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provocations | Atomic Bee Ranch

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Summer of Science: Round Up 2

This week we did a bit with water. It is summer after all. For pictures see my Instagram feed at the right.

Day 1: Moon Phases

Today was the first day of Ramadan. Since the Muslim calendar runs on a lunar cycle you know Ramadan has begun when the new moon is sighted. Today we read a little bit about moon phases so she would understand how the month of Ramadan would progress. It gave us some good new vocabulary too- waxing, waning, crescent, etc. 

Day 2: Shaving Cream Clouds

This was a very simple but exciting experiment the combined a chat about weather and about color theory. Fill a glass with water and spray the top with a pile of shaving cream. You then drip food coloring into the “cloud” and slowly it leaks through into the water. The color initially swirling into the water is fascinating and beautiful and if you do more than one color they mix together in a very dramatic way. I got the idea of Pinterest and it was a hit.

Before we started I asked Cam if she knew why/how clouds rained. I was very surprised to find that she does. I suspect she got it off one of her PBS videos, but I was impressed she recalled it. During the experiment we made predictions of what colors would form if we mixed red and yellow, red and blue, and blue and yellow. Most of the time she had no idea so I might try some other fun color experiments this summer. 

Day 3: Do Oil and Water Mix?

We explored how oil and water repel each other using an ice cube floated in a glass of oil. This was fun because to make the water more visible floating in the oil we dropped food coloring onto the ice cube. As droplets melted the food coloring mixed with the water and dripped into the oil. The end result looked a lot like a homemade lava lamp. It helped that I poured the oil into wine glasses. 🙂 

Cam is into the experiments where you do the initial set up and maybe even a bit of observation then come back to them over several intervals and make more observations. 

Day 4: Thursday

Thursdays are tricky. If I can plan something very quick and simple and Cam wakes up early enough, gets breakfast and over her process of waking up, then we can do something. This week after getting up late we had swim lessons again and then Cam went to my mom’s house for the afternoon. We didn’t manage to do anything especially science-y today.

Day 5: Water Sings Blue

Today we did a little Poetry Friday. I read several ocean themed poems from the beautiful book Water Sings Blue. I love the blend of information and imagery in this book and it’s very appealing to young audiences. Cam can sit through several poems before wanting to move on to something with a bit more narrative, but those few poems are so worth it. This was perfect too because I brought it with us to the restaurant where we ate dinner and it gave us a few minutes of something to do while we waited for food.

Day 6: The Save Water Game

 A fun little board game in our book How Things Work. Water is always a big deal out here in California and our family likes to talk about conserving it. This was a good little reinforcement of that. 

Day 7: Harvesting

I started our tomato plants from seed way back in January and today we will harvested the first fruits!!! Home-grown, homemade salsa here we come!!!!!

Summer of Mess: Easy Dough

The first project we tackled in our Summer of Mess was the Easy Dough from 150+ Screen-Free Activities. It’s just a mixture of baking soda, food coloring, and a splash of water, which means the term dough is being used loosely. Pretty simple. 

IMG_6227Cam had a great time. I had her help me mix it (using our hands) and then we dumped it into a large cookie sheet. She ran off and got some of her play-doh toys to use and she had a great time playing with it for about 20 minutes. When she was done I used one of the additional suggestions in the book that said to pack balls of the dough and stash a little treasure in the middle. I hid some polished stones in four or five balls and she can use vinegar to excavate them on Friday. 

IMG_6228If you try this…

…and are having a hard time finding liquid food coloring like I am, you can use gels. I used close to the amount the recipe called for (1/2 tbsp.) but I could have used WAY less. 

…mix the water and the gel together first and then added to the baking soda. The color would have been more even and mixed faster. 

…and the dough is pretty crumbly, add more water. I think this was partly due to the fact that the food coloring didn’t add any liquid. 

…know that the food coloring will definitely stain your hands, but it only lasts the evening and Cam thought having blue skin was awesome. I did have her wear an apron to protect her dress. 

