Tag Archives: post office

Book Activity: Please Write Back!

Please Write Back! (Scholastic Reader Level 1)In Please Write Back! Alfie writes a letter to his grandma- going through all the steps of letter writing addressing and stamping by himself- and then waits anxiously for her reply.  Finally, he gets something.  But it’s not the letter he expected, it’s a package!

After reading this simple story, extend the story and support sensory skills by doing a feely box activity.  Just as Alfie was anxious to find what was in his box, the children can take turns feeling an item in a box and guessing what it might be.  You can simply use a box and hold it high enough that the children can’t see – though someone will always try to peek!  You can create a simple feely box by securing a sock around the top of an empty oatmeal canister.  Then, cut the end of the sock, so that a hand can reach through it and into the box.  You could also make one with a small square box, using an inexpensive (and/or outgrown) stocking cap in the same manner.  Stretch it around the sides and then cut a slit in the top for a hand to reach through.

Gather items Alfie’s grandmother might have sent (toy car, toothbrush, ball, marker, etc.).  Talk about the items so that the children have a reference point.  Then conceal them and stealthily add one to the box before giving the children turns to feel and guess.

Feely boxes enhance cognitive skills and the child’s sense of touch.  It also taps into some sensory integration as the information they are gathering through their hands is compared with visual images they are recalling through memory.  Building sensory skills is important because we gather and process information through our senses.  It’s part of the process of inquiry or scientific method.   So what seems to be fun  guessing game is actually building cognitive skills!  I love it when that happens.

For more mail themed activities, check out the Valentines, Friends, and Communication Unit here!


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Filed under book activity, Building Readers, fine motor skills, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, sensory activity

Mailing May and Mailing Me!

Mailing May

Back in 1914, a five year-old little girl by the name of Charlotte May Pierstorff wanted desperately to visit her grandmother, but her parents couldn’t afford the $1.55 it would cost for a train ticket.  Soon her family hatched an ingenious plan and, with the help of a cousin who worked on the mail car of the train and some creative application of the postal code, May was sent by parcel post with 53 cents in stamps on her coat.  This true story is told in wonderful narrative fashion and with beautifully detailed watercolor illustrations in the book, Mailing May , written by Michael O. Tunnell and illustrated by Ted Rand.

While reading this story to young children, it is interesting to have them look for clues that tell them this story happened a long time ago.  A kerosene lantern, a horse-pulled wagon, the clothing worn by the characters.

After reading, ask the children if they thought they could travel by mail.  Probably not.  The Post Office wouldn’t likely let a five year old slip by today like they did in Mary’s case!  Have the children try to fold up as flat as they can, so that you can put them in an envelope.  Doesn’t quite work!  Tell them you really wanted to mail them to someone!  Ask if they have any ideas for how they could be sent in the mail.  (Some may even surprise you by guessing at exactly where you’re going.)  Then pull out this  body outline.    Ask if they think this little paper person could be sent in the mail!

Have the children color the little paper person to look like them.  Talk through what they might want to include.  “What color are your eyes?  OK, so you’ll need two green eyes.  And what color is your hair?  What are you wearing?/What do you want to be wearing on your trip through the mail?  Some may add crowns or colorful scribbles.  I’ve even seen a paper person with a cape drawn on the back side of the paper.  Because that’s where capes go, of course. 

Next, choose between the two letters attached here.  One asks the recipients to forward the paper person on to someone else, the other asks them to mail it back to be sent again by the child to another person.  It’s a matter of personal preference and objective.  Personally, I think I prefer being able to control who is receiving the letter (as in the second of the two letters attached) to increase the likelihood that they will respond.  Plus, it includes the extra fun of allowing the child to receive mail (as the paper person returns) as well as send it.  You could even encourage the senders to include a note or souvenir in their return letter.

Send the paper people home along with the letter you chose, and a brief explanation for the parents.  Soon you’ll be hearing all kinds of stories about where the paper versions of the children have gone!  If you want to, encourage the children to print off the pictures they are receiving at home and bring them for a short show-and-tell session, or to post on a bulletin board!

