Homemade Toy: Playing Mailman

I made a simple mailman activity for my niece to include in her 1 Year old Busy Box (check out #3 on the link).   At her level, it basically included the foam envelopes and a small metal mailbox.  She could open and close the mailbox, lift up the flag, and play the “In and Out” game that ALL 1 year olds seem to love!  I kept wanting to make something similar for J.

 I got the first mailbox at Michael’s Craft Store but haven’t been able to find them since so I decided to make one with a shoebox…  until I came across this mailbox in the Valentine’s clearance section at Target. 

It’s made of cardboard and opens and closes like normal on the side.  It also has a small slit at the top (originally to place valentine’s card inside).  Regular size foam fits perfectly in the slit on top.  I cut the foam envelopes according the the length of the slit and then labeled each with both a mailing and a return “address” and drew a stamp in the upper right. If you wanted, you could use real stickers and have your toddler place the stamp on each envelope. 

I’ve had this activity made for ever, but just brought it out this week.  I’m glad I waited.  Since the foam envelopes barely fit in the mailbox slit, it makes it an appropriately challenging activity for J’s current level.  He has to be very careful to get the foam inside the slit and then he has to work slowly to push the foam envelope down.  Since foam bends if he pushes too hard or moves to fast the long envelopes will just bend over the top of the mailbox instead of falling inside.  It was a GREAT fine motor skill activity for him. 

Lots of concentration going on!!

He got really frustrated at first.  Dad stepped in and showed him how to hold the envelope on the sides with both hands and SLOWLY push it into the mailbox.  From then on he loved it.  He stuck with it for awhile.  The fact that he had to focus so much and was, in the end, able to complete the task tells me he’s at the right developmental level for this.  I’m actually glad the slit was so small.  If I had made one myslef, I wouldn’t have made the slit that small which would’ve made it to easy for him. 

It can also act as a name recognition game… he can “deliver” the envelopes to the correct person (in this case, Mommy, Daddy, and J) or he can just stack them according to name.  When he’s older, I could add more recipients and J could sort them next to the recipients picture.   

He can of course also sort them by color, count the numbe of envelopes each person recieved (or according to color).

Age attempted: 25 months; a younger toddler can insert the mail through a larger slit or through the door on the mailbox.

Here’s the picture of my niece’s Mailman game

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