50 State Postcard Exchange Adding a Bit of Tech

This year, my class is participating in a state postcard exchange with 49 other classes from around the United States.  The purpose of this is to not only connect our class with others, but to learn a little about each of the 50 states in the process.  

Never heard of a postcard exchange?  The basic idea is simple.  Each of the participating classes creates a postcard from their state.  The postcards have facts and figures about the state it comes from that would be of interest to the kids participating.  At the end of the exchange, each class (hopefully) has 50 postcards to display in their classroom!

Some of the student created postcards we made using Google Slides and PadletSo, since we have access to a class set of Chrome books, I thought I would have the students create the postcards that we were going to send out.  And, if I do say so myself, they came out AMAZING!

Here is what the students did.  

We began with an open Padlet template.   In pairs, I asked the students to research interesting facts about the state of California (since that is where the are from.)  They then were to create a separate entry on our Padlet for each interesting fact.  Since all of them had access to the Padlet board at the same time, the students were instructed to look at each others' facts as they were being put up.  I wanted them to make sure the facts were not being duplicated.  The kids were actually really good about not just writing the population over and over again ;)  They did try to get different and varied facts that were not obvious either. 
Collaborative research for a 50 state postcard project using Padlet

Once the Padlet was complete, I sent them a copy of this template here on Google Slides.  The empty boxes are the right size for a standard postcard to be sent through US mail.  

Using Padlet as a way to get the whole class involved in brainstorming information or gathering researchOn the top portion of the template, the students used the Padlet board to construct a paragraph about the great state of California using interesting facts.  Since the idea of the postcard exchange is to get many facts about our state out there to the other classes, I told them not to be too concerned with our standard paragraph format and to really hone in on as many facts as they could.   I did want the paragraphs to make sense and be well formed.  It also had to be written in friendly letter format. (I gave them a piece of paper with the address they were to input of one of the classes in our exchange.)

for a 50 state postcard exchange the students write the paragraphs

Next, the students took to the Google Search feature and found pictures that matched the facts that they talked about in their paragraphs.  Layering them on top of each other, the students created collages of pictures for the opposite side of the postcard.
Students use pictures from google search to create a state collage for the 50 state postcard exchange page.

Then the students printed the template, cut the two postcard pieces out, glued them together, I laminated them and mailed them off!

All in all, this entire process took place over the course of two days.  The Padlet took about 30 minutes of class time (I didn't have everyone working at the same time on this, but if they were it would have been about 30 minutes total.)  Creating the postcards took about 2 hours of time.

Now, if you have ever participated in a postcard exchange before, you know that getting the postcards is the most exciting part.  So how have I incorporated that into my room?  Stay tuned :)
Stephanie is a 19 year teaching veteran with experience in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  She currently teaches 5th grade in Room 6


  1. WoW, Stephanie, this is AmAzInG for the kids and those pen-pal recipients. Some of my favorite childhood memories include going to the mailbox in search of pen-pal correspondence. YOU are creating lifetime lessons of connection and culture, of learning and love. #inspired

  2. What a great project! How do you find schools to participate in this exchange with you. I'd love to know more and have my class participate as well. :)

    1. One of the teacher FB groups that I am in organized it over the summer. I know that Proteacher.net has some that get organized too. They are always put together in the summer and, honestly, I have found you just have to be in the right place at the right time to participate.

  3. I also would love to know how you found schools to participate!

  4. How cool! Same question as the others.... how do you get classes to participate?

  5. Love your idea, and I need to get my students started on their cards. Did the Post office give you any trouble about the lamination?

  6. This is a fantastic idea! There are so many layers to this project. I like that you had your students create their own postcards. They practiced some valuable technical skills and creating their own cards really made it much more meaningful. Plus, you saved some money. The images are so vibrant! Thanks for the idea.

  7. What a great project Stephanie! I love the idea of using technology to create snail mail - everyone likes to get mail! Was there any follow-up after all of the postcards had been received? Thanks for sharing this.

  8. I'm going to do postcard exchange too. Thanks for the tips here. So since you had to mail your postcards to other 49 states, did you make 49 copies for that or students in different pairs made their own postcards? Another thing is, are the pictures and infos on the padlet board served as reference for the making of a postcard?

  9. What a great idea. Where in California are you located.

  10. I am so grateful to have found you!!! As a struggling first year teacher (who was hired for 1st grade and then switched last minute) I really appreciate your incredible ideas and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! It's been a TOUGH year but I love the idea that I can grow into a teacher like you someday:) I would love to be a part of this project next year- we would love to be your Hawaii pen pals (Kauai):) I will touch base towards the summer. Mahalo nui loa for being such an inspiration


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