- empty shoebox with a top
- stickers, crayons, markers, paint?
- wrapping paper
- scraps of paper
1. Wrap the top of the shoebox (you can wrap the whole box, if you'd like).
2. While you wrap, have your child start making letters for their friends, grandparents, etc.
3. Once the box top is wrapped, use scissors or a knife to cut a slit in the top that is long/wide enough for the letters.
4. Have your child decorate the top and sides of the shoebox
5. Put the top on the shoebox and let your child "mail" their letters by sticking them in the hole.
6. Once the mailbox is stuffed, show your child how to take off the lid, empty the mail, and put the top back on. He's definitely going to want to try and mail all the letters again and again.
Not only was this activity easy to prep, my son loved playing "mailman" again and again, which was perfect for a rainy day. For older kids, this would be a great activity to help motivate them to learn basic things about letters, like putting them in envelopes, addressing them, and putting a stamp on them. You could also have older children practice writing letters, words, and their names on the mail. We will definitely be doing this again in February once our Valentines are done.
In this activity you can practice expanding conversations with your child. If she makes simple one word statements about what she sees (mailbox, letters, hole, etc.) you can simply expand on the statements to foster longer sentences or more detailed descriptions. For example, if your child says "stickers," you could say, "we're going to put the smiley face stickers on the top..." so you're adding more description to what your child has said. If you work on letter recognition along with this activity, you can also work on letter sounds. For example, if your child writes an "A" (or if you write an A for your child), you can say, "the A says aaaa."
For older kids, you can also have them dictate to you what they want to write. You can write it for them and then read it back to them. Point to each word as you read it aloud to them and have them try and follow along with you. Pretty soon they may be trying to read the letters themselves. This is a great pre-reading activity.