Making learning real and relevant was always my aim, when teaching.
As Christmas approached and school productions got under way it was difficult to keep the children on task at times.
The idea of incorporating the Christmas Post into the Math’s lessons had been worked out as an opportunity which not only supported the children’s learning but also provided hands on experience. Keeping it real.
Piaget says that children are more likely to learn when the context makes sense or is ‘real life’ the Christmas Post certainly did that.
Each year the children would begin to bring in cards for each other, sometimes bringing them in as early as half term in November. So, we had come up with the idea of using this activity as a practical investigation supporting Math’s work.
We decided to set a start date for the 1st December.
Literacy and Numeracy Links
In Literacy the links were with calendar dates and letter writing as well as ‘The Jolly Postman’ books. We even made our own board games which we played with each other in the run up to the end of term.
In Numeracy the work matched ‘time’ and ‘data handling’.
Each class was allocated with its own postcode, the area code for Bewbush was RH11; the location code we gave to each class was the year group followed by the teacher’s initials. (My year 2 class = RH11 2SW).
We also gave codes for the office, administration workers as well as support staff. Posters were put up announcing the start date, December 1st. On this date class codes and collection times were posted. With Post boxes strategically placed at locations in the school we were ready to go.
As the Christmas Post was launched, we began with a blank calendar for December on which to insert the ordinal numbers for the days as well as inserting relevant dates and events.
This was also linked to ordering days of the week as well as months of the year. With the weekends and end of term identified it really made it clear how many days we would have to plan things such as Christmas productions.
A collection box was ready for each class to use when it was their turn for the postal collection. Inside the box were date stamps; postcode sorting labels; record sheets; previous days data to use as well as relevant worksheets. The box was used to pick up the post and bring to the class to sort. (We did originally have a postman suit but this was soon discarded in favor of Christmas hats.)
The school postal service
Initially the three Year 2 classes took turns to undertake and sort.
Groups of children date stamped the letters and others sorted them correctly. As numbers of cards increased this took over the whole classroom making use of the table tops and would involve a lot of moving. We would then gather for the plenary to re-count each class total; this would also offer an opportunity for the teacher to check the sorting and adjust accordingly. The numbers were written onto a record sheet which would be used in the following math’s session to draw up bar graphs.
Then in groups of two or three’s everyone had letters to deliver (for a brief moment my classroom might even be empty of children). They would return to class to collect their own post at a suitable time in their class timetable. Finally, we would send on the collection box etc. to the next designated teacher for their class to use the next day.
The children were highly motivated and on task and looked forward to their next turn with the post.
At first the children would concentrate on the names on the cards but soon were able to focus on the sorting code destinations. Most cards could be worked out even without a code. Even spelling mistakes could be a lot of fun to work out. The children all learnt how to write ‘to’, ‘from’ and ‘love’.
Christmas Post Maths recording
The Christmas post became a fun activity and was developed over the years allowing children to complete tallies, tables and draw up bar graphs using previous data. This was further developed to allow children to estimate the number of letters before counting, as well as to read and interpret both the tables and bar graphs answering appropriate questions.
After a full week each teacher’s total could be inserted onto a weekly grid and further offered opportunity for children to use calculators to check and work out both daily and weekly totals as well as a final letter total.
The first post was initially set up in 1995 and at first, we concentrated on the post itself following up in January.
In 1999 the work was recorded and presented as a display which was then put into a school display book.
In 2000 just my math’s group alone, was allowed to undertake the task and we were encouraged to access the computer learning about installing data and recording. The results could be played around with
Children were encouraged to look at the data and come up with their own questions.
Who had the most/least?
How many more / less than?
How many did **** receive? etc..
We were also able to sort and order class totals.
A further extension in 2000 was to use both the digital and ordinary cameras to record children on task.
We were able to reflect and notice things.
We noticed that Wednesday 6th December Reception had very little post.
On Wednesday 6th December Reception were out on a school trip.
On Friday 15th December all classes had a lot of post.
On Friday 15th December our head teacher sent a card to each child in the school.
Focusing on the recording and presentation of the information allowed me to develop the worksheets for future years. These were then kept and updated each year as well as new ideas added.
The computer presentation was particularly pleasing.
It was hoped that the following year all classes could be involved, which we did.
In 2005 our school amalgamated with the middle school and there were now 4 postboxes for each strategic area of the school as well as main office.
I was now teaching in Reception and was able to simplify the task. The children really did get a lot out of it. Reception would be escorted by a Teaching Assistant heading on an exploration of the school to visit classes and deliver the post. They loved this and there was always a lot of discussion and vocabulary.
What do you do with your Christmas Post?
Children love sending and recieving letters.
The opportunity to write out their cards and copy their friends names, is always a good incentive to write. whatever age.
My mum much prefers to hear with a card better than any present.
Finding a place to display them was always interesting.
Where to get my books
Books are available from the following: My Books
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