Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Cruising the Caribbean

Kevyn Brown


Students create 4 postcards by illustrating an island in the Caribbean that they will visit. Each postcard will focus on a different feature (historic landmark, mountains, people). The postcards incorporate photos/pictures with concepts and vocabulary.


The student understands selected aspects of political, economic, and social institutions in selected cultures in Western civilizations (for example, governments, social traditions and customs, economic systems, religious institutions).

The student extends and refines use of various map forms and other geographic representations to acquire, process, and report geographic information (for example, patterns of population, economics, rainfall, vegetation, landforms).


-Blank white index cards (5” x 7”)
-Colored pencils
-Clip art
-Pictures from appropriate websites (printed out on a student based initiative)
-Construction paper
-Personal photographs (use any photos that a student may have from a personal experience)
-Sample Postcard (various types)
-Envelopes (business)
-Pre/Post Test (see associated files)
-Boarding Pass (see associated files)
-TO SEE A WORLD—7th Grade Social Studies Textbook: Houghton Mifflin, © 1994 or a 7th Grade textbook containing information about the Caribbean.
-Cruisin’ the Caribbean Crossword Puzzle (see associated files)
-“You’ve Got Mail” instruction sheet (see associated files)
-Postcard Rubric (see associated files)


1. Dress appropriately for the motivational and introductory portion of the project.

2. Decorate the classroom entrance and the inside with stereo-typical Caribbean items that would heighten the atmosphere for anticipation.

3. Duplicate copies of guidelines for project, Pre/Post-Test and Crossword puzzle.

4. Format KGB Airways boarding pass and duplicate. Then, insert one boarding pass into each envelope. This lesson is assuming there is an even number of students in the class (30), thus two boarding passes for each island. You will have to pick 15 islands in the Caribbean that you want the class to focus upon. Try and pick countries that the book emphasizes.

5. Purchase various types of postcards that can be used for examples, perhaps make one for students to observe.

6. Set up supply stations in the computer lab and classroom with materials needed for project.

7. Reserve computer lab for two days


This lesson should occur after the students have completed Chapter 22-The Caribbean (TO SEE A WORLD textbook). This chapter discusses (a) Geography of the Caribbean (b) The Caribbean: Cradle of the Americas (c) The Caribbean Today. If you are not using this textbook, amend the concepts and vocabulary to include what is in the book you are using. The key vocabulary words are: (1) tropical (2) emancipation/indentured servant (3) monocrop (labor-intensive). The key concepts are as follows: (1)Multi-cultural history-music, city-life, etc. (2) The land is the main natural resource-labor intensive (3) Tourism is the main source of income for much of this region (4) The effects of climate on tourism-tropical climate

When the students come into the classroom they will see the door and entrance decorated with a Caribbean theme. Dress in stereo-typical tourist attire (Bermuda pants/shorts, flower shirt, flip-flops and a hat). This will set the mood for the assignment and grab the attention of the students immediately. As the students enter the room they will receive an envelope with an airline boarding pass to a Caribbean island. The boarding passes in the envelopes are handed out randomly. Hand out the passes and say: “Congratulations, here is your round-trip ticket to the Caribbean!” Students are not to open the envelopes until they are told to do so. (KGB Airways, Karibbean Kruisers)

1. Motivation: “Who could use a vacation? Think of an island in the Caribbean that you’d like to visit. In the next few days you’re going to take a vacation, create postcards as memorabilia, using your imagination and facts from the textbook and selected websites. Once you have completed your vacation in the Caribbean, you will have the opportunity to mail your family a postcard revealing the fun that you had. You want to make them wish they were with you.”

2. Prior to beginning the lesson administer the Pre-Test. Assure students the pre-test is not graded, but will be used to measure their previous knowledge of concepts and vocabulary. Then begin the lesson with reviewing key vocabulary words and concepts with the students.

