Gulliver’s Mailbox started with a handful of postcards in 2012. It is a free project (random act of kindness /community service) to teach kids about the larger world around them. It can be incorporated into Common Core requirements by involving kids in reading, writing, researching, identifying their community and more. The most important thing is it is free, fun and low maintenance for teachers. Here are some fast facts and fun ideas.
Gulliver, the traveling cat is our mascot. He types (cats can’t hold pens) onto postcards from all over the world, and shares his travels from the perspective of a cat. He may be in Norway one week, Alabama the next, China the third week. It is very random.
Classrooms receive postcards weekly throughout the school year. Gulliver talks about food, festivals, animals, history, geography, science and cultures of people and places around the world. The text is the same, whether it goes to a first grade or 6th grade.
Teachers decide how to use the cards and what happens to them at the end of the year. Often they are posted next to a map of the world, and given out to kids as prizes or recognition. Students love reading them aloud to each other.
Follow-up once a year is requested of teachers to use in social media. This could be in the form of an anonymous quote, story, photos of the postcards (with or without kids) or other evaluation.
“I know most cats don’t like to get into water, but you have to try our famous thermal springs. You will feel like you have been to a luxurious spa” said my friend Bas, a purebred Van Kedisi cat. A native of Turkey, he is pure white but has the unusual trait of two different colored eyes. He invited me back to Turkey after we had so much fun on my previous visit. This time we went to southwest part of Turkey to Pamukkale which means Cotton Castle. Legend has it that the limestone formations are solidified cotton that giants left out to dry. Everyone had to go barefoot to prevent damage to the pools; it was a slippery trip to the 17 pools to enjoy the naturally heated water just like Romans did thousands of years ago. The minerals in the pools, formed by underground hot water sources, are said to help with all sorts of illnesses, especially digestive and circulation problems. The ancient city of Hierapolis was a large city built nearby, there plenty of well-preserved ruins we explored including a restored amphitheater. Nearby, there’s also an archaeological museum for those that are interested in the history of the area. Bas was right, soaking in the warm pools felt good after hiking around the ruins. Purrs, Gulliver
“Hello, Hello? Can you hear me?” I meowed into the telephone to my friend who lives in Tokyo, Japan. “Moshi moshi Gulliver. No need to shout, I can hear you even 5100 miles away!” The first telephones were strung in 1876. They were used by businesses and government centers, and each call required six connections: the caller, four switchboard operators and the receiver. All the operators listened to the conversations to know when to disconnect the lines. As more telephone lines were strung, most homes had a phone. There were “party lines” with different rings for each house, but anyone on the line could listen in. Later telephones used rotary dials and people had their own “address” of numbers and letters, for each private line. Cell phones can be traced back to two way radios used by taxicabs and police, and are now more common than “landlines” which are tied to a location. But if it takes pictures and can use the internet like a computer, why is it still called a phone? Purrs, Gulliver
I must have over indulged in the rich food over the holidays. I had strange dreams which included meeting some creatures that don’t exist anymore. One dream included mastodons, which lived around 15-30,000 years ago. I thought it was an elephant at first, and then realized that they had heavy coats of hair and smaller ears than elephants. They lived in North and Central America during a time the earth was much colder than it is today.
Unlike elephants and mammoths, mastodons didn’t graze on grass but browsed on trees and bushes. As the earth warmed and people migrated to new lands both mastodons and mammoths disappeared. They were hunted for their meat, skin and bones and much of what they ate died out due to the weather changing.
Scientists learned a lot about them from looking at old skeletons found in the last couple of centuries. They were big animals, standing 7-9 feet tall and weighed 7-12 tons, about the same as two cars piled on top of each other. In my dream I made sure to stay out from underfoot, or I would have been squashed like a bug! Purrs, Gulliver
Hi, I am Gulliver’s sister. He asked me to tell you about how to write a postcard because he can’t send a postcard this week. The stamp goes on the upper right, with the address below. The correspondence goes on the left. If there is no line in the center you can draw one so the post office knows where to look for the address. Gulliver would be happy for some mail.
We had gone to the old Montana State prison, which is now a museum. Gulliver was fooling around and locked himself in a cell! “BAD CAT!” yelled the tour guide. “Now you will have to live on bread and water for a week until the museum director comes back from vacation . She is the only one with keys to the cells.” Gulliver hid under the bed and cried. Neither of us is purring right now. Meows. Sasha
I belong to a community called “Postcrossing“. We are a worldwide bunch who call ourselves “postcrossers” and still believe in the antediluvian art of writing letters by hand and posting them in the real world through a good old-fashioned mail box. The beauty of exchanging postcards is the stamp of the country of origin on the card itself (unlike letters where the envelope is stamped). At one glance you know where the postcard has arrived from and how far and wide it has travelled to reach you. In addition, the picture side can be filled with all sorts of images. Most postcrossers prefer “touristy” images that provide a glimpse of the place the card has been sent from. But there are many others with peculiar quirks and hobbies who prefer their mailboxes filled with subjects of interest printed on the postcards. I have sent out cards…
When my mom was a kitten, they played the License Plate game when traveling. One point earned for each new state license plate seen, with bonus points if the plate was from another country. France became the first country to issue “number plates” in 1893. At the turn of the century New York required license plates on cars, but the car owners could have any material, style, and color of plate and could use their own identifying letters. License plates have been made of leather, wood, ceramic, plastic and copper. Sometimes the information was painted directly on the car. Now plates are made of metal with series of number and letters. States often add a slogan or a symbol to represent the state. There are also “personalized” plates which can be words, names or special combinations of letters and numbers that people like or to show support of an idea.. Shanghai, China is one of four Chinese cities that limit cars on the road by auctioning off a small number of license plates each year. This makes the license plate more expensive than some of the low priced cars! Purrs, Gulliver
Did you notice the city of Aqab is spelled with no u after the q? The name means ‘Obstacle’ in Arabic, due to the high mountains surrounding the city and the bumpy roads leading to it. It is Jordan’s only outlet to the Red Sea, so it is an important city for trading. Lots of tourists come here also, enjoying the national dish of Mansaf, which is rice with chunks of stewed lamb and jameed, a type of yogurt sauce. In Jordan, it is usually polite to decline the offer of a meal three times before accepting. I am lucky the people from Jordan are very hospitable, or I would get hungry waiting for my turn to eat! Purrs, Gulliver
The Elephant Seal is the largest seal in the world, and are named after elephants because the male’s snout looks like an elephant’s trunk. They spend 80 percent of their life in the water, but come ashore to mate in the winter. They look very peaceful from outside, but are great fighters when it comes down to protecting their space. Despite their big size, elephant seals aren’t slow. In fact, they are really good swimmers and they can move faster than humans on sand dunes. Elephant seals are great divers and can hold their breaths for a long time. They can stay under water for more than one and a half hours. And I can barely “dog paddle” Purrs, Gulliver