Monday, September 2, 2013

We joined a Postcard Exchange

Recently I came across a site on facebook called Homeschool penpals/postcard exchange/geo-cac/book exchange/activity bagswap. Bit of a mouthful ey? It is a closed group so you have to ask permission to join. It's quite easy to find and join.
Basically they set up groups that you can join to swap postcards, books, crafts and so on.  You don't need to sign up to a group you can just pop a status on that "You are a family from NZ (OZ, etc) and looking to exchange postcards, with ... ". Be aware if you are from NZ or Australia you will get a lot of response, which is just great but a bit overwhelming.

So far besides, the many US States, we are swapping with Italy, Germany, England, the State Western Australia, South Africa and a card from Holland.

Besides deciding to join and swap postcards, my girls collect sew on badges / patches which they sew onto their GirlGuide (US GirlScout) blankets and so we asked on there if anyone was interested in swapping and we had a few respond which was cool. The girls are very interested in those coming. As some of the people we are swapping with are also in GirlScouts or American Girls we'll be including photos of the girls in their uniforms and they'll be doing the same.

So if your kids have anything they like to collect you can always ask, you might get someone willing to swap with you. :)

Also if you are after a pen pal for your youngster there is an area for that to search for or simply post a request for one. My girls have somehow ended up with another two pen friends each but are eagerly awaiting their first letters from them.

Some tips; cause I am like such an old hand now ... two weeks later and very broke:
  • Because in our case ALL of the participants are international it is a pretty expensive exercise. It costs me around $2.50 NZD per card to post. (US 1.95 or AUD 2.20)  Therefore I would be set up before listing any requests. IE have a pile of postcards, written and stamped ready to go.

  • I would also limit how many go out a week, for instance even if I only send 10 a week , that's still $25.00. So ask for certain places, IE any international countries (there's not that many) but where the US is concerned you have 50 states all approaching you so if you wish to collect from every State then do a list of the states and simply ask for specific States and work your way through a list, otherwise you could find yourself bombarded by the nicest people.
  • When dealing with the US people note they tend to only put abbreviations of their states, so I printed a list with all the States with their abbreviations so I knew where they were talking about. Most make sense but if you are like me, you don't always remember each of them. Also a funny little habit they have is when they give you their address they hardly ever write USA in it ... it always amuses me.

  • Be also aware that some postcards may simply have a lovely picture of it (especially the homemade/printed ones), so if you want one with the state or country on it then it may pay to put it in your post. Otherwise your kids will keep asking when you glue tack it to the wall or stick it in your map book where it's from ... hehe

  • Because I joined my girls to this, and it is for them, I expect them to write the postcards but after them each penning their fourth cards ... guess what ... yup, the moaning started. So we ended up typing something up and printing it out. We then glue the "letter" onto the postcard which saves a lot of time (and my ears) but they still are expected to write the address on the cards. You will get a lot of cards written in mama's writing, either because the kids are too young or they may have moaned like mine did ... and it was probably easier just to write them themselves.

  • I also record each person we swap with, the date we posted their card and the date we received a card from them. That way if we don't receive one from someone we sent them to we can ask them about it or if it is anything serious we can report it to one of the administrators, who are very proactive on the site.

Even though this has been a tad expensive for us, it didn't have to be, so forewarned is forearmed. If you have any questions feel free to ask. It really is a lot of fun, especially the pen-pal and in our case badge swap.

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