Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
Across the Fence Post Newsletter
2000 Joining With Juniors columns

          This page includes previous Joining With Juniors columns from the 2000 issues of Across the Fence Post .

January issue

Stamp literature for kids

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


It has been a while since I have written about stamp literature aimed at young collectors and readers. Perhaps it is because of my background in the field of education that I so strongly adhere to the importance of literature. I am always on the lookout for new books written about stamps that the junior philatelist might enjoy- Likewise, I seek out anything that I think might be readable by the elementary school aged collector.

In the early 1990s, I tried to convince two different weekly periodicals of a need to put an occasional pullout section devoted to stamp news, games, and activities that might be enjoyed by young collectors. Not that I thought the young collector was a subscriber to the papers, but rather that some doting grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, neighbor, etc., might pass the section on to a budding young collector.

The idea never came to pass although Stamp Collector did produce a singular issue distributed at World Columbian Stamp Expo '92. Titled "Stamp Tales," it was labeled "For Kids of All Ages."

Canadian Stamp News produces an annual pullout supplement for October - Stamp Collecting Month. The articles and activities all relate to stamps that Canada issues for the celebration.

This past year the theme was kites. Inside the special issue were short articles about kites today, famous scientific kite fliers, and a feature article about kites and kite making that used stamps as illustrations. There was also a short article about other things that fly, with stamps again being used as illustrations.

Activities included a word search about kites, a math-related activity, and looking at pairs of stamps to find differences. A design-your-own-kite contest for those 12 and older, as well as a contest for the 11 and under crowd, offered a prize for everyone and philatelic prizes for winners.

Wouldn't it be great if something like that were offered to our young collecting friends? Even if it could not be produced on a monthly basis, an annual supplement would be nice. To entice the young reader, the text should be of large type with an interesting mixture of stamps as illustrations. Ideally, there would be at least some color - perhaps on the cover and/or centerfold. The publication would include articles that relate to the theme and include stamp-collecting basics. The articles could integrate a variety of subject areas across the

Curriculum. A few fun activities and a contest might finish out the supplement.

Selective advertising could be used to help defray the costs of the publication. The U.S. Postal Service, dealers, and stamp organizations might be approached to sponsor a page if advertising is deemed inappropriate.

What do you think? Does this idea have merit? Would you like to see something like this produced? If so, would you share it with a child or use it as a tool when working with youth at your local club? I'd like to hear your ideas on this subject. Write to me at P.O. Box 1451, Waukesha, WI 53187.

February issue

Reading has its place in the hobby, too

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


As an educator, by profession, I try to pass along my love of books and reading to kids. This includes kids that collect stamps. I have a collection of books that I use with children that relate directly and indirectly to stamps and/or the stories behind the stamps.

Sometimes I read aloud to the kids. Other times I use the books as a focus of a learning center. On occasion, I allow the books to go home with the kids. Books have even become the basis upon which a philatelic lesson is developed.

Two new books have recently been added to our school library. (I am fortunate in that our school librarian is always on the lookout for books related to stamp collecting because we have an active school stamp club.) One book contains interesting stories on the historical background of specific stamps. The other book is a cute fictionalized account of a girl's visit to her grandmother.

"Rare and Interesting Stamps - Costume, Tradition and Culture: Reflecting the Past" is a 64-page book by Cindy Dyson and published by

Chelsea House. More than 25 stamps from different countries are pictured in color with their stories on the facing page. Kids learn about the Serbia Death Mask stamp, Hawaiian Missionaries, the "volcano" stamp from Nicaragua, Great Britain's first stamps, and others. The book appears to be geared toward the elementary grades; however, the vocabulary and concepts presented are very definitely more appropriate for the upper elementary and middle school collector.

"Mailing May," by Michael O. Tunnell and published by Greenwillow Books is a fictionalized account of a true story. The story's setting is Idaho in 1914. A young girl named Charlotte wanted to visit her grandmother who lived 75 miles away across the mountains. Travel in those days was limited and train fare would have cost her parents a full day's pay. The story has a happy ending when Charlotte is "mailed" - thanks to her father's ingenuity and the U.S. mail. This is a delightful story that sheds light on postal history and mail by rail. The picture book is easy to read with large bold print and colorful illustrations on every page.

