MOUNT VERNON — “This is the best day ever,” one lad declared when asked what he thought about Pen Pal Day.
Sponsored by the Knox County Educational Service Center, Pen Pal Day, held May 19 at the Children’s Garden, gives second-graders from across the county the opportunity to meet their counterparts from different schools, and more important, gives them a face-to-face connection with the second-grader with whom they have been corresponding all school year. Approximately 340 students and 15 teachers attended this year’s event.
Paired with their pen pals, the pupils rotated through seven different stations in the Children’s Garden and adjacent lawn. Activities included face painting, putt putt golf, sack and sponge races, an obstacle course, photo shoot, bean bag and ring toss games, and exploration in the Children’s Garden, all manned by ESC personnel, community volunteers and horticulture students from the Knox County Career Center.
The pen pal program was designed by ESC consultant Jan Taylor to meet one of the state content standards for second- grade language arts, writing personal letters.
Social skills can also be refined through the correspondence, she said.
“Making a new friend through ongoing communication creates a real-life reason for including relevant, clear information, using correct letter format and following writing conventions,” she said. “Written messages have purpose, create lasting friendships, and serendipitously offer excitement when children hear, ‘You’ve got mail!’”