these books to your home, school or classroom library click on title links or cover images. 

snail-mailcreative-lettering-and-beyond

My Junior School Earth Angels’ group will be using scrap paper and old newspapers, as well as found objects, to create handmade paper for the Slow Communication Station. We plan to make envelopes using techniques and templates in ‘Snail Mail’ and stock our station with lots of handmade paper, re-claimed paper and handmade envelopes.

While originally conceived as an English Extension activity, the Slow Communication Station, like all our of our makerspace areas, will be available to students before school and at lunchtime – though one can always find a quiet spot to curl up with a book in the library, on the whole our library is a hive of activity and conversation!

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3 Comments

  1. Shannon @ Oh Creative Day on Jul 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    This sounds amazing!
    I went on Mat. Leave at the same time as the roll-out of the National Curriculum for English, so haven’t had much experience with putting it into practice…It still looks a bit scary to me. Seeing programs like this though makes me excited about the possibilities!!

  2. Julie on Jul 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I love love love snail mail. Justin jokes I buy things online, just so the postie visits. Up until the day she dies my grandmother and I would send each other a letter, each and every week. We spoke on the phone often, but I still have those letters.
    Love the idea of a Slow Communication Station. Like many things I worry that we are losing so much in our love of technology.
    Yes I too love IG and blogging. But how cool would it be to start a slow mail station among adults?

  3. Jenny on Jul 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    And there’s nothing better than receiving a handwritten postcard from a far, flung destination. Much better than the myriad of selfies with a landmark in the background that appear on facebook.

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