We’ve reached out to families around the world to ask how they homeschool and came across Laura Jean and her family in the Arctic. She has a pen pals program that dives deep into the beauty and community of the far north lands.
Jean and her family have created Polar Pen Pal, an interactive homeschool unit about the Arctic based on the family’s actual daily life and inspired by neighbors and friends in Iqaluit. Jean created this program to offer a real perspective on the lives of the Inuit people after finding that much of the information offered for students to study was incorrect or misinformed.
What was the inspiration behind Polar Pen Pal?
I homeschooled my son and, as part of the grade requirements, he had to learn about life in the Arctic. We looked at the resources that were available and, since we had a unique perspective because we live up north, I was shocked at all the misinformation and outdated information that was out there, even from reputable sources.
For example, many resources showed penguins in the Arctic…but penguins only live at the south pole and there are no penguins in the Arctic! Also in regards to Inuit (Eskimo) culture, information was available about how they used to live (in igloos) but little was available to see the culture as it is today; a beautiful blend of the past traditions mixed in with the modern influences and resources.
Since we are living here, immersed in the land and the culture, we thought it would be fun to connect with other families and be able to give them a PERSONAL connection with the north and give them ACCURATE information about life here. We have been able to collaborate with local Inuit (Eskimo) and have them share some stories and their talented arts and crafts as well.
How does it work?
Polar Pen Pal started as a 6 month subscription, where each month your child will receive in the mail a special package personally addressed to them. Each month explores a new topic regarding life in the north.
We share our real life photos and stories, along with stickers, little gifts and souvenirs, and a special “boarding pass” which unlocks online activities. These online activities have videos, songs, crafts, colouring pages and more to explore the topic further. The child can also write to us and send their letter on their own little adventure to the north. They will receive a personalized response to their letters!
Since launching, we have also made the program available in a few other options. These include a 6-week option, or all-in-one package, for those who wish to complete the topic in a shorter amount of time. The all-in-one package is great for unit studies. We also have a digital PDF version available for instant fun. It is especially popular with our international friends to save on shipping costs.
What age group does this work for?
We have aimed our program to appeal to kids between 5-12 years of age. That being said, we have had pen pals as young as 3 and as old as 17. We received wonderful feedback from them all.
What advice can you give parents to best use a pen pals program in their homeschool?
Our program is an exciting way to add “spice” to your homeschool program. The excitement of getting personalized mail, learning about a far away but very REAL place, and having the chance to write to a new friend. It makes learning so fun they don’t even realize they are learning!
This is a great fit for kids who might be reluctant readers, or writers, or for those who have an insatiable curiosity and sense of adventure. We’ve even been contacted by families who loved the program so much they are now planning a trip to the north! (After COVID, of course.)
What is the Blizzard of Kindness Project?
The Blizzard Of Kindness Project is a fun project we’re starting to do our part to encourage acts of kindness from the top of the world to the rest of the world! Our motto is: A blizzard can start with a single snowflake…and a single act of kindness can spark a flurry of good deeds!
We want to encourage others to sprinkle kindness like snowflakes wherever they go! On our website we have FREE kindness printable cards and lists of simple random of acts of kindness. These are either free or very affordable to help spread kindness. We encourage others to snap a photo of their act of kindness and post on instagram. Tag us, and use the hashtag #BlizzardOfKindness to help spread the love and kindness and inspire others to do the same.
If there is anything this world can use right now, it’s more kindness! 😉 We also have “Kindness Flakes” available for purchase which can be sent anonymously. It’s kind of like buying coffee for the person in line behind you at a drive through. Or you can purchase for yourself or to give to a friend. They are just a little reminder that someone cares.
“Kindness is like snow…it beautifies everything it touches”
Follow the family’s Arctic adventures on Instagram