Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
Across the Fence Post Newsletter
2003 Joining With Juniors columns

          This page includes previous Joining With Juniors columns from the 2003 issues of Across the Fence Post .

January issue

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

It’s not too early to begin preparing a display for International Day celebrated annually on September 21 (as declared by the United Nations). Both the September and November 2001 columns in ATFP presented a few ideas to use with your group in learning about worldwide collecting. This time, another idea that can be used as a display in the classroom or libraries is the subject.

"Reinventing the wheel" is not necessary. Often in my world of teaching, I find an idea, worksheet, activity, etc. that "begs" to be adapted for philately. Such was the case when I recently purchased a small reproducible guide for teachers on report writing. The 1996 Evan-Moor publication, titled More Than a Report - Celebrations, is a compilation of nine holiday writing projects. As I write this, my class has just completed doing the report on Thanksgiving, and they very much enjoyed this format.

The reports are in easy-to-create folder format and are readily displayable. Each report contains a three-dimensional element which adds visual interest to the presentation. From the teacher viewpoint, the background information, directions, forms, and illustrations of a completed report will help to produce great results. Students receive a step-by-step "how-to" for a completed report with a polished look. Suitable for grades 3 to 6, the format’s simple structure is suitable regardless of the skill and ability level of the child. Projects can even be completed as group work.

Of the nine holidays in the manual, the activities for International Day can best be adapted for a philatelic group. Start by having each child select a country for which you have a sufficient quantity of stamps. Distribute directions and other materials needed.

The front/title page consists of a world map. Children are instructed to place a foil star on the map where their country is located. The inside left side has three components: a mini-book, facts and figures, and greeting area. The directions call for research and an 8-page mini-book measuring 4" x 7". To compliment the philatelic angle, I would change this to a mini-album. Stamps can be used to illustrate various aspects of the geography and culture of the chosen country, thus eliminating writing a report. However, titles and subtitles or labeling would be encouraged under the hinged and mounted stamps.

Beneath the mini-album would be a card giving the facts and figures about the country using the information that is found at the beginning section of each Scott Catalog entry: population, area, capital, currency, etc. Beneath the card, a greeting such as "hello" would be written in one of the major languages used by that country.

The folder’s right side has a place for a three-dimensional flag of the country mounted on a straw or wooden skewer held in place by modeling clay at the base. Beneath that is a doll-like figure which is colored to represent the traditional clothing worn in the country.

Need more details, write to me at the address. Help your young collectors to learn more about the world around them.

February issue

Using a Microscope for Large Group Instruction

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

Welcome to the microscopic world! Now there are ways to enlarge stamp designs so that entire classes or large groups can be viewing stamp designs on a computer screen. Many schools even have adaptations so that what appears on a computer screen can also be displayed on the classroom television.

Perhaps you have seen advertisements in the philatelic press touting the virtues of the QX3 Microscope from Digital Blue--a microscope for $100. School budgets do not usually allow for such expensive tools, but a much cheaper version may be more suitable for school budgets.

One such microscope is the Intel Play QX3. In addition to the microscope, you will also need a computer that is USB enabled, Microsoft Windows 98 or newer, and a few other features that are standard by today’s technologies. Step by step directions make the software setup easy.

The QX3 Computer Microscope has a base stand and a detachable microscope. There are two light sources--one on the platform and one in the microscope. The base has focus knobs. A magnification ring and capture button are on the microscope. Magnification levels correspond to 10x, 60x, and 200x.

There are some things that you can do with this microscope that you cannot do with an ordinary microscope. You can view tiny things, such as a stamp design, on your computer. You can take the microscope off its base and use it as a hand-held device for magnified viewing. You can even view the images to create your own slide shows. An activity book contains suggestions for other ideas.

As of this writing, it is a new tool at my school--one that I have not had an opportunity to use. However, I can see many uses for it in making philately come alive for our youth. When you have only one stamp and many kids interested in seeing the hidden images, small details, or other "fly specks," you can eliminate many problems by showing the stamp to the whole group and use the image to supplement or reinforce the lesson.

Prices vary greatly, so keep your eyes open for sales or order on-line. It is half the price of its adult counterpart, and from what I can tell, there is little difference. Let me know if you have had any experiences with using an type of computer microscope with stamps.


