Any little ones who have been to the post office have likely had to wait awhile for their parents to be helped. While waiting, they may have noticed that a lot of things go on at the post office, such as mail delivery and people carrying boxes, workers behind desks stamping packages. Creating a post office in your classroom will give your students a chance to role play all of these exciting activities.
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Post Office Alphabet Center
Preschoolers love playing with mail. With this post office centre you can teach them about mail service and work in some letter-recognition skills at the same time. You'll need several empty cereal boxes to start. If you want one box for each letter, you'll need 26 (consider asking for donations from parents). If you're OK with using one box for two letters, you'd only need 13 boxes. Cover each box with wrapping paper or butcher paper. Cut the tops out then line the boxes up on a long table. Be sure that the opening where the top was is facing out. If you're doing 13 boxes, cut seven 3- by 5-inch index cards in half and write the letter range (e.g., "A, B") on each card. Tape one card to each box (you'll have an index card left over). On several envelopes, write a letter of the alphabet. Students will deliver the "mail" pieces to the correct mailboxes. The person checking his or her mail gets to check to make sure the delivery person did it correctly (or you could be the person checking).
Post Office Center
With this centre, preschoolers will play the part of the postman stamping and delivering mail. They will also play as a parent or other person checking his mail. You'll need a table for your centre, an empty box such as a cereal box and at least five real mailboxes (these are generally inexpensive at home improvement stores). You may want to wrap the cereal box in construction paper and then cut an opening as a mail slot in the top. Label the box "outgoing mail." Provide some laminated envelopes, so they can be wiped clean and reused, as well as a stamp and stamp pad. Line the real mailboxes up along the table and place the outgoing mailbox nearby. You could also provide a postman costume for this centre. The postman can retrieve the envelopes from the outgoing box. Another child may stand behind the table making sure all mail gets stamped before it's "delivered" into the real mailboxes where other students will "check" their mail.
Classroom Postal Service
What better way to make sure important notes get home than to hand-deliver them to your students' mailboxes? This is a fun project little ones enjoy. They're bound to remind parents to check their mailboxes before leaving school each day. You can use real mailboxes (one per student) or have students bring in an empty shoebox. After you've explained how the postal service works, perhaps with activities and picture books, have your students decorate their mailboxes. Let them place the boxes in a corner titled "Mrs. Smith's Post Office." You can have "postal clerk" be one of your classroom-helper jobs. She will make sure important notes get delivered to each person's mailbox. Mailboxes can also serve to store student crafts, progress reports and any other take-home papers.
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