Do you have a favorite book or story that has stamp-related connections and is suitable for use with youth? If so, I'd like to hear from you.

March issue

Organizing your stamp donations

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


Youth stamp clubs depend upon the generosity of adult collectors to provide them with the tools and materials necessary to run a successful program. Club leaders and advisors will welcome your donations whether large or small, used or unused, United States or foreign, on paper or off, covers or catalogs. A resourceful leader can put almost any donation to use. (Yes, even those damaged stamps!)

Over the years, I have tried various methods of organizing my donated materials so they are readily available for use with kids and club activities. What works for one person may not work for others. Some club leaders may place a different emphasis on lessons and activities, thus necessitating a different method of arranging materials. The ideas that follow have worked well for me.

Sorting through and organizing philatelic materials consumes a great amount of time. If you are lucky, your donor may already have done some preliminary organizing. You will need a variety of storage options such as boxes, stock cards, glassine envelopes, binders, and crates.

On-paper stamp donations are sorted into boxes - United States and foreign. I do likewise for off-paper mixtures. At any one time, I have four boxes of stamps ready for use with youth. However, I also have boxes with "better" stamps - better in that they may be more recent commemoratives, higher values, cleaner cancels, stamps with marginal markings or plate numbers, etc. These materials are saved for the special occasions when I am working with dedicated youth collectors and exhibitors.

The more common material is used for pick-and-poke sessions when kids are first learning about stamps or at times when I set up youth tables in public areas where the interest in stamps has not been determined.

Additionally, I also have stock cards in binders with off-paper, used U.S. stamps organized by catalog number. This way I have easy access to stamps needed for exhibits and for those collectors who are looking for that one special stamp to finish a page in their albums.

Sometimes envelopes of stamps all from one country are donated. These envelopes are arranged alphabetically and stored in boxes. Then when stamp packets need to be made, I just go to those envelopes and make up packets.

Topical collecting is very popular. When I receive off-paper donations, I go through and pull out stamps that have obvious topical connections. These are placed on stock cards - one topic to a page. I usually have no more than two pages on any one topic in the binder. Additionally, I keep a crate with hanging file folders. The tab indicates the topic. Inside each file folder is a closed file folder to hold the better sets and covers that relate to a particular collecting topic.

I use another crate for my U.S. and foreign material. Hanging file folders - one for each letter of the alphabet - and closed file folders hold better stamps from various foreign countries as well as larger size pieces such as souvenir sheets and souvenir cards.

There are boxes of covers as well. First-day covers are in boxes separate from postal stationery. Meters, cancels, and commercial covers are in other boxes. Picture postcards and commemorative covers have their own box. Unusual covers from foreign countries or having a topical connection usually end up in the crate filed appropriately.

Boxes and shelves contain the catalogs and literature that are used in my promotions. Organizing your donations takes time and a lot of space.

(About those damaged stamps, I use those in craft projects. Damaged stamps have a box of their own.)

April issue

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


The new wave of stamp collecting may be on the Internet - at least that is one way to reach some of our savvy computer-literate youth. Having recently taken the plunge and gone on-line myself, I have been "playing" with my computer and looking for philatelic sites that would interest kids in my stamp club.

The American Philatelic Society has recently improved its Web site. One of the latest changes is a revised youth section. Being a kid at heart, I spent some time exploring the site and was readily impressed with what it had to offer.

To get to the site more quickly, use this address: www.stamps.org/aps/services/kids.htm or go to the home page (www.stamps.org) and click on "Just for Kids." You'll find fun facts, beginner information, club leader ideas, activity pages, and more. The site is updated monthly.

As I was viewing the site in February, the activities were related to the typical themes: Valentine's Day, Black History Month, and presidents. Many of the pages are also available in hard copy for APS All-Star Club leaders.

To help children learn more about black history, one activity matched facts about the people portrayed on the stamps shown. Another page showed the complete (to date) series of Black Heritage stamps. This page could be used as an information sheet or as an album page.

To follow through on the presidents theme, one page related the parallels in the lives of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. A follow-up activity involved matching the names of six presidents to the years of their elections and then completing a crossword puzzle. Another activity incorporated the use of stamps to solve a puzzle. Youths could complete sentences by matching a stamp to a clue.

