Activity And Project

Books Will Take You There!

3 - 6
Activity Time
30-60 minutes per postcard
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Activity Description

Traveling is a wonderful way to expose children to new experiences; however, the opportunity for travel is not always readily available.  In this activity, children take a journey without leaving the comforts of home through reading nonfiction or fiction books.  While enjoying the books, they create postcards from the point of view of the main character(s) for each pit stop of the journey. By putting themselves “in the shoes” of the main character(s), children can be vicariously introduced to new places, experiences, and situations.

Why This Is Helpful

Writing postcards to friends back home during a vacation is a common letter writing practice that requires knowing the parts of a postcard.  After examining the parts of a postcard, children “become” the characters in novels and think about details of the plot and setting.  When writing from the point of view of a character, the child must analyze the character to understand his/her personality traits and actions.  They must write about what happens in the plot in a concise manner because of the limiting size of a postcard.  Additionally, the children might need to use the Internet or print materials to research the setting for images displayed on their postcards.

What You Need

  • A nonfiction or fiction book that features traveling.  See Books Featuring Journeys for suggestions.
  • 8 x 11 cardstock and markers
  • Research materials about the stops of the selected books
  • Computer with Internet access (optional)
  • Printer (optional)
  • Postcard Creator Tool (optional)

Here's What To Do

  1. If using the Postcard Creator Tool, test it on your computer to ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.  Familiarize yourself with the Postcard Creator Tool.
  2. Choose an age-appropriate book that features a journey and read it.  See Books Featuring Journeys for suggestions or Google Lit Trips, a website that combines books with Google Earth.
  3. While reading the selected book, create a list together of the stops along the journey that will become the points for postcards.  If the chosen book is from Google Lit Trips, then the stops on the journey will be mapped on Google Earth.
  4. Discuss with the child where he/she has traveled on vacations or school field trips.  Prompt the discussion by asking questions about sights and activities.  Ask questions that encourage the child to share his/her reactions to the trip.
  5. Ask if the child has ever written or received a postcard.   Share a postcard, if possible, with the child that shows all the parts of a postcard:  postcard description, salutation, body, closing, and mailing address.  If that is not feasible, Zazzle has several postcards that could serve as examples as to what is on the front of a postcard.  Use the Postcard Creator for the explanation of what is on the back of a postcard.
  6. Explain that another way to take a trip is through a book.  Share a little about the selected book.
  7. Either read together or have the child read independently to the first new location the main character travels.
  8. Discuss the personality traits of the main character.  If desired, use the printout Sample Character Traits for your discussion.  If the child is having a difficult time naming character traits, use the interactive Character Trait Chart to analyze the character.
  9. Using the Postcard Creator or cardstock, have the child write a postcard as if he/she were the main character, explaining the character’s reactions to this new place and current situation as well as summarizing the story thus far.
  10. For the front of the postcard, have the child look at print materials or Internet sources on the location of the first stop.  Either have the child draw or print an image to be added to the front of the postcard.
  11. Continue reading the book and stopping at each location to write a postcard.  Remind the child of the character’s personality before writing a postcard.
  12. At the end of the book, reread the postcards in order to review the plot of the book and see how the main character(s) might have changed.

More Ideas To Try

  • Invite the child to write a postcard to a family member or friend who lives in another city.
  • Using the Postcard Creator, have the child create postcards that can be delivered to friends and relatives who live nearby.
  • Read together a second book and expand the idea of writing postcards to writing letters from the main character(s).
  • Let the child send online e-postcards using Blue Mountain.

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