Design A Postage Stamp

This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can design a postage stamp with your whole family together!

1st thru 4th grades
5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades

Layers of Learning Unit 4-2
Unit 4-2: Expanding Nation, Pacific States, Motors & Engines, Tall Tales

The Design-A-Postage Stamp is an art exploration from Layers of Learning Unit 4-2 about Tall Tales. It is also featured in some of the geography sections, encouraging kids to design postage stamps that showcase a unique feature or landscape of a country. Unit 2-14 includes the geography postage stamps. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

Your kids can design a postage stamp of their very own.  How cool would it be to be a stamp designer? This project can be used in any subject and for just about any topic under the sun. You could design your own postage stamp featuring a noteworthy person, an interesting landmark, your own state flower or national symbol, or even a famous painting. You could create an abstract art postage stamp or make one featuring an invention, a flower, or an animal. Postage stamps have been created over the years to commemorate many people, places, and events. Choose a subject you’re learning about and create your very own design.

For this sample lesson, we’ll showcase the postage stamp exploration that is featured in Layers of Learning Unit 4-2 about American tall tales.

Step 1: Library Research

Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about some tall tale heroes or heroines. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about tall tales or American legends. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for, although with tall tales books, all of them can really be read aloud with all of your kids together.

Pecos Bill

by Steven Kellogg

John Henry

by Ezra Jack Keats

Casey at the Bat

by Christopher Bing

Step 2: Design A Postage Stamp

For this exploration, you simply need any pens, pencils, crayons, or markers you would like and the Design A Postage Stamp printable.

Design a postage stamp about a place in the world.

The U.S. Post Office issued a special set of postage stamps honoring American folk heroes in 1996. It included stamps that featured Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Pecos Bill, and Casey at the Bat. Design and create your own set of stamps based on your favorite tall tale heroes.

Casey at the Bat Postage Stamp

A Few More Ideas

  • Design a stamp about a famous person or event you are studying from history.
  • Make a stamp similar to a coat of arms, that represents significant things about a historical person.
  • After learning about a country, design a postage stamp that would highlight something or someone important from the country.
  • Make your postage stamp feature an important invention or inventor.
  • Create a stamp based on your favorite book, author, or character.
  • Make a stamp all about you.  Draw yourself in the center surrounded by things that represent who you are.
  • Design a postage stamp about an important scientist and their contribution.
  • Make your postage stamp feature your favorite subject or even the job you want to do when you grow up.
  • Design a postage stamp with your version of a famous piece of artwork on it.

You could also make a “book of stamps” by making several copies of the printable and making a series of postage stamps – the U.S. Presidents, states, provinces, Impressionist paintings, a holiday, the French Revolution, the human body, plants, insects, or characters from a book.

Step 3: Show What You Know

Put your stamp collection together to hang on the wall, a bulletin board, or on a poster. Create a display with caption boxes that tell about the stamps you designed and the stories of the people they feature. As you present your project, read or tell the tall tale story of at least one of the characters you featured on your stamp design.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Writer’s Workshop

“Paul’s clothing was so
large they had to use wagon wheels for but-
tons. They used a lumber wagon drawn by a team of oxen as a baby carriage. When he outgrew this his parents put him on a raft off the coast of Maine.”
Take this quote and turn it on its head. Rewrite it for a teeny tiny per-
son instead of giant Paul Bunyan.

Additional Layer

Have a discussion com-
paring tall tales with literature from other cultures, times, or places. Describe some similarities and differences between these and tall tales. You might consider including fairy tales, fables, Greek myths, and science fiction stories.

Famous Folks

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, was a master of the literary tall tale. He could weave a story with the best of them and seemed to make even the most ordinary situations seem extraordinary. Better yet, he made them extraordinarily funny.

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