Stamp Collecting: Merit Badges & Championships

My son recently joined Scouts and we’ve thus been immersed in learning about the history and opportunities provided to members. Everyone is likely familiar with the merit badge system whereby Scouts can learn about sports, handcrafts, science, trades, business, and future careers. Did you realize there are more than 100 merit badges?

Stamp Collecting Merit Badge

The merit badge system, I discovered was a huge motivating factor for my son. It is not surprising that the first two merit badges he chose to earn were swimming and music. He breezed through the requirements for each and was soon ready to tackle another.

stampcollectingmeritbadgesThis time he chose stamp collecting – one of the rarest badges earned. I thereby volunteered to serve as the merit badge counselor and thereby guide the interested scouts through badge requirements. Not surprisingly, only two others joined us.

Delightfully, the Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs has a Boy Scout stamp collecting merit badge PowerPoint presentation available on its website. It follows, in order, the requirements from the merit badge book and thus introduces new philatelists to the hobby with ease.

I had enough stamps from which each of the boys were able to sort through and find everything they needed to complete the merit badge requirements. They just need to put their projects together. 🙂

Stamp Collecting & Exhibiting

My children and I have been avid stamp collectors for years and we have learned so much along the way. We got started in earnest shortly after we had moved to Redding, California and learned of a collector who wanted to pass on his collection of world stamps to a young child interested in learning about stamp collecting.

We reached out to him and spent an afternoon learning the ins and outs of philately. We discovered that philatelists collect a wide variety of different material – while many collect stamps from a single country, others collect stamps on a variety of topics, and others focus solely on cancellation marks. It really is very diverse!

stamp collectingStamp Collecting Championships

We soon discovered that thematic collecting was our preferred approach. Over the past five years, the kids and I have put together numerous exhibits to showcase stamps and philatelic material expressing our individual interests.

They have entered their exhibits in local shows in both California (NOVAPEX) and Oregon (SOPEX) as well as regional and national shows around the country. In doing so, they have met many wonderful people (dealers, other exhibitors, and judges).

Jeffrey’s Exhibits

  • Aeronautics
  • How the Engine Changed the World
  • Bridges of the World
  • Maersk Group*

Geneva’s Exhibits

  • Birds of the World*
  • Lunar New Year*
  • Mythologies of the World
  • Folkloric Mysteries of Harry Potter*

My Exhibits

  • All About Me
  • Mythology of the Moon
  • Phylum Insecta
*Denotes exhibits that have won a youth grand award at a nationally accredited show and thereby qualified for the AAPE Youth Champion of Champions competition. Maersk Group and Folkloric Mysteries of Harry Potter will be competing head to head in August along with numerous other youth exhibitors.

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas by iHomeschool NetworkInterested in learning how to integrate stamps into your curriculum? My article, How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning, was published in the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.

55 homeschool moms contributed to The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Providing you with inspiration and ideas that go beyond the basics of academics. Delve into delightful methods like active learning, learning with video games, using LEGO bricks for learning, teaching on the road, learning with movies, and gardening.

The eBook is available now for only $5.99.

 

Spark Interest in Geography with The Passport Club

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.

We have been really enjoying our new textbook, North Star Geography. As we have begun formal geography lessons the kids inquired if we couldn’t also resume the geography co-cop as we had done when they were younger.

passportclubThe Passport Club

As I began to gather materials, I discovered The Passport Club, a geography program designed to encourage students to learn some or all of the names of the world’s countries. It was first developed as an enrichment program for schools to encourage parent involvement.

The Passport Club program is operated by Chris and Bob Manning, with the goal of giving teachers and parent volunteers the tools and guidance to develop geographic literacy and a curiosity about the world within their students.

“What a wonderful way for us to learn about the world. This could easily be integrated into our geography co-op,” I thought to myself.

I am delighted to now share how we have begun to use the The Passport Club program in conjunction with the North Star Geography curriculum.

How Does The Passport Club Work?

Each student is issued a Passport Book that lists the countries or locations to be learned each month of the school year. The passports are the same for all grades and students. There are five levels for each month and the student can decide how many levels she wishes to study. Note that the levels are inclusive: if a student wants to study at level three, she needs to study levels one and two also.