…this would be a great material to set out with some loose pieces and/or tools. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 1

Part of this summer is working on Cam extending the time she is able to play by herself. We will both still be home come this fall, but I would like for her to be less dependent on me to play with her. That isn’t to say I will never play with her again. I just don’t want to feel like she constantly wants and needs me to be her playmate. I am also working on figuring out how to incorporate her into a lot of the chores I do. Sometimes it’s easier and more successful than others, but I think that gives her that connection she’s looking for when she asks me to play with her.

The other thing that seems to be happening is that Cam is phasing out her afternoon nap. She frequently still needs it, but there are some days when she just can’t fall asleep even though she’s tired. For those days I need something quiet that she can do, often without me. 

In order to help her find things to do when she goes off to play or during rest time, I have put together these quiet boxes (or busy bags, or I-can-do-it-myself boxes, or whatever you want to call them). 

This week we have:

Quiet Boxes Week 1

Box 1: Sewing burlap on an embroidery hoop. The holes in the burlap make it easy for her to poke the needle through and we can also pull the string out once she’s sewn it all in. 

Box 2: Paint with water book. I remember these from when I was a kid and I loved them. Cam is into painting, but I don’t want her getting the paints out if I’m not around to help set up. This allows her to paint without me. And it’s Hello Kitty. Thank you, dollar store. The bin has the book (which has tear-out pages) a paint brush, and a small bowl for her to fill with water.

Box 3: Small world play. I put some Play-doh, colored matchsticks, and rubber dinosaurs in this basket. I’ll see what she does with it. 

Box 4: Foam blocks and wet rag. I came across this idea on Pinterest. If you wet the rag and get the blocks wet with it, the water tension holds the blocks together tightly. This is great for building with what are usually flimsy blocks. 

Activity in the Hive: Sand Play

Around Christmastime we found kinetic sand on sale for really cheap at the craft store. We bought two boxes and put them on a tray for Cam, but it was so popular that we bought several more and a medium sized bin to contain it all. It’s been incredibly popular ever since and inspired Cam to ask if we could play in her outdoor sand pit, which we were able to do this past week because the weather warmed up a bit. I see a lot of small world play around the blogosphere, which is small scenes set up, usually in some sort of medium- penguins and packing peanuts, fairies and a flower pot filled with dirt, etc. Cam is not quite to the point where she wants to play in that way, but she is happy putting toys into the sand to push around, fill, and bury.

Why This Activity

Playing with sand is an awesome way for kids to get sensory feedback. They’re using their hands to manipulate it. They dip their hands and feet and bodies into large sandpits. They squish and pat and knead and form and break and stomp…there is so much to do in sand. And a lot of it’s physical. The kinetic sand box is a bit like an older version of those sensory boxes of rice they played with when they were babies. They’re engaging their sense of touch, but also working fine and gross motor muscles too. 

Plus, you know all those Montessori scooping and pouring activities? Cam could not care less about a couple pitchers on a tray. I tried to put some of those together and she was so uninterested she wouldn’t finish watching the presentation. She’s happy enough, and capable enough, to pour herself a glass of lemonade, so if there’s purpose to it she will be do it. In the sand, she gets to practice all those things. She scoops and pours with a variety of implements and vessels. To her there is purpose there. 


Dreaming UpDreaming Up: A Celebration of Building written & illustrated by Christy Hale

I talked about this book last week in the Diverse Bookshelf. It’s a great collection of poems that show kids using building toys (from sand to sticks to sofa cushions) and pairs them with famous buildings. A lot of sand play, especially outdoor sand play, can involve creating sand castles and the like so a book that shows real buildings and shapes and emphasizes the form of architecture can be excellent inspiration. 

Diggers goDiggers Go written & illustrated by Steve Light

A book of sounds. This is a really fun one to read aloud, but it also is great to pair with a sand bin that has little cars and construction equipment models in it. The current favorite in our house is the wrecking ball. 



