As the dust (and shock) is starting to settle with the announcement of the new letter guidelines, now it’s time to start thinking about how we can make it work for our kids. Here are some ideas to kick-start our creativity…
IMPORTANT CHANGES TO LETTER GUIDELINES FROM 11 APRIL 2016
First, just to get things clear in my own mind, let’s do a recap. Okay, as I understand it from a careful read of the new guidelines, we now have a maximum of 6 sheets of paper to work with (8.5” x 11″) but can fill them up back and front. They must be completely flat and able to be easily scanned. One page must include a personal letter, otherwise it will not be sent. But we no longer have to leave any blank spaces for translation, so we could easily add something extra onto that page. The “6 sheets” rule is replacing the 1/4” thick rule.
FROM US TO OUR KIDS
The following items are now the ONLY things that are ‘approved attachments’ and will be physically delivered to our kids:
- Stickers (flat; no puffy, no foam)
- Bookmarks (flat, paper only; but they can be laminated)
- Musical greeting cards
Sponsors are already starting to think creatively: e.g. giant bookmarks and what they can write or glue on the back of them; or what can be written or glued inside a musical greeting card or on the back of a sheet of stickers.
FROM US ~ DIGITALLY ~ TO OUR KIDS
We can still send other paper items as we have been doing, but they will be scanned and then sent digitally (i.e. emailed) to your child’s country office, where the scanned copy will be printed and then delivered to your child. The originals will be discarded. They include things like:
- Greeting cards
- Coloring pages
- Paper crafts
Also items like these: articles for kids, puzzle worksheets, devotional snippets, maps, apologetics snippets, Bible posters, Bible wallet cards (sent as a whole sheet), Bible verse cards, a colourful sheet of Bible verses, Bible study snippets, Bible cartoons, learn to draw, drawings, disassembled paper dolls, disassembled origami, etc. They are looking for completely flat, scan friendly paper items that will not get stuck in their machines. They would like to avoid items that are smaller than 8 1/2″ x 11″ or that have glitter or other products that could interfere with the scanner. That means no more pockets, flaps or loose items, etc. Think: straight from the printer. They advise that it helps with scanning if items are a standard paper size but items do not need to be that size. They will accept any size photos, etc, as long as it is 8.5″ x 11″ (or less). We could make up a scrapbook collage of photos for our kids, so long as they don’t come adrift in the scanner. All of my free printables (e.g. Bible wallet cards) are scan friendly and fit the guidelines. Check my index page for lots of free printable ideas. I’ve been sending some of my older kids back issues of the fabulous Creation magazine that has been so helpful in building my own faith. We can still do that, but now have to choose only 5 flat pages at a time. Plastic sheet protectors will not go through to our kids, so we have to be sure to label everything; and we may like to staple things for each child together. Laminated items may not scan well, so they recommend not to (other than bookmarks which will physically go through to the child). They also advise that all children have access to glue and scissors. Phew, is that everything?
SO WHAT CAN WE SEND?
So as I understand it, we could send combinations like these:
- 1 letter
- 5 bookmarks = 6 sheets
Your child will physically receive a scanned copy of your letter, and later, the 5 bookmarks.
- 1 letter
- 1 colouring page
- 1 craft activity page
- 1 bookmark
- 1 (normal) greeting card
- 1 sheet of stickers = 6 sheets
Your child will physically receive a scanned copy of your letter, colouring page, greeting card and the craft activity, and later, the bookmark and the sheet of stickers…
Okay, let’s have a look at an example of what we can send, say if we want to do a theme and use both front AND back of those 6 sheets of paper:
- 1 letter (scanned)
- 1 article for kids (scanned)
- 1 colouring page filled with a compilation of smaller colouring pages – here’s an easy tutorial to show you how to do that (scanned)
- 1 puzzle page with a compilation of smaller puzzle pages – use the same tutorial above (scanned)
- 1 paper craft activity (scanned)
- 3 sheets of printables (e.g. 1 sheet of Bible wallet cards, colourful list of Bible verses, Bible posters, etc) (scanned) = 4 sheets… so far, back to back…
- 1 sheet of stickers (physically sent)
- 1 bookmark (physically sent) = 6 sheets… is that right?…this is doing my head in. :)
If you have any queries about what you can or can’t send, please contact staff directly. I know that not all my readers are Compassion sponsors and most items that I post are already scan friendly (some crafts will now not be suitable), so I will keep posting as I have been doing, while keeping an eye on the new guidelines. However, I will be adding things like giant bookmarks for some additional fun. And maybe some free printable stickers or even scrapbook pages, too. We’ll see. Like everyone else, I’ll initially probably be concentrating on bookmarks and stickers for my kids. But let’s not stop there. Let’s think of ways we can make things fun for our kids, knowing that they will still receive them, even if it’s not our original piece of paper. There are ways we can keep our costs down while still making our pages look interesting (e.g. using lots of white space, smaller graphics, paler colours, shrinking things down like colouring pages and puzzles and fitting more on one page, scattering graphics around our pages, or even just doodling on them ourselves, etc). Here is an example of what I mean by lots of white space. And hopefully they will consider allowing us to email our packages to Colorado in future; and then they could just check them and then email them on to our kids. Imagine the possibilities… our kids could receive our letters in a couple of weeks. :o
Meanwhile, let’s get creative and see what we can all come up with…
Make your own bookmarks why not have a go at making your own giant bookmarks with this easy tutorial and add your child’s name
Make your own stickers it’s as easy as grabbing some address labels, printing (or writing) some of your favourite Bible verses out on them and start doodling to decorate them with this easy tutorial… too easy!
A ton of Bible verses (sent as a whole sheet)
FREE Bible posters upload as a normal photo
FREE Bible wallet cards (sent as a whole sheet)
FREE Bible verse cards (these could be sent per sheet, too)
Check my index page for more ideas; and everything on this site is free printable unless otherwise stated.
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