Mail Day! Sending Postcards Encourages Reading and Writing
What do kids know about mail? That it comes in the mailbox. That the mail carrier brings it. That it’s never for them. When teaching a community helpers theme, mail day is always a favorite kids activity in my classroom. Why? Because all the kids know they’re finally going to get mail of their own! Mail is an excellent way to make learning to read fun.
Start with a pile of colorful postcards. Address one to each of your students and put the postcards in a hat. Have kids come up one by one and pick a postcard. No peeking! While kids decorate the fronts of the postcards with drawings and stickers, call them up one at a time and have them dictate a letter for you to write on the card. It can be something simple like “Dear Timmy, What did you get for Christmas? I got a new bike and some paints. Love, Jane.” Let kids be creative and write whatever they want, but have a few ideas on hand in case some of them need suggestions. Help kids who already know their letters to sign their names.
Now hand out stamps and show kids to stick them in the upper right-hand corner of their postcards. The self-adhesive stamps are easiest but kids like the old-fashioned lickable kind if you can find them. Collect all the postcards in a “mail bag.” (Lucky for us teachers, carrier-style bags were recently in fashion.) If possible, take your class out on a quick field trip to the corner mailbox and let them each drop in a postcard. If not, mail them yourself. Tell kids they’ll have to be patient, but in a few days, their “community helpers” – the mail carriers – will deliver the postcards to their homes!
In this digital age, use this kids activity to let children experience the thrill of getting “snail mail” the way we remember it. Let them run to the mailbox every day to check if the mail has come. Help them find the letters that spell out their names (and the names of other people in your family). Encourage relatives and friends around the world to send postcards to your child. This is an excellent way to make learning to read fun and exciting. And when your child gets a little older, find him or her a pen pal from anywhere – across town or across the world. This allows children to practice reading and writing in a new and engaging way.