Suggestions for stuff I can get in the mail for my six year old son?
May 24, 2013 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I'd like the mailbox to have something fun for my six-year-old son from time to time without breaking the bank, or putting him into a toy-acquisition frenzy. Any suggestions?
posted by popechunk to Grab Bag (42 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
A magazine subscription
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:29 AM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: My kids liked getting their own magazine. Age 6 is right between Ladybug and Cricket.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:32 AM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

When I was a kid, we had these things called paper back books, called things like "Free Stuff for Kids" ... googling returns similar collections of information .....
posted by tilde at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

When I was about that age, Mom had we write letters to companies telling them how much I liked their products. Usually they sent a form thank-you letter, and on occasion there was some free swag. I was just as happy with either because YAY MAIL FOR MEEE!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:42 AM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Ebay is your friend. I order silly little gifts and get the packge adressed to the child. Mind you I am in the UK your market may be different.
posted by BenPens at 5:44 AM on May 24, 2013

Cricket is great. I had a Zoobooks subscription at that age and enjoyed that.

Can he get a penpal? When I was in elementary school, I wrote letters to one of my far-off cousins and a friend who'd moved to another state. If he doesn't know anyone far away, maybe you have a long-distance friend with a kid his age?
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:45 AM on May 24, 2013

Best answer: Pen pal, definitely! My first pen pal was at age 7, she lives in Cairo (Egypt!) and we're still in touch 30 years later. Hit up your FB/G+ friends and see if any of them know fellow 6-year-olds who'd like a pen pal? Or "just" postcards, too – I regularly remind my schoolteacher friends in the US that I'm totally up for sending postcards & goodies from France, it's loads of fun. Fits in well with geography and history too. So don't feel like it's an imposition, people may really enjoy it :)
posted by fraula at 5:52 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How's your son's reading? Mine at 6 has been seriously challenged by Top Secret Adventures from Highlights. In a good way.
posted by plinth at 5:59 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stickers was my go to mail-gift for my cousins when they were young. They loooooved them.
posted by lydhre at 6:00 AM on May 24, 2013

Ask your friends and relatives to send postcards.
posted by juliapangolin at 6:07 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

You need an invite to get Graze boxes delivered every week/every other week but they have loads of mostly nutritious snacks that are highly customizable based on your dietary needs. And they're only five bucks a box, including shipping and handling. If Graze doesn't work for you, I think there are other healthy snack delivery services out there.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:10 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Lego used to (I think still does) send a free magazine forever - we are still getting after 15 years. It only comes out a couple times a year but its great.
posted by lasamana at 6:19 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you like the strange and random, keep an eye on American Science and Surplus, especially its clearance section.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:20 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had two months of artsnacks and am pretty pleased. Price may be a little high, the selection so far is a little too basic/student grade for me, but I think will be just fine for a six-year old. Kick-start that artistic journey.
posted by Rikocolin at 6:22 AM on May 24, 2013

Depending on your location, he may be able to get free books by mail via Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
posted by superna at 6:33 AM on May 24, 2013

Response by poster: > A magazine subscription

I was hoping for some specific suggestions of magazines, thanks.

> How's your son's reading?

He's a slow starter, but we read together every day, and this is exactly the kind of stuff he'd enjoy, thank you.

> Pen pal

Awesome idea!

Lots of great ideas here, please keep them coming. I appreciate your help.
posted by popechunk at 6:34 AM on May 24, 2013

Tattly temporary tattoos! My kids love them and they are relatively cheap.
posted by mattbucher at 6:34 AM on May 24, 2013

Best answer: magazines: Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, Cobblestone (might be more appropriate in a year or two, though I remember reading it in first grade).

If $20/month is in the budget, maybe a subscription to Green Kids Crafts?

Also, I have an almost-6-year-old girl (next week!) who would probably love a penpal. Memail me if you want to exchange addresses. She loves to make cards for her friends.
posted by belladonna at 6:43 AM on May 24, 2013

A few months ago, I filled out a form online (this one?) asking President Obama to send a letter to my goddaughter in honor of her 7th birthday. I recently got a few texts from her mom saying that she received a letter in the mail, activity and coloring pages, and a signed picture. I still feel pretty pleased with myself for that.

Also, when I was younger, I used to send letters to celebrities to see who would reply. I received a not-bad collection of form letters and autographed pictures. Sending letters might be something you two could do together.
posted by kat518 at 6:46 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Lego magazine suggestion is a good one; my kids really like theirs.

My kids enjoy several of the Highlights magazines. Puzzle Buzz is for younger kids, and PuzzleMania for older kids. Top Secret Adventures is a big hit but better for kids who are reading more independently, I think.

They love National Geographic Kids and the subscription is relatively cheap.

We got our kids the Stuart Brent Book Club for awhile and they really enjoyed it. If you sign up, when they ask you what your kid is interested in, give them a wide variety of ideas--one of our kids got nothing but books about firefighters for several months.

It's not cheap, and again may be better for when your son is older and reading more, but Lego Master Builder Academy is very good.

The Cricket magazine group magazines are also very good. (Ladybug and so on.) You can change your subscription from one magazine to another any time as your kid matures or his interests change.

I buy my kids a lot of books used from Amazon. Usually you can get popular books for a penny plus shipping, so $4. They like getting a book in the mail when they don't expect it.

