Mailing May



Nowadays it’s no big deal for a girl to travel seventy-five miles.  But when Charlotte May Pierstorff wanted to cross the Idaho mountains to see her grandma in 1914, it was a very big deal indeed.  The railroad was the only way to get there, and a train ticket would have cost her parents a full day’s pay.  Here is the true story of how May got to visit her grandma, thanks to her own spunk, her father’s clever plan, and the U.S. mail. 

This is our new book display table, where I put all of the books I anticipate we’ll be reading for each row…to get the boys excited, and because I’m such a visual person that these books remind me what we need to accomplish.



(Daddy is the new king of the evening read-aloud’s!)


Idaho:  We placed our story disk over Idaho, which is where the story takes place.


Relationships and Problem Solving:

We talked about the many times in life when there will be roadblocks and hang-up’s and how we can be willing to be creative in order to be part of the solution.

Valentine’s Day/ Cranberry Valentine:

We read the story Cranberry Valentine as a go-along book, since we rowed Mailing May around Valentine’s Day and Cranberry Valentine also has themes of mail and the Post Office.  So we put together this pirate-themed valentine box I picked up from Hobby Lobby.


Then the boys got to work making valentines for various members of our family.






Conner and Logan also wrote letters to their friends and put them in the mail…



Daniel Boone:

Read the poem “Daniel Boone” from the book Favorite Poems Old and New.  This is suggested in the FIAR manual because Daniel Boone is mentioned in the story, and we happen to own this poetry book, so we read the poem even though we didn’t do much else to learn about Daniel Boone.  It is a long, but interesting poem about his life story.


We mostly just looked at/read books about trains and that was it…




Except that we did also visit the Railroad park one day with Nana and Aunt Gigi (and my nephew, Cody)…


We had never been there before, in spite of the fact that I’d heard it was pretty cool…mostly because it is a good 30 miles or so from my house and when my older boys were little I never wanted to risk ruining their afternoon naps.  Ha!


But it was definitely worth the drive and the missed naps for the little ones (I am definitely not strict about nap schedules anymore…right now…today.  Lol!  Things are always changing when you have kids.)


They had this building which was a huge indoor hobby train set-up.  It was really, really cool.  (I am such a nerd now.  Raise your hand if you are over 30 and your life is nothing like you imagined it would be at this age.  Now raise your hand if that’s ok with you because your life is much better than the way you would have orchestrated it.)    🙂


Lots of neat little scenes set up for the trains to travel through.


(The Lego Movie)





(My nephew)    🙂


The boys watched the trains travel around for a long time…running around to follow it.




(Nana and 4 of her 5 grandsons!)    🙂

They also played outside on the playground for a while, and then we rode the train…





And we sat outside at a picnic table and ate the lunches that we brought.  It was a fun morning!

Railroad Song:

We brought my computer outside one day while we had ate lunch on the patio and listened to the song, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, along with other fun kid’s songs that we found on this site…


Time Zones:


It was the railroad system that spurred the development of official time zones.

Post Office and the Postal Service:

We went on a field-trip with our friends and visited a postal history museum that is in a city an hour and a half away from our houses.


When we first arrived we were a little surprised because the place was much smaller than we expected.  And the employee demographic was about 40 years older than we expected.  🙂


Our tour guide was Paul.  We met him in the library building and he chatted with us for about 20 minutes before directing us to the kid’s play corner and heading off to do something else!


Each kid was allowed to pick 15 stamps from the stamp boxes to take home.


Miss Becky came up with a game where the kids took turns sending each other mail and then being the postman who delivers the mail.


Amazingly we hung out in that little library for an hour.  Then we decided it was time to head back over to the main building to find Paul and see what else was over there.  They had a little room set up to represent an old post office.  It had old mail sorting boxes, p.o. boxes, hand-operated postal machines, etc…



We then decided to buy each of the kids a post card from the store and mail it from their tiny little working post office to our homes.



After writing out our postcards we went back into the post office room to mail them.



The cute little old lady let the boys hand-cancel their own postcards.



We all made our guesses as to how long it would take for our letters to arrive.  There were shouts of “16 days” and “7 days”.  I guessed 1 day, but then she informed me they don’t do overnight delivery, so I upped it to 2 days.


We didn’t end up checking the mail until 4 days later, though, and the cards were there.



Stamps and Stamp Collecting:

When we were at the postal museum, I purchased two stamp collecting starter kits from their gift shop for Conner and Logan to play with.


We decided to open them up one afternoon when the little kids were napping and check them out…


magnifying glass, tweezers, special stamp ruler thingy, stamp adhesives, an assortment of stamps to start a collection, brochures and information packets, a pencil



A lot of the stuff in the pamphlets was still over their heads, but we did find one worksheet that we decided to go ahead and do…


A little info-sheet about different types of stamps.


After we completed the sheet, I put the kits away for safekeeping until the boys get a little bit older.  Maybe we’ll pull them back out in a couple of years and see if they spur any new interest.

Local Post Office:

Finally, about a month after we actually rowed Mailing May, we took a trip to our local post office.  I originally called them back at the beginning of February, but they explained that they had a busy month ahead with some sort of inventory thing they were doing, so we needed to wait until March and call back.  So we finally got our tour scheduled.  Miss Becky and Miss Meghan came with us, along with their children (10 children total…plus one bun in the oven…not my bun or my oven.)   😉


The lady giving the tour didn’t really want us taking pictures (Meaning…I asked her and she said “no”.  I should have just not asked.) so I only have a few pictures of the inside and they are a bit blurry.




The tour was interesting, but it felt a bit rushed.  So not our favorite tour ever, but we did learn a few things.   🙂

Stamps and Money:

I found a stamps printable on-line (link below) and created this fake envelope/postcard thing to make up a game about counting the cost of stamps.


I put plenty of velcro dots on the envelope and then attached the opposite velcro stickie dots to the backs of each stamp.  (Oh, and I also wrote amounts on the stamps and laminated them, before attaching the velcro dots.)

Then I took turns giving each boy a total postage due and they had to use the different stamp amounts to come up with the total.



They thought it was pretty fun.  🙂


Cover and Story- Before the boys knew the title of the story, I had them guess what the story would be about, based on the cover illustrations.  They sort of figured out the theme of the story, but said they would never have guessed the title.


Baked Idaho Potatoes


I made baked potatoes for dinner, with cheese, sour cream, butter, grilled chicken, and broccoli on the side.


Postal History Foundation in Tucson, Arizona:

Postage Paid and Coin Counting Activity:

History of Postage Rates in the U.S.:

US Postal Service Unit Study:


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