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The Postman Commeth

September 18, 2009

I detest junk mail.  I hate the credit card offers.  I loath the need to shred anything with my personal information that I did NOT request.  I groan as the stack of envelopes andmail_stack “You’re already a winner” bulletins pile up on my kitchen counter.  Can you share in my pain?

If so, I’m happy to tell you that I’ve discovered a fun way to train myself to, dare I say, look forward to receiving that clutter in my mailbox everyday.

Let your kids “play” post office with the unwanted mail!

Create mailboxes out of shoe boxes or laundry detergent boxes (gives your stinky mail a nice scent).  Let your children decorate and place a name and number of their choosing on the box.  Then tape some red construction paper to the long end of a flexi-straw.  Make a small hole in the side of your child’s newly decorated box and place the short end of the straw snuggly into that hole.  Now you have a working flag to alert the postal staff there is a letter to be picked up.

You can then “re-address” the junk mail to go the appropriate mailbox, saddle your “postchild” with a satchel and send them on their way.  Trust me – it works!  A small ride-on toy doubles as a delivery truck or you can even explain how the mail used to be delivered on ponies and have them gallop with a stick horse.

It can be as simple or as elaborate as you and your little one desire.

You can easily extend your child’s learning by thinking of a distant friend or relative that would enjoy receiving a bit of mail.  Explain that your child is performing an experiment on postal delivery times and request that your friend tell you when their letter arrives.  You can find a map to help your child chart the course their letter will take (Google maps would also be an excellent resource for this section for younger children), have your child predict how long it will take for his letter to arrive, have him tell or write you a story from the perspective of the letter as it travels, and finally, assess his predictions after the letter arrives.

It is also neat to photograph the envelope before mailing it.  After it arrives, if your friend is willing, have them take a picture of the envelope before opening it to send to your child.  The before and after comparison of the photos are a real treat for the kids.

Educationally, this is a perfect sedge-way into addressing letters, placing stamps properly, the importance of a return address, letter writing, map activities, necessity of legible penmanship, etc.  An extensive list could be derived from this play opportunity with what was (just a few seconds ago) mere household trash.


Photo courtesy of uzvards / Used with permission.
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