Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
Across the Fence Post Newsletter
2002 Joining With Juniors columns

          This page includes previous Joining With Juniors columns from the 2002 issues of Across the Fence Post .

January issue

Ideas for January

Happy New Year! Let's greet the New Year with enthusiasm for our wonderful hobby and make a resolution to share our interest with youth - be it an individual child, a school class, or a junior stamp club.

One way to reach youth is to show them some of the more innovative stamp designs that have recently been offered through postal agencies around the world. While shopping for items for the WFSC Club Trivia Contest prize, I bought several duplicates because I knew what a "turn-on" they would be to the kids.

Have you ever smelled the chocolate stamp from Switzerland? Turn off the lights and watch the glow-in-the-dark bat stamps from South Africa. Touch the gray cloud on the meteorological stamp from Great Britain and watch the sky turn to blue. Stamps also come in unusual shapes - round, triangular, even die-cut to shape such as the whale stamps from Vanuatu. Stamp issues such as these intrigue kids.

Looking for ideas to use at your January meeting? The German folklorist Jacob Grimm was born on January 4, 1785. There are many stamps depicting folktales that have been handed down from generation to generation and later written for others to enjoy. A small collection of these stamps and a retelling of some of the original versions of these tales may make an interesting mini-session for a club meeting. If you have access to "Tales by Mail," by Karen Cartier, you will be able to read the story as well as show an enlarged full-color print of the stamp that relates to the story.

Lewis Carroll, author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," was born on January 27, 1832. Most kids are familiar with this entertaining story. Gerald King, an artist and philatelist, produced a unique "philatelic phantasy" of this story with first-day covers, postmarks, and special-issue stamps. Sharing a copy of this book with youth can serve to review philatelic terminology or can even be used as a takeoff in preparing their own philatelic fantasy on a familiar fairy tale such as "The Three Little Pigs" or "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on January 15. Give each child a copy of the stamp and challenge them to find other African-Americans featured on U.S. stamps.

Looking for a foreign connection? Australia Day is celebrated on January 26. Bring out your mixtures of stamps and have a scavenger hunt. Look for stamps that depict the kangaroo, koala bear, and platypus. Create an album page for youth to mount their newly found Australian stamps.

The Olympics is just around the corner. Have youth search for stamps that depict winter sports activities. Mount them on an album page. One year, my school group worked together to prepare a display for the library. Each child took one winter sporting event and wrote a small descriptive paragraph. Stamps and covers related to the Olympic event were mounted on the pages. All philatelic material was provided.

Let's not forget other January happenings such as Ben Franklin's birthday and the Chinese New Year. There are many topics and themes that can be used as a takeoff for a philatelic lesson. Be creative in your thinking. Look for unusual connections that just might spark an interest with the young.

Happy collecting in 2002!

March issue

Greetings From America

By WFSC VP Youth Division MarvAnn Bowman

The upcoming release of the Greetings From America stamps can provide a number of creative ways to enhance learning about all 50 of our states, a geographic region, or even one specific state. This month, I will explore some ideas that you might want to consider using with your young stamp collectors.

A popular youth activity is to draw a cachet on an envelope and submit it for a first-day cancellation. Try this instead. Create a foldout postcard pack of scenes from the state of your choice. There are several ways to accomplish this, and the kids can work individually or in groups.

Use four unlined 4-by-6-inch white file cards taped side by side, or cut a sheet of white construction paper in half horizontally and tape the two strips together. Fold the strip accordion style into four sections. Open the folded paper and place it on a flat surface so that it forms two peaks (like the letter "M").

If desired, a case can be created for the postcards. Measure the size of one of the postcards. Cut a cover from the folded edge of a manila file folder. This will become the case into which the postcards are inserted. (Two cases can be made from one file folder.) Use a glue stick to attach the left rectangle to the underside of the manila folder, leaving three postcards to tumble out in a cascading fashion.

Have the children choose three different scenes to represent their states, coloring one on each of the remaining three sections (post-cards). You may want the kids to color the postcards before gluing them into their cases. Instead of coloring, illustrations such as those found in travel brochures could be used.

Address the outside case and perhaps even add another illustration on the cover of the postcard pack. Affix the appropriate Greetings From America stamp and send for the first-day cancellation.

