Kids like flat stuff, right?
October 9, 2011 2:46 PM   Subscribe

What flat things can I send my sponsored child?

I sponsor a child in Mongolia. He's 7 years old. As a child sponsor I'm allowed to send him things like cards or small books -- something flat that could fit in an envelope.

Previously, I've sent (culturally sensitive) photos and stamps and those "wacky bandz" rubber band bracelets. Everything I send is filtered by the NGO that I sponsor him through so I'm too not worried about sending "the wrong thing" but I do want to send something that he would enjoy receiving, besides my letters and photos. I don't know, honestly, but I wouldn't imagine he'd enjoy receiving my boring old snail mail, at least not for a few years, if ever.

Are kids still into paper these days? Maybe there's some new origami craze?
posted by metajc to Shopping (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Balsa wood airplanes come in flat envelopes - I just did a quick Google to find something as an example, but it looks like they are pretty common. My boyfriend says the ones without propellers fly better.
posted by ella wren at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

- slap bracelets

- paper robots

- stickers and temporary tattoos

- self-made comic books that interpret the instructions for all of the above
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stickers! Go grab some cool ones, especially the "3D" kind. The kids I tutored (his age and older) loved stickers more than almost all the other rewards they could choose for finishing books. Temporary tattoos are also highly prized.
posted by halogen at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by daisyk at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2011

Also it would be helpful to know what languages he speaks. I imagine he speaks Mongolian, but is he learning English?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:04 PM on October 9, 2011

My then-21 year old girlfriend loved this 43 piece 3D panda puzzle, it seems like an all-ages type toy.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:07 PM on October 9, 2011

Paper animation kits! Would probably require English reading ability, though.
posted by kittydelsol at 3:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing stickers. And kid-oriented scrapbook pages to stick them on.
posted by SMPA at 3:28 PM on October 9, 2011

A set of water colours, brushes, colored pencils, pastel set, small sketchpad.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:32 PM on October 9, 2011

T-shirts from American sports teams would make him a local hero. Plus, hey, T-shirt! They can be stuffed into plastic bags, suck the air out to compress them and put them into envelopes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on October 9, 2011

Best answer: *Sunprints
*Scratch Art paper (the black, waxy paper you scratch a picture into to reveal the rainbow colors)
*Paint with water sheets
*Stencil or spirograph set--they have small flat pack sets of the spirographs (try hypotrochoid set when searching)
*Felt squares. Joann's has dozens of ecofelt squares in nice sizes, or etsy has folks who supply wool felt squares. You could include directions on how to make a simple hand-sewn item.
*Plastic canvas with flat spiraled skeins of different colored yarn and a pattern to complete.
*Paper accordion lanterns or hanging decorations (the kind you "pull-apart" into their shape). Tissue pom-pom decorations also come flat.
*A stack of tissue paper with directions on how to make a large tissue paper flower.
*Flat, colored beeswax sheets (ship lined up next to each other between two sheets of wax paper). The link here describes them as something to decorate candles with, but for kids, they make really awesome DIY window decorations. They can cut them into shapes and stick them up on the window (the sun's warmth keeps them on the glass) and make their own little stained glass. Or, the colored wax is fun to model and play with.
*Folded silk scarves (or you can google "play silks" for colored silk scarves meant to be played with). Lots of imagination play with those.
*Die cut paper shapes (like what scrapbookers buy).
*Moleskins in different sizes (kids like the really little ones).
*Kid's magazine like National Geographic for kids.
*A map (of where you live? Where he lives? The world?)
*A photograph of you with one of those kid's craft foam frames that come with foam stickers to decorate the frame (Joann's has these).
*A set of personal (even better if you get it personalized) stationary.
*Sticks of gum taped to a homemade card if you can send edibles.
*Metallic or glittered origami paper is quite the thing with some kids.

I'm out. Maybe memail the info on how to sponsor a kid. Clearly, I was born to penpal.
posted by rumposinc at 4:16 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]

What about coloring books? If he reads English, you could do Mad Libs by mail because who doesn't love Mad Libs?
posted by Maisie at 4:17 PM on October 9, 2011

I love MUJI's 3D puzzles - they have a mama and baby giraffe, an owl, and an elephant.
posted by Devika at 4:44 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Inflatable globe. You could mark your location with a sharpie.
posted by lunaazul at 5:44 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Dog tags
leaves from a different area
zip loc bag with the smell of "forest" or "ocean" lake, whatever.
Don't do slap bracelets as they break the envelope after like 10 secs.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:31 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was coming here to say balsa wood airplanes. I loved them when I was a kid, especIally the kind you assembled yourself.
posted by Brittanie at 8:10 PM on October 9, 2011

Has NGO made any suggestions themselves? This is especially helpful if they have a local office (they should!) that deals with your sponsored child on a regular basis.

Also, this organization may be unusual in how it handles child sponsorships, but know that most child sponsorship organizations do not actually allocate a single child to a given sponsor. So the flat items may be going into a collective pool that is then distributed to everyone the NGO supports. So if this is the case probably wouldnt be a good idea to send them anything that's part of a larger set.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:17 PM on October 9, 2011

Best answer: We have a child sponsorship scheme and I can tell you that from our perspective, light cheap items are best. Your mail has to get sorted and delivered to Mongolia, and they're paying for the cost of that, which means less money for programs. Expensive things can provoke jealousy among the kids who are or aren't sponsored, and if things get lost, then it gets tricky with blame.

Stickers are fabulous. Try the Dover books for cute small things that can be slipped into an envelope. Whatever you're sending may end up repacked so try putting it inside an envelope inside the envelope.

Rumposinc has some great suggestions. Just keep an eye on the weight of the package and keep it cheap. The kid will appreciate frequent little surprises way more than one big package, in my experience with sponsored kids.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:12 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

My seven year old daughter was just playing with this book last night: Taro Gomi's Play all Day: More Than 100 Punch-Out Pieces. It was pretty great - she was able to give a box to each person at our Thanksgiving dinner, and made finger puppets and the zoo animals on her own. You could send a page or two at a time.
posted by peagood at 9:38 AM on October 10, 2011

You didn't specify how big the envelope could how about a kite?
posted by angab at 1:11 PM on October 10, 2011

Response by poster: Wonderful suggestions.

So far, I'm thinking I'll go with stickers and maybe balsa wood airplanes. I've never been in the market for stickers before! This is really helpful. I loved balsa wood airplanes when I was a kid but forgot all about them until now. I liked the paper robots too but they're expensive and I think I'll just be greedy and get one for myself for now.

I don't want to answer too many questions about the NGO but I will say that they do translate my handwritten letters and I do sponsor one specific child. They probably don't want me sending lots of gifts but I personally think that little gifts like stickers and such are appropriate and that my child will appreciate them. I estimate the NGO would agree.

Thanks to all!
posted by metajc at 2:30 PM on October 10, 2011

One more. I was in Muji today in NYC and saw this and this. They were packaged flat and I was reminded of this post. Also, I've actually traveled in Mongolia and hands down what the kids there loved the most was looking at their images on our digital camera screens and compact mirrors. Not sure about the main city but I didn't see to many mirrors out in the Gobi desert. So I would recommend anything involving a mirror.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 5:57 PM on October 10, 2011

A book (aimed at children) on how to make origami and a package of nice papers? If he doesn't speak/read English make sure the book has easy to follow picture directions.
posted by deborah at 6:27 PM on October 11, 2011

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