Thursday, February 18, 2010

If you have a toddler that goes to school, daycare or play groups, you probably have an entire bag of Valentine cards scattered around your home.

Us, too.
Have you ever thought of using them for "mail time" play?

Mail time play allows you not only to teach toddlers about mail, but also provides an opportunity for them to practice coordination and motor skills (along with a little strategy).

Mail time play is easy, especially since tots love to put things in and take things out.

All you need to do is create a mailbox, and the construction is pretty simple.

Toddler Mailbox

  • A shoebox (or a box with a removable lid)
  • Wrapping or craft paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Old Valentine cards (works just as well with leftover birthday cards, Christmas cards, or just plain envelopes)


1. Cut two slots of varying sizes into the shoebox top. (The two sizes helps with coordination and motor skills as the child will need to figure out that the big ones only fit in the big slot, etc.)

2. Cover the top and the bottom of the box with wrapping or craft paper.

3. Cut through the paper on the box top to expose the slots. Tape the edges down on the inside of the slots to make a smooth surface through the slot.

4. Write on or decorate the "mailbox."

Helpful Hints:
  • Be sure to use a shoebox or other box with a removable lid. The toddler needs an easy way to get the "mail" out so they can start over again!
  • Test that the cards fit into the slots before wrapping the lid. You don't want to have a frustrated toddler when they can't get the cards into the slots.
  • Toddlers love to color and work with stickers. This project is easy enough that the toddler can help with the entire process, but especially the decorating!

When you are finished, not only do you have a new "mailbox" game, but you also have a place to house those cards and "mail" when they're not being played with (sneaky, huh?).

My two-year-old spends time throughout the day putting her "mail" into the slots, taking them out and then starting all over again.


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