I wonder if there are grownups in your life who'd write to your kids? I have a friend who sent one of my kids a short letter about his gerbils, with a picture he drew, and my son loved it.
posted by not that girl at 6:47 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like chickaDEE magazine. has free shipping on a zillion tiny cheap gadgets. It's not all instant landfill -- you can get cheap science-y things, and neat stationery like rabbit post-its, ninja rabbit included.

eBay does have a lot of foreign sellers with neat trinkets for $2.50ish and up, bootleg versions of popular small toys included.
posted by kmennie at 6:57 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was going to mention dealextreme as well. And, you'll never know when the packages actually arrive - it'll be a double surprise.
posted by thylacine at 7:10 AM on May 24, 2013 is a fantastic website. They periodically have sales and free shipping. Sometimes you can get free shipping on purchases as little as $10. All their stuff is super cool for kids. My kids love getting treats from them.
posted by myselfasme at 7:16 AM on May 24, 2013

Response by poster: > dealextreme


I've just signed up for a bunch of the magazine suggestions here. Great ideas, folks!
posted by popechunk at 7:22 AM on May 24, 2013

Best answer: I was hoping for some specific suggestions of magazines, thanks.

Magazines that are both accessible to kids and relevant to their interests while still being for 'grown-ups' are what you should be looking for. Something heavy on subject-specific pictures to initially draw in their curiosity with just enough articles to encourage them to read.

From experience, I can vouch for the following two:
Fire Apparatus Journal.
TRAINS Magazine.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:24 AM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: > Fire Apparatus Journal.

Oh. My. God.
posted by popechunk at 7:29 AM on May 24, 2013 [17 favorites]

ChopChop magazine just got a very positive write-up in the New York Times and is very popular among parents I know. It's a quarterly food magazine for kids that aims at teaching kids how to home-cook healthy, nutritious food. It won a James Beard Award this year, for Publication of the Year.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 AM on May 24, 2013

One of my FB friends just asked all of us to mail her kids two post cards this summer - one from our home state, and one from any summer vacation travel we might do. The kids have a giant map on the wall and they're going to track the places they get post cards from. I think most of us are happy to throw a post card or two in the mail, for the sake of a kid's fun. (Who doesn't love mail?)
posted by librarianamy at 7:44 AM on May 24, 2013

You can also sign up to get free samples. Typically beauty products, but occasionally coffee, snack bars, etc. I'd use a separate email address in case of junk mail.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

National Geographic for Kids is great.

Also, see if there are any aunts, uncles or grandparents willing to write him the occasional letter or postcard: cheap, easy, and kids love mail just for them.
posted by easily confused at 8:00 AM on May 24, 2013

It's not very cheap, but Kiwi Crates sound awesome, and useful!
posted by Safiya at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2013

Memail me if you think he'd like, say, a clip-on koala and postcard from Australia. I'd be happy to oblige. :)
posted by Salamander at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2013

When I was a baseball crazy 6-9 year old my aunt sent me a pack of baseball cards in the mail every few weeks. I loved it. Of course a pack of cards was a quarter back then and I think they run about $2 these days.
posted by COD at 8:29 AM on May 24, 2013

Bobbledy Books!!

By the wonderful Idiots!!
posted by citygirl at 8:44 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I send subscriptions to various small kids in my family - national geographic kids, ranger rick, and cricket all have several different magazines for different age groups, so you can start the kid off with one and age them up through the publications as time goes on.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2013

You might take a look at Edmund Scientifics. They sell inexpensive educational toys and experiments for kids along with higher-end classroom science gear. When I was younger, my folks used to order all sorts of fun random stuff (physics toys, make-your-own-slime kits, exotic mineral/metal samples) out of their old print catalog for my sister and I. Their online catalog is very similar to the one I remember as a kid, but with newer stuff of course.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2013

One of my FB friends just asked all of us to mail her kids two post cards this summer

Oh, I would totally do this for anyone who wanted it - we're going on a nice far-away vacation this year, if you think your kid would like postcards from far away places, me mail me
posted by darsh at 10:56 AM on May 24, 2013

Following on Edmund Scientific, there's a geeky surplus company called American Science & Surplus, which produces a great catalog. Lots of short blurbs with drawings, and plenty of weird junk.

This catalog is considered to be the definitive test for the Junk Gene, which causes an interest in science and engineering, and has been known to induce tinkering, inquisitiveness, and an inclination for exploration. At age 6, it's about time your son was tested, and I hope he tests positive!
posted by Sunburnt at 2:19 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is he into sports? I used to write to baseball players when I was a kid and try to get them to autograph my baseball cards. Sometimes they'd write a personal note which was AWESOME. Info on getting MLB autographs is here.
posted by jabes at 4:44 PM on May 24, 2013 is a subscription box service run by Walmart that offers 5-7 samples a month for $7 (including shipping). It usually comes with a drink, a couple kinds of chip-type snacks, a granola bar, and a few other items that depend on the theme of the month.
I really like it because they're unique products I've never seen or tried before. Some items are a bust but it's a fun surprise.

Similarly, there are a TON of other monthly and quarterly subscription boxes with various themes. "Monthly subscription boxes for kids" popped up right away as a suggestion on google when I started typing.
posted by rubster at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2013

When I was a kid, I would scrawl letters to NASA asking for information about their latest space flight at the time (back in the Apollo days) and they would send me absolute shitloads of brochures and large color photos. For free. I have no idea whether they're still that generous, but it's worth a shot.
posted by pracowity at 9:12 AM on May 25, 2013

I just joined a few weeks ago, and it's been *awesome* to get rid of some things and get great new-to-me books in the mail. (You pay postage for things you send, and get credits, and don't pay anything for what you receive.)

They have a lot of children's books.

I've been unloading my CD collection on their sister site, and transferring the credits to the book site.
posted by RedEmma at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2013

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