Each month the student receives a copy of a world outline map as well as a regional outline map marked with the locations assigned for the month. Over the course of the month, the students study the locations assigned for the month in whichever way they feel comfortable.

Every hardback purchase of North Star Geography from Bright Ideas Press includes a free Companion Guide that includes reproducible outline and reference maps that are perfect for The Passport Club as well as many note-taking pages and graphic organizers.

North-Star-Geography

As a Brand Ambassador for Bright Ideas Press we have received a complimentary copy of North Star Geography in exchange for our honest insights about how this program is working in real life with our family.

The optional WonderMaps, also available from Bright Ideas Press, is a customizable collection of over 350 different maps.

The International Luncheon

The Passport Club is designed as an after school enrichment program but it can be easily adapted for home educators. In a homeschool setting, an International Luncheon – with food and presentations from each participating family – can be planned as a culminating celebration each month.

Families are encouraged to engage in Independent Study projects each month – a lapbook, a dance, a costume, a regional recipe, a 3-dimensional map, a poster of an animal in its native habitat, or a short presentation about the country. These projects could then be displayed at the International Luncheon and students can be given an opportunity to present what they have learned.

Families are also encouraged to bring a dish to share from one of the countries. Alternatively, one country could be assigned each month for a more focused study.

Checking Passports

Upon arrival at the International Luncheon each participating student comes to the Passport Check Table for 5-10 minutes, bringing their passports with them.

Starting at level one, the checker (a parent or teen volunteer) asks the students individually if they studied the level, and if so, to point out each location on an unlabeled map. The students must pass a level in order to go on to the next one.

Tips :: In kindergarten and first grade, the students are coached through level one, so that they all pass level one.  

If the student passes any levels, they then take their passport to the Stamp Desk. There they can pick a “stamp” for each level they passed, and it is pasted onto the Visa side of their passport page.

The “stamp” images utilized in the The Passport Club program are photographs, flags, or other graphics from the countries assigned that month. Alternatively, an assortment of cancelled postage stamps can be utilized and provide additional avenues for study (though these would need to be obtained independently by each family).

thepassportclubWhere Can I Find the Passport Books?

Passport Books and “stamp” image pages are available for purchase from the The Passport Club website. You can also find book marks, inspirational posters, T-shirts, and more!

Where Can I Find Cancelled Postage Stamps?

You may be able to obtain free stamps from local philatelists or from the American Philatelic Society.  At local and regional philatelic shows, there are tables of cancelled postage stamps free for children.

I’ve written extensively about using postage stamps in education and have contributed a chapter to the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas titled How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning.  You may also be interested in my earlier post, Stamp Collecting and Exhibiting.

The

Inquiry Science & Postage Stamps: The Big Book & Studio Bundle

postagestamps

Welcome to the The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Blog Tour where we’re going to be stopping in on the authors of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. I hope you have been enjoying the tour. 55 homeschool moms have contributed 103 chapters of homeschool goodness. My contributions were a chapter on How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning and Inquiry Science with Middle School Students. Read on to find out why I wrote these chapters and a glimpse at their content.

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Blog Tour

Everyday in the month of October, we’ll meet a new author of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. You’ll find out why they contributed their chapter or chapters to the book and why they feel passionate about that particular topic.

How it works:

  • Visit each author on the blog tour and participate in the giveaway they may be hosting.
  • Enter the giveaway for The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas & iHomeschool Studio Bundle below.
  • Purchase the bundle! Don’t worry. If you win the giveaway, you’ll get your money back. Buy now while you can!
  • Click the calendar to see the other authors on the tour and to see their giveaways.
  • Yesterday, Amy Stults from Milk and Cookies, author of the chapters Learning with Maps and Genealogy for Kids, gave away a copy of WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press.
  • Tomorrow’s giveaway is from Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners . Author of the chapter Hands-on ScienceColleen will be giving away Science for Smart Kids: Electricity.

