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Here are a two letters we have received which have a wealth of ideas and inspiration. Some of our questions we have sorted by subject matter - broadly three areas: starting a club; running clubs; and technical things and then put all the questions together in an archive with links to their answers. You can link from page to page or use the shortcuts below:

Starting a club
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Have you got ideas and tips for your fellow club leaders? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve held a successful juniors’ day or are planning an event.

Help us spread the word about how much fun stamp collecting can be – send your contributions to our Letterbox Editor, Erene Grieve: click here (see also this link for more on Erene's 'Stamps in Schools' project

NEWS OF STAMP CLUBS (and some posers for Erene)

LETTER 1 This letter came from a new stamp club organiser.  In it he describes club activities during the past term, and poses two questions for Erene to answer.

WOODLANDS STAMP BUG CLUB (LEEDS) Organiser: Simon Bulmer (Business Manager)

Dear Erene
We have around six children in our club.  I remember when I was young and an avid collector I was very interested in where the stamp came from and what it had to say about the subject more than just collecting.  I have tried to instil this enthusiasm into the stamp club members too.  We have a stamp of the week where I chose either an old or modern stamp and enlarge it through the photocopier.  We then spend 10 minutes looking at the stamp and discussing where it is from and any other details that we can see from the stamp.  The children are getting very good at this and we end up with a large list of details that bring many curricular subjects into the discussion e.g. geography, maths, English, history, art and music.
I have also introduced 'Name the Country' this is to help the children identify where the stamp comes from because of the different spellings e.g. Norge, CCCP etc.  I give the children clues as to where the country is and use coloured maps to find the country.  In addition to this I have also introduce stamp terms such as perforations, phosphor bands, mini sheets, watermarks, Machin stamps, definitive and commemorative stamps.  The kids find this interesting especially if I can show them what I am referring to. In the last week I have introduced 'Find the Famous Person Stamp' were the children find a person on a stamp and take it home to research who this is. They seem to find this interesting too.Oh and by the way we are filling our stamp books up too and will be starting a school stamp collection.I have a couple of questions that I am hoping you can answer for me.

Q. I keep introducing new things as we go along, do you have any further thoughts as to how we can incorporate other good ideas to keep their interest?

You could think about introducing the idea of entering stamp competitions.  You have a nice number to work with there - six - and they sound as though they are really developing.  This might be something that you could start building up to.  Each February there is the Stamp Active Competition - individual entries of at least 4 pages, and Group Entries of 16 pages.  You say that you are going to start a club album, why not start thinking of a club theme - it could be linked with something they are doing in school perhaps, or just something that appeals to them all.  Have a club stock book too to build up a stock of items to use for your theme.  At the same time you can start them thinking about the sort of theme they may like to do their own 4 page entry on. Look at the advice elsewhere on this website on doing competition entries.  Copies of this leaflet are available.I actually start them thinking about it over the weekend or the holidays (thinking of possible themes and doing some research). They can start work on them when they come back.  You could even get them to do a one page in-club competition over the holidays and give a prize for the best (I usually give them something that will help them with the other 3 pages).  It could be without any guidelines and you could work up to giving them some guidelines perhaps.  Guidelines can be simple (e.g. A4, portrait orientation) or quite prescriptive (e.g. 8 - 10 stamps, up to 50 words about their theme (no bigger than 12 cpi), and up to 20 words about the stamps at the bottom of the page (maybe gleaned from catalogues).

Q. I now want to introduce them to looking in catalogues and build in some fun maths.  I just need to get some catalogues from somewhere, where can I get some from without having to buy them?

I suggest that you contact the Secretary of your local philatelic society, many societies have catalogues that are a few years old and have been replaced by more up to date ones.  I will send you the name and address of the person you need to contact - I have already spoken to him and he has just what you need and will be pleased to bring them to the school.

LETTER 2 A SCHOOL STAMP CLUB IN GLASGOW This club is organised by members of a Philatelic Society and has been operating for a year.

Dear Erene,
I thought that I would tell you about our Stamp Club. It is run by 5 of us from a philatelic society in Glasgow and I think that I can speak for all of us in saying that we have got more out of taking part than we ever expected. It has been a real eye opener and although I think we all went in with a degree of trepidation, that has long gone.  The children are eager to participate and learn, interesting in themselves, and genuinely seem to enjoy working together and helping each other.We ended the school year with 18 children - all had come on a regular basis since Christmas.  They seem to thoroughly enjoy their Thursdays - we do worksheets, competitions, team quizzes based on "Collect British Stamps" and give them time to bring in their own collections and talk about their favourite stamps.  After the Easter holidays we had an auction which went down really well.  They used points that they had built up over the session and we had everything from small stockbooks, hinges and magnifying glasses to hologram stamps, minisheets and masses of thematic stamps.Two of us went along to a Parents' Day and put up a display of different things that the children had done.  The feedback was most positive.  We spoke to all the parents who had children coming to the club, as well as several who said that their youngsters went home for lunch or did other things on Thursdays, but who had started collecting after a Stamps in Schools workshop that gave our club a kick start.We have a new Head-teacher and she is very supportive.  We have arranged a meeting to discuss the next session and possible support and help that the school can provide.  We had a party last meeting to celebrate the end of the stamp club's first year and the 100th birthday of our philatelic society. The Head-teacher organised a photographer from the local newspaper.  The children were given certificates for attendance and good work and we had put together a display of Jennifer Toombs' work (she is a stamp designer, and is judging their Design a Stamp Competition).  They were encouraged to discuss her designs as well as give us feedback on what they did and didn't like this year and what they would like to do next year.  Most encouraging was the fact that several of the members intend bringing their siblings when they are old enough.When the school returns after the holidays we will be putting on a presentation to a younger class and opening the club to them. This raises somes issues for us though.

Q. How can I integrate new members without holding back the ones that have been in the club for the last year?

This is always a problem and it depends on how much assistance is available as to how you tackle it.  You sound as though you have plenty of helpers, but I suspect that you take it in turns, so you may only have two helpers at any one session.  You could organise it so that one person concentrates on the new people while the other one works with the older ones.  You could have an occasional session where they all work on the same activity.The alternative is that they all work on the same activity but it is made easier for the new group.  For example, sorting or mounting stamps in countries could involve the new group using stamps where the country is obvious e.g. New Zealand, Australia.  The stamps could already be sorted. The more advanced group could have stamps with countries that have their name in a foreign language e.g. Espana, Magyar, Polska.  The task can be made even more difficult by not sorting the stamps at all, or having countries that use different alphabets.  Here they would need a guide of some sort.  A list to help with recognising where stamps come from would be useful for them to use - some albums already have them.You may decide that the older group will be working towards competition entries for much of the time.  There are competitions at different times of the year - regional and national, or you may just want to run your own competition within the club.The older ones will enjoy helping the younger ones at first but the novelty could wear off.  However they will enjoy acting in a leadership role on occasions and helping to run the club in some way.
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