Kids enjoy studying community helpers through pretend play, great children’s literature, and craft or learning activities. My new favorite community helper to explore with the kids is the post office worker! Setting up a post office in your home or preschool is easy to do and fun for the kids, and gives them a meaningful way to work on letters, writing and social skills. The following activity is one that can be exciting for kids of many ages. It can be adapted for younger kids, but it is fun (and challenging) for kids who are ready to work on writing, word blending, or names of friends and family.
Setting It Up
I have a group of 10 kids at my preschool, so my post office needed to be big enough for the whole group to use and explore. For a home-based post office you may only need one or two chairs and a small shelf or table.
Step One: Find or Make a Mailbox
For a large group, one mailbox is fun. My kids all put their letters in the mailbox, and then we had a "mail person" each day who delivered them. For a home-based post office, it may be fun to get a small mailbox for each person in your family. You could find mini mailboxes to buy, or make them out of recycled boxes or large envelopes, or let your child create and design them. Then your kids can deliver their letters as they make them.
Step Two: Provide Writing Supplies
I set out a bunch of paper and envelopes in one basket, small sticker stamps in two small containers, and a stamp location practice activity (kids work on where to put their stamp with wooden envelopes and velcro stamps) in another basket. All along the table I set out containers of crayons and pencils. Another fun thing to provide is a picture and name list for anyone the kids may wish to write to. For my preschool, I put out a laminated sheet with a photo of every child at our school, as well as their name. This way, kids could write letters or draw pictures for their friends, and work on writing their names, too. I was there to help kids who needed assistance. For younger kids, you could make labels in advance with names and pictures on them that the kids could stick to the front of their envelopes. Most of my kids chose to draw pictures for their friends instead of writing actual letters.
Step Three: Teach and Model
On the day that we first got to use our post office we spent some time learning about envelopes, stamps and addresses. It might be helpful to discuss these steps:
Where to put a stamp
Where to writeyour (the sender's)name
Where to write the name of the person you are sending it to
How to fold a paper to fit into an envelope
How to seal an envelope
How to put letters in your mailbox
Step Five: Have Fun!
My kiddos enjoyed our post office for weeks. Each day they took turns being the post worker and delivering the letters to friends' cubbies at preschool.