Waiting for that special letter from a special pal? Wait no more! We made hats and mailbags, and then headed to the post office to collect and deliver. When the job was finished, there was a lovely letter (and Seuss stamps) at the counter, just for you!
We read A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier (Clarion Books, 2014). Leo the mailman (or technically speaking, the mailanimal) is always busy delivering boxes, letters and packages to the friendly citizens of his town. Sadly, however, Leo has never received a letter himself! One day, he rescues a lost baby bird named Cheep. As time passes, the two friends become a little family. But when spring arrives, Cheep needs to rejoin to his flock. They bid each other a tearful farewell, and Cheep flies away. Leo returns to his regular rounds, but life doesn’t feel the same anymore. Then, one day, Leo receives a letter from…guess who? A little birdie with a big heart! This is a warm and beautiful book, and, if you really want to choke up, check out the final illustration!
- 1 strip of blue poster board (approximately 3.25″ x 22″)
- 1 rectangle of blue poster board for hat brim (approximately 4.5″ x 7″)
- 1 hat brim template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
- 1 rectangle of blue poster board (approximately 7″ x 9″ )
- 1 strip of red poster board (approximately 1″ x 22″)
- 1 manila folder
- A selection of color masking tape
- Hole punch
- 1 piece of ribbon (approximately 41″)
- 1 small envelope (mine was 4.75″ x 6.5″)
- 1 letter template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white printer paper
- 1 strip of stickers to use as “stamps” (optional)
- 1 post office and post office game (more on that later!)
- Pencil, scissors, stapler, and tape for construction
- Markers for decorating
Begin with the hat! Circle a 3″ x 22″ strip of blue poster board around your head, and staple it closed. Print and cut the hat brim template, then trace the template onto a square of blue poster board. You’ll notice that there are three dotted lines on the template. Keeping the template on top of the poster board, cut along the dotted lines. You now have 4 tabs in the hat brim like so:
Return the brim to the underside of the hat circle, and fold and tape the tabs inside the hat.This will bend the hat circle into more of an oval, but that’s totally OK! I found that it was easier to tape the brim with the hat flipped upside down like this:
To make the mailbag, cut a manila folder until it is approximately 8.5″ x 10.5″ Staple the sides together (but not the top of course) and used color masking tape to cover the staples. Decorate with markers if desired. Punch a set of holes at the top, and knot a ribbon through each hole to create the strap. You’re ready for your rounds!
We had a huge cardboard box just begging to be made into a post office. Katie took the lead on this one and I must say, she totally surpassed herself. Look at that sturdy counter! The fancy tiled roof! The red border!
We also made 5 mailboxes with 5 matching letters or packages. Mainly, we used wrapping paper tubes, oatmeal containers, craft boxes, patterned paper, construction paper, and some items from the Bling Bin.
Then we whipped up some mail route cards. Each card was labeled “Deliver” or “Collect” and color-coded to a particular mailbox and piece of mail. The game began with a Deliver card. A kid came to the post office, picked up a Deliver card, and put the 5 pieces of mail in his/her mailbag. Then, following the color-coding on the card, he/she delivered the mail to the correct mailboxes.
When the job was done, he/she returned to the post office to find that a letter had arrived for him/her, as well as a set of “stamps” (i.e. spare stickers I had in the art cabinet)! The letter replicates the sweet message Cheep wrote to Leo (such a wonderful book). Ten bonus points if you noticed that I put the letters in purple envelopes, completing the rainbow created by the 5 mailboxes. Heh heh.
And thus, the mail was delivered. Next, another kid came to the post office and received a Collect card. He/She had to travel to all the boxes, collect the mail in his/her bag, and return it to the post office. Then the whole process started again with another kid and a Deliver card.
Color matching? Logic? Sequential thinking? It sounds awesome doesn’t it?
Well, I’ve promised to report the good, the bad, and the ugly on this blog, and therefore I must report that we had a complete activity fail. There were 2 dozen kids at story time that day. They loved the activity, but it…took…way…too…long. In the beginning, blazing with optimism, I positioned the 5 mailboxes around the gallery so kids could walk to them.
Well, walking took some time. So did figuring out the color coding. So did opening the little mailbox doors and adding or removing the mail. So did stuffing the mail in the mailbag. So did removing the mail from the mailbag.
As the clock ticked waaaay past the end of story time, I had to make some on-the-fly adjustments. I squished all the mailboxes together. I asked the kids to leave their mail bags at the post office and carry the mail in their hands. I opened the doors of the mailboxes to allow for quicker stuffing and removal. It still took ages.
If I was to do this over again, I would still have 5 mailboxes and 5 matching pieces of mail. But I would have each kid deliver or collect just 1 piece of matching mail, not all 5. That way, you could have 5 kids out on route at a time, which would move things right along. Ah well. The good news is that everyone (finally) got a turn, everyone got some stamps, and everyone received a lovely letter.
By the way, you don’t have to make a fancy post office or mailboxes to play the mail game. A tabletop will do just as nicely as a post office. A couple of shoe boxes wrapped in color paper make great mailboxes. You can even skip the mail boxes and deliver the mail directly to your favorite stuffed animal friends!