When a grade-three/four teacher in Manitoba put a call out on Facebook for postcards, he wasn’t expecting a response quite like this. One month after the initial post, the class has received 600 pieces of mail from across Canada — and the world.
A.J. Hrychuk, a teacher at Henderson Elementary School in Dauphin, Manitoba, posted a letter on Facebook in February asking Canadians to send his class postcards from their communities to teach his students about Canadian geography, citizenship and social media.
By the end of the first week, Hrychuk’s letter had already been shared more than 4,000 times. The mail response has been equally strong.
"It's very easy to click ‘share’, but how many people are going to take the time to buy a postcard, fill it out, get a stamp and put it in the mail?” Hrychuk says. “I had no idea it would be so successful."
To date, the class has received more than 600 pieces of mail — not counting all of the individual postcards that have come within a single envelope. Postcards have arrived from every province and territory in Canada, as well as from China, Norway, Sweden and Australia.
And the students are learning. Hrychuk says his students are developing their understanding of the location of the provinces and territories in relation to one another, due in part to spending so much time looking at a map of Canada.
After waiting excitedly for the mail to come every day, the students read the postcards individually or as a class and then sort them by province.
"As we're learning more about Canada, the provinces, the cities within the provinces and how to connect the location with the information on the back of the postcard, my students are able to categorize the postcards more independently."
Certain provinces are standing out; the class has received the most mail by far from British Columbia, with Ontario coming in second.
It’s not just the numbers that have made an impression on Hrychuk, but also the effort and creativity people from across the country and the world have put into their responses.
The class was particularly excited about a package from Grise Fiord, Nunavut, Canada’s most northerly community. The hamlet’s grade-four/five/six class of just five students sent a handful of postcards to Hrychuk’s class explaining the similarities and differences between their communities. Hrychuk’s students plan to respond in the coming week.
"People have really responded to our call to action with genuine care and enthusiasm,” Hrychuk says. “It's just so refreshing."