I need fun snail mail sent to my young kids.
September 18, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

My 5-year-old (and therefore also 3-year-old) loves snail mail. How can I get more of it for him/them?

People don't respond to his letters as often as he would like, ie, daily. He gets Click and Highlights magazines and some birthday invitations but it is too often a lonely, empty letdown when we check for the mail. I don't have the inspiration to mail to him myself and frankly I think I am not novel enough for him at this point to be an exciting pen pal. I don't want to break the bank but am open to subscriptions that are fun/educational/engaging and other ideas, eg, cool kindergarten pen pal program. I don't want this to be insanely time intensive though (for me).

Thanks for your suggestions!
posted by rabidsegue to Education (34 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
What's your budget, in terms of both dollars and hours ('don't want to break the bank' means different things to different people, as does 'insanely time intensive'), for this thing?
posted by box at 1:01 PM on September 18, 2013

Response by poster: ~$40/y is my limit.
posted by rabidsegue at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: Would postcrossing work? You can limit it to US only. I used to send a lot of post cards through that site, and I always found it charming when I got postcards from kids.
posted by OrangeDisk at 1:05 PM on September 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

Um, I forgot the most important part of my comment -- Postcrossing is a site that allows people to collect postcards by matching them up. You send one card to someone, and get a card from someone else. If you limit yourself to US (or whatever country you live in) only, it will keep the costs down.
posted by OrangeDisk at 1:07 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: The Lego Magazine is cute - it's not a catalog, it's an actual kid's magazine with some comics and games and things. I accidentally signed up for it but find it quite charming.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:11 PM on September 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

Seconding the Lego Magazines. They are free and my kid freaks out (in a good way) when he gets them in the mail.
posted by PsuDab93 at 1:13 PM on September 18, 2013

You want a lot of mail? Go to Reddit and make a post asking for some. Try the subreddits RandomKindness or Favors or any number of the pages for specific cities or states ("Could someone mail my son a postcard from your state?" is all you need to post and I guarantee you'll get something).

I have twice now mailed cookies to internet strangers just because I was already baking and I felt in a giving mood. I have several times made up stories for Flat Stanley projects or cautionary tales for kids who won't clean their rooms and I've mailed those out.

Make sure to specify that this is for a 5-year-old.
posted by CathyG at 1:15 PM on September 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

This sounds like a job for grandparents, great aunts/uncles, and other retirees who know your son and grew up in the heyday of snail mail. Can you put the word out to them about how much he enjoys this? You know, "Hey, I realize you've got stuff to do, but the kids are going through a phase ..." Etc., etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:15 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

My 3 year old really likes Babybug magazine.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:21 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: While I can't guarantee anything remotely approaching daily, I have a 5 year old girl who would love to trade some mail!

Send me a memail if you'd like to add colorful drawings of spiders and the 6 words she knows how to spell to your kiddos mail roster!
posted by waterisfinite at 1:21 PM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Chiming in for PostCrossing.com as well... I may be 40+ years older than your kids, but I squeal whenever I get a postcard in the mailbox!
posted by matty at 1:23 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: This previous thread has some good suggestions.
posted by Ned G at 1:45 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The American Science & Surplus catalog is more fun than a magazine for my kids (and me). It's free.
posted by jbickers at 1:47 PM on September 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I suggest he write to public figures, sports figures and authors. I think a great majority will write back to a young child. I would even consider writing to the local Principal, maybe even talk to the local high school about setting up a penpal club for young community members to write to high school kids and get responses.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looking at the responses is making me ask this question: are you trying to get mail for him out of the blue, or are you interested in making this more of a "you have to put forth this effort to get this response" type of a lesson? If the latter, then the penpal or postcard exchange things would be better. If the former, then magazine subscriptions or Reddit begging would work.
posted by CathyG at 2:04 PM on September 18, 2013

2nding Science and Surplus!!!

The are just down the street from me, and their catalogs are hilarious!

"From the Polish Army. No idea what it is, but we have ten cases of them."

That sort of thing.
posted by timsteil at 2:30 PM on September 18, 2013

Swap Bot! You'd have to participate, too, since the site it built around swapping. But it would be fun for a child to join in on a sticker, magnet or trinket swap or a more random swap like this one. My daughter and I did ATC (artist trading card) swaps for a while and we had great fun collaborating. Most people who join these swaps pack the envelopes full of little extras.
posted by Ostara at 2:33 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you write to the various Disney characters they send you a signed photo back. Your mail can be as simple as a postcard with a return address, maybe make a stack one weekend and leave them in the glovebox. Then when you're near a mailbox drop one in and voila, Disney mail!
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:44 PM on September 18, 2013

national geographic kids?

omg, they still make ranger rick and have a jr version of it!

also, if you memail me your address, i have lots of postcards from different states. it would amuse me to no end to actually have someone to send them to!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just last week, I googled toy catalogs and signed my kid up for most of the ones that showed up on the first page of the results. We already got one and he loves it.
posted by chiababe at 3:03 PM on September 18, 2013

Find online the addresses of travel and tourist bureaus and have your kid write to them, explaining the purpose of the letter and asking for brochures about the area.

