By: Carmen Willings
Celebrate the anniversary of the Post Office in February 1692 with this unit on the U.S. Post Office and other forms of communication. Most students have either helped to get the mail or seen their parents send and receive mail. These days, students may be more exposed to communicating online. This unit will provide the students with more information on how we communicate and how to stay safe and not believe all the spam mail we receive – in the mailbox or online. Depending on the age and abilities of your students, this may also be an appropriate time to discuss cyber bullying and appropriate online communication.
Interaction with real materials is critical in developing an understanding of concepts for students with minimal or no vision. Possible materials for this unit include but are not limited to:
Address, labels, air mail envelope, address book, iPhone, iPhone, flip phone, corded phone, cell phone, variety of seals and stamps, rolodex, pens, pencils, various size envelopes, various size manila envelopes, various size boxes, packaging tape, laptop computer, desktop computer, hand truck, junk mail, catalogs, flyers, typewriter, mailbag, spring scale
Possible vocabulary words for this unit include but are not limited to (select words appropriate for your student):
address, air mail, app, box, call, card, carrier, chat, communicate, computer, deliver, delivery, email, envelope, Facebook, fax, federal, freight, junk, letter, mailbag, mailbox, message, package, paper, pen, pencil, phone, postcard, receive, recipient, scale, seal, sender, stamp, tape, telephone, text, truck, twitter, typewriter, write
Types of Communication
Discuss that there are different ways to communicate and stay in touch with family and friends. These include traditional mail, email, phone, and texting. People communicate in many ways other than words. Non-Verbal communication includes body language, gestures, eye contact, and sign language. We also communicate through our clothing and hairstyle.
Definition of Communication
Communication is the activity of exchanging information and meaning across space and time through natural means or by using technology. Communication requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient. Communication can happen when people are together or when they are far apart.
Online Communication & Safety
The internet has changed the way people communicate. Email has become a competitor to physical mail. Online shopping has changed how businesses sell goods to people.
Letters and other documents should not be read by anyone other than the person the letter is sent to. In the United States of America, it is a federal crime for anyone other than the person the letter is sent to, to open mail. Privacy is also important with email and other electronic forms of communication. If you use a text to speech program or Voice Over, you should consider using earbuds or headphones for privacy as well as consideration of those around you.
Traditional Mail & the Term “Snail Mail”
The mail or post is a way of moving documents and packages, as well as postcards and letters. It costs money to send a letter or package. To send a letter or package, you must buy a stamp which is a sign that the package or letter was paid for. Mail is still used by many people for business and personal communications but it is often referred to as “snail mail” because it takes long to deliver. Many people communicate through telegraph, telephone, facsimile (fax) and email as these methods are faster. Sometimes mail and packages don’t arrive because they are delivered to the wrong address, someone takes the mail, unfriendly pets prevent delivery, or inclement weather conditions.
The term “junk mail” is used to describe advertising mail and e-mail spam (receiving messages that are sent to a large number of people by email that are not requested), Advertising mail includes advertising circulars, coupon envelopes, catalogs, “pre-approved” credit card applications, and other commercial merchandising materials that are delivered to your home or to a business.
Some people like to collect postage stamps. Some stamps are worth a lot of money. Philately is a term that refers to the study of stamps. Other people collect postcards. Postcards are usually decorated with a photographic picture or drawing on one side and a short message on the other side.
Choose Appropriate Closing Phrases
When writing to someone you don't know, it is appropriate to use Ms. or Mr. Lastname as your opening salutation but how should you end a letter? A letter's closing can make an impression, so it's important to choose your words carefully. It is never appropriate to use affectionate endings when writing business type letters.
What’s the Function?
Objective: Student will demonstrate an understanding of the function of tools associated with the unit.
Present the student with objects and/or pictures of tools from the unit (ex. Envelopes, stamp, telephones, paper, writing tools, laptop, iOS device, etc.). Ask the student riddles about the materials.
Color Concepts & Color Associations
Objective: Student will identify materials associated with a primary or secondary color.
Discuss the colors of materials related to communication. Envelopes are usually white, but not always. Sometimes businesses use other colors to catch your attention. Envelopes to cards are often colored, but can also be white. Mailing envelopes are usually a golden color or white. Stamps and seals can be very colorful. Most cell phones are black or white, but people buy different color cases for the phones in colors they like or to express their personality.
