What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
Today is Benjamin Franklin's birthday.
|Grades||1 – 6|
|Calendar Activity Type||Historical Figure & Event|
Statesman Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, and is well known as one of the leading founders and important early political figures of the United States. Franklin is also known for his writings and achievements in a wide variety of areas-including his famous experiments with electricity. Among his many accomplishments, from 1775 to 1776, Franklin served as Postmaster General under the Continental Congress.
Note Franklin's service as Postmaster General by setting up your own classroom postal service. First, have students investigate the roles and duties of the USPS Postmaster General and Franklin's role in particular. Discuss Franklin's contributions to postal history, then have students set up their own mail delivery service.
- First, have the class nominate (by show of hands or ballot) and select a Postmaster General, who will organize your postal service.
- Set up mailboxes, such as mail pouches attached to student desks, shoeboxes with slotted lids, shelves, decorated coffee cans, etc. Then choose a frequency of delivery-daily? Morning and afternoon?
- Finally, have the Postmaster General organize a group of "mail carriers" to collect and deliver mail from and to mailboxes. You may wish to have all students take turns along with other classroom jobs, or accept volunteers who can be scheduled for mail duty on a rotating basis.
- Students can use the interactive Letter Generator to write letters to their classmates. Be sure students understand that their letters should be appropriate for the classroom, and that everyone should be included. More tips are available for use with the Letter Generator.
- Benjamin Franklin: In His Own Words
This online exhibit from the Library of Congress examines Franklin through a wealth of primary sources.
- Benjamin Franklin
PBS offers this extensive resource about Benjamin Franklin's life and work. Included are lesson plans and interactive activities.
- National Postal Museum
This Smithsonian Institute website offers information on U.S. postal history and stamp collecting. Included is information on the Pony Express, Airmail, Mail Call during times of war, and details on the role of Benjamin Franklin in the establishment of the U.S. Post Office.
- Ben's Guide to U.S. Government
This child-friendly site provides readable information about Franklin's work as a printer, librarian, inventor, and statesman. A cartoon Ben then serves as host, explaining a variety of topics related to the U.S. government.
Grades 3 – 5 | Lesson Plan | Unit
People make the past come alive as students research and then share stories about famous Americans who promoted democratic ideals.
Grades 2 – 5 | Lesson Plan | Unit
Let the power of imagination and inference serve as a “time machine” to bring Benjamin Franklin into the classroom! History and science come to life in a dialogue with Franklin the inventor, developed through lesson activities that incorporate research, imagination, writing, visual arts, and drama.
Grades 3 – 5 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students discuss and chart letter elements and write their own letters to adults at school, reinforcing letter-writing skills beyond the classroom lesson.
Grades K – 2 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Children write and receive postcards from friends and family, and then chart where all those postcards come from on a classroom map.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
With e-pals, students develop real-life writing and social experiences, learn the format of a friendly letter and parts of an e-mail message, and discover other cultures, languages, and geographic areas.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students discuss literature through a series of letter exchanges, as a one-time assignment or throughout the year with the students discussing, and making connections among, a number of literary works.