In early November I took on a mammoth task.
I love home education but as with everything, there are a one or two small cons, at least for us. One of which is Christmas Cards. (See, it’s very small con indeed.)
Now, in our first year of home educating we didn’t send nor receive many Christmas Cards which was a big change from the usual 30+ cards to and from a whole class of children. But even though the walls looked bare it was the giving of cards that we missed the most. There is something special about writing out each Christmas Card and sending a warm Christmas greeting to all those you know and appreciate. We didn’t really know of many local home edders at the time nor do we have a large family or social circle so we just went with it.
But I thought ahead for 2016 and had a *rare* brainwave (Yes, It hurt 😉 )
Many of you know I’ve been working on our Montessori Continent Boxes. I had just participated in another Montessori cultural exchange but this time I was exchanging with a school in India. ( See “We’ve had a special delivery…” and “Great Britain” for more information about previous exchanges). I had included a Christmas Card from my local village in the parcel I was preparing. How awesome would it be to send more Christmas Cards around the world? How cool would it be to receive cards from around the world? Once we had finished I could add the cards to our boxes with some information about the Christmas traditions in their country.
I posted on a worldwide homeschool Facebook group asking if a few other home educators from around the world would like to exchange cards with us. We could swap with a few other countries, learn about a few new traditions, explore a few cultures and send out some cards through the post. Ouhh and we could swap with different counties in the UK too. I could totally prepare some different activities for a county study, plus it would keep the cost low. Lots of lovely learning! Win Win! I pressed the ‘post’ button hopefully but with no expectations for anyone to actually comment on it.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There it was almost instantly. Our first exchange with a family in Poland! Yayyyy.
Ouhh and a second. Then a third and a forth.
“Ding, Ding, Ding” My phone notifications were going crazy.
Within an hour I had to make a separate group and I soon realised that I couldn’t possibly exchange with everyone so I began arranging swaps for the others in the group too.
I went to bed that night with a huge smile on my face. There would be children all over the world who would get Christmas Cards this year who otherwise wouldn’t. That made me very happy.
The next day.
When I woke up the next morning I was inundated with requests to join the group. There were over a hundred requests and almost as many messages! How cool is that? I quickly got to work going through each message and adding them to a big list, trying to pair up exchanges by matching children of similar ages with the hope they might like to continue writing to each other. I have very fond memories of writing to my pen pals when I was younger so maybe kids today will still enjoy it too. However, arranging the matches wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. There were a lot of things to take into account. Ages, locations, siblings, postage costs, postage times, desired amount of exchanges, etc. Plus new people were joining all the time.
Preparing the lists.
I organised the lists as quickly and thoroughly as I could. Pop was teething which made things more difficult but I did it. I organised the lists and got them sent them out. There was a grand total of 296 children from 16 countries who participated in the exchange, plus lots more who arranged privately after I sent out the lists.
Within a few days the cards began to arrive. Zip and Bear were soooo excited!
We decided to make all of ours and made quite a few. Until a drink was spilled on them ruining the majority 🙁 The kids were devastated and reluctant to make them again so we send half handmade and half shop bought. Although Bear did learn to write her name which is awesome!!
The cards just kept on coming. Almost every day a new card would arrive full of warm Christmas greetings, letters and stickers.
The above was a picture of some of the cards we received mid-swap. I had to move them due to decorating and running out of space.
The group now stands at 443 members which is pretty impressive for our first ever exchange. Yep, that’s right. We’re going to do it all again next year and some ideas for in-between. I have a better plan for arranging swaps this year though as I didn’t quite expect it to be so popular last year, so the odd mistake happened plus a few delays. :O
I expect Christmas 2017 will be another amazing experience. We can’t wait!