Resources for Pen Pals

by Barbara Feldman

Want to make a friend in China? Here are five worthy resources to help you connect safely with email pals around the world.

My daughter's second-grade class is exchanging letters with a class on the opposite coast. Her excitement over receiving a reply from her new pen pal brought back my own wonderful pen-pal memories. Of course, nowadays pen pals aren't limited to pen and paper. Here are five worthy resources to help you connect safely with email pals from around the world.

ePALS Classroom Exchange
ePALS Classroom Exchange connects 1.6 million students and teachers from nearly 25,000 registered classrooms in 130 countries. Although ePals does not provide pen pals for individuals, they shine at providing pen pals for classrooms. In addition to the basics of matching classrooms by country, language, or other criteria, their free service includes instant language translation, curriculum guides, world maps, world weather, and Web-based teacher-monitored email accounts for students. Wow!

A Girl's World: Free Pen Pal Spectacular
"Welcome to our free Pen Pal Spectacular! Girls! Don't just read about the world! Make friends with it! Show your parents these pages. Get a pen pal without publishing your email address! It's fun! It's free! For girls only, 7-17!" I really like this safe pen-pal system that assigns a number to each girl, instead of publishing email addresses. Each pen pal has quite an extensive entry that includes likes, dislikes, and view of the future -- so in order to register, you'll need to answer more than 40 questions. But don't fret: They're all multiple choice.

Pen Pal Box
The Kid Space Connection Pen Pal site includes both individual and classroom entries. If your class or club wants to correspond with another class, click on "Class Box" to choose a classroom that has already posted or create a new entry for your group. Personal entries are sorted into five boxes by age (from Box One for six and under to Box Five for 13 to 16). The graphics really enhance this site, as each entry displays a country flag and a color-coded computer icon -- green for boys and yellow for girls. Well, I didn't get it either, but I suppose pink and blue are just too passe.

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