by Megan Bittner
Postal Service Homeschool Unit Study
Kick off your school year with a unique homeschool unit study! Neither Rain Nor Snow Day on September 7 celebrates the postal service and its role in the history of our communication. Follow the Pony Express for a fascinating ride across the country, trace the history of the U.S. post office to its roots in Colonial America, and wrap your mind around the numbers to learn about the astronomical job it is to facilitate the exchange of almost two million mail pieces each day.
The name “Neither Rain Nor Snow Day” to mark the day celebrating the U.S. postal system comes from the inscription over the door of the James A. Farley building in Manhattan. While many people believe the quote to be the motto of the U.S. postal service, it really isn’t. The line comes from the book The Persian Wars by Greek historian Herodotus, and references the system of mounted postal couriers organized during the wars between the Greeks and Persians around 500 B.C. You can use the full quote as a part of a mini language arts lesson, and have students practice penmanship by writing it out, discussing the history and meaning of the quote, and even dig deeper exploring the source material for the quote.
The Pony Express
The Pony Express has fascinated Americans since its first rider mounted his saddle on April 3, 1860. The route covered was 1,800 miles from Missouri to California over ten days. Check out the origins of this short, but exciting chapter in the history of the U.S. postal system.
The Postal Service, Office Building, and Daily Activity
The first post office in America was established in the home of Richard Fairbanks of Boston in 1639. You can help your students practice their research skills by exploring further links between Boston and the post office.
You know that when you drop an envelope in the mailbox that it will be left in the recipient’s mailbox in a matter of days, but do you know how it finds its way there? You can explore the history of the post office establishment and follow the journey of a letter from your mailbox to another across the country with How Stuff Works.
Can you even imagine distributing millions of pieces of mail to tens of thousands of letter carriers every day? Check out a day in the life of the USPS by numbers.
Put your postal service to the test! Check out this Homeschool Living for tips on letter writing, finding a pen pal, and utilizing this fascinating method of communication.