Community Based Experience
Post Office Trip
Objective: Student will develop a more concrete understanding of unit and their world through direct interaction with their world.
If your school permits field trips, arrange for to take a trip to the post office. Call ahead to make arrangements for a postal carrier to show the student around the post office and discuss what is available. Instruct the student that during the experience, you want them to pay attention to what they see, hear, smell, and feel. Bring along a portable recording device to record sounds.
If you are unable to take a field trip off campus, try to make arrangements for a postal carrier to visit and talk about their job and what services are offered at the post office. Take a "trip" to the school office and show students how mail is sorted for teachers at school.
Ask family and extended family send letters or postcards. Try to receive postcards from out of town or out of state.
What’s That Sound?
Objective: Student will identify an activity by the sound.
Talk to the student about the importance of sounds and how they give us information. Listen to prerecorded sounds related to communication (ex. Traditional phone ringing, cell phone ringing, fax machine, computer starting up, opening/closing of mailbox, sound of mail truck, etc). Ask the student to name the sound that they hear. End the activity by summarizing the importance of sounds and how they convey meaning. Extend the activity by asking the student to identify the object or printed word that matches the activity.
Alternate the activity by having the student explore the different sounds available on their phone or iOS device. Demonstrate how it is possible to assign ringtones and text tones to individual people so you know who is calling or texting.
Envelope Sound Match
Objective: Student will be able to match sounds.
Fill a variety of envelopes with different sounding objects. Consider placing the following items in envelopes: rice, pennies, sugar, a card that is smaller than the envelope, etc. Check to ensure that each envelope has a unique sound. Create a matching set. Encourage the student to shake the envelopes and pair up the envelopes with the matching sounds.
Objective: Student will localize to sounds, move toward the sound and obtain it.
Obtain a package or use an envelope and place a beeper inside. Hide the package/envelope and encourage the student to listen and locate it. Take turns with the student and allow them to have a turn hiding it. Encourage the child to invite peers to play!
Packing Material Sensory Play
Objective: Student will explore a variety of dry textures and transfer materials using tools.
Fill a bin or container with packing material such as foam peanuts. Provide the student with various size scoops and tongs. Encourage the student to transfer the packing materials into different size boxes.
Communication Feely Bag
Objective: Student will explore and discriminate objects by their feel.
Place a variety of communication related items in a bag (use a mail delivery type bag such as a satchel if available). Have the student reach into the bag and identifying the item(s). Once the student has identified the objects, extend the activity by encouraging the student to match the item to the printed word. Encourage the student to have more time exploring the details of the materials. Provide two of each item and have the student match objects.
Objective: Student will identify an object that is different from within a group of 4.
Have the student match or sort a variety of envelopes, boxes, seals/stamps, phones, and other communication items. Sort various size envelopes and boxes by size (small, medium, large).
Objective: Recognize and interpret graphic information (2D object, solid embossed shapes, outlines of objects, raised lines, symbols/letters)
Create a tactual map of a neighborhood with a path identifying the mailman’s route. Label homes with last names. Encourage the student to follow the path and identify the correct order that the mail was delivered.
Tactual Graphic Activities
Objective: Student will correctly orient, interpret and complete a tactual graphic activity.
Phonics & Reading
A to Z Cities
Objective: Student will group words by initial letter and alphabetize all the words.
Explain to the student that you can mail a letter to a neighbor, to someone in another city, another state or another country. Sort these US cities by initial letter then place the words in alphabetical order. Alternatively, select cities specific to the area you live in or choose cities from around the world.
Albany, Anchorage, Annapolis, Atlanta, Augusta, Austin, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Billings, Birmingham, Boise, Boston, Bridgeport, Burlington, Carson City, Charleston, Cheyenne, Chicago, Columbia, Concord, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Edmonton, Fargo, Frankfort,
Greensboro, Harrisburg, Hartford, Helena, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Jackson, Jacksonville, Jefferson City, Juneau, Kansas City, Lansing, Las Vegas, Lincoln, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisville, Madison, Manchester, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Montgomery, Montpelier, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Oklahoma City, Olympia, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Quincy, Raleigh, Richmond, Sacramento, Salem, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, Seattle, Springfield, Tallahassee, Topeka, Trenton, Union, Virginia Beach, Wichita, Wilmington, Xenia, Youngstown, Zainsville
Objective: Student will match words.
