Saturday, February 21, 2009

Post #8 - Reading Activity: Postcard

Objective: To display comprehension of material read and analyze a character through the creative production of a postcard.
Materials: 3X5 (or 4x6) index cards, colored pencils/markers/crayons
This is always a sure-winner. I've done it with standard and honors students; I'm always amazed at the hidden gems of snark & humor that come out in this activity. All my students love this activity*, and you'll get a kick out of the results. It's so easy and creative but can speak volumes about their understanding of a novel.

1. Give students index cards (or have them measure/cut out blank paper approximately the size of a postcard).
2. Inform them that they are to choose one character within the novel you are currently reading, and write a postcard AS that character TO another character in the novel. Example: "If you choose to be Snowball in Animal Farm, decide who would Snowball be most likely to write to and what would he say if he could?"
3. Show them how to set up the postcard on the lined side (for writing). I have them divide the lined side a little more than half, so they have lots of room to write. On the right hand side, they are supposed to supply the address, and put their name where the stamp would be. I encourage them to make up silly addresses if they don't know where the receiver is located (Ex: Mollie, Third Stall Down, Animal Farm; or Snowball, 1 Traitor Lane, Disloyal 53321).
4. Their letter should be short & to the point. They don't have a lot of room to write - so tell them, "Don't waste time with 'How are you. I wish you were here'!"
5. On the back they can draw a picture (I always require color otherwise I get half-butt work from my non-artistes). Remind students that postcard pictures are reflective of where the sender (character writing the card) is located. The image side should show something about where the letter-writer is located or what is happening in his/her life.

Before all this, I make an example of my own to show them. They really get a kick out of my artistic attempts. Here's some examples you could rip off of my students, if you don't feel like making your own. (We did these when reading Animal Farm by Orwell - if you've read the novel, you might appreciate the humor in these a little more).

This one reads: Dear Pigs, It seems you have been outwitted by the Raven as you see I've been spying on you and the farm and have plotted your demise and the rise of my own cult! We will recover Sugarcandy Mountain and live in prosperity while you lot die in vain and labor! (addressed to: Tree on the Other End of the Farm)

This one was written by Mr. Jones! I thought the depicted scene was clever.

This one reads: Clover, I am having a marvelous time! I get all the sugar and ribbons I want! I don't understand why 2 legs are bad. They give us all we want! Write back soon, Mollie (Addressed to 312 Little Way Down Rd.)

*disclaimer: Progressively Unnecessary does not guarantee 100% satisfaction in student response to this activity. Progressively Unnecessary is not responsible for any student dissatisfaction in your classroom.

source: adapted from 103 Things to do Before/During/After Reading Reading Rockets article


  1. I love this idea, Mrs. Phillips! Obviously, I can't keep up with your posts as quickly as you produce them, but I am still an eager consumer of your ideas. :) Right now I do a few artistic projects, but I may have to incorporate this one when we read _Antigone_ next six weeks.

  2. Thanks for commenting on my blog! I really appreciated this postcard activity... in fact I just might use it in the next few weeks! Keep posting!