Inside we have the kinetic sand in a clear plastic tub with several types of toys:

Kinetic sand: If you haven’t seen this stuff yet check it out. It’s sand that’s been combined with a binder that allows it to be lumped together, but still maintain the properties of sand. The best part for me is that it doesn’t dry your hands out and isn’t dusty. It’s definitely expensive, but craft stores often sell it and keep your eye out for coupons in the paper or the mail. Our local Michael’s carries it and we routinely get 40%-off-one-item coupons.

Plastic tub: I just bought something at Home Depot. The size will depend on how much sand you have and how much space you want to give your child. You can also choose different depths. I chose something fairly compact and deep so that it wouldn’t take up too much space and the sides help keep the sand in. We originally started with a tray, but a lot was ending up on the floor. 

Toys: We have these toy trucks in our bin, because Cam loves construction equipment. They’re really inexpensive and surprisingly durable. I also threw in some old kitchen molds. The things you would use to make tiny jell-os or panna cotta. You could also try spoons, measuring cups, and ice cube trays. The molds are to make shapes and mounds in the sand. If you have Play-doh molds and tools you can also use those because of the properties of kinetic sand. Or go for little animal figurines.  


Our outdoor sand pit is pretty good sized, but a small one would have made Cam just as happy. Beware, neighborhood cats may find that they like your sand pit too, as well as slugs and snails. Invest in a cover of some sort!

Sand pit: There are a couple options here. We built a wooden frame and filled it with sand. It’s connected to our gravel pit and our bark pit that has the swing set. There are also large plastic pits (shaped like crabs and turtles) that are made to be sand pits. Large toy stores usually carry them and certainly Amazon has them. 

Sand toys: We usually pick one or two up a year in the dollar bin at Target. The set I’ve linked to here is on Amazon and is very inexpensive. What you want are several different sizes of shovels and scoops. Some buckets, also various sizes. A sieve is awesome and a tower with a funnel and wheels is also cool. Alternatively you could use things from your kitchen- measuring spoons and cups, bowls, serving spoons, funnels, etc.

Tonka Trucks: We were both incredibly fortunate and incredibly unfortunate. My husband’s grandmother saved all his toys. All of them. This made going through and cleaning our house difficult, but we have a lot of great toys for Cam that we didn’t have to buy. We still have all of his old toy trucks, including the old steel dump trucks. I know they are a bit expensive new, but they are awesome and since they are metal, if you protect them from moisture (i.e. bring them in in the winter) they should last indefinitely. Ours are over 30 years old and still going strong. Cam loves to fill them with a shovel, drive them across the sand box, and dump them making hills and valleys. 

Water: In the warmer months, this is a must. If you buy one of those plastic sand pits, station it near a hose or hose bib if possible. If you build one, consider placing it near water. We weren’t able to, but we fill buckets and walk them over. Cam doesn’t seem to care. Wet sand is a whole new experience and it allows you to clump the sand into castles and hills. 

Activity in the Hive: Home vs. Classroom Provocations

Between setting up provocations for Cam and constantly reorganizing our play spaces so that Cam can easily get to things she is interested in I came to a realization. I’m like a lot of moms, I read mommy blogs and scour Pinterest. I like to see what other people are doing and get inspiration and ideas for things to do in our home- organization, activities, etc. I also happen to see and follow several Reggio teachers and greatly admire many of the things they do. I wouldn’t necessarily copy any of their provocations, since Cam may not be interested in what the programs are specifically about. However, I do like to adapt them.

One thing I started noticing, primarily with the school provocations, is that they are designed to take up a whole table and stay out on that surface. That’s great, if you have a lot of tables and/or space. But, we live in a post-WWII track home. We’ve done a lot to open up the house, but the rooms are still small. We don’t mind, we love our house, but it does mean that when we organize and set up furniture we have to get creative. Moreover, we live in our house everyday and do other house related things like eat, sleep, wash clothes, and shower. These are all activities that are, by and large, not done in a classroom and they create some other limitations on setting up a classroom-like setting. So bringing the classroom provocation into the home is requiring some of that creativity and a flexibility that allows for things to be put away at the end of the day and rotate onto our two work tables when the mood strikes. 

