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Pre-Viewing Activity

One week before the post office lesson, send each student in your class a postcard about what they are going to see. Below is some suggested text:

Dear ________________,

We are beginning our study of the U.S. Postal Service. Did you ever wonder what is behind the wall at the post office? Soon we will see a video that takes us behind that wall. We will find out what happens to your letter after you mail it. You will see mail on its amazing journey, with machines marking, postal workers sorting, and mail carriers making their deliveries.


Once the students have received their postcards ...

  1. Lead a class discussion of these questions:
    • Do you like receiving mail?
    • What do you already know about the Postal Service?
    • What questions do you have? (Write students’ questions on chart paper and post the list in the classroom.)

  2. Teach students the correct form for writing a friendly letter.

  3. Teach students the correct form for addressing an envelope. Remind them that adding the ZIP code helps mail move faster.

  4. Give each group of 4-5 students a cancelled letter and ask them to answer the following questions:
    • Look at the postmark. What information does it give? (date, place, ZIP code, where and when the letter was sent)
    • Find the stamp. Where is it located on the envelope? Take a look at the cancellation mark. Why does the post office cancel stamps?
    • Locate the return address. Why is it important for a letter to have a return address?
    • Look at the very bottom of the envelope. Is there a bar code there? (The bar code is a shorthand way of representing the ZIP code; it makes it easier for post office machines to sort letters.)