Using ‘The Boy in the Post’ in the classroom
Hello wonderful teachers! ‘The Boy In The Post’ is an epic postal adventure across land, sea and sky which follows siblings Orinthia, Séafra and Taber as they go in search of a missing homing pelican! Readers will come across incredible animals, rare stamps, freight trains and packet ships, new landscapes, unfamiliar foods and unique families. As such, I think there is plenty of scope for the story and its themes to inspire further activities and wider learning. So here are some simple ideas for using the book within the classroom.
People in the post biographies
Whilst researching this book I discovered that a variety of people have actually sent themselves through the post over the years! Students might like to write a fact-filled biography of one of the following individuals:
Encourage students to find information that is factual; explore the circumstances of the person’s life; delve into wider cultural and historical context; and source personal stories or anecdotes.
(Picture credit: National Endowment for the Humanities)
Philatelic Art Project
As you can imagine, stamps play a huge part in the plot of The Boy In The Post. It was a joy to delve into the world of philately during my research process, and I spent far too long ogling at the beautiful designs of these tiny squares of gummed paper. As a fun art activity, students could have a go at designing their own stamps. Get them to think about their stamp’s country of origin and what design might best represent it. Will it feature a head of state? Some flora or fauna? A famous landmark? A historical event? They could even create a stamp which comes from a different planet!
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having been inspired by the Shalloo siblings’ overseas postal adventure, students might like to write a letter to someone in another country. It could be to a pen pal, a family member, a celebrity, a head of state, a refugee, or even an animal! They’ll need to decide what the purpose of the letter is, whether the tone should be formal or informal, what language they will write in, and what information they’d like to exchange.
(Photo credit: Twosides)
Animal helpers drama activity
In The Boy In The Post, readers will discover The Mailbox Menagerie — a post office staffed entirely by animals and birds. During my research process, I came across some truly remarkable creatures who make our world better in more ways than one — rats who can sniff out land mines, world-war messenger pigeons, therapy dogs, recycling octopuses! A fun drama activity could see students acting out some of the above scenarios, with their classmates trying to guess what animal they are and what they are doing. This could be done using mime or they could be encouraged to use dialogue / sound effects. Get them to really think about the various animals’ physicalities and how they move.
(Photo credit: Ripley’s believe it or Not)
The Boy in the Post by Holly Rivers is out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House)