Here are some things I’ve learned so far about designing provocations for our home. They may change and develop as Cam gets older and more capable and as her interests change, but for the time being they work well. 

Tips for provocations at home: 

  • Use the Montessori principle of everything on a tray or in a basket: This makes for easy portability off a shelf and onto a work surface
  • Make sure things fit on the tray or basket well and that your child can actually move it: No flimsy trays, no tall jars that require extra balancing, nothing hanging over the edge waiting to fall off mid-move and try to keep it light enough that they can move it without assistance (this last part may not always be possible). 
  • Less is more; make sure there is white space: There are tons of awesome provocations you can set up for your child, but if there are too many options they won’t be able to get them off the shelf or they’ll just plain be overwhelmed. Be sure to space the trays out on the shelf too for easy removal and to help draw their eye to each one individually.
  • You can also go bigger: There are a lot fewer kids in your home than in a school, so you don’t have to have nearly as many seats and stations set up. This can allow you to add a few more materials, or even more expensive materials, that there may not have been space or money for in a classroom.
  • Keep clean up in mind: In a classroom you might be able to have a stack of paper and tray for the used paper and a jar for the pens and a sign and a picture and a book, etc, etc, etc. In a classroom all those things stay out on the table, though. It’s fine to have all those elements at home, just be sure cleaning up the provocation (putting it back on the tray and back on the shelf) doesn’t turn into an ordeal. It should be relatively easy to clean up to encourage them to actually clean it up. You can get creative and have a few items such as books stay out on your work table or you could have them sit on the shelf behind the tray to be picked up when your child is interested or carried over separately. 


For Your Bookshelf: Beautiful Stuff by Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini

Beautiful StuffBeautiful Stuff: Learning Wtih Found Materials by Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini

From GoodReads: Encourage your kids to express their creativity as they discover, collect, sort, arrange, experiment, and think with found and recyclable “stuff.” The real-life experiences of teachers and children will inspire ideas that you can try at home: choose objects and turn them into a display, transform materials into a face, build and glue wood scraps to make constructions. Appropriate for children four years of age and older.

At it’s heart Beautiful Stuff is a piece of documentation. The teachers at XX began by having students collect a small bag of materials at home and bring them in. They suggested recycled materials, broken jewelry and anything the kids were drawn to.

After bringing their bags to the classroom, the kids were invited to sort the materials. This went on for some time as they sorted by color, type, and various other attributes. It was incredibly fascinating to see how the kids viewed the materials and chose to sort them. Some of their distinctions were quite impressive. Shiny objects sorted out when sorting by color, for example.

After finding a good place to scale back on sorting activities, the materials were placed in a creation corner of the room. Sorting was allowed to continue, but not as a whole class project. The class went on to make several art pieces with the materials, self portraits and wooden structures. While working on these projects they moved from one language, or medium, to another, making a line drawing of their wooden structure for example. This really got the kids to think about their process and look closely at their work. 

The book details the process and thoughts of the children and teachers. The teachers offer thoughts on what they did right, what didn’t go as they planned, and how the project evolved over the year. There are pictures of the children working, the teachers interacting, and the creations of the children. And there are plenty of quotes and summaries of what the kids said. Each chapter ends with reflection of the teachers, their thoughts on what the kids learned and what they did. 

This could certainly serve as an introduction to what project-based, Reggio-style learning looks like and how it unfolds. It can also be a manual for how to do this specific project, although I would say you may have to tweak it for your child or particular group of children. I think this is a particularly good example of how Reggio teachers introduce topics to the kids and still let them run with where the project will go. Sometimes it can seem that Reggio has no curriculum and is completely student driven, which isn’t exactly the case. 

