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Looking for a low-key game for one, two or a few little minis? Try Mouse Mail! This activity combines a bit of nature exploration, cutting work, fall sorting, fine motor skills, plus a pinch of pretend magic. You can easily turn it into a relay system of sorts for a group. Best part…? It even cleans up after itself!
To create your own mouse mail you can use:
- Leaves, pinecones, flowers and other found nature materials
- Colorful chalk pastels
- Kid-safe scissors
- Tongs or tweezers
- Jar lids, small sorting bowls, trays, or a muffin tin
- Stamps and an ink pad
- A small bag for “delivering”
I found this kind of play worked best (for 1 or multiple kids) set up as separate stations. If you’re working 1-on-1 with kids, the separate spaces allow them to easily visualize all the steps. When they get tired of one activity, they can move right on to the next. For a group of littles, separate stations give them each an individual “job” that they can trade off and circle through.
Start by collecting some assorted treasures from your yard or garden. Look for things that can easily be cut or torn apart. Using pastels, markers, or other mark-making materials, you can write or draw on your leaves. Scribbles and swirls make perfect mouse messages! 🙂
For some great cutting-skill practice we cut leaves into mouse-sized “postcards”, pulled pinecones and flower petals apart to make letters, and collected crabapple “packages.”
Next, it’s on to the sorting facility (yes, bureaucracy exists in the mouse world too – ha!) Tongs + jar lids or a muffin tin are a great way to sort mail into various matching piles.
Once sorted, each piece of mail can be stamped and scanned before it goes into the “mailbag.” No special stamp is needed as long as you can use it with a satisfying amount of force and flourish. And pretty much any old thing can become a good scanner when accompanied with a loud “beep!”
Special delivery! Put it all into a small bag and head outside! Finding hidden spots in the garden to “deliver” your mouse mail is a great way to end the activity with some fresh air (and get all those nature scraps right back out the door).
I really love this activity because there are so many options for creating different mail stations and play extensions. For instance, if you have a small food scale or something similar, you can add weighing as one of your stations. Or you can take the whole play experience in a different direction by creating mouse mailboxes or houses with small boxes.
As a special fall bonus, you can easily create your own tiny jack-o-lanterns by cutting leaves into a pumpkin shape. You can draw faces on, or use pre-cut face shapes to build them!
For another timely toddler autumn activity, try making this DIY upcycled Jack-O-Lantern shape sorter (all you need is paper and cardboard!) These DIY felt counting trees are one of our fall favorites.