March issue

Stamps on Parade

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

Does your community sponsor events such as holiday parades? Many smaller towns and cities are gearing up for their summer picnics, parades, and other local celebrations. Oftentimes, the event coordinators are desperately looking for participation from clubs, organizations, and school groups. If you are a teacher/leader of a stamp collecting group for youth, consider having your members be a part of the celebration and, at the same time, draw awareness to your group. Who knows? Someone seeing the event might make a donation to your group. Here’s what you can do.

Show off the hobby of stamp collecting by putting stamps on parade. Enlarged stamps can be worn by youth as chest vests. These vests can be made from kraft paper cut 16" by 36" or from brown paper bags. If kraft paper is being used, fold the paper in half and cut a hole sized to fit over the head of the youth. It is worn much like a cape. Or consider it as a sandwich board without the heavier weight.

With a paper bag vest, cut a hole for the head in the bottom of the bag. Cut armholes in the sides of the bag. For ease in wearing the vest, cut the back of the bag open along the seam that typically runs in the middle of the back of the bag.

To decorate your bag vest or cape, enlarge stamp designs on 12" by 18" white construction paper. Original designs could be made, particularly ideas to fit the theme of the event. Those having access to coloring sheets and books with stamp designs could also use those as patterns for enlarging. Vertical stamp designs work best for the fronts of vests. (The post office often has a supply of stamp coloring books that they give away as promotional items. If you need a copy, write to me and I will send you one.)

Another possibility is to create "mini-floats." Use a wagon or a box on wheels as the base. Recreate three dimensional scenes or mount the enlarged stamp designs previously mentioned above.

Make a banner to introduce your group. (Join the Stampede! Stamp Savers Swing, etc. followed by the name of your group.) Need a little music to keep the step lively? Use a boom box and tape recording of "Mr. Postman." If your group tries this project, send a photograph and I will try to use it in a future column.


April issue

Binder Basics

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

Beginning collectors needs to have a way to organize their materials and to keep their supplies and tools together in one handy place.

One solution is to obtain three-ring binders for use as the album. My choice is the one inch ring binder with clear front, back, and spine pocket covers. This allows me to customize the binder’s cover and spine by creating a label with the child’s name (and other identifying information such as class code, etc.). This label follows a vertical format and is inserted into the spine of the binder.

It is also fun to customize a cover for the album. It can be done entirely from computer graphics, or might be a student designed stamp illustration, or pictures cut from stamp catalogs, etc. This year’s album cover was actually a combination of computer technology (title) and a picture post card of the 34-cent "Greetings from America" Wisconsin stamp.

Well organized leaders might want to insert another sheet of paper listing the dates and program meeting ideas into the back clear pocket of the binder.

Each student also receives tongs, a packet of hinges, and a pencil. This year I am using a small zippered pencil pouch that has a three-hole punch so that it can be kept inside the binder. This helps the child to be responsible for their own tools and to keep them in a place where they can always find and have their own materials. (An inexpensive alternative might be to use a zip-lock baggie and punch holes to fit into the binder.)

One manila stock page is inserted in the back of the binder. It introduces one concept of storage techniques preferred by collectors. Naturally glassines and envelopes are also available for their use at the club meetings.

Most of the binder is filled with copies of various pages that are useful and necessary for their philatelic pursuits.

For example, each binder is filled with sheets that explain some of the basics of the hobby such as soaking and hinging stamps. These pages can be created to meet your specific lesson or tailored to meet the needs of the group. There are several on-line sources that provide pages you can download and copy as well.

I also take time to introduce some of the basic vocabulary such as commemoratives, definitives, and special issues. Once kids

know the difference between the various types of stamps, they enjoy searching through the boxes of stamps looking for examples to fill their pages. I have one page labeled with each of those three types of US stamps.

If you are working with foreign stamps, consider creating or finding a simple stamp identifier to put into the binder. I usually offer one lesson in foreign stamp identification by giving students a packet of assorted foreign stamps and a labeled page to hinge their stamps into the correct place.

Most of the space in the binder is reserved for pages of the student’s own choosing. I have a variety of pages and projects that I use during the year. Some pages are left untitled so that the child can put his or her own heading or title. The child who becomes interested in the stamps of Japan (or whatever country) can make his or her own title on a quadrille page. There are also on-line sites that will allow you to download album pages. Scott produces something called the Album Wizard which allows owners to create and customize their own album pages.

