POSTCARDS ACROSS AMERICA
BY: Tami Hicks, Wea Ridge Elementary
Lafayette, Indiana, June 30, 2000
GRADE LEVEL: 5th grade
PURPOSE: To increase students' knowledge and awareness of the
location and physical features of each of the fifty states in America.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHY STANDARDS:
#3- How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments
on Earth's surface.
#4- Understand the physical and human characteristics of a place.
(Themes: Location and Place)
Postcards featuring Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University, etc. (enough
for every student)
Resources for Information on Indiana (encyclopedia, trade books, Internet
printouts, maps, etc.)
Clear packing tape
Pins or stickers
Wall map of the United States
Upon completion of this activity, students will be able to understand
the relationship of the other 49 states in comparison to Indiana.
Students will also be able to locate all fifty states and describe their
PRE-ACTIVITY WORK BY THE TEACHER:
The teacher will need to sign up for a postcard exchange project list
via the Internet (see references). The teacher will also need to locate
information on Indiana for the small group research.
Divide the class into small groups of four to five students.
Give each group information on Indiana. Use different resources for each
group to expose students to many different types of resources (in preparation
for state report).
As a team, have each group come up with 3-5 facts about Indiana.
Have each group share their facts about Indiana. Compose a class list of
all of the facts.
Distribute class lists to students. Then, using these lists, have each
student type up a short paragraph about Indiana to include on their postcard.
Also, have each child include in their paragraphs a request for a return
postcard with information about the school that the child's postcard was
sent to. After printed, have students cut out paragraphs to fit their postcards.
Glue to back of postcards. Cover with packing tape to protect during mailing.
Distribute lists. Have each child find the state that they will be researching
and locate a school from that state to mail their postcard to. Address
postcards and mail.
As postcards start coming in, plot each state on the map using a pin or
sticker. Use the cards to review map skills and begin to identify characteristics
of each state in relationship to Indiana. (Examples: Which direction would
we travel if we were to visit California? What is the climate like in California?
What is the capital of CA? Which ocean borders CA? What states border CA?
Make copies of the paragraphs about Indiana. As postcards come in from
other schools on the list, mail a postcard back to them. Continue collecting
postcards the entire year. (Your name will also be on the mailing list
and you will receive postcards from more schools than just those that you
mailed postcards to.)
Give information about the project to parents. Ask them to have relatives
from different parts of the U.S. send postcards with descriptions of where
Analyze information about the number of postcards received from different
regions, and different states. Make inferences about the patterns discovered.
(We received lots of postcards from schools in the east, but only a few
from the northwest. Why?)
As a partnering activity, have students create a US map in which they shade
in different regions, locate and draw in the major mountains, rivers, and
bordering oceans, and label each state and capital.
Students will take quizzes over each region of the United States.
Students will have to be able to locate and identify each state and be
able to spell it correctly. Students will be given bonus points if
they are able to identify and correctly spell the capital of each state.
A final test will be given over all fifty states.
Students will also be participating in class projects on an individual
At the end of the year, students will write paragraphs reflecting on
what they have learned about America and which activities influenced them
the most throughout the year.
INTERNET RESOURCES FOR POSTCARD EXCHANGE PROJECTS:
100 day Postcard Exchange, Holidays Around the World, Class 2 Class