This year was my first year completing a United States postcard exchange in my classroom and we loved it! Getting to connect with other students from all over the country was incredible! This blog post will outline why you should implement a school postcard exchange, how I implemented a postcard exchange project in my classroom, and my tips for a classroom postcard exchange. (Plus what I’ll be doing differently next year).
What is a Classroom Postcard Exchange?
A postcard exchange is when teachers from all over the country (typically one per state) commit to mailing postcards to the other 49 states. There are a number of ways teachers do this within their classroom. Some classes write postcards as a whole group, some classes have students write postcards individually, and other classes use postcards with state facts printed on them and add a short blurb about their school or their favorite part of their state. However, what all postcards have in common
The Importance of Doing a Postcard Exchange in your Classroom
A school postcard exchange is a great way for your students to be exposed to other regions in the United States. In addition, it expands their awareness to what life is like in other places. For example, my students are from an urban part of New Jersey. During our 2019 postcard exchange, they received postcards from students who had 8 students in their class, loved bull riding, and lived 30 minutes from the nearest store. My students were mind blown.
This postcard project created amazing conversations within my classroom. My students didn’t realize that people lived so differently from them and thus had a different outlook on life and experiences.
Additionally, we were able to tie this into our U.S. Regions unit and Government unit from earlier in the year. We discussed how being a citizen of a particular state caused people to experience life differently. As a result, people vote accordingly. We also discussed how important it is to have a representative who understands you and your state’s needs.
How I Implement a Postcard Exchange Project
I started this unit by introducing my students to our region and then our state. (You can find a full blog post – detailing how I teach the US Regions here). Afterward, I gave students time to research online using sites such as Ducksters and Kids National Geographic. My students used a state research graphic organizer to guide them and help them find general information. The students also researched ‘fun facts’ about our state. Finally, I provided a postcard template for students on Google Classroom to draft their letter. Once students had finalized their postcards, we mailed them to each state (and Canada)!
My Tips for a Classroom Postcard Exchange
Since this was my first year organizing this activity, there are a few things I would do differently. I would start by downloading and printing my own postcards instead of purchasing them. This will give students the opportunity to design them with their favorite
I would also allow more time for students to write personalized messages instead of just facts and statistics. Our favorite state postcards had a mix of information and personalization. (Some schools also included a packet of letters with their postcard as an extension to this activity!)
Finally, when addressing your postcards, I would suggest printing labels with the school’s address or emphasizing the importance of writing the address neatly and correctly. I spent a lot of time addressing the postcards for my students and I regret not taking advantage of that teaching opportunity (and time saving technique).
Where to Find Classroom Postcard Exchanges
If you are looking to participate in a postcard swap for your classroom, there are a few places you can look. I suggest checking out teacher Facebook groups or teacher forums. There are always a teachers looking to collaborate and put one together. I found my teacher postcard exchange in the Not so Wimpy 4th Grade Facebook page during the summer.