My only complaint is that the production quality of the book is so-so. I could have stood to have better design. Some captions and text blocks were, not exactly confusing, but distracting in their placement and didn’t help the flow of the text. The pictures were clearly all taken with a flash and were often grainy and dark. It think this was in part due to the fact that they were taken on film, but I think it speaks to the importance of taking better pictures. All in all, though, this was minor and the content was so overwhelmingly excellent.  Highly recommended as a guide and as an example. 

For Your Classroom: Sewing & Fashion


I’m changing up the format of this series yet again to align more closely with documenting what we’re doing. I’ll still have a number of the same features, such as featured materials and books, for the topic, but the series will be a little more focused. Over the spring and summer I made Cam a number of dresses, pj sets, pants, and even a tunic top. The first few items I sewed I made while my mom babysat. It was just easier that way. However I ended up picking up a few of the projects on days Cam was home. She was fascinated by the process and as the wheels turned in her head she began to “make something” for her stuffed animals as she played with the leftover fabric scraps. To engage this interest I developed a few provocations that break down the clothes-making process into steps she can at least conceptually understand and can begin to mimic. At this point she just doesn’t have quite the grasp on all the work that goes into making an article of clothing, which not only means she doesn’t know where to start, it also means she can’t simplify the process to make an easy dress or shirt for her animals. She also doesn’t have the sewing and fine motor skills mastered to a point where they can be a tool to help her create things and bring her ideas into the physical world in some way. I don’t expect she’ll come away from these provocations sewing outfits, but if she begins to grasp how a project is broken into stages and a general sense of how clothes are made, I think she’ll be satisfied. I also hope they will help build those fine motor skills more so they do eventually become a tool for her to use instead of a skill she hasn’t quite mastered.


Bruno the Tailor by Lars Klinting

Bruno the beaver needs a new work apron so he sets about making one. This is an awesome book for this kind of interest. It’s instructional without feeling like it’s instructional. You see each step of the process with a page of tools he uses in each step. The drawings are simple and sweet. Bruno has a little upset at the end when he discovers he’s made the apron a bit too long. No worries, though, he cuts it down to the right length and re-hems the bottom. The back matter includes some terminology and Bruno’s pattern with measurements. 

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn

A little girl wears her favorite dress every Monday, her favorite day. As the year goes on, the dress gets too small so her mom makes it into a top, a skirt, a tank top and several other iterations. Finally it’s so small that she puts the final piece into a collage drawing of what her dress used to look like. The day she wears the favorite piece of clothing changes too, going through the week. The last page has her favorite pants looking a little short. I love that this book shows the reuse and repurposing of clothing. It might encourage kids to look at their clothing in a very different light (moms too, maybe). 

Archie by Domenica More Gordon

A wordless picture book about sewing. Archie is a dog with a pet dog (just go with it). His aunt sends him a sewing machine and Archie gets to work, after a bit of thinking, on making an outfit for his dog. This outfit is a hit with the other dog owners in town and Archie is swamped with orders. Then a client asks if he can make an outfit for her. This kicks off another round of orders. A cute book about creative sewing. I love that it seems prior to receiving the sewing machine Archie is not a tailor. He just tinkers around and comes up with a good idea. The wordless aspect makes it accessible even to the youngest reader. 

How Clothes Are Made Provocation

I broke the clothes-making process into four steps:

  1. Draw a picture
  2. Make a pattern
  3. Sew it
  4. Try it on

Overall I’m looking for her to internalize the idea that making something takes time and follows a process. I am sure the actual act of making a shirt or pair of pants, even for her stuffed animals, won’t happen for a long time. And that’s fine. This is about exploring the process and seeing what it’s all about. I made a poster (which I won’t share because I didn’t use copyright free images) which is hung behind the provocations. Then I cut out and laminated the picture for each step and placed that in the basket with each provocation.  I am helping her take a set of clothes for one of her stuffed dogs through the process. I’m involving her in as much of it as I can, but ultimately she’s helping me plan and watching. You might notice that this follows Bruno the Tailor pretty closely which worked out well. I didn’t have the book when I designed the project so I was really pleased to find a book that went along so well. 