This activity is very much like the Flat Stanley activities you’ve probably heard of.   You could certainly use that book to start off this activity, but I prefer Mailing May since the mailing concept is central to the story, whereas in Flat Stanley, travelling through the mail is just one small part of a much broader story. 

This activity increases social awareness as the children learn more about the postal system and as they correspond with others.  It also incorporates fine motor, creativity, and self-awareness as they create their paper selves.

Enjoy your postal adventures!

For more mail themed activities, check out the Valentines, Friends, and Communication Unit here!


Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, fine motor skills, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, social skills

Valentines, Friends, and Communication

Ahh, February!  The kiddos have just gotten over the withdrawal symptoms caused by the sudden drop in blood sugar levels after Christmas, so of course it’s the perfect time for another confectionary holiday! 

Now, I’m a middle of the roader when it comes to holidays and preschool.  I don’t quite agree with the notion that they should be completely abolished from school.  They are what kids are interested in, and I believe curriculum should emerge from the child’s interests.  Though, I also don’t agree with the idea that a holiday is an appropriate curriculum theme in and of itself for an extended period of time.  So I like to take the holiday and find connections to other social or science based themes.  As I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of friendship and writing and sending notes and letters.  I think of the social skills involved in creating and  maintaining human relationships.  These are skills children need to develop.  (While we’re at it, there are plenty of adults who could use a course on those skills as well!)

So, at this time of year, I like to utilize the theme “Friends and Communication”.  It allows for a focus on friendship – how we talk to our friends, what we like to do with our friends, and how we resolve conflicts with friends.  It also ties in with the concept of communication, particularly written communication (here’s where the Valentines really tie in) – the mail system, writing letters, recognizing written names, and sharing our thoughts in written words.

Here are just a few of the concepts and objectives within the theme:

Concepts / Objectives Subject Areas/Skills
  • Rhyming & Beginning Sounds
Phonemic Awareness /Pre-Reading Skills
  • Polite Language & Being a Good Friend
Social Skills
  • Graphing
Math – Sorting & Counting
  • Using the Mail
Social Concepts, Communication, & Writing
  • Creating and Completing Patterns

I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately, but I’ll try to get as many of the Valentine’s activities posted before the actual holiday for anyone who might be looking for a last minute idea!  Here are the activities I plan to post:


Homemade Paint Stampers

Fold Art Hearts

Heart Stencils

Chalk & Water


Sparkly Scented Playdough (If you can handle this much excitement, combine this recipe with this one!)

Hearts and Cornmeal

Magnet Search

Shape Scoop (Add Hearts!)

Post Office Dramatic Play:

Make Your Own Post Office

What Envelopes Will Do to Your Writing Center! (Just do it and find out for yourself!)

Group Games, Songs, Etc.:

Heart Count and Pattern

Mail Match

Play “Who Has the Heart” (Adapt this game by using a felt heart instead of a pumpkin)

Five Little Valentines (This song and others located here.)

Do You Know This Friend of Mine?

Magic Words” Song and Sign Language


Heart Biscuits

Valentine Smoothies (Try this recipe, but add strawberries for a Valentine’s pink.  Garnish with strawberries sliced top-down to create a heart!)

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Big Soft Pretzels (This is the BEST recipe!)


Valentine Mice by Bethany Roberts (Combine with any rhyming game)

Jennifer Jones Won’t Leave Me Alone by Frieda Wishinsky (One of my all-time favorite books!  Follow up by making these Love Mobiles – simplified if necessary – for someone special!)

The Best Thing About Valentines by Eleanor Hudson (Make your own fancy Valentines!)

Rhyme Time Valentine by Nancy Poydar (Follow up with some Candy Heart Math!)

Mailbox Magic by Nancy Poydar (use with this activity)

Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell

Raymond and Nelda by Barbara Bottner

Please Write Back! by Jennifer E. Morris

We’ll see how quickly I can get caught up!  Stay tuned!

