Dear Little Letterbox
Breathe life and joy into the art of letter writing!
In our modern world of screens and swipes I cannot tell you how valuable it is to preserve the beauty of the handwritten word. The Dear Little Letterbox is so adorably appealing that it will engage eager writers, and entice those who were previously not so keen! It is a treasure made to share the magic of sending and receiving handwritten letters with a new generation - because digital files in an Inbox do not possess the same emotion and humanity of a lovingly stored letter.
This gorgeous set includes;
- A gorgeous ‘Dear Little Letterbox’ (in your choice of 5 colours)
- A lined writing pad
- Small envelopes
- A set of address stickers to inspire your child’s letter writing (including Dear Mummy, Dear Daddy, Dear Grandpa, Dear Granma, Dear Easter Bunny*, Dear Tooth Fairy*, Dear Santa*, Dear Brother, Dear Sister, Dear Best Friend, Dear Nanna, Dear Poppy).
- A set of ‘stamp’ stickers
- A set of coloured pencils
The Letterbox can be secured onto a wall, or can simply be placed on a shelf, table or windowsill. It could be given a consistent 'home', where it can be accessed and checked regularly, or it could be kept free as a moving object, creating a sense of excitement in 'treasure hunting' for the letterbox.
The set comes with 3M wall strips to help secure the Letterbox to your chosen location in your home or classroom. (instructions are also included). I can't tell you how delighted I was to discover this particular inclusion! There have been many occasions when I have purchased a new resource for my home or classroom...only to have it sit in a cupboard for a few days while I try to remember to go out to purchase adhesive strips or hooks. I thought this pattern might repeat itself when I first opened my Dear Little Letterbox - but there, nestled beneath the Letterbox itself, was a set of strips reassuring me that my treasure could immediately find a home!
The letter writing activity provides a unique and inviting ‘point of interest’ to draw a child towards a wonderful literary experience.
From a Montessori perspective this experience also provides an opportunity to present a unique Practical Life skill.
The art of letter writing itself can be considered a 'Grace and Courtesy' exercise, and there are also specific procedures that are involved in each step of the letter writing process.
For instance, when writing a letter we usually;
- Begin the letter with a greeting such as 'To' or 'Dear' followed by the recipient's name
- Write a 'body' in the middle section (the content and extent of this will vary depending on the child's age and writing ability)
- End the letter with a farewell such as 'From' or 'Kind regards' followed by the sender's name
When placing the letter in the envelope we tend to;
- Fold the paper carefully
- Run a finger along the crease
- Slide the folded paper into the envelope
- Seal the envelope
When correctly addressing a letter, we follow steps including;
- Placing the recipient’s details on the front
- Placing a stamp in the top right corner of the front
- Placing the sender’s details on the back
These processes and patterns are useful skills for the child to learn - and they also all include great opportunities for fine motor work! For instance, sliding the folded paper into the envelope takes care, control and hand-eye coordination. As adults we take these movements for granted but for a young child they require lots of concentration and dexterity of the fingertips!
The Letterbox is perfect for a broad range of ages.
For bubs and toddlers:
Even before a child can clutch a pencil he or she might simply enjoy the act of 'posting'! A parent or educator could create little 'letters' which contain simple images or concepts. For instance, a set of coloured cards could be posted just so the toddler can practice opening the letterbox, retrieving the coloured cards and then posting them back in! This introduces visual recognition of colours while encouraging hand-eye coordination through the posting exercise.
The Letterbox can act as inspiration for creativity and community! The child can draw and design beautiful pictures on paper before delivering these to the Letterbox. The child can also receive lovely pictures from mum, dad or friends in the classroom! Working with pencils on paper promotes fine-motor control, as does the task of folding the paper, placing it in an envelope and the actual act of 'posting' the letter into the letterbox!
For early writers:
The letter writing process gives the child an opportunity to refine the blossoming letters and words. In particular, it’s the perfect opportunity for the child to repeat and practice the common words including his/her own name and the names of friends and family.
For experienced writers:
For experienced writers the letter writing process can start to become more about ongoing back-and-forth communication. Questions posed in a first letter can be answered in a reply, providing an element of ‘comprehension’ hidden within this fun experience.