Try a compare-and-contrast activity, a skill taught and reinforced in the elementary class setting. Find or borrow some picture postcards of the large greetings type. Begin your activity by querying the youngsters as to what images, symbols, landmarks, etc., of a particular state might be incorporated into the stamp design. Make a listing of their suggestions. Then show them the related stamp design.

Explain that the stamps are reminiscent of a bygone era when postcards were used to send greetings back home to non-vacationing friends and relatives. Then bring out the picture post cards that you have managed to obtain. Use this opportunity to look at the similarities and differences between the stamp designs and the postcards. This can be done orally with a small group. In a larger educational setting, a teacher might prefer to have the students create a Venn diagram or write compare-and-contrast paragraphs.

April issue

Stamp Games to Make

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

Looking for a stamp activity that two or more can play in those odd minutes before the start of a regular club meeting or when some youngsters finish a task before the rest of the group? Need a quick game for a youth area? Stamp memory and stamp tic-tac-toe are two games that you can make. They both provide challenges to beginning and intermediate collectors alike as well as serving as a teaching tool.

Stamp memory - The memory game, sometimes also referred to as "concentration," can be created to help young collectors learn about stamp issues from their country. It helps them recognize stamp designs as well as familiarize them with the various first-class postage rates of years past. I have made several sets of these cards - each set depicting a different stamp denomination.

I begin by cutting poster board into 2-inch-by-3-inch pieces. Using damaged stamps, I find matching pairs of stamps to glue onto the cards. When I make the sets, I use different colored backgrounds for each different denomination. For example, I might put 4^ stamps on a white background, 5^ stamps on a blue background, 6^ on a yellow background, etc. That helps me to keep the card decks separated by denomination.

There is a tendency to make too many pairs of cards. Youngsters may have a short attention span so 20 to 25 matching pairs are usually enough. To keep the cards looking fresh, laminate or cover with clear contact paper.

The game begins by mixing the deck of cards. Then lay the cards face down in rows. One child turns over a pair of cards and tries to make a match. Unsuccessful matches are returned, face down. The game is called the memory game or concentration because the players need to remember where they saw the cards. The play alternates between players. The player successfully making a match gets another turn. The winner is the person who ends up with the most pairs of cards.

Stamp tic-tac-toe - Using similar-sized cards, I prepare a set depicting foreign stamps - one for each country that I am trying to have the group identify. I place a foreign stamp on one side of the card, and its English-equivalent name on the other side. I give each pair of players a pencil and paper upon which a tic-tac-toe grid has been made.

Player 1 must choose the top card in the pile, look at the stamp, and identify the country name. By putting the English name on the back of the card, the game is self-checking. If correctly identified, player 1 puts his X in a box. Then player 2 gets an opportunity to identify a stamp. If correct, player 2 places his 0 in a box. Just like tic-tac-toe, the winner is the first to put three marks in a row.

July/August issue

Stamp Collecting in the Schools: Part 1

By WFSC VP Youth Division MarvAnn Bowman

The following remarks are observations from my dual role as philatelist and professional educator. Nancy Zielinski-Clark prompted them for an article she was preparing for The American Philatelist. Stamps have an inherent educational value.

Many philatelists are of the opinion that more should be done to make stamp collecting a part of a school's curriculum and thus entice more children into our hobby. As both a stamp collector and teacher by profession, there are some other sides to the story that non-educators may not be aware of and that may help others to rethink the role of stamps in the classroom.

There are many ways that stamps can be incorporated into schools. The most obvious is to make it a part of the curriculum. It is unlikely that many schools will use this approach. There are many more subject areas required by teachers today (computer technology, human growth and development, etc.). Then there are the state standards to be met. Teachers would need training, and the avail-ability of philatelic material for whole classes would be another issue.

Smaller schools and school districts may have an easier time of using the stamps-in-a-classroom approach. These schools are usually looking for interesting and effective ways to draw students into the educational process. In larger schools and school districts, there is more of a tendency to have grade levels stick closely to the given curriculum. This is due in part to student transfers within the district as well as questions from parents who compare teachers, classes, schools, and curriculum implementation. A larger school may have a collector teacher at a particular grade level, but getting their other grade-level teachers to "buy into" using stamps as an educational tool is not always possible.

