"Dear Tumacácori..."

side-by-side graphic of letters written on binder paper with pencil and parchment with quill pen

Screen-free (and actually free) Remote Learning

Are you experiencing screen fatigue? Do you want to learn about Tumacácori but can't stomach yet another video or website? When was the last time you got something in the mail that wasn't a bill, an advertisement, or a recent purchase?

"Dear Tumacácori..." combines two familiar models:

  • subscription kits
  • pen pals

Participants will initiate a correspondence with Tumacácori just as the viceroys and leaders back in Europe corresponded with missionary priests on the frontier. They will receive updates about how things are going, what challenges and successes have been encountered, and what additional feedback could be useful. Enrichment activities and materials are included as well. A mailed response to the writing prompt triggers the next pack to be sent out.

A total of 6 packs have been developed so far, covering content standards in language arts, social studies, and science.

  • Writing
  • O'odham Culture
  • Art, Music, and Architecture
  • Wildlife and Nature
  • Food
  • Geography

Each one includes:

red logo of mission church

Letter from Tumacácori

Each letter introduces the subject of the packet, written in a style reflecting the colonial era. (Expect signature lines like, "Ever yours in obedience and gratitude, your humble servants at Tumacácori.) This challenging writing style introduces the language arts component of each lesson, building skills in reading context clues, vocabulary, and inference.

Three reading levels are available: Upper elementary, middle school, high school

graphic of red dialogue box with question mark

Writing Prompt

Depending on the topic, the writing prompt will vary. Some may be lessons in persuasive writing, instructional writing, or personal essays. Teachers and homeschooling parents may wish to use this as an assessment tool for the lesson and evaluate accordingly.

You must mail back your response in order to receive the next package in the series.

graphic of red wax seal with fleur de lis

Personalized Response

Each response to the writing prompt will be acknowledged and discussed with a personalized letter, on parchment and sealed with wax, included in the next package.

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Hands-on Activity

In addition to its various paper elements, each kit will include some kind of supporting material for a hands-on activity, game, or craft. These may vary according to grade level.

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Collectable Sticker

Each packet explores a different theme. Collect the sticker from each one to fill all six spaces on the "Dear Tumacácori..." poster included in the first kit.


How To Get Started

In the spirit of pen, paper, and postage stamps (the original distance learning platform), sign up by mailing your request to:

Tumacácori National Historical Park
attn: Distance Learning
P.O. Box 8067
Tumacacori, AZ 85641

You MUST include:

  • Parent's/teacher's name
  • Mailing address
  • Student first name
  • Grade level (3-5th grade, 6-8th grade, 9-12th grade)
  • (Optional) A question! What is it you'd like to know about this place?

You should receive your first kit within 10 business days.


Common Questions

Q: How much does it cost me?
A: Only the price of six envelopes and six postage stamps.

Q: Wouldn't email be easier?
A: "Dear Tumacácori..." was designed to be screen-free to provide equal opportunity across the digital divide and also to better replicate our historic context. However, if students need assistive technology to participate, they are welcome to type and then print and mail their writing responses. For recommendations on other accessible digital experiences available on Tumacácori's website, please contact us.

Q: What grade level is this for?
A: We currently offer three different reading levels -- 3-5th grade, 6-8th grade, 9-12th grade. (If you're a grown-up who'd like to play, that's cool too!)

Q: Can we change levels after seeing the first kit?
A: Yes! During the initial testing phase, each kit will also include a parent/teacher evaluation card to be mailed back along with the student's writing response.

Q: What if I have multiple children participating? Do they each get their own kit?
A: If the kids in a single household can share materials, it will reduce strain on our funding source and allow us to serve more students. We appreciate your support. Each participant will still receive his or her own personalized responses to letters.

Q: I am a classroom teacher and want to do this with my students. Can I?
A: Yes! Packages can be sent to and from the school's address. Just like in multi-student families, a single kit will be mailed to the teacher containing all reproducibles and letters to individual students. Contact us if you need help with the logistics.

Q: How often will I get a new package?
A: Tumacácori will send out your next kit within one week of receiving a response from the previous writing prompt.

Q: What if I want to cancel?
A: Shucks. That would be sad. But if it's not working for you, just stop writing! (In this case "ghosting" is a perfectly acceptable course of action.)

Last updated: February 20, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 8067
Tumacacori , AZ 85640


520 377-5060

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