Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting Geared Up for Our ePals Projects This Year!

Well, it is that time of year again to start working with a new group of pen pals through this great online group called ePals. I have been doing ePAls projects for years now, both with my own two and with my students as teacher and gifted specialist.
ePAls is a free, teacher / homeschool parent moderated online pen pal service. It is so cool because you can do a search for classrooms and put in the specifics...the country of origin, the age, the type of school, etc.
They have set up projects that you can join or else you can create your own...over the years, I have worked with classrooms from so many different places: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany, and the U.K.
We exchanged Christmas stories and sent gingerbread houses to school in Italy. We exchanged care packages and a Power point presentation with a school from Japan...and then, the coolest thing...our Japanese ePAls classroom teacher was over for a fellowship so we actually got to meet and do an in-person exchange! Our Japanese friends wanted to try macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, and then, they wanted to know more about Santa and his reindeer! So we exhcnged all kinds of Christmas picture books with them!
They gave us a neat banner about classroom rules, a Japenese lantern, and some post cards and books.
This year, we are going to work with some new classes, as we are a much younger group and needed to be paired up with preschool through grade 1 pen pals.
We are doing exchanges with two schools (one public and one private) in California, one homeschool in Kentucky, a private Montessori school in Italy, a public school in New Zealand, and two private schools in the U.K. We are hoping to rope in some of you to join us in doing the International Peace Project. We will be doing exchanges in September and March for this.
We also love doing Holidays Around the World and Book Club.
If interested, please check out www. epals.com

2 comments:

Montessori Moments said...

This sounds like fun! Have you had good luck with doing this?
I'll have to take a peak at it sometime!

The Sunshine Crew said...

Yes,
I have had a very good experience with ePals. The only thing I have noticed is that this year, I occasionally end up with spam in my inbox, but they are very good about setting up spam blocker.
What I try to do is I do a search for the countries we are interested in studying about to see if there are classrooms who would like to work with a small number of children.
If you decide that you want to do this, you are welcome to join the projects we are doing, in addition to any other ones that sound interesting to you. They have ePals all over the world and they have a built in translation feature so that you can work with classrooms even if they don't speak English.
Over the years, we have done some really cool projects, even with older students...one year, some older children wrote their version of familiar fairy tales in English, as they were learning how to speak English...then, my students illustrated the stories they had written. One year, we exchanged Christmas ornaments...some of the schools are on very different schedules, but it makes it very hands on to learn about the Southern hemisphere when they are discussing winter while your family is in summer. There are some Montessori schools, but I have never really concerned myself if they are Montessori or not, as for the purpose of learning about a new culture, sometimes it is neat to see how different their schooling is from what we are doing.
As far as how it ties in with Montessori inspired learning, it is an awesome cultural experience.
Very hands on and real for children.

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We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
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