So, how can one get stamps into schools and educational programs? There are some important ways that warrant our attention. -

In classrooms, stamps can become an effective motivational tool when used as rewards. This takes very little effort on the part of the teacher and very little philatelic knowledge. A lesson on soaking stamps from paper and the American Stamp Dealers Association album or teacher-created album pages are suggested. Hinges and a large assortment of on-and off-paper stamps also need to be available. Teachers frequently use stickers as a reward, so the use of colorful canceled-to-order stamps on a variety of popular topics sprinkled in among a mixture of U.S. and foreign stamps will assure

there is something of interest for everyone. (Teacher out-of-pocket expenses would be comparable.) One caveat: Kids may spend too much time making a decision about what stamps to put into their albums. A possible solution: Limit the number of stamps available. By frequently adding different stamps to a smaller box or setting a time limit for choosing stamps, you can alleviate this problem.

Using stamps to enhance curriculum is another possibility. Some activities can be cost-free, such as a fifth-grade U.S. geography lesson whereby students try to complete album pages with a 2-inch-by-2-inch postmark for each state. No need for stamps and even metered postage works well for the project.

Other projects can get costly on a per-child basis. For example, during a science animal unit, each child chose an animal for research. They also had to find a city that had their animals as part of the city name. Cachets were drawn on envelopes, postage added, and letters were sent to postmasters explaining the project and requesting a hand cancel on the student-created covers. Not counting paper and envelopes, a project such as this one would equal the cost of two first-class stamps for each participant (one for the letter to the postmaster and one for the return of the cacheted envelope).

Stamp posters were once easily obtainable from post offices. They made great displays for teachers with no cost involved. Today, posters are virtually nonexistent.

Stamps can be used as illustrations on cards bearing questions related to units of study. Foreign stamps can be given to enhance a country report. Ways to use stamps in a classroom are limited only by the imagination.

Aspects of the hobby can be shared through interest centers. These self-taught and self-paced modules often offer a variety of projects and activities from which children can choose to do those that most interest them. These centers are set up as bulletin boards or at small tables and offer students who have completed regular classroom work and assignments an opportunity to learn something new. The centers also encourage wise use of spare time.

Sometimes a class may have a parent or grandparent who enjoys collecting stamps. Often a teacher can appeal to those individuals to come in for a onetime presentation.

Schools may also offer a "high-interest" day where students are exposed to a variety of hobbies, projects, and activities. This is another good way to introduce the hobby to youth.

Part 2 of this article will appear in the September issue of ATFP. 

September issue

Stamp Collecting in the Schools: Part 2

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

Part 1 of this article appeared in the July-August 2002 issue of ATFP.

There are two promising areas in education that have been neglected in many discussions of promoting philately to youth. Targeting gifted and talented programs opens many possibilities. Group sizes are usually smaller and thus more manageable. Students learn quickly, work independently, and follow through responsibly. Integration across various subject content areas as well as extensions to the curriculum is possible.

A second promising area is the home-schooled student. Parents are often looking for wholesome hobbies for their child (and family) and inexpensive materials for hands-on learning. Stamps help fill those voids and offer another vehicle for learning.

As a public elementary school teacher in a large school district, I have found that an organized after-school stamp club is my preferred method of sharing the hobby. Over the years, though, even that has changed. At one time, these clubs attracted mostly boys and they usually had an active interest in stamps. Trading was a favorite activity as most members had access to stamps on incoming mail.

Now fast forward to the present. There are many more girls in the club. Some years they outnumber the boys. Over the years (as both parents joined the work force), the after-school stamp club became a "baby-sitting" service. Partly for this reason, as well as the lack of commitment by others and the increasing cost of providing materials, I have begun to request a small fee that is used to purchase tongs and hinges for members.

Trading is more difficult as fewer stamps are found on mail coming into club members' homes. Popular activities are stamp bingo, or any philatelic game, and designing cachets for first-day covers. Earning stamps bucks (fun_ money) through attendance, participation, contests, etc., offer members an opportunity to obtain new items for their collections through auctions.

Those who enjoy their first year in a stamp club will usually come back in future years. Although basics of the hobby are repeated, using a different activity to reinforce the lesson will help to invigorate members.