3. Tell students to open their envelopes. When they open the envelopes they will see what Caribbean island they will visit. There are two boarding passes for each island. As long as there is an even number of students then this will work great. If there is an odd number of students in the class, ask a student to volunteer to work alone. The two students who get a boarding pass for the same country will work together. The only reason this format should not be followed is if two students paired up randomly have a bad history. Have students pair up with each other (according to the matching boarding passes.)

4. Tell the students that the boarding pass they have in their hands is their ticket to _________. This is the nation that they will research and use to make the 4 postcards.

5. Hand out the guidelines with assessment standards that will inform the students of requirements for success. (Project Rubric found in the associated file) Discuss the expectations and go over the guidelines as a class. Answer any questions about the assignment and making sure all students comprehend the purpose and expectations for the final product.

6. Show examples of postcards and have students pass them around so they can begin to generate ideas about format and creativity. Discuss the format of a postcard and how it can be both attractive and informative. Generate discussion with anyone in the class that has received a postcard from someone they know. How was it informative and appealing?

7. Tell students that this project is one that can be generated manually with the materials discussed on the guidelines or with a computer. This will be graded not on whether you used computer graphics, but on following directions and content. Explain to students that any one that has access to a computer at home may work on the project on their own free time. Any one who does not, may stay after school or come early to work with my guidance. Hand out the crossword puzzle for homework. (see associated file) This should be orally checked the next day. Allow students to self-correct so as to have a study sheet of vocab.

8. Take the students to a computer lab. The students that are paired together should work on the same computer. This will allow them to share information and work together more effectively. The students will have a guide (on the assignment guidelines) that I provide that will direct them to certain websites that can be utilized (photos and information). Students will use class time in the lab to find photos via the Internet or clipart that can assist them with the creation of their postcards. Students may also use photos from magazines, newspapers and/or personal photos as long as they are appropriate. The students can either write out the information by hand or use Microsoft Word for the information required on the postcards. This process can take a day or two depending on how much time was given after the review (pre-test) of chapter 22 (vocabulary and concepts) and class discussion of the project.

9. Monitor and assist students as needed. Circulate the room and encourage independent work and collaboration with peers. Affirm students that are headed in the right direction and redirect those who are not demonstrating a comprehension of the guidelines. Encourage peer evaluations during the formative process.

10. The day before the postcards are due ask for any questions regarding the project and encourage the students to follow through and be ready to present their work. Remind the students that anyone that would like to mail his/her postcard to a family member or friend must bring in twenty-one cents for a stamp.

11. The students will share their postcards with the class. The students will share the following information about their postcards:
(a) What country did they visit? (b) Share one postcard with the class—what does the picture on the front represent, and how does it relate to a Chapter 22 (or important) concept (c) Read the information on the back of the card (d) Pass cards around if desired

12. Administer Post Test.


--A rubric is attached for the -You've got Mail- project. Students should receive formative feedback as they are working in the groups and creating the project. Do not wait to give feedback until students are finished.
--The postcards are used as a reinforcement of the knowledge gained from Chapter 22 or important concepts of the Carribean. The project will allow the students to demonstrate knowledge gained through creative means of structural and organizational methods.
--Students should be able to identify and explain four geographic/ historical representations that identify a landform, economic system or social tradition/custom in that civilization (Caribbean island/country). On the back of two of the cards, the students will have to write a short paragraph about one of the concepts listed above from Chapter 22 (Ex: Why tourism is so important to the Caribbean?/ How do the words labor-intensive and emancipation both relate to the Caribbean?/ What is the main natural resource of the Caribbean and how it relates to the economy?) The guidelines and criteria will be discussed and handed out in step 5 of the procedures. --They will also be assessed ultimately on the comprehension of vocabulary and concepts with a post test that consists of the following: (1) 3 multiple-choice questions (2) 4 matching (3) 2 short answer (4) 1 essay formatted question. I will give examples/outlines of commendable answers for the short answer and essay questions. --POST-TEST: (13-15 points: Fantastic/ 11-12 points: Above Average/ 9-10 points: Needs Improvement/ 7-8 points: Unacceptable/ 0-6 points: See Teacher)
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