Wednesday, 19 September 2012

International Pen Pals

One of our classrooms
Sam at Yu Shui 1

I had an idea last night. I want to write it down and put it out there so I do not forget. Ideas come left and right, but this concept really excites me. The initial idea seemed simple enough, but now I am unsure if it will work....

It did not matter what grade I was in; I always enjoyed a good pen pal. I used to get so excited over it! Especially when I received a picture, or got to meet that person. My idea is to set up a pen pal partnership with Chinese kids and American kids. There are multiple ways to go about it, and there are factors to consider.

My idea is for my two second grade classes (38 students total) to write to two second grade classes from America. It would be a fun way for them to practice their handwriting and their english. The benefits for second graders at home would be that they are ALSO practicing their handwriting skills, and they will gain knowledge and perspective through a cultural exchange. My nephews have NO IDEA where China is or what China is like. They do not know much about any other foreign country. They can learn about China; but moreso they can learn that people are different, but we all can get along. I'll make that part sound better later. You get the idea.

My second graders are learning conversational english and greetings. They are also learning how tell about themselves. I was thinking we could send our letters first. During the time it takes for them to get responses, they can be learning more english. I can set up a guideline for the kids to follow. An example would be:
 Sentence #1: In the morning I like to...... #2: In the afternoon I like to..... #3: At night I like to..... #4 My favorite food is....., etc. You get the idea.
They can end their letters with questions they would like to know about their new pen pal. They can decorate the letter, maybe even give American kids a Chinese name! The possibilities are endless. Then, they can exchange photos. Maybe these chinese kids can send a picture and say: this is how I spend my Chinese New Year. American kids: this is how I spend my Christmas. This can either be done by postage or e-mail. E-mail would be less expensive, but less personal. At the end of the year, I would love it if both schools could exchange a video of the whole class! I really think the students from BOTH countries would enjoy it and it would certainly make writing more fun.

I will put some more thought in it tonight and run it by my school, Yu Shui, this week. I'm trying not to get too excited over it just incase they do not like my idea. I need to make it sound super beneficial for them. I shouldnt't have to make it sound like anything. It IS beneficial to them. Students would love it, the school would gain recognition, and the parents would brag about it to their friends. "My little Mikey wrote to his American friend today!"
It would be more difficult setting up a partnership with a school from home because I'm  stuck here. I wish I had the idea before I came. I could e-mail some old teachers or maybe ask my sister for a Florence, NJ contact? My nephews go to Florence schools. I do not know any Florence teachers. Maybe I should contact my old primary school in Burlington City? I know that Yu Shui would have no problem paying for postage a few times a year. With budget cuts and everything else, that may not be the case at home. China pen pal fundraiser!?? If anyone has ANY suggestions, please let me know. How else would it benefit an American school? What ideas could go into these letters/cultural exchange? Do you think your child would enjoy something like this? How can I go about involving a school from home?


  1. I think that's an awesome idea. My mom works a Samuel Smith, I'll talk to her and see what she can do.