With holiday season approaching, you’re likely to soon start receiving lots of free holiday-themed return address labels in the mail from organizations like the March of Dimes, and you’re probably going to get more of these labels than you think you need.
But before you toss the labels in the trash, today’s hint is to save them because they’re among the best stickers you’re going to find for playtime. Why? Well, beyond being free, there are a number of ways the labels can be incorporated into quick, easy and educational playtime activities. Here are just a few examples.
1. They can simply be used as stickers. If your child is young enough not to know the difference between mailing labels and store-bought stickers, you can simply pass them along to your little ones as “stickers” and incorporate them into regular old sticker play, both at home and when you’re traveling. As Jen of Peaceful Parenting, also a fan of mailing label stickers notes, “it’s not about what’s on the sticker at this age, but the act of sticking. . . and these were free!”
But if you have older kids, you’re not out of luck. Often times, the address label sets come with regular stickers included (for instance, among the holiday-themed address labels we’ve received, there also are plain old holiday-themed stickers of snowmen, snow scenes and other related images).
2. They’re great for playing doctor. As I’ve mentioned before, I often get the best playtime hint ideas from watching my 2-year-old daughter in action.
Recently, my husband and I gave her a pack of some mailing label stickers. Within minutes, she decided that the labels were “band-aids” (she received a couple of shots earlier in the week, so bandages must have been top of mind for her). She then spent a good 20 minutes repeatedly putting the “band-aids” on my husband’s head and pulling them off (while my tot had fun, I’m not so sure my husband enjoyed the activity).
When you think about it, the labels, with their rectangular shapes, do somewhat resemble band-aids, so if your little one accepts the notion, the labels can make great doctor play props.
3. They’re, of course, perfect for mail play. I’m a big fan of mail-related play. I’ve long given my daughter junk mail to play with. I pretend catalogs, credit card promotions and charity appeals (including the address stickers) have arrived for her, encouraging her to play with her mail while I go through mine.
But as my daughter gets older, I can see incorporating the labels into more realistic mail play, where I teach my daughter how to address envelopes and explain to her what the words and numbers on the labels mean. For more inspiration on such mail play, check out how to make a “homemade play mailbox” and incorporate labels into “letter writing” over at Feels Like Home, as well as No Time for Flash Card’s “Play Post Office!”
In addition, for very productive mail play, you could have your little one actually help you address real letters you plan to send out. Your child’s task: Stick the labels in the right spot on envelopes.
To be sure, you may not get as many free address labels as I do in the mail if you haven’t ever given to the charities that send them. At our home, it seems like we receive a pack of such labels every other week, probably because I give money to the March of Dimes every year as a way to say “thank you” for all the labels they send (though we do get free labels from many other charities too).
In addition to using them for play, I also use them as actual return labels. I’m on the computer so much that old-fashioned writing sometimes hurts my hand, and my handwriting has gone to the pits (sad, I know). So, to save myself from having to write out return addresses on envelopes, I use the free labels.
How have you incorporated address labels into playtime? What are the best playtime stickers, in your opinion, and why?