Great Mail Race Survey


  • The student will be able to select a town in a designated state.
  • The student will be able to locate the state postal code and town zip code on the Internet (with help from the teacher).
  • The student will help to create and refine a survey with the whole class.
  • The student will be able to word process the survey.


  • Name of each state on separate slips of paper
  • Class set of atlases
  • Microsoft Works, Word, or other word processing program.


  1. Put the names of the states in a hat or container.
  2. Introduce The Great Mail Race by explaining its purpose and how it is carried out. This is a nationwide activity in which fourth and fifth graders send letters of request to each of the fifty states seeking some sort of reply. The desired outcome is to get a response from all of the states.
  3. Each student picks the name of a state.
  4. Using an atlas, the student selects a town in his/her designated state.
  5. Explain postal codes and zip codes. Using the Internet, the student finds his/her state postal code and town zip code.
  6. A short lesson is given discussing the survey (its purpose and size). This survey will be sent to each state.
  7. The class creates a survey by brainstorming possible questions and refining them. The points to be considered are: what we already know about individual states, what we want to know, who will be filling out the survey, and how many questions should be on it. Keep notes from the brainstorming session on the board or display a chart so students can refer to them during the lesson.
  8. Student word processes the final draft of the survey on a computer.

After the lesson is completed, students can write letters for the Great Mail Race using a separate lesson plan.

Students create a survey to use in the Great Mail Race as a way of learning more about the United States.
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