Short and to the point

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Weather is sunny, wish you were funny. Claire Field reveals how the humble postcard can inspire economy and wit, and how you can win a day out for your class

When he was at boarding school in the 1920s, Roald Dahl, the late author, wrote a postcard or letter to his mother every week. He used postcards much as we use texts or emails today: to request goodies or forgotten items, or convey information succinctly.

Writing postcards is a great way of teaching children economy of language. It is useful to compare some of the cliches traditionally used in postcards ("lovely weather", "great food", "wish you were here" and so on) with standard phrases from more recent forms of communication, such as emails.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire (where Dahl's postcards are archived), wants to use this activity to help children explore his characters in more detail. If you're looking for a fun end-of-term activity that can be adapted for six to 10-year-olds, here are some ideas:

Ask children to bring in postcards they or their family have received and look for common themes in the messages (location, weather, activity, people) and the language used.

Put a Roald Dahl character in the hotseat for pair or group work. Ask one child to be interviewed in role about where their character would like to go on holiday and what they would like to do and eat.

Write postcards from the children's favourite Roald Dahl character. For example, what would Matilda say on her postcard to Miss Honey or Miss Trunchbull?

Finally, send your class's postcards to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre by September 12 and your school will be entered in a prize draw on Roald Dahl Day, September 13. Winners will receive a free class trip to either the Dahl museum in Great Missenden or the Seven Stories Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle upon Tyne, plus travel costs of up to pound;150

For full entry and prize details, plus a complete Dahl postcards lesson plan, visit See for events for next term, including a schools' Roald Dahl Day quiz. Claire Field is education manager for the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

Free writing resources from the TES website

Sentence starter mat and tree, among primary teachers' favourite Resource Bank entries to download at

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