The Bundle Blog Hop

There are so many wonderful contributors to this bundle – come along and get to know each of us a little better. Each day of October we will be highlighting one of the talented women who have helped make the  iHomeschool Studio and Big Book of Homeschool Ideas such a success.

october-2014-calendar

Inquiry Science for Middle School

I am so excited to be a contributing author to the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.  I love teaching science; my goal is to provide inspiration so you may engage your students in hands-on science and service learning experiences.

Sharing my passion for science reinvigorates me and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.

In the article, Inquiry Science with Middle School Students, I define inquiry science for you and break the process of scientific discovery down into smaller components – partial inquiry versus full inquiry.

Teaching science through inquiry is the cornerstone of good teaching.  But what, exactly, is inquiry science?

inquiryscienceScientific inquiry refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.  In many classrooms and homeschool families, students enjoy fun science demonstrations. These hands-on activities help bring the exciting world of science to life.

getting started coverI have written a series of posts, What is Scientific Inquiry, whereby I address the scientific method, science process skills, and science as inquiry. In the series, I address several key misconceptions about science and share with you examples of how to easily modify existing cook-book activities for a more inquiry based instructional approach.

As a special thank you, I have put together a Getting Started with Inquiry Science guidebook that will be available as a free download through the month of October. This bonus eBook is 18 pages providing detailed descriptions of the scientific inquiry process. The different levels are described to give you an idea of where to begin and how to do inquiry science with your students. It also includes many planning pages for student led or open inquiry as well as two guided inquiry labs.

Postage Stamps for Learning

Shortly after we began our homeschool journey, we discovered the joy of collecting postage stamps. In the beginning, we collected with no clear objective in mind. As our collections grew, I began to seek out activities that would provide opportunities to learn about the people featured on the stamps and the places from which they were issued. It wasn’t long thereafter that we were exhibiting at philatelic shows around the country.

I am excited to share with you how we use postage stamps in our homeschool. In the chapter,  How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning, I explain some details and advice regarding using postage stamps for learning such as:

  • What to collect?
  • Where do I find stamps?
  • How do I soak and protect my stamps?
  • How do I display my stamps?
  • What are the educational opportunities available to me?

Postage stamps will be featured more regularly on my blog in the coming months as my kids and I work on developing our new exhibits. Follow along and find out how to use them with confidence in your homeschool.

 The Big Book & Studio Bundle

For a limited time (Oct 1 – Nov 10), get the iHomeschool Studio and Big Book of Homeschool Ideas bundle for just  $15!  The bundle includes 23 MP3s from our spring 2014 webinar and a massive 560+ page eBook for only $15 (regular price $36). This offer won’t last long!

Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned home educator, The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and the recorded webinar sessions provide a library of resources you could turn to when you have a question in your homeschool.  With this ginormous bundle, you can go beyond the basics of academics and delve into delightful methods like active learning, learning with postage stamps, using LEGOs for learning, teaching on the road, delving into inquiry science, loving living math, discovering your child’s personality type, and more.Studio and Big Book Bundle
buyitnowbundle-promo

A Giveaway, Too!

What is even more exciting is that we are giving away 10 copies of the bundle!!  Don’t wait to see if you are a winner and risk losing out on this incredible sale! If you purchase the bundle and end up winning, we will immediately refund your money.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Let Freedom Ring ~ A Patriotic & Philatelic Giveaway

My children and I love to collect stamps. We learn a lot about history, science, and even language through this dynamic hobby – suitable for nearly all ages.

To celebrate our love of country and philately, I’ve thereby put together a gift basket to help you discover the hobby of stamp collecting.

patriotic philatelic giveawayThe Philatelic & Patriotic Giveaway Basket includes:

America: A Patriotic Primer is a succinct history of the United States, an ABC of the principles on which this country was founded, and a book for children and families to pore over, discuss, and cherish. Though it is written by Lynne Cheney (author and wife of Vice President Richard Cheney), no political viewpoint is taken. Instead, she professes the greatness of our history and the profundity of our nation’s ideals.  (Value $15)

The Early America Library CD from The Heritage History Classical Curriculum includes a specialized library that features stories about explorers, settlers, inventors, military heroes, writers, presidents, and Indian leaders, as well as political developments. (Value $19)

A set of seven beautiful notecards from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation featuring images from Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia—the restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World.