Students might also select one of the topical pages that have been created, or again, they can choose a quadrille page and add their own title.

Binders are also good organizers for the projects, activities, and game sheets that I frequently use to enhance the learning process. I charge a small fee to cover the costs of these supplies. You might want to consider approaching a Federation club to assist you in financing binders and related supplies for kids.


May/June issue

Stamp Collection Simulation Activity

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

In the educational field, there is a trend to make learning fun, educational, and more hands-on. The task is to be realistic or similar to the actual work/jobs/research etc. as done by others. Through lab experiences and/or group interaction, projects are set up requiring the use of higher-level thinking skills and more closely resembling the actual processes (whether real or fantasy) that others in a similar position may have gone through or experienced before us. Simulation activities can be used to accomplish this objective.

We can offer the opportunity for our beginning stamp collectors to participate directly in some of the same experiences of the more seasoned collectors while providing them with a new forum for learning about other aspects of philately.

This activity does require preparation and thoughtful planning by the leader. The abilities of the group must be taken into consideration. Materials need to be planned for, provided, and gathered. More than one session may be needed to accomplish both the lessons leading up to the activity and provide enough time to accomplish the objective.

In this simulation activity, the beginning collector takes on the persona of another collector who specializes in some aspect of philately. (You may wish to have youngsters work in pairs.) As leader, you can plan the degree of difficulty that will still provide a challenge to the collector.

Each collector, upon learning about his or her "new collecting habits" will use a variety of resources to fill their album pages. Auction catalogs, philatelic newspapers and journals, as well as mixtures of actual stamps may be used.

The leader will need to provide mini-albums for the collectors to "mount" their material. These mini-albums can be made as plain or as fancy as the leader’s time and creativity allow. A construction paper cover and plain white typing paper is sufficient. The size may be equivalent to one-half or one-quarter of an 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. Size would depend upon the resources available to use.

For example, one student may receive the persona of a collector of Zeppelin covers--perhaps going to foreign destinations. They must search the auction catalogs looking for items that fill that collecting specialty. When they find something, they must cut out and glue it into their album, one item per page. You may also want to require a small amount of writing such as a title for their album and a short phrase on each page describing the item such as "Cover to Germany."

In its simplest form, the collector might be looking for sets and/or series of actual stamps such as Machins or the US Liberty series, and thus actual stamps could be used. When actual stamps are used, they should be hinged (not glued) into the mini-albums. More advanced collectors can be offered such challenges as collecting the Number 1s of the World, using auction catalog illustrations of the stamps.

The activity could be set up as an independent project or learning center in a classroom. It provides the collector an opportunity to learn a little about other specialties while offering a challenge and the thrill of the hunt.

Allow enough time for the collector to share their completed album with the rest of the group and even more learning about collecting specialties will take place.

July/August issue No column this issue

September issue

Xyron—Tool for Philatelic Crafts

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

I recently found out about a nifty little machine that I am ordering for use with my adult and youth stamp clubs. (Of course, it has personal applications as well.) The Xyron can be used to create stickers. It also laminates and can be used to create magnets—all in one machine.

The machine utilizes easy to change, drop in cartridges. It requires no heat or electricity (not even batteries) so it is safe even for kids to use. The machine comes in various widths. For example, the 500 Series works with paper up to 5 inches in width, the 850 Series, with 8 ˝ inch paper, etc. They come as small as 1 ˝ inch widths suitable for children’s projects to 25 inch sizes used by professionals.

Replacement cartridges are available. The adhesive cartridges are acid-free and come in both permanent and repositionable glues. The laminate cartridges can either laminate both sides of an item or can laminate one side and put either permanent or repositionable adhesive on the back of the item. Still another cartridge allows the crafter to laminate the top side of the item while applying a magnetic backing.

So just how do I plan on using it? To begin with, I want to take the colorful pages from the Old Glory booklet, use the xyron to apply adhesive to the back, and use the booklet pages as cachets on mailing meeting-announcement envelopes to club members. Any die-cuts, photos, clip art, etc. can be used to create interesting cachets for mailings. In fact, the adhesive cartridges can also be used with fabric. I have some stamp design fabric. The fabric can be carefully trimmed around the perforations, adhesive applied, and the design can be adhered to a painted can to make a pencil holder, applied to a scrapbook or binder cover, etc.

