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PART I Myself & the Neighborhood
  Myself & Neighborhood
  Community Quilt
  The Mail Carrier
  Let Your Fingers Do the Walking
  The Sign Walk
  Who I Am
  Baking Bread with the Little Red Hen
PART II Exploring Systems
  What's in a Thumb
  Parts of You
  Puzzles Are Systems
  How Many Systems Do I Belong To Right Now
PART III Communicating with Others
  Talking with our hands
  Lullabies link people
PART IV Myself and the Larger World
  Move, Feet, Move
  The Challenge of the Desert
  Planning a Park
  Communication Tools
  TV or Not TV
  Missing the Point
  Who Likes Animals
  A Simple Chocolate Bar




Watching a person in the community perform his/her tasks can help children to further their understanding of their relationships with working people.

Areas of Study

Social Studies (careers, operation of a system, large and small group relationships, observation)
Language Arts (listening, writing, questioning)
Mathematics (telling time)

Suggested Time

2 or 3 class periods

Comments to the Teacher

The mail carrier is probably the easiest employee for your children to observe, and the one who delivers to your school is the obvious choice. Be sure you talk to him/her before planning your observation. A telephone call to your post office will give you the approximate delivery time for your neighborhood.


A. Begin your lesson by asking children what they think the mail carrier does. Make a list of their answers. Tell the children that you are going to walk with the mail carrier to see what happens on his/her job. Ask them to think of questions they would like to ask, such as:
  1. How do you know what mail to bring to our neighborhood?
  2. How many houses are on your mail route?
  3. How long does it take to deliver the mail?

Have students make some guesses about what the mail carrier will answer.

Meet the mail carrier at your school or somewhere in the neighborhood. Walk on the mail route as far as you wish. The walk will give the children a better idea of what is involved in the delivery of mail. Have the children ask the mail carrier the questions they devised.

When the class returns to school, compare the mail carrier's answers with the class answers to questions. Discuss how accurate your answers were. Also discuss what you saw and what new things you know about the mail carrier.

If you wish to show your class another method of mail delivery, take them to a corner mailbox. These boxes are marked with the approximate time of pickup. Go to the mailbox with your students the day before to check the time mail is picked up. Return the following day to watch the carrier open the box and get the mail.

B. A field trip can be taken to the post office to see how it operates. Each child may come with a letter to mail and enough money to purchase a stamp (or a stamped envelope).

Have the children place their letters in the mail chute. If they are addressed to the children's homes or your school, you will be able to find out how long it takes for the mail in your town to reach a local destination.

If a field trip is not possible, letters can be given to your school mail carrier or delivered to a mailbox.

Children can set up their own mailboxes by using their cubbies, shelves, shoe boxes, lockers, or desks as personal mailboxes. They can write their names and addresses on their boxes. Other children can write letters, pictures, or notes, then address them, and drop them in a central mailbox. Children may wish to invent postmarks. They can take turns acting as mail carrier.

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