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Pretend Play: Post Office and Mail Carrier | Activities for Kids and Toddlers

Updated on June 8, 2013

Pretend Postal Workers

Pretend Play seemed like an interesting concept to me. After all, my kids are always playing with their toy kitchen and pretending to be little chefs, but I'd never pursued the concept any further - until I saw a photo of a homemade mailbox. How fun! My mother was a letter carrier (back in the day), and this would be a great way to introduce my kids to the Grandma's old profession!

I made this pretend play set of a mailbox, hat, and mailbag along with letters to "mail" from mostly what I had lying around the house. Then, I picked up some blue ball caps and blue canvas bags at the dollar store. So, overall, this project was incredibly affordable. Best part: my kids have a blast playing with it.

I've included step-by-step photos of how I made everything, as well as a few suggestions of things to accompany the activity, like storybooks about the post office. Enjoy!

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Here is a photo of my daughter playing with her post office. She making the letters. We added "stamps" and labels for both the addresses and return addresses.

The "stamps" were envelope seals with perforated edges that resembled stamps. The kind you get in the mail from charities looking for donations. (A close-up photo is shown below.)

The return address labels were just that: return address labels we had received from another charity looking for donations.

The address labels were actual labels that we simply filled in with titles like "Mommy," "Grandma and Grandpa," and the girl's names.

My daughter is drawing pictures on the letters that will be placed inside the envelopes. We used some old greeting cards that had been purchased but later forgotten about, some random stationary sets of matching paper and envelopes that had been collecting dust, a few old postcards that we didn't remember the origin of, and a pack of blank cards I picked up at the dollar store.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Here is a close up of the letters, cards, and postcards I mentioned. I bought one pack of blank cards at the dollar store because they had a cute picture on them, but everything else was collecting dust in the corners of drawers. Now they could be put to good use!

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

We also had some Priority Mail sticker labels and packing tape lying around from an old order from the post office. These are the types of things you can pick up at your local post office to make your pretend play a little more authentic. Or you could draw your own.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Another close up of the mailbox, hats, and mail bags, along with a couple of "finished" letters. One was actually just a postcard that we wrapped in priority mail packing tape.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Placing a stamp on an envelope.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

After she slipped the letters in the front, she opened up the slot in the back to see where her letters went!

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

A close-up of our "stamps," provided by the American Lung Association.

Making the Mailbox & Accessories

The Supplies

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

To make the box, hat, and bag like I did, you'll need:

An empty box

Packing tape

Blue painters tape

Blue construction paper

Foam letters to spell "Mail"

Blue hat

Blue bag

USPS logo printed on paper

White glue

Paint brush

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

I wanted to add a "door" to the back of the mailbox so they could easily retrieve the mail inserted into the front slot.

I left the existing hole that was the box handle and cut around it to form the door. I cut the top and sides, and sliced only halfway through the cardboard where it would need to bend.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Then I cut a slot in the front of the mailbox, removing the section around where the other box handle had been.

I wrapped all the cuts with blue tape, to smooth them.

The blue painters tape came in handy, and sped up my work, because it helped the box to resemble the mailboxes here in the States. There are many other colors for mailboxes all over the world, however, so if you want to make a post box that's not blue and you can't find something like the painters tape (or colorful duct tape), my suggestion for quickly transforming your box is spray paint.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

I covered the entire front with blue painters tape. Now, this type of tape isn't meant to be permanent, so you'll later see that I covered all the edges with clear packing tape, too, just to secure it.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

I decided that instead of covering the entire box with the painters tape, I would add pieces of construction paper to the top and sides, using the painters tape to adhere it. I placed the paper on the box and taped down all the edges. This way, my girls could use crayons to decorate their mailbox.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

Here you're looking at the bottom of the mailbox because I'd put it on the side while I stuck on the foam letters spelling "MAIL" over the mail slot, which you can see in the earlier photos.

I printed 4 USPS logos, 2 large, for the bags, and 2 a little smaller, for the hats, but they all fit on a single sheet of paper. I cut them out and attached them with a mixture of half white (Elmer's) glue and half water that I painted over the backs of the paper before sticking them on to the hats and bags. You could use Modge Podge, but I didn't have any. The glue mixture will bleed a little, so you may get some discoloration around the edges, but my kids didn't care.

Also, before adding the label to the bag, be sure to put something (like cardboard) between the layers of the bag if it's canvas because otherwise the glue will bleed through.

Or, you could try printing the labels on sticker paper instead. Or just paint the logo right on the hat and bag.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

The labels drying.

post office pretend play ideas for kids
post office pretend play ideas for kids

I also cut a piece of construction paper to cover the door on the back. Then I added a priority mail sticker. Later, my daughter added a few stickers to the sides, too.

In this photo, you can also see how I added clear packing tape around all the edges and corners for extra support and to make sure the painters tape doesn't start peeling off.

The box has proved to be remarkably durable. I'm really happy with it and, luckily, so are my girls!

Ready-To-Go Mailbox Play Sets

In case you don't have the time or patience to make your own. Scroll down and you'll find ready-to-go costumes, too!

Melissa & Doug Mailbox Play Sets

Melissa & Doug Stamp and Sort Wooden Mailbox Activity and Toy
Melissa & Doug Stamp and Sort Wooden Mailbox Activity and Toy

This set comes with 6 letters and 6 removable stamps that slip into a mailbox that you open with a key.

 
Melissa & Doug My Own Wooden Mailbox Activity Set and Educational Toy
Melissa & Doug My Own Wooden Mailbox Activity Set and Educational Toy

This mailbox has a working flag and door and comes with 2 reusable postcards.

 

A Softer Side of the Mail

This is sooooooo cute ... for those of us who can crochet. You can get the pattern on Etsy from CrochetNPlayDesigns. If I could crochet I would seriously buy every pattern in the store.

Costumes for Your Letter Carrier

Vroom, Vroom

Don't Forget the Mail Truck!

Postal Service Kid's Toy Truck
Postal Service Kid's Toy Truck

This sturdy truck will please any young mail carrier! It's 4 1/2 inches long and has a back door that actually opens.

 

Great Post Office Storybooks

Stories For Your Young Postmaster - My recommendations:

Seven Little Postmen (A Little Golden Book)
Seven Little Postmen (A Little Golden Book)

This classic has charming illustrations as we follow the progress of a letter that a little boy mails.

 
The Jolly Postman
The Jolly Postman

This book contains a cute, lyrical poem telling of a mailman who delivers letters to fairy tale characters.

 
The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves
The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves

This book explains how the mail works, with plenty of seemingly simple and yet intricate illustrations for the kids to explore.

 

Need Help Finding Supplies?

Blue Duct Tape - Don't have any painter's tape laying around? Try this instead!

Supplies For Making Your Own Accessories - I found my bags and hats at the dollar store, but here are some more options to consider, if you can't find any local

Have You Tried Post Office Pretend Play With Your Kids?

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