I also want to create philatelic bookmarks. These bookmarks might contain stamps of topical appeal, stamps from a particular year such as the birth year of the young collector, or might even carry a message advertising your local stamp club.

Then too, I think it would be fun to create philatelic magnets as give-away gifts or prizes. Any of these ideas are easy to carry out with xyron. You are only limited by your imagination.

Now you might be wondering about the cost of these machines. The web site (www.xyron.com) carries a complete listing of machines and accessories with various specials, including free shipping on some items. There is even a demonstration that explains and shows how the machine works.

These machines are also available at craft and fabric stores. Newspaper and advertising fliers for these types of stores frequently carry coupons offering 40-50% discounts on any one item. This might be a good time to cash in on one of these offers.

Let the philatelic phun begin for the crafty collector!

October issue

New Books Promote the Hobby

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

A new stamp collecting kit offered by the American Philatelic Society is a wonderful tool to use for introducing the stamp collecting hobby to youth. The spiral-bound, hardcover book written by Leslie Jonath, is titled Stamp It: The Ultimate Stamp Collecting Activity Book. The 100 page book has a short, easy-to-read introduction (12 pages) covering the basics of the hobby. The remainder of the book is filled with open-ended stamp collecting activities. Interesting facts are interspersed throughout this book that has color on every page.

The activity section of the book is divided into five categories: "Tell Your Story with Stamps," "Our World in Stamps," "A Few of My Favorite Things!" "The Art of Stamps," and "Crafts to Make and Games to Play." There is much flexibility in the way this book can be used. The activities are such that any assortment of stamps can be used as a starter toward completing the activities.

The book concludes with a resource section listing philatelic organizations, stamp collecting publications, sources of supplies, and web sites to explore.

Within the book is a zippered pouch which stores some of the other essentials for the hobbyist: hinges, tongs, magnifying glass, perforation gauge, glassine envelopes, as well as a packet of mint US stamps, foreign stamps, and two first day covers. Two manila stock cards are even bound into the 7 ˝ x 9 inch book.

The book appeals to kids in the 8 to 12 year range. It is available postpaid for $16.95 from the APS. I have also seen it at the Barnes and Noble stories. It may be available elsewhere. The ISBN number is 0-8118-3331-3.

While at the National Topical Stamp Show, I became aware of another new book that can be used to introduce the hobby. Titled U.S. Stamps: Collect All 50 States, it features the Greetings from America stamps. The book’s cover is actually a tri-fold which when opened up has plastic pockets into which the Greetings stamps might be inserted. A small 40-page paperback book serves as a collecting guide offering a short history of stamps, a diagram identifying the main parts of a stamp, philatelic terms, how to get started, the different types of stamps, caring for stamps grading and value of stamps, as well as showing a few rare US stamps. The second half of the book pictures each of the 50 Greetings stamps alphabetically by state and includes the nickname, capital, statehood year, and a brief written description of the stamp’s design.

This full-color book measures 6 by 9 inches and is stored as a separate entity within the confines of the tri-fold outer cover. Interestingly, the cover was made in China, the book printed in Canada, and it was assembled in the United States. Retailing at $8.99, it was published by Tangerine Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc. The ISBN is 0-439-52072-X. It is my understanding that the book was available through the Scholastic Book Fairs commonly held as school fund raisers.

Order these books now and they should arrive in time for the upcoming holiday season. Give the gift of stamps and encourage your young collector to read about our wonderful hobby.

November issue

By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

As many of you may suspect by now, I love children’s literature that somehow relates to stamps and/or the mail. So I was pleasantly surprised when my school librarian approached me with a new book that is being added to the collection.

Titled The House in the Mail and written by Rosemary and Tom Wells, the book tells the interesting story of a family in 1927 that orders a house through the catalog. The house has all of the modern conveniences: the latest appliances, indoor plumbing, electricity, and a coal-burning furnace. The book offers an interesting comparison of the changes in the life-style of two children after their house arrives by train.

Although the title and only a few illustrations directly relate to anything philatelic, the book offers a fascinating look at a era in American history. This picture book has beautiful illustrations reminiscent of a scrapbook. Appropriate for children ages six and up, the book retails at $16.99 and was published in 2002 by Viking.