There were many valentine activities to choose from - something for even the youngest collectors. Youths could try to find their way through a Love stamp maze. They could create a stamp valentine or even a colorful valentine wreath. An interesting article reproduced from The American Philatelist explained how the positions of stamps on an envelope often were codes that loving couples used to communicate their affections.

Youth leaders might want to encourage their members to try "Stamp Smarts". The February quiz had 15 questions to answer about presidents and Black History Month. A winner was to be chosen from those who e-mailed the correct answers. The quiz changes each month.

Another site contained basic beginner information such as ways to start collecting stamps, soaking stamps, choosing an album, or using tongs. There was another section devoted to activity pages. The "Mixed-Up Commemoratives Game" had hints for finding stamps in a catalog. Still another page was a scavenger hunt for animals on stamps.

Use of the catalog was necessary in two additional activities. In one, 27 different flag stamps were illustrated with the challenge to find the denominations of each. In another activity, youths were to complete a story by using a catalog to help determine the word to fill in the blank.

Two other activities were album-type pages. One helped youths learn the names of foreign countries by unscrambling the country names and hinging appropriate stamps. In the other activity, youngsters were challenged to find an example of 16 different types of stamps (such as nondenominated, official, self-adhesive, surcharge, and other more common philatelic terms).

Another click on the mouse button might take you to "Fun Facts." This is a page filled with interesting philatelic facts such as information about an undersea post office or the stamp that was created on the moon.

This site also gives you the opportunity to link to other youth Web sites that help promote stamp collecting for kids. There is even a free youth e-mail service for leaders so they know the minute a new game, information, or idea is added to the youth pages.

May/June issue

_By WFSC VP Youth Division MarvAnn Bowman


Club leaders! Looking for an interesting way to reinforce your lessons'? Create a quiz, post it online, and have your members access it from their home computers. It's easier than you may think. It's free and it's fun! And best of all, these quizzes are automatically graded and the results e-mailed to you.

The Web site's address: www.funbrain.cam.

It is a valuable resource for kids, teachers, and parents. Sponsored by State Farm Insurance, the site has attracted millions of users each month. A wide variety of thinking activities in many subject areas are accessible.

Now can the site work for you'? One area of this site allows teachers /pare tits/ leaders to create their own quizzes. Sup-pose you have just presented a lesson on getting started in the hobby and have introduced some of the basics such as where to find stamps, soaking stamps off paper, tools of the trade, etc. Now you are curious to know the effectiveness of your lesson. By creating a quiz and offering it online, you can have immediate feedback. If you are running a school stamp club, you can have your young collectors access your quiz right from school computers. Other club leaders may suggest that their members take the quiz at home.

You can create four types of quizzes. The ever popular multiple choice quiz allows the maker to have up to five possible answers for each question, True and false quizzes can be created, as can question-and-answer-type quizzes as long as the answer is only a single word or number. Essay questions also can be used; however, they are the only type of quiz that is not automatically graded.

Other advantages of using this site include that you can determine whether the test-taker will see the correct answer, thus providing immediate feedback. You can even hide the quiz and use it at a later date. One can also choose to add the quiz to other Ready-Made quizzes so that fellow teachers/leaders can use your material with their classes. Entering the questions and answers takes only about five minutes of your time.

Sign-up is easy. Pick a secret word for your class/club. It allows them to access the quizzes you have written for them. When they sign in, they see a brief message from you and a listing of the quizzes that are available for them to take.

The questions are displayed one at a time. If you desire, the results can be shown and a scorecard displayed. At any time, the leader can view the results of the students' scores as well as clicking on a details button to show just what each student got wrong. The results can be e-mailed to you daily or on a weekly basis. The quizzes also can be printed out making handouts possible.

There are many reasons for using the computer in our hobby - particularly when working with youth. Give this project a try. Let me know your results. It's free and it's fun!

July/August issue No column this issue

September issue

Olympic games and stamp fun


By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


There are many activities that you can do with stamps to educate your children to the historical background of the Olympics, its sports, and the various cultures of the participants. One is limited only by imagination and resources available. What follows are some suggestions for projects that you might like to try with your group.

Need a mini-break from an intense lesson? Get your kids moving with this game of Olympic charades. Give each child a used sport stamp. Have them pantomime the athletic event while the others try to guess. Kids get to keep the stamps.