Whether a teacher or club leader, preparing interesting, effective lessons and readying philatelic materials require a great deal of time. A large box of dirty, torn, and common stamps will not excite children. But give them a box of

neatly trimmed, clean, and a colorful variety of on-paper stamps, and you have the makings of a collector.

Being able to show "real" items from your collection (not photocopies or pictures) has added appeal, but there is also the possibility of unintentional damage due to carelessness or mishandling.

Costs to implement worthy programs and to obtain philatelic materials to complement curriculum is usually not covered in school budgets. If the teacher's personal collecting interests matches that of the curriculum being taught, more sharing of the hobby with students can be expected.

What can you do to help promote philately in schools? Visit or telephone a nearby school. Offer to present a program about stamps, to work with a classroom teacher to introduce stamps, or to organize an after-school stamp club. Follow through by donating stamps or seeking donations from others. Put easy-to-read colorful books about stamps in the school library. Stamp collecting is not just for adults! Do your part to introduce the hobby to youth.

The students greet stamps as an extracurricular after-school subject with excitement and enthusiasm. For many at the elementary school level, this is a first club experience. They do not look at stamp collecting as an extension of the school day. For them, school is over and they have a lot of pent-up energy to release. Sometimes this exuberance can be very wearing on leaders/teachers after a long day on the job. 

October issue

Going "Batty" Over Stamps

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

It's National Stamp Collecting Month! This year, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing a set of four American Bat stamps as a means to introduce philately to youth.

The stamps join a group of other unusual topics chosen for their supposed appeal to kids. In 1999, we had the Insects & Spiders issue, 2000 gave us the Deep Sea Creatures, and 2003 promises Reptiles and Amphibians.

The Postal Service has teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation and the Bat Conservation International to promote bats and the stamp issue. Educators have received a letter announcing the promotion. Included are a USPS brochure titled "Become a Stamp COOL-lector! It's as Easy as 1-2-3!," information from the Bat Conservation International organization, and an invitation to visit the National Wildlife Federation's website to download standards-based activities for teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans. You can check out the website at www.nwf.org/batguide. (As of this writing, the website was still unavailable - the site will have plans available to coincide with the first day of the stamp issue, September 13.) It is also my understanding that the popular children's magazine, Ranger Rick, also published by the National Wildlife Federation, will feature the bat in its October issue.

I plan on developing a learning center using activities about bats and showcasing the new bat stamps in my classroom this fall. It will serve as one more way to introduce the hobby of stamp collecting to youth.

Hobby Promoter to Youth

Jane King Fohn (Texas) has been the driving force behind a contest now in its 14th year. Sponsored by the Texas Philatelic Association, youth are asked to create a design that includes Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Ramadan, or another celebrated holiday. The winning design is featured on the cover of The Texas Philatelist, the journal of the TPS. Additional winning designs are illustrated within the journal's pages.

The Holiday Cover Contest is open to youth 18 years of age or younger. First-place winners in each age division receive philatelic treasures as well as a small cash prize. Other winners and runners-up also receive a packet of philatelic surprises.

The design is submitted in a horizontal format, black on white paper. Although the 2002 contest will be over by the time you read this, it is a wonderful holiday philatelic tradition that has grown thanks to the dedication and support of Texan collectors. Over the years, Wisconsin youth have been the benefactors of their generous distribution of prizes and philatelic incentives.

November issue

Youth Exhibiting

By WFSC_VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowrnan

Eight youth exhibitors successfully competed at MILCOPEX this past September. Adults who saw these exhibits for the first time should have been impressed with the quality and efforts of our young collecting friends.

I have had the privilege of seeing most of the exhibits and/or exhibitors at different stages in their philatelic lives. I can attest to the fact that each has grown in his or her own way. The exhibit may not be the same as the first one, but it is gratifying to know that there is still an interest in competitive showing of stamps by young people.

Even more impressive are the changes that have been made to these exhibits - changes that have improved the presentation and general impression of the exhibits. Adult exhibitors know that exhibits evolve and change over time. Getting youth to acknowledge this fact is no easy task for their mentors.

Of the eight youth exhibitors at MILCOPEX, six of them were either from Wisconsin or associated with a WFSC member club. Topical collecting still seems to be the collecting area of choice by youth with five exhibits being thematic. The other three were classified as general (or the more traditional) exhibits.

