I have been ultra inspired by our current unit for preschool: helpers. Our first mini-unit has been mailmen and it has been SO much fun! I am not sure who has had more fun with it: me or the girls! I came up with a number of ideas in the weeks leading up to our starting of this unit and was so gratified by their successful outcome. And I was even more excited that we spent about $10 on creating an entire post office pretend play set up for the girls! So, I thought I would share the ideas with you, in case you want to create something like this for your little ones.
Our pretend play post office was made up of a few different elements:
individual mail boxes for the girls
a mail sorter
a mail drop box
mailman shirts with name badges for each girl
stamps, envelopes, scissors, and glue
Some of the elements were created with help from or inspiration from other amazing preschool bloggers. And the individual mail boxes were an idea from Toddler Approved. We spent one of our previous preschool craft times making these paper plate mail boxes using our vast supply of stickers and crayons. Our favorite part was discovering the sound made by coloring the ridges on the sides of the paper plates. This is a great open-ended craft for the girls; they were able to make their mailboxes just the way they liked them. Cost: 5¢
The mail sorter was an idea I had that I was hoping would work, but I was really happy with how it turned out and how easy it was to create. I used 12 paper lunch sacks. I cut off the tops of the bags to create a more squat bag, about 6 inches tall (when unfolded and standing). Then I double-bagged the sacks to create 6 “cubbies. This was primarily to reinforce the paper bags and make the mail sorter more substantial. I stapled the edges of the bags together to close them. Then I stacked 2 bags, one on top of the other, and stapled them together. Then I added another two bags to the stack, and then another 2. It was really a simple construction and the staples held it together just how I liked it. I wanted the mail sorter to have a small number of cubbies, so that we can do a number recognition activity with it in the next couple of days. Cost: maybe 50¢
My favorite piece of our pretend play post office is our mail drop box! This was the idea that came to me first when I started brainstorming a pretend play set-up. I took two paper grocery sacks (from Target), cut off the handles, and double bagged them. Then I spray painted them on the front and sides with blue glossy spray paint. I also took a piece of cardboard I had leftover from a shipment and spray painted that with the same blue spray paint. Once that was dry, I printed out a postal service logo and cut it to size and taped it to the front of the painted grocery bags. When it came to putting it together, I simply stapled the bag to the wall where the girls could reach into it. And then I secured the cardboard top to the wall so that it could be lifted and lowered to drop mail into the bag. This worked out just how I planned it and cost $2.17 for the spray paint and the paper bags (yes we have to pay for them in our town).
Our mailman shirts for pretend play were found on clearance at Wal-Mart. They are boys shirts a little over-sized for each girl, so they will be able to be used for pretend play for a while. I went onto PicMonkey and quickly created badges for each girl with the post office logo and their names. I printed and cut out the badges and then punched a couple of holes at the top of each badge. I used our laminator (affiliate link) to give them an “authentic” look. I safety pinned the badges to the shirts and put them on hangers on the back of their preschool chairs. All told, these shirts cost about $5.00.
I outfitted the work table with stamps found in the FREE printable pack for post office play from Picklebums, I left them blank so the girls could create their own stamps and glue them to the envelopes on the table. I also included some crayons, scissors, and glue. W (2 years-old) is not quite ready (or maybe I am not quite ready) for scissors, but G (4 years-old) is working on her scissor skills, so the scissors were used under CLOSE supervision. Cost: FREE – used supplies we had on hand!
The girls are having a great time with this post office pretend play set-up! W has not always been into every part of it – she only put on her shirt for a few seconds, but she has enjoyed making stamps and putting them into the mail drop box. G has taken to every part of the set up! So fun!