DIY Post Office Play Kit

In the last two decades children have lost 8 hours of free play per week and 30,000 schools in the United States have eliminated recess to make time for more academic study.   –  Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

This statistic freaks me out!

I worry “ are my kids playing enough?

post office play letter

Am I making sure they have enough critical development through play?

I have to admit, sometimes my girls, who are three years apart, didn’t get engaged in playing together.

Ever have that problem, too?

So recently we began creating play kits for ideas that both girls wanted to play.

The play kits gave my kids purposeful play experiences, which built important cognitive connections and lasted for hours and sometimes days.

Yay!

post office play collage

Last week, we decided to make a Post Office Play Kit after finding cute little mail boxes in the Target $1 bin. (LOVE Target $1 bin!)

Like the play kits we had made before, we found a shoe box in which to keep the kit. The best part? Both my girls found everything for the kit. We created a master list including a few things we didn’t have.

Here’s our list. Use it to find supplies for your own post office kit.

post office play supplies

Post Office Play Kit

  • Mail bag
  • Mail boxes (*If you don't have your own mailboxes, make you own out of cereal boxes or shoe boxes.)
  • Stickers
  • Stamps, stamp pad
  • Scissors
  • Envelopes
  • Pencils, markers, pens
  • Paper
  • Labels
  • Index cards
  • Stationery
  • Tape
  • Date stamp
  • Scale
  • Storage shoe box
  • Money, cash register
  • Scale

Learning Through Post Office Play

Now that your kids are engaged in play, you can facilitate learning with a few suggestions.

Ages 3 “ 5

  • Teach new vocabulary words associated with the post office: delivery, address, postage, scale, sort, mail carrier.
  • Count and sort letters.
  • Draw and dictate letters and postcards.
  • Practice writing your own name.

post office letter writing Ages 5 “ 10

  • Write postcards and letters.
  • Weigh mail.
  • Sort, count, and deliver mail.
  • Practice writing your address and addresses of others on envelopes.
  • Practice letter writing formats.

post office play stamps

Additional Learning – Post Office Books

Now, watch the imaginative play unfold!

And, as Valentine’s Day approaches, this is a perfect way to write and deliver Valentine’s cards, don’t you think?

Finally, the cool thing about DIY play kits is you can pack up and store them easily in a shoe box or picture box for another day.

Other play kits we ™ve made recently:

  • movie theater
  • writer's toolkit
  • pirates
  • beauty salon

Additional Resources – Importance of Play

Do you want to read more about the importance of play?

You might like these favorite books:

 Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. – Kay Redfield Jamison, Contemporary American professor of Psychiatry

I ™d love to hear if you make your own play kits, too.

What are your kids’ favorite pretend play themes?

Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer, an award winning educational blogger at  ImaginationSoup.net, an award winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, the  Book Editor-at-Large for Colorado Parent Magazine  and a parent of two children.

As a teacher, she won Outstanding Teacher in Douglas County Schools.

25 Comments

  1. What a fantastic idea! I worry too that kids, these days, aren’t getting enough playtime. I think educators and administrators forget how much learning and creativity come out of free time. Free time = free thought, which in turn = critical thinking and the like.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. My kids love playing post office. I really like how you integrated the play with learning new vocabulary. I bought a faux book (the kind that is really a box in disguise) at Winners. My kids and I keep it on the book shelf and use it to leave each other secret messages.
    Letter writing is slowly becoming a lost art, and this is a fun way to keep an old fashioned activity alive.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. In my house, the kids love to put a mailbox by their bedrooms doors (especially during Valentine’s season). Then you can drop a quick note or picture in for them to find when they check the mail. I love the ones that are left in my mail box.

  4. Forgot to answer your question about what our favorite pretend play activities are…

    There are so many but currently the most popular is Hotel – checking people in and out, giving fake keys, turn down service and if they are really into it breakfast in bed. Another recent one that was lots of fun was playing shops. You can read about it on the GrowingPlay blog http://www.growingplay.blogspot.com/2012/01/pretend-shops.html.

  5. Wow – I hadn’t ever though of hotel. My kids haven’t ever stayed in a hotel – but we could still play it. Thanks for the idea!!

  6. It’s sad that little ones are being forced into school rooms instead of enjoying free-play. That’s one reason we don’t do a lot of formal school lessons yet…I want my kids to enjoy being kids!

    I didn’t think of it as a ‘play kit’ but I did create something like this for Valentine’s Day. I love the idea of turning it into a Post Office after the holiday though!

    http://moms-heart.blogspot.com/2012/01/valentines-day-theme.html

  7. Thank you for this. I read a bit of the book Einstein Didn’t Use Flash Cards on your Amazon link. I love it. It is so HARD to keep our children’s lives unstructured and not feel immensely guilty about it. Like we’re shorting our kids. We will try the post office idea. Good timing because we just decorated Vday mailboxes. 🙂 We have a pirate kit like you do, and we like to play Toy Shop with a bell to open the store, fake money, etc., or we play Office and set up work areas with calculators, telephones, cups of pens, paper, highlighters, empty Starbucks cups, etc. Thanks again. Love this blog.

  8. That statistic is one of the many reason i want to homeschool my kids. Play is so important and i want them to have plenty to learn and grow.

  9. Love Target’s dollar area, too! Such cute little mail boxes for your kit! I’m thinking we might have to give it a try.

  10. Just wanna share our ‘shoe store’ prop box. When I was little my mother worked in a shoe factory & so was always wanting to go to work with her when I grew up. lol Now I’m a child care provider. go figure. But she worked in the office & brought home her work many nights so gave me much inspiration.
    For the prop box, we made a homemade shoe catalog with color pages in a binder & put prices on them,
    we have shoe shine stuff, rulers to measure feet, note pads & pencils to take orders for shoes with phones & cash registers, calculators & pretend money. Of course we also have real ‘mommy’ shoes & ‘daddy boots’ to try on & wear. With their ideas, we add more items as we go but this is what we started with.

  11. I love the ideas in your kit. I probably would have just handed my kid some envelopes and a pen and what fun would that be??? Now we can have a rockin’ post office!!

  12. Wow! You gave me lots of good stuff to add to my pretend post office! Thanks so much!

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