Is there anything better than finding a fun piece of mail in the mailbox? Children who are growing up in the twenty-first century may rarely receive letters through the US Postal Service. Fortunately, there are several options for kids to experience the thrill of real, old fashioned mail.
Joanna Hastings, an Ann Arbor author and educator, puts her impressive storytelling skills to use in these interactive subscription boxes. Once you choose an experience for your child, perhaps a story about a magical genie or a lonely rabbit, a package will arrive weekly for four to six weeks from your child’s fictional correspondent. Boxes contain a chapter-length letter, addressed directly to your child, and several artifacts, which make the story come fully alive. Children can even write back to the hero of their story, making Flying Trunk a remarkably personal experience.
What we loved
We loved the imaginative element of these letters. The heroes of the story are completely believable and unique; we were immediately drawn into the stories and were convinced that we were part of the plots. The artifacts sent in each box add a layer of mystery and delight to each letter.
Cost $124-$180, depending on which experience is chosen
5 out of 5 stamps
Polar Pen Pal
etsy.com (search PolarPenPal)
Monthly envelopes full of fun surprises come directly from the Arctic location of Iqaluit, Nunavut. Each postcard explains a different aspect of Inuit culture (igloos or inuksuks, for example). In addition to the postcard, each letter also contains stickers, a fun souvenir from the North, and access to a website that extends the learning. Children are encouraged to write back to Mark and Meeka with questions about life in the Arctic.
What we loved
Each letter contains a boarding pass with access to a password-protected website. The website has lots of extra information about that week’s topic, including printables, videos, crafts, a book list and much more. We enjoyed exploring the topics more fully and allowing our curiosity to guide us.
Cost $29.55 for a 6 month subscription
4.8 out of 5 stamps
Snail Mail for Kids
The first box from Sunny the Mail Snail contains your child’s first letter along with a large plush snail and a small poster featuring the world map. Each letter from Sunny describes his adventures delivering mail around the world to various animals. As kids read the letters, they learn animal facts, geography and new vocabulary. The colorful envelopes also hold fun extras like stickers and trading cards, which contain clues to a secret message.
What we loved
As animal lovers, we enjoyed learning more about a different animal each week. As we pored over the letters, the map, and the extras, we were effortlessly collecting facts and information about the world.
Cost $14-$20 dollars/month, depending on package chosen
4.5 out of 5 stamps
Postcrossing is a postcard exchange program that adults and kids alike will enjoy. Once registered, members can request an address and send a postcard to another member somewhere in the world. Our first postcard went to Germany, but yours may go to any of the 248 countries represented on the website.
What we loved
This is a completely organic and natural way of helping kids learn about the world and its people. It’s not scripted or formulaic, so you never know where your next postcard will come from, and that’s part of the fun! You can also choose your level of involvement. You may want to send and receive one postcard a month, or you may have several postcards traveling around the world at once.
4 out of 5 stamps
A few more options for getting mail in your box! If you’re not ready to commit to several weeks or months of mail correspondence, try one of these one-time options and receive a special piece of mail. Be sure to include a return address on both your envelope and your letter.
Write to the White House
The White House | 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Kids can write and send a letter to the President of the
United States. Someone from the President’s staff is
guaranteed to read it and respond.
Write to an astronaut
NASA/Johnson Space Center | CB/Astronaut Office
Houston, TX 77058
Space-loving kids can send letters to NASA and request
an autographed photo of an astronaut in return.
Write to a Disney character or princess
Walt Disney World Communications | P.O Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-0040
When kids write to a favorite Disney character, they will
receive an autographed postcard. The response may come
from one of several princesses or other Disney favorites.