Provide a collection of various size envelopes that are addressed to the students including their home address. Encourage students to sort the mail into piles or into mailboxes.
Scrambled Fact Sentences
Objective: Student will read sentence and put it back together after it has been scrambled.
Present the student with pre-written fact sentences related to communication. Read the sentences together several times to improve fluency and word recognition. Assist the student in cutting the sentence(s) into individual words, or provide prewritten/cut sentences. Mix the words up (but ensure they are all still oriented correctly) and encourage the student to put the sentence together into its original order. Vary the complexity of the sentences to challenge the student, but ensure success.
Mailer One-to-One correspondence
Objective: Student will match using 1:1 correspondence.
Have students demonstrate their understanding of one to one correspondence by placing one card in an envelope, one stamp/seal on the envelope, and one address label on the envelope. Alternatively, provide the student with flyers and have them place one flyer in each teachers mailbox.
Envelope Number Match
Objective: Student will count various numbers of objects 1-10.
Provide the student with a set of mini envelopes that are numbered 1-10. Provide the student a stack of mini notes or index cards cut to fit the envelopes. Encourage the student to place correct number of notes/cards in each envelope.
Email Data Collection
Objective: Student will gather data and complete graphs and/or charts to make/show comparisons.
Have the student help create a chart depicting the types of email received in a day. Identify how many emails are from parents, how many are from teachers and colleagues, and how many are “junk email”. Keep the data daily for a week. At the end of the week have the student read the chart and identify which days you received more emails from teachers and so on.
Writing Connections: Write a Letter
Objective: Student will write ideas and experiences related to the topic in various formats (ex. opinion, informative, persuasive)
Have the student write a letter to their family or to a pen pal. Encourage them to address the envelope or print out a label using a label maker or the computer. Have them mail their letters from the school mailbox or while they are on the field trip.
Visual Efficiency & Optical Aid Use
Objective: Student will scan to locate matching pictures or objects.
Place various stamps or seals with different pictures attached to cards around the room or throughout the school at different planes (up high, on the floor, or on a surface). Provide the student with a matching set of cards and encourage the student locate and identify matching characters.
Systematically Scan Postcards
Objective: Student will use monocular to scan in order to locate & identify pictures or words.
Create a set of postcards. Pair the pictures with word labels of the location. Place the cards throughout the room, hallway or other designated area at different planes (up high, on the floor, or on a surface). Encourage the student to use the monocular to scan and locate and identify the location in the postcards. If using words, have the student read the words. Provide landmark clues or stand near the picture if the student has a difficult time locating the picture.
Copy the Postman’s Creed
Objective: Student will copy materials presented at a distance.
Write the Postman’s Creed, on 1” ruled chart tablet. Place the chart far enough away so the student needs to use the monocular to see it. Provide the student with paper and pencil or pen to copy the poem.
We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever.
Objective: Student will examine objects and describe what is seen.
Obtain a wide range of stamps. Encourage the student to study the stamps using their prescribed magnifying glasses. Have the students compare/contrast the stamps.
Objective: Student will examine pictures and identify faces in picture as happy or sad; name or describe actions in pictures; locate specific details in pictures; and recall objects seen in picture book.
Provide the student with a variety of postcards that depict cities, beaches and other detailed photos. Encourage the student to identify objects in pictures and identify actions of people in the postcards.
Objective: Student will examine objects, compare to pictures and locate a match.
Obtain a stamp identification guide book. Take pictures ahead of time of unique stamps on an iPod, iPhone, iPad or other device. Encourage the student to view the pictures and look through the guide to locate the identical stamps.
Follow the Mail Route
Objective: Student will trace on or cut on a line.
Create straight, angled, and curved paths for students to follow. Place bold tactual dot/mark at the beginning and a stamp at the end of the path. Depending on students abilities, make paths ¼" to ¾" in width. Alternatively, have the students cut along the path.
Objective: Student will describe type of actions and emotions taking place in pictures of action scenes.
Provide the student with pictures of people displaying various forms of non-verbal communication and emotions. Encourage the student to identify the actions or emotions depicted in the pictures.
