I first heard about Ben the Rooster from Danielle’s blog when she shared her daughter’s experience receiving mail from Ben. My first reaction was that Simon would love that! My second thought was that it would be a great way for Simon and I to practice his reading and writing. Simon is 6 years old and in first grade. His reading seems to be on track for his age, but he is struggling with writing, and especially with spelling. Zachary also has issues with writing and I had been hoping Simon would not have these same issues. Simon is much more willing to practice writing than Zachary ever was and actually enjoys writing in a journal and writing little notes to me, so I had no doubt that he would be excited to reply when he got his first postcard from Ben the Rooster.
Ben the Rooster is a Barnyard Pen Pal for kids ages 2-8. With the help of his human friend Jason, a children’s writer from Atlanta, he sends kids two postcards each month about life on the farm. Each postcard is an activity, and parents receive an email about discussion ideas before each postcard arrives.
In the first postcard you receive, Ben writes about what it means to be a pen pal and about his favorite hobby, which is reading. Parents can use this postcard to discuss being a pen pal with their children, as well as how the post office works, who brings the mail, how the mailman finds your house, and more. Because Ben mentions his favorite hobby, parents can also discuss the meaning of a hobby with their child.
Kids are encouraged to draw a picture of their favorite book on the enclosed postcard that is sent back to Ben. On the reverse side, they can write what they drew. Here is Simon’s attempt at spelling “Harry Potter.” I was not in the room with him while he did this, so he didn’t ask me for spelling help.
Simon was so excited that he insisted on mailing his reply back to Ben the Rooster immediately! I taught him how to put his postcard in our mailbox so that the mailman would take it. I was happy that the postcard came already stamped, so we could put it back in the mail right away.
Every day since he received his first postcard, Simon has been asking for his mail from his pen pal! I told him that the next postcard would come in two weeks, because postcards are mailed on the 1st and 16th of the month. As the time got closer for him to receive his 2nd postcard, he got even more excited! So you can imagine how happy he was when the postcard arrived!
This time, Ben the Rooster wrote about his trip to Mount Rushmore. He asked if we could name the presidents on Mt. Rushmore. Simon was able to identify Washington and Jefferson, who he says he learned about at school. Then he guessed that maybe one of the other presidents was Truman. (They are not – they are Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln!)
Ben asked the kids to draw him a picture of what it would look like if their faces were sculpted on a mountain. Here is what Simon came up with:
When I asked him to write what he drew, he came up with the name “Mt. Simon.” How cute is that?! He also wanted to tell Ben that he visited Truman’s house. I helped him with the spelling on this one. I just realized that we wrote “I went Truman’s house” instead of “I went TO Truman’s house!” We fixed that for the final version!
Ben the Rooster’s mission is to encourage all kids to love reading and to expand their imaginations. I love that getting these postcards helps Simon practice both reading and writing! Plus, he enjoys drawing! I bet you’re wondering how to sign up for this awesome program – each subscription includes 2 postcards per month, and you can pay month-to-month for $5 a month, or you can get 6 months for $27. Ben and Jason were kind enough to offer my readers their first month free with the code NOTINJERSEY.
You should definitely check out Ben’s Mailbox at his Instagram account – the pictures he shares are so cute. I love how some of the photos show Ben himself holding the kids’ mail! You can also connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Because Simon loved this first month of postcards so much, I definitely plan to sign up for him to receive more. How about you?