A couple of days ago I got a letter via ‘snail mail’. My 10-year-old cousin took the envelope out of the mailbox but before he could hand it to me, the stamp grabbed his attention. “Divakka look! This stamp has sparrows on it! I didn’t know they had stamps like these.” Yes. Come to think of it, how would he know? In this day of Internet and email, even bills are sent online! So where would he and other children get to see stamps?
We may not give much thought to postage stamps in this era of email, but in a classroom, stamps can bring geography, history, science and arts to life. And if you think about it, they can also be used to teach language and mathematics. Almost any subject you can think of can be found on a postage stamp – flora, fauna, technology and development, cultural heritage, global events, the list goes on. As the Smithsonian National Postal Museum puts it, “stamps are miniature gateways to the world” and for students, stamps are the perfect avenue for exploring new topics and learning about the world.
Stamps have undergone many changes in the century and a half since the first one was issued. They have been introduced in many formats and designs and have been printed in different colours and on different material. All stamps start with the artist coming up with preliminary sketches. The approved design is then engraved in reverse and is called a “die.” Stamps are considered mini pieces of art and you can often find on them examples of pop culture and classic, modern and cartoon art. With the birth of stamps came the birth of stamp collectors or philatelists.
Stamps in the classroom
Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Why not use stamps to build on their curiosity? Stamp collecting is a learning experience that can take students on a magnificent journey through time and space. Stamps are simple and interesting learning aids and can be used to study ones’ own community and even a country on the other side of the world!