When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Special delivery

Finding something to treasure in your mailbox -- a thoughtful card or letter, a lovingly wrapped package, or a happy, unexpected surprise -- is a day-brightening event for most people. Children love this little life pleasure too, a fact I've observed many times over when the boys have beamed excitedly and raced to open something addressed to them from the day's mail pile. There's no need to wait for Canada Post to make a delivery to get young ones smiling, though. With some basic craft supplies and your children's imaginations, they can make their own mailboxes and you can have fun playing postal carrier.

We first started making mailboxes when Noah and Will were quite small. I noticed how much they enjoyed poring over the Valentines Noah had brought home in the special mail bag he had made at school, and decided we should make that joy last for longer than the February holiday. The boys have made many creative mailbox variations over the years, but they've always begun quite simply with a couple of paper plates.

To make your own hanging mailbox, you will need:

2 paper plates (the sturdier the better)
scissors, stapler, glue, single hole punch
yarn or string or ribbon
makers or crayons or paint and brushes (depending on how adventurous you're feeling!)
various craft embellishments (stickers, buttons, pom poms, feathers, sequins, felt shapes, or anything else your children like gluing to things)

Cut one paper plate in half. Flip the half plate so the bottom of it faces up.

Line the half plate up with the bottom half of the full plate, then staple the two plates together at one inch intervals all along their connected edges.

Punch two holes, about two inches apart, at the top of the full plate. Thread yarn or string or ribbon through the two holes and tie the ends together at the top.

Now for the fun part: let your child go wild decorating the mailbox to his or her heart's content!

When the mailbox is complete (and dry), hang it in a location that's convenient for your child to check for mail regularly. (We've always hung ours on the closet door handles or on the doorknobs in the boys' rooms.)

I really enjoy thinking up creative little surprises to deliver to the boys' mailboxes, either while they're sleeping or when they're at school. Sometimes I put in objects that I think they'll enjoy -- cool pencils, tiny puzzles, Lego guys, hockey cards and such. More often, though, I simply deliver a colourful handwritten note telling them how wonderful I think they are, or a homemade "coupon" for something special, like fresh-baked cookies or uninterrupted time with their mom to do something of their choosing. I find it especially sweet that the boys like to write little notes to each other, too, and tuck them into the mailboxes. Hopefully, in a small way, these kinds of "mail" let the boys feel how very much they are loved.

The next time your kids are feeling crafty and you're stuck for a project to do with them, you might want to try making mailboxes of your own. It's a simple, fun way to encourage happy communication amongst the people nearest and dearest to you.

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