Today is Benjamin Franklin's birthday.
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.
This online exhibit from the Library of Congress examines Franklin through a wealth of primary sources.
PBS offers this extensive resource about Benjamin Franklin's life and work. Included are lesson plans and interactive activities.
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.
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.