First graders in teacher Evelyn O’Keefe’s class at Kenneth C. Coombs School recently took part in the “Postcards Across America” project, which evolved from a simple lesson in geography to become an interactive learning experience that involved former students, new friends and dozens of generous people from across the country.
“It started as a fun way for the children to learn that the United States of America is made up of 50 states,” Ms. O’Keefe said. “I originally sent an email to parents about the project, asking families to ask their families and friends from other states to send in a postcard from the state they live in.”
Ms. O’Keefe said she first got the idea for this type of project from a Facebook group for 1st grade teachers.
“I thought it would be fun to see if we could receive a postcard from every state while empowering the students with information,” she said.
Moving to social media to try to gain more support for the project, Ms. O’Keefe’s post was shared more than 200 times on various social media accounts. By the end of the project, the class received postcards from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
While the students never imagined their messages would go global, the class also received postcards from people in Germany and Italy, she said.
“The students loved the idea from the beginning, and once the postcards started coming in, they were excited to see where the state was on the map and if they knew who sent the postcard. Overall, it was a huge success,” Ms. O’Keefe said.
The generosity of those across the states shone during the project. Beyond sending postcards and well wishes, some participants sent the 1st graders gifts to help them learn about the different states. Others reached out to become pen pals with the students, she said.
“We received letters from other schools who wanted to be pen pals. I received a postcard from a person I went to high school with and previous students from Mashpee who now live in other states. It was a wonderful way to bring old and new friends to our classroom family,” the teacher said.
During the project, students colored in a map of the states, marking off each one from which they received a postcard. Students also learned about the state’s capital, bird and flower, along with some other fun facts, she said.