By Vanessa Sanchez
“We can make our own mailboxes!” exclaimed Grace.
The Oak children made an agreement with each other to work together and build mailboxes for each classroom. Grace counted, “We need five mailboxes: Acorns, Seedlings, Oaks, Olives and, the Sprouts.” During morning meeting, the mailboxes were our main topic of discussion. Each child vocalized what they were comfortable doing. Grace and Isabel excitedly said, “We want to hammer them!” Asha and Alleyne mentioned they were not comfortable using nails and chose to participate when it was time to paint. Jai said, “I can share my ideas, but I don’t want to build it.” Marcelo agreed with Jai. I said, “I wonder how these mailboxes are going to look?” As the children shared all their design ideas with a smile on their face, Jai suggested, “We can make a plan, so we know what to do.”
As rest time ended and groups formed at different areas of the classroom, Grace asked, “Can we do the mailbox designs?” Grace and I invited the other children to design the mailboxes on paper. Still they declined after reminding us of their ideas. We took easel paper, markers and rulers to the table and started designing, keeping everyone’s thoughts in mind. Using the ruler, Grace decided the mailboxes would be squared, seven inches tall, 7 inches wide from the front and the back, and 3 inches wide on the side. Grace added two hinges and a triangle shaped latch as the opening for each mailbox. For design, keeping Alleyne’s idea for color coding each mailbox in her mind, Grace assigned a color for each classroom. For the names, we decided on creating the names using tape and detaching the tape after the mailboxes were painted, letting the pure wood show. The plan was set.
I asked my Dad what wood would be ideal for building mailboxes. After I shared the Oaks design with him, he and my brother measured and cut the wood for the mailboxes.
In one week, Grace, Isabel, and Marcelo worked on building the mailboxes. Grace decided to change the mailbox blueprint midway, “I think it’s okay without the top. That way we will not need the hinges and the triangle lock. It’s a lot of work and I’m tired.” Isabel agreed and they checked in with the other children to ask for their opinion. They all agree on the new changes. With goggles to protect their eyes, two hammers securing nails through the wood and excitement after a mailbox had completed the first step. Alleyne, Asha, Grace, and Isabel worked on painting the mailboxes. It was inspiring to hear them all communicate with each other and respect each other’s ideas.
Once the mailboxes where complete, we set them up in the gross motor yard along with paper and colored pencils. The Oak children, with so much enthusiasm, started writing and drawing notes for the other classrooms. They exclaimed, “It’s in the mailbox! I put another note in the mailbox!” Isabel said, “It’s not moving!” Their need for communication with the other children and teachers were met. Their concern for the safety of their notes vanished. Every morning, we check the mailbox for new letters, we gather and read them together.