World Stationery Day? Sounds like my kind of holiday! There was no way I was going to let such an occasion pass without revelling in (and possibly pushing) my addiction to paper products and desk-cessories.
While a day devoted to the love of stationery may seem frivolous, it provides a perfect opportunity to teach young people:
- The art (and conventions) of correspondence
- The usefulness of handwriting in the Keyboard Age
- The history of mail and philately
- Pen pal nostalgia
- And so much more: mail art, epistolary novels, …
It’s surprising how many teenagers don’t know how to address an envelope or know where to stick the stamp. Sadly, many have never experienced the simple enjoyment of receiving a handwritten letter just for them.
Lunchtime Letter Writing Frenzy
To exploit the opportunity, I teamed up with the teacher-librarians at the secondary school where I work to host a Lunchtime Letter Writing Frenzy.
The librarians created a gorgeous display that featured books about letter writing and calligraphy, artfully lettered envelopes, and stationery samples. We even offered a tempting selection of free stationery and printables to choose from.
I collated some letter writing resources to teach the basic conventions of letter writing. Australia post offers some straightforward guides on how to write a personal letter and how to address an envelope, which I laminated for each table.
The students selected the letter writing paper from a choice of Kiki-K papers, fancy aerograms, and printables. We had fun helping the students decide who to write to and what to write about.
To add a crafty element, I set up a Make-Your-Own Envelope station, using a scrapbooker’s envelope punch board. With a range of stickers and some washi tape, it was irresistible. The students loved making their own envelope out of a sheet of coloured printer paper.
I invited a Year 12 student to demonstrate some gorgeous lettering and calligraphy. The students could address their own envelope or give it to her to do something fancy.
Everyone who completed a letter and addressed an envelope correctly earned a novelty eraser. The best part was the fun wasn’t over when the bell rang. We encouraged everyone to mail the letters to see if they get a letter in return. I hope they do, so they can discover the fun of snail mail correspondence.
My writing group, The Inklings of NCC, helped host the event. In our meetings in the lead up, we learned about epistolary novels and the fascinating possibilities of using diary entries, letters, and other media to tell a story. We had a go at telling a compelling story in letter format.
There are some wonderful MG and YA epistolary novels out there. Here are a few to consider. (If you have a favourite, please share in the comments!)
- Regarding the Fountain by Sarah and Kate Klise (MG)
- The Penguins of Doom – From the Desk of Septina Nash, by Greg R Fishbone (MG)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (YA)
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (YA)
At the end of a fun and frantic lunchtime event, I am more convinced than ever that World Stationery Day is not frivolous at all.
Mail Art 52, by Tamarka, CC BY-SA 2.0