Have you ever used a pile of low-value postage stamps to engage others in conversation? Stamp Tells & Tales, a simple activity that has proven popular with different age-levels, from young children to octogenarians, involves a pile of stamps, self-selection, and story-telling. This activity requires little advanced preparation: just an assortment of used postage stamps and a group of people — perhaps your family, or a group of friends over a video chat.
There are many options for “tell and tale” sharing. For example, participants can choose five stamps that help to describe their past experiences and each “tell” their story, illustrated with postage stamps. An alternative is to have participants choose a specified number of stamps and use them to spin a “tale,” a fictionalized story, using stamps to embellish it. There are many ways to add a creative spin to “tale” sharing: Is the story winding down? Have another participant pick a stamp at random and start chapter two! Another more specific alternative is to have each person choose a stamp that elicits a childhood memory or evokes a “tell” about a favorite place, an interesting person, a special event, or a treasured object. Additionally, participants can pick stamps that represent subjects they would like to know more about or create a “bucket list” of things to do in the future.
Story sharing works best in small groups of between two and six, so if you are in a larger group, split into smaller ones so that each person has a chance to tell their story or share a tale. Don’t forget to allow time for “audience members” to ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of every storyteller’s personal history or creative mind.
Each person brings an abundance of life experiences and wisdom to any gathering. Stamps can help each of us, both the young and the experienced, tell stories that will help us to learn more about one another, relax, enjoy ourselves, make new friends, and develop mutual appreciation, while learning about the wide variety of people, places, and subjects found on postage stamps.
In this period of social distancing and video conferencing, when you may not be able to provide a pile of stamps to initiate a conversation, ask participants to look at their own mail for a stamp or find a picture of a stamp using the Internet and use it to tell or tale. They could “tell” a story about what the stamp reminds them of from their past or create a “tale” inspired by the stamp’s vignette. The resulting tells and tales can be humorous and engaging and, most importantly, help us to learn more about one another.
Expanding the hobby is a matter of building bridges. Please share your ideas, activities, and resources for building bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org. With your help we will build a strong bridge to the future.