Learning With Mini Mailboxes | Reading and Math

Learning with Mini Mailboxes-Reading and Math. Click the picture to see videos and instructions.

Finding fun ways to teach can make such a difference in a child’s interest to learn. We found these adorable mailboxes (available at Target stores usually around Valentine’s Day or order on Amazon.comaffiliate link) and my son had a blast learning while wearing his mailman outfit.

There is so much you can teach using the mailboxes and imaginative role play, but here are a few of the things we used them for: Shape and Color Sorting and Counting, Addition and Subtraction, Reading and Word Building.

Shape and Color Sorting and Counting

Mailbox Shape and Colot Sorting and Counting Activity. Click the picture to view instructions.

What You Need

  • Three mini mailboxes
  • Flashcards/printables/magnets/drawings/anything else that will fit inside the mailbox to show numbers 0-10, shapes, and colors

1. Set out three empty mailboxes.

2. Using the objects showing colors, numbers, and shapes, set out three spots with what is supposed to go into each box.

3. Set out a pile of corresponding cards or objects to place inside the box. I used math printables for ours.

4. Example: For the first mailbox, put a number 2 and a shape or color (you can use a picture of what you are looking for or the word if your child is learning to read or a combination of the two.) I put a square. Have your child follow the instructions to dig through the pile of extra cards or objects and place two square cards or square-shaped objects into the first mailbox.

Bonus Tip: You can also try this sorting activity with colored envelopes and names to help your child recognize the words “Mom”, “Dad”, and the names of siblings or extended relatives. You can also have your child sort by size (i.e. large squares, medium squares, small squares.)

Addition and Subtraction

Mailbox Math Learning Activity Addition and Subtraction. Click the picture to view the instructions.

What You Need

  • One-two mini mailboxes
  • Three pieces of tape that will not harm your working surface (I used FrogTape delicate surface tape)
  • Flashcards/printables/magnets/drawings/anything else to show numbers 0-10
  • Cards with (+), (-), and (=) on them
  • Anything you want to place in the mailboxes (small toys, flashcards, magnets, etc.)

For addition:

1. Set out two boxes and place one piece of tape in front of each and one more after.

2. Place the plus sign between the first two pieces of tape and the equal sign just before the last piece of tape.

3. Using number cards, place one number on each of the first two pieces of tape.

4. Choosing from a pile of shapes and objects, have your child place items in the mailbox to match the amount on the number in front of it. You can always make this activity more specific by asking for “five stars” rather than the number 5 in general.

5. Example: If the first box had the number 2, your child should place in two cards and if the second had 3, he/she would place three inside.

6. Have your child take all of the cards out of the mailboxes and count “1, 2, *plus*, 3, 4, 5.” Go over the fact that two were placed in the first, three in the second, and now there are five all together.

7. To finish the math problem, he would have to choose the number 5 from a pile of numbers and place it on the last piece of tape. Two plus three equals five (2+3=5.)

For subtraction:

1. Set out one box and place out three pieces of tape as for the addition activity.

2. Place the minus sign between the first two pieces of tape and the equal sign just before the last piece of tape.

3. This time your child will add cards for the first step and remove cards for the second step.

4. Example: If the first number is 5, have your child place five items in the mailbox. If the second is 2, remove two cards from the mailbox and set them aside (over the number 2 where the second mailbox was for addition works great.)

5. Count the number of cards left in the mailbox. The answer is three.

6. Remind your child how we achieved this answer by having them repeat how many cards you started with (5), how many were subtracted out (2) and how many are left (3) then have your child place the correct number at the end of the math problem after the equals sign. Five minus two equals three (5-2=3.)

Bonus tip: Put the flag up for this activity to show that he is supposed to “take out the mail” just like we put the flag up for our mail carrier to take out mail we are sending.

Reading and Word Building

Mailbox Spelling Activity. Click the picture to view the instructions.

Is your child learning to read? Mailboxes can be a great way to put Phonics to use in sounding out short 3-letter words. Use 3 mailboxes and put an assortment of letters in each box. Again, I used the FrogTape delicate surface tape to make as many lines as there are mailboxes. This way my son would know where to put the letters.

What You Need

  • Three mini mailboxes
  • Three pieces of tape that will not harm your working surface (I used FrogTape delicate surface tape)
  • Flashcards/printables/magnets/drawings/anything else that will fit inside the mailbox to show the letters of the alphabet A-Z (one letter per card/object)
  • Cards or objects showing pictures of things you can spell using 3-letters (i.e. “jet”, “cat”, “bug”)

1. Set out three mailboxes with a piece of tape in front of each.

2. Place letters in each box. You can put the entire alphabet in each box if you wish, but I did a smaller amount to make it easier for my son to sort through. For me, the first box had a bunch of consonants I knew we would be using like “b”, “r”, and “c.” In the second box I put only vowels since we were doing three-letter basic words. The third box had more consonants like “t”, “g” and “p.”

Mailbox Spelling and Word Building Lessons Activity. Click the picture to view the instructions.

3. Gather flashcards, puzzle pieces, or anything else from around the house that shows something spelled with three simple letters (i.e. pig, bus, bag, cat.)

4. Ask your child what the object shows a picture of and let your child sound out and spell each word one at a time.

5. Example: Sound out the word with your child (“c-u-p”) using Phonics sounds.

6. Break it up into three pieces now and ask your child what letter sound is at the start of the word (c.) Tell your child to look through the letters in the first box, pull out the letter that makes the “c” sound, and place it on the first piece of tape. Do the same with the second and the third letters.

7. Look at the picture again. Sound out all the letters together (“c-u-p”) then say what word it makes (“cup.”)

These activities teach problem solving and instruction following, sorting and matching, shapes, letters and numbers, counting, addition and subtraction, sight word identification, object identification, and spelling. Placing cards into the mailbox can also help improve motor skills.

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Written by Alyssa Darby

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  2. I’m totally trying this out with my 4 year old. Thanks for a great post!

  3. I pinned this so I wouldn’t lose it! Such awesome and creative ways to help kids learn and make it easy and fun for them!

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