The Dear Little Letterbox is equally meaningful in both a classroom or home environment.
In the classroom:
The Dear Little Letterbox can be used to inspire innate interest in literary experiences. It is so inviting that children may feel compelled to participate in the 'fun', without even realising that a reading and writing exercise is hiding within! For those who do consciously notice the connection the Letterbox provides an excellent example of the real-life, joyful applications of written language.
The Letterbox can also promote a sense of 'community' in the classroom by encouraging children to communicate with one another through this medium. Children can write letters or notes to friends, thereby cultivating friendships, or can use the Letterbox to express thoughts or questions to the teacher. The teacher can reply to letters, helping each child to feel individually known and valued.
The Letterbox can also help to support a child's emotional wellbeing by providing a channel of communication from school to home. I know that many of my Pre-schoolers have moments during the day when they miss mum and dad. The Letterbox provides a positive outlet for that feeling; the child can take a moment to express their love and thoughts on paper then address it to mum and/or dad before posting it in the Letterbox. Using this feeling of 'missing' someone as the platform for a special and meaningful activity allows the child to channel the emotion in a positive direction. This validates the child's feelings but also helps him or her to feel empowered to move on to a more positive frame of mind. At the end of the day the child's mum or dad can retrieve the letter from the Letterbox and be reminded of how much their love is valued!
The Dear Little Letterbox can inspire a love of language at home! It is a fun way to introduce the concepts of writing and reading without any sense of pressure! There is no 'right' or 'wrong' with letter writing - no worksheet to complete correctly or tracing to track accurately - it is a personal and creative expression. It is therefore perfect for a home where the adults would like to subtly encourage writing without making it feel like a chore!
The Letterbox could also (or alternatively) provide a bonding experience between family members. A family with several children might have one communal Letterbox in a shared space - where a brother can leave a note for his sister, or a mum can write something special for each of her children. Or perhaps each child in the family has his or her own Letterbox - a special and personal space to correspond directly with mum or dad (or both!).
The Letterbox can also support working families to maintain strong communication. Think of a family where daddy goes to work before the children wake up - imagine the delight of the child who wakes up and discovers that daddy delivered a special letter before he left!
The Dear Little Letterbox also provides the perfect platform for you to start creating your own family traditions. Each family tends to develop unique cultural quirks - little 'inside jokes' or customs that are enjoyed by all and often eventually passed down through generations! The Dear Little Letterbox lets you start a new tradition of sharing words with one another. Perhaps you will even create your own unique details - a particular day of the week when everyone checks the Letterbox together and the letters that have collected there over the past seven days are happily handed out!
It is also worth considering that the Letterbox might also, at certain points in time, be relevant as a personal and private expression, particularly for older children or adolescents. It could be treated almost like a diary - with a child writing 'letters' to himself/herself, to the 'letterbox' as an entity, or phrased to particular people but without it ever being intended to reach the recipient. In this way the Letterbox provides a therapeutic experience. It could be placed in a safe space in the child's bedroom, perhaps tucked away on a shelf. When the child is feeling particularly emotional - whether it is a positive emotion such as joy, or a more challenging emotion such as sadness or anger - then it is time to write a letter to the letterbox. The child then posts the letter, where it stays safely tucked inside the Letterbox. When the child is ready - whether an hour, a day, a week or a year has passed - he or she can open the Letterbox and reflect on past emotions and experiences.
There are many other ways the Letterbox might be used - and countless other physical, cognitive and emotional benefits that it might provoke! I wonder what uses and benefits you will discover with yours...
*Please note: Montessori for the early years (birth to 6) encourages a focus on ‘reality’ rather than ‘fantasy’. Therefore, Montessori classrooms would be unlikely to promote the fantasy stories relating to Santa, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny (though any kind-hearted Montessori teacher would also not shatter this story by definitively declaring it as untrue). If a child raised the subject in a Montessori classroom then the Montessori educator might discuss these stories in the context of being cultural traditions, but would not actively reinforce that they are ‘true’. A family at home, even if they are inspired by the Montessori approach, might still choose to encourage belief in these stories.