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Books of postcards offer an endless number of possibilities for classroom activities. Use the images for small group lessons and have your students classify, contrast, and compare works by the same or different artists. Use the cards as motivation for research, writing, and art-making ideas. Easy on your budget and easy to store, postcards are a terrific resource for every lesson.


Postcard Sorting Activity - Grades K-12


  • Two art postcards per person
  • Colored 3x5 cards, (at least three colors and enough for one of each color per postcard used)
  • Writing paper and pencils for each person


  1. Divide students into small groups (five to seven people is optimal). Pass out postcards to the groups, twice the number of people in each group (e.g., for a group of seven people, pass out fourteen cards). Place the cards image side up in the center of the tables, so that each image is visable.
  2. Have each group create a connecting circle of the cards, making connections on the basis of visual qualities of the works. For example, a card that depicts a Native American pot and a card that shows an Asian vase can be connected because they both are ceramics. Connections can be made on the basis of colors, media, subject matter, geographical origin, etc.
  3. When the groups have made their complete circle, distribute index cards of the same color to each group. Have them place the cards around the circle where each postcard touches another. Ask them to explain why they made each connection. Encourage them to think of all the connections that are possible, even those not previously considered. Ask them to write their lists on the index cards. With younger students, this can be done as a disucssion with an adult writing their responses on 3x5 cards, placing the cards under each matched set. Older students can write their own responses for their connections.

    Option: After doing Step #3, have your students trade groups, leaving their circles connected on the tables and turning over their 3x5 cards. Pass out new index cards of a different color to the groups. Ask them to make a list on the new index cards describing why they think the previous group made those links and any other reasons they can think of. Have your students return to their original groups of cards to contrast and compare the two sets of lists.
  4. Have each person in the group select two cards that are connected. Ask them to read the index card(s) that list how they are related. Pass out another color of index card and ask them to list all the ways that the two images are different.

Writing Options:
Have your students ask themselves, "What do I already know about these two images?" "What do I want to find out?" Use the unanswered questions about the art works as a starting point for a short research paper.

Use the information gathered about the similarities and differences of the two images as a starting point for a comparison/contrast essay.


Copyright 1998, CRIZMAC Art & Cultural Education Materials, Inc