Steps to carry out the postcard project
Step 1: Generate interest in the project
Before the end of the summer term, explain to your pupils that you would like each of them to send you a postcard, written in English, during the summer holidays. Tell them that you will display the postcards around a map for when everyone returns to school in September.
Step 2: Focus the pupils on a model text
Bring a postcard into class. Enthusiastically tell your pupils that it is from one of their coursebook characters (Phil, for example). Write the following questions on the board:
What’s the weather like?
Check comprehension of the questions and then get your pupils to listen for the answers as you read the postcard aloud. Read it two or three times until you are satisfied that they have all heard the answers. Next, give them a copy of the text.
The poscard project Worksheet (253 Kb)
Put a few gaps in it so that they have a reason to look closely at the language used and ask them to complete the text.
Step 3: Develop text options with the pupils
Ask your pupils to suggest some of the information they might like to include in their postcards. Guide them towards the structures they have learnt in class and elicit a selection of vocabulary for them to choose from. Write the text on the board.
Dear teacher’s name,
I am with my family / grandparents / friends in name of town .
It is a great / fantastic / boring / horrible / very interesting place.
There are museums / shops / cinemas / monuments / cinemas .
There’s a zoo / planetarium / beach / castle / football stadium, too.
This is a picture of name of monument or building.
I am writing this postcard on the beach / in the park / in a café / at home.
Today, it’s hot / warm / cold and sunny / windy / rainy / cloudy.
See you in September.
Get your pupils to copy the text into their notebooks, along with the school’s postal address (don’t give your personal address!). Remind them to take the notebook on holiday so that they can refer to the text when writing their postcards. Reassure them that they do not have to send a postcard from somewhere exotic or far away. A postcard from their grandparents’ village or from their home town will be equally valid. Emphasise that you will be really pleased to receive their cards wherever they are from.
Displaying and using the project
A display of pupils’ postcards around a map can obviously bring colour to a classroom wall. It can also be exceptionally useful for contextualising the past simple, as all the children will be able to look at their postcards and say,Last July I was in Granada with my grandparents, or In the summer I went to Valencia, etc.
Where possible, inform your pupils’ parents about the postcard project. It is important that they encourage their children to complete the task and that they fully understand the reason for buying the postage stamp!