Friday, July 10, 2009

Postcards in the Classroom

So. . .it is summer holidays. . .
and I am still thinking about school stuff! I was doing a little exploration around on the 'net for the use of Postcards in the classroom. Of course, there is always the typical social studies project where you try to collect postcards from all the cities, provinces or states (or maybe even different countries around the world) and match them up to a map. That is a great idea, but I was looking for something different than typical . . . and maybe something that involves reading or writing!

So I found a few that looked interesting to me—ones that I would try in the classroom. So. . . here they are for you. (Please note that I am looking solely at the idea given to either use as presented or to change to fit my setting. I have not researched the entire sites, and am not promoting any of them. Just a small qualifier!)

Learning with Postcards—lots of ideas centring around the social studies/geography theme, and also on the postcard itself (art, creation, etc).

A lesson plan about making postcards reflective of concert music, but many good pointers about the writing style used.

This is an interview with a man who wrote a graphic novel based on some postcards he found. This sight is probably for older students, and the books is DEFINITELY for older students (HS, even?)

This site is about the writing and writing style that goes into making postcards, as well as some reflection on the artwork of postcards.

Grade Two lesson called, "Postcards from the Planets." This one is a keeper!

Some templates for postcards can be found at

Arthur's friend Buster has a "postcard blog" site that is updated weekly about the travels Buster is doing and the people he is meeting. Very informative, and lots of additional activities to do during the week!

And. . .here is an idea of my own. Well, actually, it is my take on an idea from an old colleague of mine! (Thanks Kristi!)

An African Visitor is a project that I used during an Africa unit I taught a few years ago in Grade One. (Kristi did this project the previous year when she took over teaching grade one for me and had to plan a new unit on Africa. She did all the idea gleaning for me, I just had to tweak it to work for me and my situation!) The "project" looks like a parcel sent from Africa. Inside is a small stuffy, a book about the stuffy, a letter to the student and parents, and postcard templates for the students to us. The "project" was sent home with a different child in the class each night we were studying Africa. The child, along with his or her parents, had to read the book included and write a postcard back to the class about what the stuffy might have done with them during his stay at the child's house that night.

I named my little elephant stuffy "Kidogo" and found a book about elephants in Africa. The book talked about where African elephants lived, their unique characteristics, and the other animals that might be friends or enemies of the African elephant. I included extra information pages for students (and parents) wanting enrichment, and also postcards. The student was required to make a postcard about what he or she did with Kidogo the night the elephant stuffy stayed at his or her house. I included an example that I made, and also a "How To Draw Elephants" page to help the students out as they draw a picture related to what they wrote about.

I liked this activity because it gave students a "real" context in which to write (hopefully making the ideas to write about much easier!). The writing was personal (it was about what they did!) but factual (it did not require imagination in the writing). It connected learning (Theme study, Reading and Writing) at school with learning at home. The sentence structure was simple because of the nature of a postcard, and it was a short writing assignment (just the back of a postcard.) Often times, the parents did the writing for the students, but there were a few students who wanted to do it themselves (so this idea would definitely work at the higher grade levels!). They each had an opportunity to share their postcard with the class the next day before passing the parcel off to the next lucky grade one student who got to take Kidogo home. Again, this typeof project can easily be adapted to ANY unit and at ANY grade level depending on your requiements for reading and postcard-writing.

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