Adults working with youth should avail themselves of the recently released fifth edition of the American Philatelic Society's Manual of Philatelic Judging and the accompanying scoring sheet supplement.

Youth exhibiting is similar to adult exhibiting with the primary difference being in the development of the exhibit. The same criteria are used to evaluate youth exhibits; however, the points within each category vary depending upon the age of the youth. As shown in the accompanying tables, there are five age groups in national-level exhibiting. (There are different age categories for youth international shows.) .

The APS manual goes into detail defining the various criteria and telling how they are applied to the judging of exhibits. This is a must-read for adults mentoring youth.

At national-level shows, youth receive a copy of their evaluation sheets with written comments. The preferred method of working with youth, however, is to give the critique at the frame(s). This allows interaction between the judges and exhibitors as well as allowing for a visual impact of what the judge is talking about, a better understanding of exhibiting concepts, and the opportunity to ask questions.

So just who were these six young exhibitors associated with Wisconsin that deserve our recognition and support? They're sisters Sara and Danielle Henak, brothers Eric and

Elliot Zink, Jesse Robinson, and Adam Wait. Their exhibit titles and awards won are listed on p. 3.

Congratulations to each and a special thank-you to all of the adults who have in any way mentored, given philatelic material or urged these youngsters to continue their exhibiting endeavors.

December issue

Flat Stanley - the Philatelic Version

By WFSC VP Youth Division MaryAnn Bowman

"Flat Stanley" is a simple-to-read chapter book of less than 60 pages. It is used in many third grade classrooms and is available in both hard cover and paperback. Written by Jeff Brown and originally published in 1964, it has recently had its copyright renewed. A summary from the back cover of my book will help you to understand the appeal it has to kids.

"Stanley Lambchop is a nice, average boy. He leads a nice, ordinary life. Then one day a bulletin board falls on him and suddenly Stanley is flat.

"This turns out to be very interesting. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to stop crime. He's flat, but he's a hero!" predetermined due date, making sure to stress that Flat Stanley must be returned. Of course, a big thank-you should also be a part of the letter.

In schools, a writing activity such as this would be accomplished over several days and would follow the steps to good writing.

The kids are always so excited when their Stanleys come back, and they make quite an interesting display in the hall or classroom.

I have been thinking about trying something similar with my stamp club - only my Stanley might be a "Philatelic Phil" or "Sammy Stamper." The body would somehow incorporate a stamp outline or perforations, perhaps similar to the Canadian boy stamp mascot. A passport-like booklet would replace a letter describing Stanley’s adventures where stamps and cancellations help to tell the story of the adventure.

Most importantly, I would like to line up some philatelists who are traveling abroad (perhaps to stamp shows) and who would not mind caring for a paper person and helping a young person to appreciate our hobby by showing them the stamps and postmarks of interesting places that our young collectors can only dream about.

If you are interested in helping out with this project by taking a Flat Stanley with you on your journeys, write to me at the address shown above. Stanley's trip would need to be completed between January and the end of April 2003.

In the book, Stanley is four feet tall, one foot wide, and half an inch thick. He has a series of funny and unusual adventures. Many teachers have used this book as a starting point for a variety of lessons and activities that cross the curriculum and integrate concepts and skills appropriate to the grade level being taught.

Lessons typically start with learning about friendly letters and recognizing the various parts (heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature). Using a textbook and/or modeling good letter writing can accomplish this lesson. Have children practice writing a letter to another child or adult using the five parts of the friendly letter. You might want them to write about a place they enjoy going to and why.

Then read or share the story of Flat Stanley with the group and discuss it. Children will enjoy creating their own version of Flat Stanley using construction paper. This is a vital component of the activity as it is their own Flat Stanley that is going to be mailed!

In the classroom situation, discussion next centers on to whom or where Flat Stanley will be sent. Then the class embarks on another letter-writing assignment. The format of the, letter is structured by the teacher and explained and modeled in great detail.

Paragraph one of the letter describes the book read in class, providing a short summary as well as the title and author of the book.

The second paragraph explains that Flat Stanley was made in class and contains a request for the letter's recipient to please take Flat Stanley on adventures and write a letter telling about them, and if possible, include photographs of Flat Stanley on this adventure.

The last paragraph asks that Flat Stanley be returned with the letter and pictures by a


Latest update: June 13, 2005 

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