Objective: The student will visually scan and locate partially hidden objects.
Obtain a variety of postcards and letters. Depending on the student's abilities, scatter the postcards & letters within arm’s reach or partially hide about the activity area. Encourage the student to visually scan and obtain the postcards & letters and place in a satchel or mailbox.
The Other Half of the Postcard
Objective: The student will put together 2 halves of a picture
Cut a variety of postcards in half and encourage the student to locate the match and orient correctly.
Mail Category Sort
Objective: Student will classify pictures/objects into categories and identify if any objects go together using tactual or visual discrimination skills.
Provide the student with a stack of magazines, catalogs, junk mail, personal letters/cards, and bills. Encourage the student to sort them into categories. Discuss how the different types of mail feel different and have different shapes.
Objective: The student will visually locate and move toward the object and obtain it.
Scatter a variety of different unit related objects (letters, notecards, cell phone, phone, typewriter, braillewriter, envelopes, etc.) within the gathering area at different levels, but not hidden. Hold up an object and have students take turns visually scanning the area to locate a match and obtain it. Demonstrate how to sound out the names of unfamiliar words.
Literature Related to Communication...
A Letter to Amy – Ezra Jack Keat
Amelia’s Notebook – Marissa Moss
Arthur’s Mystery Envelope – Marc Brown
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type – Doreen Cronin
Dear Mrs. LaRue; Letters from Obedience School – Mark Teague
Ira Sleeps Over – Bernard Waber
The Clue of the Left-Handed Envelope – George E. Stanley
The Jolly Postman - Janet & Allen Ahlberg
The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves - Gail Gibbons
The Stamp Act of 1765(We the People: Exploration and Colonization) – Michael Burgan
The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier
Young Reader Books
Dear Mr. Henshaw – Beverly Cleary
A to Z Mysteries: The Empty Envelope – Ron Roy
Songs (children’s & pop culture)
What's In the Mail Today? - Bear in the Big Blue House
Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) – Stevie Wonder
business form letters
credit card applications
Book: Ira Sleeps Over
by Bernard Waber
Objective: Student will listen/attend to and follow along with story
Show the student the front and back cover of the book and read the title with them. Present the student with pictures and/or objects from the story. Present a box with the following items from the story: teddy bear, checkers, dominoes, magnifying glass, flashlight, bottle caps, gum wrappers, postcards, egg timer, goggles, false nose with mustache, rubber stamps, labels, and a pillow.
Verbally describe the pictures for those with minimal or no vision. Ask the student what they might read about in this book. Predict the content, events and outcome using title, illustrations, and objects. Explain that predictions may change as you read and gather more information. Model asking questions you may have about the book/topic.
Read the Story
Objective: Student will attend to story and attempt to follow along in print or braille.
Read the story with enthusiasm and inflection (or present the story via electronic text). Provide the student with copies of the text depending on your objective for the student (ex. Electronic text with large print or refreshable braille, the actual book using low vision devices, or braille). Reread the story with the student and encourage them to read along or to read high frequency or vocabulary words. Pause when you come to these words, prompting the student to read the words.
Objective: Student will answer questions (ex. who, what, where, when, why) and recall details and facts from information presented.
Types of questions:
Ask the student questions to demonstrate understanding of the text.
What was the intent of the author? Was it to inform, provide directions, or to entertain?
Were Predictions Accurate?
Objective: Student will evaluate whether their predictions were accurate.
Encourage the student to reflect on the story and determine whether or not their predictions were accurate. If not, were they close?
Objective: Student will demonstrate an understanding of emotions.
Ask the student how they felt when they read/listened to the story. Did they think it was funny or were they bothered by the events and worried about Ira? Would you feel comfortable bringing a stuffed animal to a sleep over?
Readers Theater & Story Sequence
Objective: Student will sequence events from the story.
Using the objects related to the story, have the student act out the story. Have the student take turns being Ira or Reggie. Encourage the student to recall the sequence of events. Reread the story and have the student act it out.
The Kentucky Television Network has put together an eight minute electronic field trip to the post office. The video discusses the importance of communication in the community.
Enough is Enough offers valuable information including a teaching series on internet safety.
Kids.gov provides great information specific to online safety for kids. Topics include cyberbullying, staying safe online, privacy, and protecting your hearing.
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