Everyday, Simple Idea #20: Junk Mail

I am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

#20 Junk Mail

Junk mail play 25 great ways to use junk mail to promote developmental skills and keep kids busy.

The best part of this tip is that it is free!  Everyday objects can hold lots of potential to give opportunities to children to learn and master new skills.

1. Scissor skills– give them a pair of child scissor and let them have fun.  (Pre-cutting stage- let them tear the paper to work on hand skills that will lead to using scissors).  Beginning skills- just let them practice snipping.   Intermediate- try to cut out things you like in a circle or square shape.  Advanced- cut out details images and make a collage.

2. Eye-hand coordination and hand strength– take a single sheet and crumple it up as small as you can, then toss it into a trash can, bucket, or bowl.  For younger children, use two hands

to crumple the ball; for older children, challenge them to do it one-handed.  Increase the eye-hand coordination challenge by tossing over-hand and under-hand and changing the distance and size of the basket.

3. Hand skills and problem-solving– give kids the junk mails in envelops and let them figure out how to get it open.

Junk mail play4. Visual scanning skills- give them a crayon or marker and challenge them to find something in a scavenger hunt.  For the little kids, challenge them to find simple, familiar objects, like a puppy or baby.  As kids get older, try describing things with adjective or categories, such as things that are stinky or things that use to build.  For kids learning to read, have them search for letters, such as the letters in their name or the whole alphabet.

5.Pre-writing and literacy skills- sending pretend mail is a great use for all the extra envelopes that come with your bills that most people pay online.  Have your child write (or pretend to write) or drawing a message and “mail” it to a parent at work, a neighbor, or to a sibling.  An old shoe box makes a great mail box and stickers make great pretend stamps.

child writing 2


Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.