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Colonial America – Post Office Jobs

August 23, 2011
It's fun to receive mail!

It’s fun to receive mail at the school post office.

Post Office

My students always enjoyed learning about the post office and how to write letter as they perform jobs for our classroom post office.  The only difference for the colonial post office is I was able to incorporate a little history too!

Ben Franklin is credited with starting the first post office in the United States in 1775. Mail was delivered to people one at a time by horse.  Later it was distributed at the general store.

To introduce the post office I would have our students fill out a “job application”.  It was a way for me to assess:

  •  if they knew their addresses (and I do their phone number too!)
  •  the proper way to set up an envelope
  •  how to write out a complete address


Afterward, I would have them do this final assessment to see how much they could do.[filebase:file:file=138:tpl=simple]

Post Office Jobs

These are the job descriptions that I used.  They are very simplified but it made it easier for my students to understand their “jobs”. Depending on how many students I have each time I do this, sometimes I combine the Nixie Clerk and the Sorter together.  The Nixie Clerk and Sorter jobs go hand in hand.

Post Master

  • Responsible for handing out the mail
  • Fills in for all the other jobs (when someone is absent)
  • They train the next Post Master to take over
  • Post Master must know how and is capable to do all of the jobs

Nixie / Sorter

  • Checks each letter for a stamp and post dates it
  • Works with letters that are difficult to delivery (incomplete addresses, missing return addresses…)
  • Sorts the mail to the different addresses
  • This job works well for young children – since they get lots of opportunities to see how to fill out an envelope correctly

Letter Carrier

  • Delivers the mail to each address on a daily basis
  • I provide a letter bag for them to deliver all the mail.
  • Hands down my students most favorite job!

I would also send a letter out to our parents so they could support the efforts in the classroom.  As a kid, I loved getting mail, so having a post office without any mail just isn’t as much fun. Here is information for introducing how to write a friendly letter. [filebase:file:file=140:tpl=simple]

Letter to the Parents:


I set up a table with cancellation stamps, ink pad, sorting box and rubber bands.  I had some help with making mail boxes for all the classrooms and mailing labels for all the addresses.  The idea wasn’t so they learned the school’s address but their home address.  With that in mind, whenever they sent a letter, they had to use their home address for the return address.  For those students that didn’t know their home address, I would write it out on a 3×5 card for them to refer to.   It was important to write out the address in the same form as they would on the envelope, so they could repeat the set up.

I have also came up with this sheet that shows another way to look at the information that is on the envelope. [filebase:file:file=141:tpl=simple]

Street Address
City, State
Zip Code

The mail was handed out whenever it was convenient in the day.  Everyone loved being Post Master so they could be in-charge of handing out the mail.  Have fun with it!


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