The Civil War: 1863 commemorative collection from the United States Postal Service. A must for every collector and every Civil War enthusiast, this commemorative set includes narrative on the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Vicksburg, two First Day Covers are the third pair to be issued as part of the ongoing five-year Civil War Sesquicentennial series, and a full souvenir sheet of 12 stamps. (Value $9)

A variety of additional philatelic ephemera to kickstart a new hobby of stamp collecting:

  • American history learning activities with accompanying stamps to introduce stamp collecting from the Postal History Foundation
  • A packet of United States stamps (mint and cancelled) commemorating various historical events
  • Stamp Collector’s Stamp Booklet to aide a young collector in organizing their stamps and planning a philatelic exhibit

So there you have it!  Everything you need to get started using stamps in your curriculum this year and a delightful collection of patriotic stories!  Make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

This gift basket was inspired by the chapter that I wrote for the new book Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.  In my chapter, How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning, I share with readers ideas for using postage stamps for learning history, science, and art. My hope is that along with this philatelic and patriotic giveaway, you will discover an interest in the hobby of stamp collecting yourself.

Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

Big-Book-promo-2So do you want to know more about the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas?  This is a massive (561 page) ebook written by 55 ladies of the iHomeschool Network.  We cover 103 hmeschool topics to help and inspire you, no matter what stage of homeschooling you are at!

This book covers everything from academic topics, to fun learning ideas like using LEGOs and teaching handicrafts!  I have contributed two chapters myself. One of which is a tutorial to stamp collecting – perfect for this of you interested in getting started in the hobby of philately! This is a book you will turn to time and time again.  To learn more and see the full table of contents, check out the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas website.

What is neat is that when you purchase this book, you get three versions of it: pdf, mobi, and epub.  That means that you can read it virtually anywhere!  Pull it up on your computer, you iphone, table, or wherever!

Buy-it-now - Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But that is not all! My giveaway is one of several back-to-school giveaways taking place this week. Be sure to check out the other gift baskets from the bloggers at iHomeschool Network.  Take a minute and go enter as many as you’d like.

August-2014-gift-baskets-NEW

Cherry Blossom Centennial

Locals and tourists alike flock to the tidal basin in the nation’s capitol each spring enthralled by the beautiful blossoms that celebrate our friendship with Japan. A century ago, the city of Tokyo gave 3,020 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC. First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees.
the light filling the air
is so mild this spring day
only the cherry blossoms
keep falling in haste —
why is that so?

~ Ki no Tomonori
(c.850-c.904)

In 1927, local citizens held the first cherry blossom festival. Today, the celebration draws more than a million visitors. Because these trees are in bloom so briefly, the Japanese often see them as symbols of transience – making every blossom an invitation to celebrate life.

On March 24th of this year, the U. S. Postal Service commemorated the centennial of the gift of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees from the city of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C with the Cherry Blossom Centennial stamp design. The two stamps, which are near mirror images, form the left and right halves of a panoramic view of blooming cherry trees surrounding the tidal basin. The stamp on the left depicts blossoming trees arching over two girls dressed in bright kimonos, and a family on a stroll with the Washington Monument in the background. On the second stamp, the Jefferson Memorial forms the backdrop for tourists taking in the sights under a canopy of pink blooms. Artist Paul Rogers worked with art director Phil Jordan to create the two stamp designs.

Sadly, we were not able to attend the unveiling ceremony.  We all loved the artistry of this setenet pair, however, and thus we created cherry blossoms of our own.

Their First Philatelic Exhibit ~ Novapex 2012

Reviewing their entries with their mentor, Bob.  We owe much gratitude to him – without his guidance we’d still be floating amidst our unorganized stamps. 

Sorting through the freebie box in search of stamps for our themes. 
  Sweetie’s exhibit:  Birds of the World

Buddy’s exhibit:  Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Awaiting the judges decision

The proud philatelists beside their winning exhibits
Here is an extensive explanation of philatelic judging guidelines, if you are interested.