Stimulate their imagination and creativity. Using a blank stamp outline form, type Olympic-related descriptive text onto the back of the stamp form - one different write-up per stamp. Challenge your club members to design a new Olympic stamp for the event described on the reverse of the form. Urge them to depict athletes in action.

Find out the names of the participating countries. Using a stamp mixture, try to find stamps issued by the various countries. How many different countries were you able to find? Even more challenging would be to try to find flag stamps to represent each of the participating nations.

Draw the Olympic rings on a paper - each ring approximately two inches in diameter. Discuss the number of rings in the Olympic flag, the colors used, and why those colors were chosen. Use the paper as a mini-lesson to review hinging techniques. Have your youth find a single stamp to mount within each ring. Depending upon the abilities of your youth, either have them find a single-color stamp closest in color to the ring in which they are hinging the stamp or have them try to locate a stamp from a different continent to put into each of the rings. Hint: stamp identifiers and maps - are useful tools for the latter project. In fact, you may want to "pick" the mixture so that hard-to-identify countries have been eliminated.

Create your own philatelic Olympics. A tong relay race can be lots of fun! Divide the group into teams. Have a mixture of stamps at one end of the room. Give each team one pair of tongs. Members must race down to the other end of the room, pick up a stamp with the tongs, race back to the starting line, deposit the stamp in a box, then pass the tongs on to the next person. If a stamp drops, it must be picked up with the tongs.

In the catalog caper, pairs of students work together to find the answers to questions posed. Questions should be geared to the abilities of your members. Naturally, the questions should center on sports or Olympic stamps. For example: What sport is the subject of a 1980 set of two stamps from Spain? (soccer). There are many options. The leader can pose the questions one at a time. Questions could be printed on paper. Another option: weight the questions so that they are worth varying points.

Award prizes in your own philatelic Olympics closing ceremony.

I'd love to hear your ideas of activities that might be included in philatelic Olympics!

October issue

Timely Tidbits

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

Canada Post offers a colorful 35-page hardcover book that intermediate-aged children will find interesting to read. "Collecting Passions - Discovering the Fun of Stamps and Other Stuff from All Over the Place" is written by Susan McLeod O'Reilly. Every page is bursting with fascinating facts, helpful tips, and fun activities. Priced at $16.95 (Canadian), it makes an inexpensive gift. Kids will love the crazy and imaginative art! Canada Post has a toll-free number to order products and request a catalog: 1-800-565-4362.

The U.S. Postal Service sells many non-postage products such as key chains, Post-it notes, window clings, postcards, and other items that kids find appealing. It is another subtle way to introduce the hobby to youth. I watch for these retail items to go on sale and have picked up some bargains at 50 percent to 75 percent of original cost. Tucked in with another gift item, they are sure to please.

If you live in the Milwaukee area, consider an early gift - quality time at a stamp show or bourse. A budding collector may enjoy taking a bus trip to CHICAGOPEX in November. The Milwaukee Philatelic Society offers the trip annually. The price is right and it sure beats driving and parking costs. Contact any MPS member for details.

The gift of time can be offered in any season. Introduce the hobby through a contest. Every year, the Texas Philatelic Association offers a Youth Holiday Contest. Youngsters are asked to draw a horizontal design with black ink on white paper combining philatelic and winter holiday themes. The TPA is very generous with prizes. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive a monetary award as well as a philatelic gift.

You will have to hurry to be considered for this year's contest, as the deadline is October 15. Mail entries to Jane King Fohn, 10325 Little Sugar Creek, Converse, TX 78109-2409. Each entry should include the entrant's name, address, age, collecting interests, and a brief explanation of the artwork.

First-day covers are another way to hook a young collector; there is something appealing to them about the cachet, the stamp, and the cancellation. FDCs are among the most bragged-about items when we do show-and-tell at our youth meetings. Perhaps it is because they are inexpensive; perhaps it has something to do with the design. or perhaps the availability. You can easily expose a young collector to FDC collecting.

One way would be to request from me the line drawing cacheted cover illustrated here. For the second year, the American Philatelic Society in conjunction with the American First Day Cover Society is distributing such covers for youth to color, paint, or embellish as they see fit. The Year of the Snake stamp (to be issued in early 2001) is the theme for this year. The embellished covers are returned W the AFDCS where they are judged. The AFDCS also sees that the stamp is added and first day cancellation applied. All covers are returned to the youth.