Draw a Picture

IMG_2527For this provocation I got Cam one of those sets of fashion rubbing plates. Cam is not to the point yet where she draws much of anything particular so I thought this would allow her to draw an outfit without all the pressure. Using the rubbing plates is also great fine motor work. The tray has the rubbing crayon, some colored pencils, paper cut to size and the rubbing plate holder and plates. It may also inspire Cam to draw her own outfit eventually, although I’m not worried about it if she doesn’t. 

Make a PatternIMG_2532

This is just a large basket with a real sewing pattern for her to take out and look at. She can cut it up or wrinkle it to if she wants. There is a pad of paper for drawing pattern pieces onto, colored pencils, a black pen and marker, a measuring tape, and a few clothes catalogs. The catalogs I’m having her look through for inspiration and I showed her how to draw an outline around the clothes to see about pattern pieces. Again I don’t expect her to make an actual patten, just get a sense of the process and the components of the process. 

IMG_2536Sew It

This is probably the most hands on step. I have some yarn & tapestry needles pre-threaded with thin yarn in a bowl and some small plastic canvases. Cam can practice the actual act of sewing on these canvases. Although the large plastic yarn needles seem safer they are a little too big to fit through the holes on the canvas. The tapestry needles are not really sharp, the tip is blunted, so I’m not overly concerned that she’ll hurt herself. This is also the step Cam has, surprisingly, been the least interested in so far.

Try It OnIMG_2530

This is the most fun step for Cam when I make her some clothes. Since she isn’t actually making something I got her one of those magnetic dress up dolls. She is so in love with this toy and it comes out a lot. I’m pretty happy with it too and tried to pick one that wasn’t so stereotypically feminine. This girl has all kinds of hair to try on as well as pants, shirts, skirts and dresses. She looks like a kid, too. Of course there aren’t any clothes to alter, but I think that might be a little overwhelming for Cam at this point. 

Next Places to Go…

I’m not sure yet. For the time being I’m leaving everything out for her to explore. I think these are concepts she’ll need some time to work with and really internalize. I am thinking about a child-sized sewing machine, but that is still a ways off. We’ll see what else piques her interest her. Or maybe we’ll let this lie.   

For Your Classroom: Letters and Postcards

About a year ago I subscribed to a couple of magazines for Cam, Ranger Rick, Jr. and High Five (Highlights for younger kids). While she has enjoyed the reading the magazines, recently she has really gotten interested in getting them out of the mailbox. Whenever she sees me check for mail she asks if she got a new magazine. I think everyone loves to receive mail. Not bills of course, but letters and cards and magazines. 

Letter writing and playing Post Office is a great way to encourage literacy and imagination. And your child doesn’t have to be writing or reading yet to enjoy “writing” a letter. They can simply draw a picture or scribble out “words”. You can write them letters, too. Just a card with their name inside will help familiarize them with what their name looks like written out. 

Letters & Postcards


The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond: I know I’ve talked about this book before, but I just love it. Cornelia Augusta finds a variety of hearts in a rainstorm and uses them to make Valentine’s cards for her friends which she then mails. It’s such a sweet story about how touching it is to receive a handmade card in the mail. 

The Seven Little Postmen by Margaret Wise Brown: An old classic Golden Book that is still in print. It shows you how a letter from a little boy passes through the postal system to get to his grandmother. The illustrations are funny and have a lot to look at (keep your eye out for the letter) and the story is really engaging. Some of the methods may be a bit outdated, but it’s still relevant. 