Top hearts photo by wemedge.


Filed under Unit Themes

Mail Match Math!

dscn1304Who doesn’t love getting a letter?  To preschoolers the mail ranks up there with other anticipated special deliveries like their Easter Baskets and Christmas stockings.  Perhaps the one thing more exciting than receiving mail, would be getting to be the all-powerful letter carrier!  Here’s an activity that lets your children in on the fun of delivering the mail, while also reinforcing the basic math skills of numeral recognition and counting.

Create letters by writing the number name in the address spot.  Place the same number of 1 cent stamps in the stamp corner.  For the group I was working with, I did numbers 1-10, but you could adjust that to meet the needs of your group.  Next, create houses or mailboxes by writing the numerals corresponding to your letters.  These can be simple pieces of paper as I show here, or you could make actual house or mailbox drawings.  (I wrote mine on colored paper, and we began by putting the numbered papers in order, and then pointed out the abc pattern created by the colors.)  Put these numbered papers in your pocket chart or in the center of your circle of children.  Place all of your letters in a bag like a mail carrier.  Have each child take a turn being the letter carrier (add to the effect by giving them a postal hat to wear during that turn).  Each child will reach into the bag to select a letter and then place it in the appropriate spot by matching the number of stamps on the letter to the numeral written on the house/mailbox.  After the children have experienced this activity, you might consider putting it in your dramatic play area along with your post office theme!


Filed under dramatic play, game, Learning through Play and Experience, math activity

How to Build a Mailbox for Your Preschool Post Office

dscn1174Have you ever looked at those darling mailboxes designed for dramatic play in the supply catalogs, and just wished that you could rationalize a few hundred bucks for such an investment?  Well, stop trying to rationalize because I have a more budget-friendly alternative. 

These mailboxes were made from “Costco-sized” diaper boxes.  I spray painted them blue, cut a letter slot by cutting the three sides of a rectangle.  On the fourth side, I made a crisp bend (may be aided by making a shallow cut through the first layer on the inside with a razor) and reinforced it on the inside with packing tape so that it wouldn’t wear out from being opened and closed.  The handles were leftovers from a kitchen remodel, but you can also buy simple handles pretty inexpensively at your hardware store.  Poke holes through the cardboard, basically “pilot holes”, and then thread the screws through like you would on a cabinet.  Cut a similar slot at the bottom of the back for the letter carrier to retrieve the mailed letters.  (I skipped the handle in the back and cut a notch instead.) 

Decorate with homemade signs, or contact your local post office and ask if they have any post office items ready to discard.  I contacted someone I know (who happened to be in the process of de-junking the office) and ended up with these signs on my mailboxes as well as out-of-date forms, ink stamps, and a variety of boxes, envelopes, and even letter carrier hats that were on their way to the garbage.  It’s always surprising what you end up with when you’re willing to ask!

A few additional things to keep in mind when making and using these boxes:

  • Allow plenty of time for the boxes to air out after being spray painted.  Letting the project sit in your garage over the weekend is ideal for getting rid of the potent spray paint scent.
  • For use in your dramatic play area, set up hats and bags for your letter carriers, as well as a post office area complete with a desk, computer, cash register, 1 cent stamps, forms, etc.  Supply your writing area with envelopes and plenty of paper, and you’re ready for a steady stream of mail!
  • When these boxes are not in use, open the flaps on the top and bottom and fold the boxes flat for storage.  Reassemble and tape the flaps back down when you’re ready to use them again!

Using these props in the dramatic play area encourage language development, and are particularly motivating for writers.  They also introduce or reinforce the social construct of the postal system and the prosocial skill of friendship through communication.  Incorporate math skills by playing the Mail Match Math game!  Take your class on a field trip to your local post office to really spark interest.  It also works well as a theme during February to connect the ideas of Valentines (letters), friendship, and communication!

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Filed under Building Readers, dramatic play, Learning through Play and Experience, supplies