When I was a kid in elementary school, they had us write a letter like this. I sent off a letter to Kodiak, Alaska and got back a manila envelope with a cool magazine talking about the local touristy spots and state and national parks and other brochures. There was also a snazzy letter from the tourist office thanking me for my interest and all that.

It was cool!
posted by Fukiyama at 3:13 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: Ned G., thanks for finding that previous question. From time to time, I sign up for free samples, forget about it, and am delighted to get mail! with stuff! I am probably at a maturity level similar to your child, so sign up for free samples, links in that thread. Also, send me your address and your kids' names, and I will send postcards some time. I take forever to mail stuff so it will be a surprise.
posted by theora55 at 3:40 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

nthing post crossing. It's not terribly expensive to send postcards, and they'll get postcards from random strangers from around the States or the world if you prefer. It's great.
posted by patheral at 3:50 PM on September 18, 2013

You could try sending in the reader service card for a magazine. I know that at least one magazine still does them.

When I was a kid back in the early eighties, I sent in the reader service card for an electronics hobbyist magazine with the numbers for any interesting ads circled (this turned out to be most of them). I got all kinds of amazing promotional materials back for months afterward.
posted by suetanvil at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2013

Definitely encourage him to write to his favorite celebrities, authors, etc. I wrote to Zilpha Keatley Snyder when I was a kid and she wrote back!
posted by radioamy at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2013

Write embassies in the US. Send them a S.A.S.E with and tell them that the kids are learning about other countries and ask them if they could send you a few small coins or other such memorabilia. You will likely need to put a little extra postage on the letter to be sure it will accommodate the coins. Way way back in the day a kid I babysat and I composed letters and collected coins all summer long. About 5-7% did not respond.

In all, I think he had two shoe boxes filled with coins from around the world.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't know how I missed that previous question in all of my searching, but thank you for that link! Your answers are all so inspiring, I believe that my household may singlehandedly keep Saturday US postal service running. My son is willing to do some work, eg, write back, but also is happy to get mail like the Lego magazine. Your answers reach every angle of this. Thanks again everyone!
posted by rabidsegue at 4:41 PM on September 18, 2013

Abe's Peanut: Art and Literature by Mail. They send 48 postcards a year to subscribers.

We combined loves for reading, art, and sending mail to create a whole new experience for kids.

Unfortunately, I see they no longer are accepting new subscriptions, but maybe they'll will again.
posted by ShooBoo at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2013

Rumpus Letters for Kids!

At $48 it's a little over your price range but I think it's pretty cool. "You or your child will get two letters a month written by middle-grade and young adult authors like Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler, Adam Rex, Kerry Madden, Natalie Standiford, Susan Patron, Rebecca Stead, Cecil Castellucci, and more."
posted by radiomayonnaise at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ned G. might deserve that best answer, but it's Mine, MINE!! heheheheh
posted by theora55 at 5:32 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

The fun people who run Idiots Books, a husband and wife team, have started a new kids' book club called Bobbledy Books - subscribe for a year for $60, and they send you several original kids' books, plus a fill-it-in-yourself book, a special crayon, a birthday card, and they accept drawings/books from kids in the club and choose one to publish each year (ie, send to the other kids in the club). We knew their previous work, but just got to see the new kids' books this past weekend at SPX and they were pretty great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:57 PM on September 18, 2013

Stationery catalogues. I used to love playing office with these, and deciding what colour paper my business needed.
posted by mippy at 3:31 AM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Postcrossing! You may have discovered by now that these are not direct swaps, meaning you aren't typically writing to someone who writes back to you (though you can request direct swaps if you stumble upon a neat profile that has this preference selected).

Don't request only US--the international component is what makes it so neat! But that stamp is now $1.05 or so.

If you want to take all this a step further, put the most enormous map of the world you can find on your biggest available wall and, every time a new card arrives, make a big game of finding it on the map and sticking it there with poster gum. And then look up that country in some children's encyclopedia and make it a fun topic of discussion.

Their favorite few cards make a great show-and-tell subject too!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Long ago, NASA used to be quite generous with pictures and brochures when answering a kid's mail. Something along the lines of "Dear NASA, My name is Cute Kid. I am in Mrs. Smith's kindergarten at Your Town Elementary School in Your Town, Your State. I love space. Do you love space? Please tell me about what you do." scrawled in little kid handwriting and maybe including a drawing of a rocket could be the hit of the month in some centers. I can't say how they handle it now, but they used to have the time and budget to send a heap of stuff for nothing to a little kid like me. And there are lots of different NASA facilities, so maybe you can try writing to several of them to ask specifically about things they have or do at those centers (do a little online research before writing to them).
posted by pracowity at 1:32 AM on September 20, 2013

« Older How to deal with probably unwarranted jealousy   |   Find role model for middle school student with... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.