* * *

Club leaders, teachers, and adults interested in promoting stamp collecting may find a relatively new Postal Service publication to be useful in piquing the interest of the young collector. Publication 39, "Greetings from America Coloring and Activity Book," offers both coloring pages of the Greetings from America stamps as well as other interesting activities such as word puzzles that educate the learner about our 50 states.

If the publication is not available at your local post office, the pages can be downloaded from the United States Postal Service site and printed with Adobe Reader (available as a free download). Go to www.usps.com then to Postal Publications Periodicals (PDF format) for Publication 39.

Other publications that might be useful include Publication 295, "Hispanic People and Events on U.S. Postage Stamps"; Publication 354, "African-Americans on Stamps"; Publication 512, "Women on Stamps"; and Publication 528, "Veterans and the Military on Stamps."

* * *

The American Philatelic Society and the United States Postal Service are approaching completion of the Stamp Camp USA Planning Guide. I have seen a draft copy of the work that is patterned after the week long Stamp Camps offered by Cheryl Edgcomb in Pennsylvania. A shortened one-day version has also been offered at STAMPSHOW. The guide contains instructions that parents, teachers, and community leaders may use to introduce stamp collection in school classroom situations, with youth organizations, or as an after-school program. Suggestions for planning such events, teaching the basics, as well as preparing creative and more traditional exhibits are included. The program uses Stamp Cash to motivate youth. The program culminates with an auction or stamp store where the hard-earned stamp cash is turned into other philatelic items for their beginning collection. An Open House and awards ceremony can also be part of the event.

December issue


By MaryAnn Bowman, WFSC VP Youth Division

If you enjoyed the "Greetings from America" Stamp series as based on the large-letter style of linen post cards from the middle of the 20th century, and if you find armchair traveling to be of interest to you and you would like to rekindle that same passion in young collectors, direct them to a website that was determined to be one of the top 100 educational websites, and one of the best geography sites: www.postcardsfrom.com.

Postcards from America was created by a husband and wife team. The duo explore the 50 states in "Harvey the RV." Ken is a photographer and graphic arts designer who creates the electronic postcard and stamps. Priscilla writes the captions, messages, and trivia about the states they are touring.

Their first trip lasted three years and showcased the capitals of each state. These are archived on the web site. Above each postcard are links to maps, travel tips, and fun facts. A link titled "Stamps" depicts what philatelists would refer to as cinderellas. None the less, it is fun to look at.

Sign up to receive these free postcards and enjoy a brief escape from the daily grind. Parents and grandparents can use the email postcard as a topic for a teachable moment.

As I am writing this column, the American Philatelic Society has announced that its web site (www.stamps.org) has available National Stamp Collection Month activities and lessons to accompany the "Slither your Way to Fun" theme to accompany the new Reptiles and Amphibians stamps.

The APS in partnership with the USPS has put together an interesting array of materials for teachers and stamp club leaders to use as a tool to integrate a classroom curriculum study of amphibians and reptiles with out stamp hobby.

The APS developed the National Stamp Collecting Month Poster and NSCM Album Page. A colored printer is suggested for printing those pages out. Also on-line are four individual activities and a game.

The USPS has distributed a colorful poster and what is referred to as a thematic educational kit. The back of the poster gives tips for making your own Creeping Things Album. From the viewpoint of a topical philatelist, the directions on the how-to of developing a thematic album are well thought out and offer an excellent beginning for helping teachers and leaders develop and organize thematics. Although the Reptiles and Amphibians issue serves as the basis for this particular collection, the same guidelines can be applied to any topical being developed thematically.

I don’t know whether the material will be available after the October NSCM celebrations.

I have always liked the idea of using the USPS new issues as a starting point to curriculum lessons and to enhance the educational value of stamp collecting. It would be nice if the APS or others would have the resources to continue to develop selected stamp themes with similar kits, activities, and games--perhaps several a year--those which would have the most appeal to young collectors. How do you feel about the idea? Write to me with your thoughts on that or any other aspect of youth philately. I’d love to hear from you!


Latest update: June 13, 2005 

URL:   http://www.WFSCstamps.org/wfsc_atfp_juniors_2003.shtml