November issue

Buzz words in education: standards-based assessment - can it work for youth exhibiting?

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman


This past summer I had the opportunity to attend a Doug Reeves seminar on standards-based education and making it work. Buzz words such as academic content standards, benchmarks, and scoring guides or rubrics were the talk of the day.

The weeklong workshop gave me an opportunity to work with my fifth-grade team in developing a lesson that we could implement in our classrooms. It also provided the district's teachers an opportunity to interact with each other, share ideas and concerns, and motivate us for the return to the classroom in September. The workshop succeeded on all counts.

Wouldn't it be great if the youth leaders of our country's stamp clubs could have just such an opportunity to interact with each other, share ideas, and go back motivated with a new lesson to share with their budding young collectors?

One powerful new tool is being used to assess students. I think it has implications that would benefit our youthful exhibitors. These assessments are freely distributed to students, teachers, and parents so that the expectations about their performances on a task are clearly identified and understood by all. It allows all students to have the ability to score proficiently in a task.

Applying that to the world of youth exhibiting - what would be so terrible about allowing each exhibitor to meet with success? Just imagine the caliber of exhibits if all youth knew exactly what they would have to do to receive their gold, blue, or first-place awards.

How do we get these kids to be so successful? Create a scoring guide. This is no easy task.

Scoring guides must be specific. This will be difficult and time consuming. Additionally, scoring guides must be written in the child's own language. Ideally, scoring guides would be accompanied by an exemplary exhibit (or pages) so the exhibitor would have a model to emulate.

As I see it, scoring guides would go through many drafts as they are shared with judges, exhibitors, parents, and youth leaders. We expect the youth exhibit to continue to evolve and grow - so we, too, must be willing to do the same and let the scoring guide evolve as it is edited, refined, and improved upon.

I have had only a month to ponder its application to youth philately and exhibiting in particular. Perhaps this all sounds a little vague to you. But I will continue to think about the implications and possible applications to philately and keep you informed.

What are your thoughts on youth exhibiting and judging of their exhibits? How can we help our youth become successful? Write to me at the address shown above. 

December issue

Cachet-making for the young

BY WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

Kids love first-day covers! There is something about FDCs that appeal to many young collectors. Whether it is the cachet, the stamp, or the cancellation, FDC collecting has a strong following in my youth clubs. If they attend a stamp show or bourse, they usually return with FDCs and use them for our show-and-tell periods.

Each year, I make it a point to include one lesson where FDCs are discussed and then designed. This year, I am going to involve cachet making on several different occasions. As my school club meets weekly, approximately once a month we'll be involved in learning a different cachet-making technique and then use those techniques to create first-day/commemorative covers.

Out-of-pocket expenses on projects such as this can quickly add up for the leader. Collecting a small fee, such as 35^ per cover, will help with the expenses and also tends to assure that the youngsters take a little more responsibility and care when creating their keepsakes. The leader still will not break even when it comes to the costs. Another option might be to charge a few dollars for the year after planning approximate costs of materials and postage for all issues you plan to service with the group.

In looking over the 2000-O1 philatelic programs, I have decided to focus on the following U.S. issues. We will start the year with designing a cachet for the Deer picture postal cards released in Rudolph, WI. This is an excellent opportunity to educate youth that covers also include postal stationery items. In addition, it is exciting for them to learn that philatelic items are released in Wisconsin.

The 2001 stamp program offers challenges to leaders. Many of the new issues are not appealing to kids, requiring leaders m be creative in their approach. One way to accomplish this is to offer a variety of cachet-making lessons. We will use cookie cutters, stencils, stampers and stickers to create our cachets. I may even try some computer-art designs. One of the favorites has always been for the youths to create their own envelopes. I like to use wallpaper, calendars, wrapping paper - something that has an allover design related to the stamp.

Although we will design one cachet a month, the kids will have to wait for their covers to be serviced. In fact, some of the issues I plan to use will take them into fall. I probably will incorporate the Porky Pig "That's All Folks!" issue as the last cachet design for the school year.

Latest update: June 13, 2005 

URL:   http://www.WFSCstamps.org/wfsc_atfp_juniors_2000.shtml