The Jolly Little Postman or Other People’s Letters by Allan and Janet Ahlberg: The jolly postman delivers letters to fairy tale characters then returns home at night to his own pot of tea and mail. Not only are the references to the fairy tales clever, but this book has the actual letters he delivers in it. Each time he visits a new person (or animal) there is a pocket that looks like an envelope that has a letter and often something else to pull out and read. So Cinderella gets a letter from her publisher and a copy of the book they are publishing for her. We love this book, and although you have to be a bit gentle with it, it is so worth that lesson. 

Angelina’s Invitation to the Ballet by Katherine Holabird: I am less familiar with this one, but it has the same format as The Jolly Postman, with letters to pull out and read. It would be good for those fans of Angelina or the ballet. It is out of print so you may have to find a used copy or check your local library system (which is where I found the copy I read).

*I am waiting on a few books from the library to read through and decide if I want to include them here. I will update as I get them in and reflect on them.

Update: 9/25/2014:

The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons: This has surprisingly little text for a Gibbons book, but there are tons of pictures which help tell the story of how the post office receives, sorts, processes, moves, and delivers mail. I like that the colors in it are red, white and blue like the post office and the limited palette in some ways focuses your attention in the drawings so you can read them. A good general information book. It may be a bit outdated (I’m sure there are more computers and automation now), but for the most part it’s still very current. 

The Post Office by David and Patricia Armentrout: This book is less detailed about the mailing process which might make it a slightly better fit for younger kids than Gibbons’ book. Instead of drawings The Post Office book features photographs for illustrations. It is clearly much more recent because it shows a more expensive stamp, an automated postage machine and new machines. There is a great two-page spread detailing how to address an letter. 

A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats: Another classic from Keats. Peter wants to invite his friend and neighbor Amy to his birthday party. To make the invitation more special he decides to make an invitation and mail it. On his way to the mailbox though, a gust of wind carries the letter off. Peter chases it around and catches it just as Amy rounds the corner. Unfortunately Amy is knocked down in the process and runs away crying while Peter slips the letter into the mail. Now he isn’t sure if she’ll be there for his party. A good story about why you might mail a letter as well as a friendship. 


Mail Carrier’s Song

(Sung to Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Write, write, Write your cards,

and lots of letters, too!

I will bring them to your friends,

And maybe they’ll write back soon!

(Source: http://www.preschool-plan-it.com/post-office.html; You may want to visit this site they have a ton of ideas for a post office theme in a classroom.)

Dramatic Play Area Ideas

Setting up an area with supplies for a post office makes a great dramatic play area that also incorporates literacy. You could also use this as an opportunity to write thank you notes to friends and family if you have recently had a holiday or birthday celebration. Here are some ideas for things to include:

  • Postman Costume for dress up
  • A small canvas bag can become a mail sack for deliveries
  • Cards or stationary from the dollar store or the dollar bin (that way when they scribble on a lot of them, you don’t feel so bad)
  • Stamps (either one cent stamps or stickers that look like stamps)
  • Pens, pencils, markers
  • An example letter (so they can copy the format of the envelope and even the letter inside)
  • Address labels (I get a ton of those address labels from charities, I put those out for Cam to use)
  • A mail box (both for mailing and for receiving letters; we used an old mail box we found in our garage, but you could just as easily create one from a shoebox)
  • A few boxes for packages (the post office has official boxes, you can snag a few for free)

 DIY & Activities

DIY Cardboard Mailbox  If you have a large cardboard box laying around and feel motivated, this would be so awesome for posting letters. 

Writing Station from An Everyday Story I scaled this idea way down for Cam since she isn’t ready to actually write letters or word. A small pencil holder with stamps and stickers, pencils and a couple pens, and some cards and envelopes. 

Draw Your Own Postcard A printable postcard from the Picklebums blog that has a large blank space on the front so you can draw your own postcard. Alternatively you could simple cut some heavy cardstock down to the size of a postcard (approximately 4×6). What I love most about this printable is that the back of the postcard is included with the address lines, a place for the stamp and the line that separates the address and letter portion.