Monday, January 30, 2012

Mail Boxes Are Fun!

My son LOVES to get mail. Luckily he has a Nana who loves to send him mail. My son also HATES to write. Let me clarify, he hates to write correctly. HiS SentenCeS uSuALLY Look LiKe tHiS. Add to that the "s" is usually backwards. Now, last year, that was fine. In Kindergarten, I was just happy that he was actually writing. However, (another fancy word for "but," hehe. See this post if you don't get the joke.) As a first grader, he needs to be writing his letters correctly and using the correct cases. To help encourage him to practice outside of his school work I decided to make a mailbox for our house so we can "mail" each other letters of encouragement. Two birds with one stone. He gets to practice writing and learn how to encourage others at the same time. Once a week we designate a "mailman" to deliver the letters to our individual mail boxes outside our bedroom doors.

Now let me tell you the best part, this project was done for FREE! All I used was a box, glue, tape, and ribbon. All of these I had in my house and therefore cost nothing! If you don't have these items on hand the entire project will only cost a few dollars.

Before we begin, let me show you the final project.
Pretty, isn't it. Now let me show you how I did it. There may be an easier way, but this is what I did.
First I found a heavy cardboard box in the size I wanted. Luckily, Bubba's school supplies had come in a few days prior and it was the perfect size.

After playing around with the box, I decided that I didn't like the tape on the outside of the box and pulling it off pulled too much of the box with it. (Darn you industrial strength packing tape!) So, I decided to turn the box inside out. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this, but I trust that you know what I am talking about. I started by finding the seam, where the box was glued together by the box makers. I carefully pulled this apart and turn the box inside out. Then glued the seam back and reinforce with packing tape. I used plain old Elmer's Glue which is why I reinforced it with tape. If you use a stronger glue you may not need to use the tape.
Next, I glued the bottom of the box together, as if I were going to ship it, not closed together like in the picture above. I used two very good and very heavy books to press the flaps together until the glue was dry.

OK, I'm stumped as to why this picture keeps loading upside down.
But, you get the point, right?
In this picture, you can see how the box is now inside out. (Side note, these are both very good books! I can't wait until my kids are old enough to read them! Also, I just love the image of Aslan on the Narnia book!) After the glue dried I needed to figure out how to do the same thing to the other side. Thank you God for cameras, because I don't think I could explain this next part accurately for you!

 First, I propped Harry on his side (because he was the hard cover book and would stand up better. Then, I glued the two side flaps down onto ONE end flap. This is important if you would like to get the mail out of your mail box!

I then put Narnia on top of the flaps to secure the flaps together while the glue dried. (Remember, Harry is under there so Aslan is safe and won't fall through!)

Once the glue was dry, I cut out sections of the side flaps so that you can reach into the box. Think of a Post Office Box on the side of the road. This is the part the mailman opens to retrieve the letter you placed in there.

Once the glue was completely dry I removed the two books and puncture holes into the bottom flap and the back of the box (the side flaps) so I could insert a ribbon to hold the box closed.
I also made two little cardboard buttons to keep the ribbon from pulling through the holes. First I strung the ribbon through the button holes and tied a huge, ugly knot. Then, I strung the ribbon through the bottom flap of the box. Next, I strung the ribbon through the big hole that I cut out in the previous picture and back through the other punctured hole. I did the same on the other side and tied a pretty little bow.

Now to the front of the mailbox. I decided how big and where I wanted the mail slot to be. Using a pencil and ruler for a guide I marked a long rectangle. Then used an exacto knife to cut three sides of the rectangle to make the slot.

I wanted Bubba to help me with the next step, but as you can see from his head in the background of the previous two pictures, he was busy with his own project, so I continued on my own. I painted the whole thing blue. It took two coats and a lot of drying time, but when it was done it looked like this.

 I did remove the ribbons when I painted the box and buttons. I also used a light pink ribbon which I may change later to whit so that it matches better, but I had pink already.

Finally, I decorated the front of the box to look like a typical mail box. So, once again, the finished project.

I am rather happy with the result. It sits on one of my kitchen counters with paper and pens nearby.

Now you may be thinking, "This is great! But, what about the individual mailboxes?" Or did you already forget I mentioned those? Don't worry, They'll be featured in an upcoming post. So check back soon. Or better yet, subscribe!

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