Tuesday, February 8, 2011

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Creating With Colors: How to Make an Easy Hanging Mailbox

For the last two years, every time Valentine's Day grows near, I always think to myself, "Wouldn't it be fun if we made mailboxes for the kids, not just for Valentine's Day, but to exchange letters and drawings all year round?"  Well, this year we finally did it!  I had to simplify my idea to make the craft suitable for preschoolers, as well as our 7 year old.  So, I gave up on the idea of creating a mailbox with a slot and a lid.  What we ended up doing was much easier, mess-free, and worked out very well functionally.

Today's Project:  Easy Hanging Mailbox

Ask your child to create a happy receptacle to receive mail from other members of the family that can be hung a on a wall, a door knob, a wooden peg, or the back of a chair.

Supplies Needed:

1)  An expandable hanging file pocket (made of vinyl or sturdy paper)
2)  Coordinating ribbon (3/8" to 7/8" wide)
3)  Alphabet stickers
4)  Themed or decorative stickers
5)  Scissors

Step 1.  Determine which side of your hanging file pocket should be the front and which should be the back.

Step 2.  Based on where you intend to hang your mailbox, determine how long you need your ribbon to be, then add 5 to 6 inches onto that length.

Step 3.  Cut the appropriate length of ribbon and tie each end onto the metal hangers that protrude from the sides of the file.  Do this on the two attached to the backside of your mailbox only.  Double knot your ribbon, leaving a tail of 1-1/2 to 2 inches.

Tip #1:  For a nice finishing touch, cut the ends of your ribbon either at a slant or in a dovetail.

(Click any image to enlarge)

Step 4.  Have your child spell out his or her name on the front of the mailbox at the center using the alphabet stickers.  (Younger children may need assistance with this.)

Tip #2:  To make the mailbox seem more official, we opted to add the child's last initial as well.

Step 5.  Then ask your child to decorate the front of the mailbox with themed or decorative stickers, using as many or as little stickers as he or she would like.

Tip #3:  Suggest to your child to leave some blank space around his or her name to make it easier to read.

Here are the results of our project . . .

Since we had 3 mailboxes to display, we opted to hang ours on the back of our Angeles Baseline Chairs, which sit around our square table.  It worked out really well for us because the mailboxes take up no extra space at all.  So far I am the only one who has written letters to put in these fun new mailboxes, so I am going to have to try harder to encourage the children to write or draw pictures for each other.  I think this will be a great tool to increase interest in both reading and writing for all three children.