The Postal History Foundation’s mission is to promote an appreciation of stamp collecting and postal history through the preservation of philatelic and postal history collections, literature and documents and the encouragement of youth education using stamps as teaching tools. The journey from an idea to what exists today began in 1960 and over the course of 50 years the Postal History Foundation has become one of the top philatelic organizations in the United States.
J is a collector of many things. Our library has a little basket of stamps that she enjoys digging through so we headed out to officially get started with her stamp collection. We have never seen so many stamps in one place! We also took a walk through the small museum and exhibits.
The first thing we noticed was the historic post office structure from Naco, Arizona which was the active post office there for about 30 years.
Inside the historic post office you will find postal memorabilia such as: hand and electric cancellation machines, an automatic cashier device, a coin operated vending machine for stamps, a dispatch case, postal badges, padlocks, mailbags, delivery letter boxes and more.
J’s favorite part of the museum area was an area of delivery boxes that opened, each with a piece of mail inside. She went through them all, inspecting each piece of mail.
Everybody was super friendly and we were led back to gather some stamps. There are two chests full of stamps to dig though. Envelopes are provided and we ended up with quite a few! J was also given a beginner’s stamp album.
It is suggested that when starting a stamp collection you choose a specific topic that you would like to collect. There are so many stamps that it is overwhelming if you don’t narrow it down somewhat. I hope that J eventually chooses a few topics to focus on but for now she likes just about everything.
J was asked what kinds of things she enjoys and she was given some stamps from the file cabinets that are organized by topic for her collection. She now has cat stamps, dog stamps, bird stamps, bug stamps, train stamps, stamps from Brazil and all the stamps that she chose from the chest. There are drawers and drawers of stamps organized by topic. It is pretty impressive! She was also given an activity sheet. There are more educational resources for older children available, too.
After stashing all of the stamps safely into my bag we signed the guest book then headed across the courtyard to the library. I was also given a bag of imperfect stamps (tears, smeared ink, etc.) to use for crafts after I mentioned that it would be fun to Mod Podge something with stamps. Everyone gave us a friendly good-bye and told us to come back soon.
The Peggy J. Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library is home to a collection of over 30,000 books, catalogs, journals, maps, photos and other reference items related to postal history and philately. There is also a small kids’ corner with books, another stamp chest, a Melissa and Doug mailbox toy and some stamp activities for older children.
There are picture books, chapter books and books about stamp collecting.
The Postal History Foundation is located at 920 North 1st Avenue. There is plenty of parking in the lot and there is also a full service post office in the building. There are bathrooms and the courtyard has plenty of shade if you need some time outdoors. Admission is free.
Once we got home J wanted to sort through her stamps. The starter album has pages organized by topic so tomorrow we will get to work adding the stamps. We will definitely need to get another album though.
There are quite a few activities for toddlers that you could do involving stamps.
- make a matching or memory game with pairs of stamps
- sorting, categorizing and classifying
- make a stamp discovery or sensory bin
- storytelling with stamps
- use them in post office role play
- make bookmarks or other pieces of art
- using stamps when learning about colors, the alphabet and numbers
There are even more ways to incorporate stamps into learning for older children. There are plenty of ideas on the PHF website.
And of course, this is a hobby that you might enjoy right along with the kiddos! I gathered a few for myself but I think I need to narrow my collection down to a specific topic, too!
Here is a page of stamp collecting resources, including some for children.
If you are interested in postal history, there’s quite a bit of historical information about Arizona’s Postal History on the PHF website.
There is also an Annual Tucson Birthday Stamp Design Contest for Kids going on right now. Entries are due by August 1st, 2013.
If you are a stamp collector, please tell us about your collection! Any advice for newbies? Any other ideas for toddler activities or crafts?