Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home is Where the Heart is

Grade Level: 4-5-6

Brief History/Background:

John P. Charlton of Philadelphia patented the postcard in 1861. The first postcard in the United States was created in 1893 to advertise the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. Shortly thereafter the United States government, via the U.S. Postal Service, allowed printers to publish a 1-cent postcard (the "Penny Postcard").

For more than 100 years, postcards have been a way to communicate with others while on vacation or far away from loved ones. Postcards usually feature a visually pleasing photograph or design on one side and spaces for writing and an address on the other.

Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Newell Wyeth is an American realist painter and regionalist artist. He is one of the best known of the 20th century and sometimes referred to as the "Painter of the People" due to his popularity with the American public. Wyeth's favorite subject is the land and inhabitants around his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and those near his summer home in Cushing, Maine. He conceived the idea for the painting while recuperating from a severe illness, when he slowly roamed the fields wearing a pair of boots that had once been part of Howard Pyle’s costume collection and watching his feet and the ground beneath. The painting may symbolize death itself or man’s rejection of illness and death.

For Wyeth, the Pennsylvania countryside meant solid stone walls and soggy, rich earth, in contrast to Maine, which seemed to him "all dry bones and desiccated sinews," as he was quoted as saying in the catalogue of his Metropolitan Museum of Art show. But Maine appealed to him strongly because of a simplicity that he found to be disappearing elsewhere in America.

PA Standards: Types of Writing (1.4); Quality of Writing (1.5); Speaking and Listening (1.6); Technology Education (3.6); Technological Devices (3.7); The Interactions Between People and Places (7.4); Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts (9.1)

NETS Standards: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity (1); Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments (2); Model Digital-Age Work and Learning (3)

Goal: Students will use collage techniques to create a 5x7 postcard, based on the theme of “home”, which will then be sent to pen pals in different countries. Students will also learn to scan their postcards into the computer, save them for their portfolios and post them to the class art blog.


Students will:
  • Ponder and discuss the concept of “home”, what it means to them and why someone would choose to send a postcard over a letter, e-mail or by simply making a phone call.
  • Discuss Andrew Wyeth and his concept of “home.
  • Discuss the concept of pen pals and different styles of writing
  • Discuss mixed media collage and use drawings or photographs to compose a collage design based on their concept of “home” for the front of their postcard.
  • Discuss and think about the composition of their design.
  • Discuss different kinds of writing styles and apply the appropriate style to their penal postcards.
  • Learn to use a scanner to digitize and save their postcards to the computer as well as post them to the class art blog.
  • Obtain a penal from the instructor (via www.sincerelyyourspenpals.com) and send their postcards to their given penal.
  • Present their postcards to the class for group critique.

Requirements: Students will create a collaged postcard based on the theme of “home”, scan their postcards for blog posting and send their postcards to a penal in another country. Prior to mailing, students will present their postcards to the class.

Resource Materials/Visual Aids: Reproductions of Andrew Wyeth landscapes/portraits; a variety of postcards both new and vintage; an exemplar for the activity; books on postcard art/design; exemplars of mixed media/collage

Supplies/Materials: white cardstock (cut in 5x7 rectangles), 8.5 x 11 drawing paper, construction paper, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, etc.), pencils, colored pencils, markers, erasers, scissors, glue sticks

Teacher Preparation: Cut cardstock into 5x7 rectangles; research Andrew Wyeth and gather relevant examples; gather periodicals; register with Sincerely Yours Pen pals (based in Philadelphia); research postal cost

Introduction: Ask students what the term “home” means to them and discuss its different interpretations (i.e. where one lives, your house, where one was born, etc.) and what is meant by the saying “home is where the heart is”. Introduce and discuss postcards and why someone would choose to use a postcard to communicate over other forms of communication. Ask the students to think about how they would convey their sense of home visually. What happens if you are conveying your interpretation of home to someone from another country that may or may not speak a different language? What is a pen pal? What kind of writing do we use on a postcard?


1. To get started, students will take five minutes and write down a list of words that describe their sense of “home”.

2. Students can draw, cut out photographs or words and/or combine both mediums to create a collage based on their concept of home. Designs must not go beyond the edge of the postcard. Inform students that using other people’s images or words (copyright) are allowed for the educational purpose of this project.

3. Once their design is complete, students will turn their postcards over, divide the space in half and write a five-sentence correspondence on the left.

4. Once the postcard is complete (sans the recipient’s address), the instructor will take a quick look at the postcard for grammatical errors/overall design and give them a pen pal’s name and address to include on the right side of the postcard.

5. Students may then move to the computer for scanning, saving and posting to the class blog.

6. Students will get ready to present their cards to the class for group critique.

Critique/Evaluation/Assessment: Students will participate in a group critique of their postcards and discuss what is visually successful/unsuccessful. Instructor will evaluate the success of the postcard by its design, five-sentence correspondence and overall expression of the “home” theme. Students will be assessed according to their completion of the project, successful scanning and uploading of their project online and stated/written expectations in either rubric or self-checklist form.

Extensions: For early finishers, students can either go online and research their pen pal’s country of origin or write a series of interview questions for their pen pals for future postcards. Students may also design additional postcards for their own personal use.

Time Budget:

Intro/ Motivation/Discussion -10-15 minutes
Short Demo – 10 minutes; Activity: 1-2 (45 minute) sessions

Vocabulary: Andrew Wyeth, collage, composition, pen pal, mixed media

Safety Concerns: scissors


http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postcard


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