Friday, February 11, 2011

You didn't know the Post Master General lives in your house?

Well, it's true!

It doesn't take much to make your little one a confident and competent Post Master General.  This is a great activity around Valentine's Day because chances are that your child will be mailing and/or receiving some packages and letters this month.

I always like to link play to real life experiences.  So, start with a trip to the post office.  This is a great opportunity to pre-teach the post office concept before you play it.  Before you go, help your child make some valentines, put them in envelopes to grandparents (g-parents love getting valentines, btw), address them and show your child how to affix a stamp.  Kids really enjoy stuffing envelopes, licking them shut and sticking on stamps.  Just be sure to explain that stamps are not stickers.  (I've made this mistake only once!)

You may also want to work on prediction skills and ask your child, "What do you think we'll see at the post office?"  Maybe even make a list and check off the items that you see once there.  My little guy responded "lions, dragons and sculptures."  He did get one checked off.

Once at the post office, take the time to look around and point important things out to your child like the scales to weigh the packages, the special forms, the postal workers, the items other patrons are mailing, etc.  It's also important to note the sequence of action since this will take place in your play -"First, we get our package ready to mail - then we pay for our postage - then the postal worker puts it in a bin for the mail carrier - then it gets delivered."
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to take photos inside a federal building, so don't tell on me.  I'm also not sure if I'm allowed to take one of everything at their preparation desks for us to play with later, but I did anyway. 

At home, set up a few stations, if you have the room.  A mail preparation area, a postal worker area complete with scale and cash register, a mail box with a slot (the slot makes all the difference for kids) and a delivery area.
Here is a preparation area.  Writing out the words that your child will use is a great early literacy tool.  Even if your child can't write his/her letters, having a model is a great start to show letter formation and just the idea of word usage.  I also like to use old stationary and envelopes to add to the mood, as well as stickers to use as stamps.  A hole puncher is also a good additon since it works on building fine motor muscles and helps kids make holes (they love that).

Let your postal worker weigh the package and tell the customer charges.  I also like to challenge the child to read the zip code off the package and type the same numbers into the cash register to work on number recognition.  Then, let the postal worker place the package in a mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.  I like to use real messenger bags to increase the effect.

Finally, it's delivery time! 


  1. I love this idea! Your photos are wonderful.

    How can I follow you? I don't see a Follow spot on the blog, but want to make sure I am with you!

  2. Madeline -
    Oh my gosh! I just realized that I don't have a spot for new followers to join. I kept looking at the blog seeing that people were checking it out and thinking "Why isn't anyone following me?" Haha! Thanks to you I can have followers now!