Throughout the summer, Pencil Tips bloggers have been suggesting ways to inspire young writers to document their travels. Joan Waites suggested a map collage. Alison Formento provided ideas for listing facts and sharing the information in different ways. I’d like to suggest postcards enhanced by research.
Vera B. William’s classic picture book, Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea, is an illustrated group of postcards written by a boy named Stringbean Coe on a trip from Kansas to California. In each postcard, Stringbean describes his travel experiences in vivid words and pictures. Share this delightful book with your students and ask them to write their own cross-country adventure in postcards. This is a great opportunity to combine description with geographical research. Students will need to look up important facts about National Parks and other major tourist attractions so they can be accurately portrayed in their writing. Words and pictures can be created on large blank index cards (8 inches by 5 inches) and fastened together with string or a brad on the left hand side. The end result is a postcard book, just like Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea.
Another fun travel book to use for inspiration is Darcy Pattison’s The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman. In this picture book, a life-sized wooden toy hitchhikes across country while his progress is reported back to his owner through letters and postcards.
Both books depict strong characters and are great models of how a story can be interwoven in a travel narrative. Better yet, they are so much fun to read, your students may suggest writing their own travel letters before you give the class assignment.