Sunday, July 05, 2009

Followup to TheLaptopTraveler's Appearance on SC's channel 4 with Kelly Coakley

Wow ... can you believe it? A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Kelly Coakley, one of the TV anchors at South Carolina's Channel 4. Apparently she found this blog and liked it, and wanted to share it with viewers on their Sunday morning show: would I be willing to come down and do a live interview to talk about it?

Great timing, as I had just been thinking about discontinuing this blog because I didn't think too many people were really interested. But now it would have another chance to reach more possible readers ... so of course I wanted to try!

If you saw the show, you'll know it was just two short spots ... so I didn't get a chance to share everything I would have liked. So this post is to give you more information on this postcard-collecting hobby I love. (If you didn't see the show, check back here soon for a link to the video. Or visit, the station's online forum and local blog aggregator--they'll have a video of the show up there for about a week.)

1. Collecting postcards, stamps and banknotes/coinage is a GREAT way to teach your children about the world! You and they can collect from the U.S. and/or from around the world. I'm pretty proud of my geography whizzes; they know more about geography than most kids their age. How involved your child gets depends on their interest -- don't force it on them or it'll never stick.

For instance my middle son, age 9, is not really into the postcard thing all that much. But he did, for a time, write to and swap postcards with several penpals. And he has an album all his own where he stores cards he collects when we travel, cards sent by relatives, and cards I get for him. To really pique his interest, I found a set of "cars" on postcards since he LOVES cars. When I was preparing for the show, digging through my postcard albums, he pulled his out, too, and excitedly started showing me the cards he had collected: postcards from Venice, Italy and Maine from his teacher; a postcard from Downtown Disney that a penpal sent--he liked remembering our own trip to Downtown Disney before we moved to North Carolina.

My other two kids, ages 10 and 8, are a little more into the hobby. They also have albums; they also buy postcards for themselves when we travel; they, too, for a time wrote and swapped cards and small gifts with foreign and domestic penpals.

You can find penpals and get postcards for your children at Sign your child us as a member at Postcrossing (using your name and other details to keep them safe!) to send and receive postcards ... and then check out the forums, where you'll find members with kids looking for other members whose kids would like to be penpals. Or--post a request for a penpal for your child yourself!

Postcards also might lead your kids into two other hobbies: stamp and coin/banknote collecting. Two of my kids also collect stamps; and my oldest also collects coins, primarily US coins, although he does have a jarful of foreign coins he's gathered over the years.

For the stamp part of the hobby, I bought all three of the kids an identical stamp collecting album called Stamp It: The Ultimate Stamp Collecting Activity Book by Leslie Jonath. This book is great--I highly recommend it--because the kids can affix their stamps by topic on topical pages, such as a page called "go for the gold," where they can post stamps that feature the Olympics; or another called "the color of stamps," where they can put stamps of matching colors into colored boxes. My daughter's album has a red stamp with the Queen of England in the red box, a yellow stamp from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (in Western Africa) in the yellow box, a blue stamp from India in the blue box, and a yellow stamp from Australia in the yellow box.

Some of the stamps they received on the envelopes sent by their (and my) penpals. But to really help them kickoff the hobby, I bought them all a few starter collections, including a lot of mixed foreign stamps for all to share and smaller packages reflecting their individual interests: cats on stamps for my cat-loving daughter, space on stamps for my space-loving son, cars on stamps for my car-loving son, maps on stamps for me--and even a set of bugs on stamps for my pest-control husband, so that even he could sit down with us once in a while to share in our mutual hobby :)

2. On the show, I mentioned that the "best" postcards to me are those that show a unique feature about the place where it's from. But I forgot to add that I also like to collect certain topics, such as maps on postcards, airplanes on postcards, trains on postcards, busy city streets on postcards, universities on postcards, cultural costumes on postcards, local art cards (featuring the artwork of local and regional artists), and cards that represent or commemorate cultural events (such as my cards commemorating September 11th and the death of Princess Diana).

This is such a flexible hobby; you can collect just about whatever floats your boat! If you're into birds, collect bird postcards. Religion, how about churches or icons. Boats--well, boats on postcards! Others try to collect one card from every "living" country; others collect advertising postcards; others still, cards from all the UNESCO world heritage sites. The sky is the limit, really.

I think that's enough for now although I'm sure I'll think of more to share over the next day or three. If you have any questions about this hobby, or about stamp collecting or anything else, please get in touch by leaving a comment! Also include your e-mail (which I believe remains unpublished) so I can reply.

Thanks for reading! The Laptop Traveler (that's me), appreciates your support :)

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