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Playing Post Office
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Type: Projects   Skills: Language & LiteracySocial & Emotional Skills
Hereís an activity to help kids learn names and letter recognition. Itís an informal way of playing post office, by having mail slots set up for children to write letters to each other. Playing Post Office
What We Learn
Playing Post Office is a great activity for letter recognition because children will begin to recognize their own names. And once they recognize their own names, then they may begin to recognize other peopleís names. They may also begin to understand that certain letters have specific sounds associated with them.

With this activity, they will also gain pre-writing skills. For example, younger kids will learn to grasp a pencil and get something on the paper and the older kids learn to write using writing instruments as they gradually move beyond scribbling. And finally, they also have social language development because they learn verbal interaction and negotiations while writing or dictating what they want written in the letter. But remember this is a long term activity and kids will do this over and over again and begin writing beyond scribbling, at their own pace.
Supply List
Corrugated cardboard boxes
Wrapping paper
Scissors
Glue or tape
Masking tape
Paper
Envelopes
Writing instruments (crayons, markers, pencils, etc.)
How-To
The first step is to create an outgoing mailbox. A corrugated cardboard box works well. You can usually find these for free at your local supermarket because they discard them after they are shipped to the store.

Next, use scissors (or a box cutter) to carefully cut slits into one side of the box. Cut as many slits as you have children. The slits will become the mail openings the children will place their letters through.

Next, use wrapping paper and glue (or tape) to cover the box to look more like a mailbox. The mailbox doesnít need to look exactly like an official United States Post Office mailbox. Be creative.

If youíve covered up any of your mail slits, be sure to cut through the wrapping paper to make sure you have the correct number of mail slots. Then tear a piece of masking tape and place under each mail slot. On the masking tape, write each childís name, so every child has his or her own mail slot.

Make sure you have all different kinds of writing instruments available for the kids to write with and plenty of paper and envelopes. Encourage the kids to write a short letter to another child in the group, or to a family member.

Older kids (4 to 5 year olds) can write a letter to their friends or family if they want to. Child Care providers should help them begin recognizing and writing their names by asking them to write their names and the names of the recipient on the envelope. If the child says he or she doesnít know how to, then have him or her look at the name on the mailbox slot and copy it. This will encourage them to write the names down and become familiar with writing their names and other peopleís names.

For the younger ones (2 and 3 year olds), if they say they want to write a letter to someone, ask them to dictate what they want to say and then write it down verbatim. Then make sure you read it back to them so that they know you were listening and wrote down their message. Then you address the envelope while they watch and sound out each letter so that they begin to recognize the letter and sounds.

When the kids are finished writing their letters and have placed it in an envelope, have them deposit their outgoing mail in their mail slot. Later, you can deliver the mail to the recipients (the other children in the group, or the parents of the child).
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