Mailbox Math

Hi friends!  Are y’all enjoying summer as much as I am?!?!   I’m *trying* to savor every little second before I have to head back to set up my NEW classroom!!  Eeeek! 

I think I’ve said it before, but I LOVE teaching math.  I wasn’t always a fan, but over the last couple of years, it’s become one of my favorite things to teach.  I like math even more when I can integrate literacy into it. During my 2nd year of teaching, I had this little mailbox in my classroom.  Book characters would write to my kids asking them to help solve a problem.  This was my little way to try and incorporate math & literacy into my whole group time.  The kids LOVED it.  Our librarian at the time suggested I send that idea into The Mailbox, so I did.  And they published it!  I was SO stinkin’ excited!


This was back in 2005 right after I married Mr. Spouse.  That little fact has NOTHING to do with this post…just thought I’d give him a little shout out :)


I sent in my idea when I was still a “Miss”.  Miss Hagerty, to be exact.  And if we were bff, you might’ve even called me “Miss Hag” ;)


The idea behind Mailbox Math was to get the kids solving problems and writing!!!!  It was my most favorite time of the day!!!  After we’d read a book….let’s say, Square Cat…the main character would write to us asking us to solve a problem.  The letter would show up in our class mailbox and my helper of the day would excitedly check the mail and bring it to the carpet.  I’d read the letter aloud and ohmiword…crickets.  You could hear a pin drop!  They were so excited to hear from someone we just read about!  AND…they were even MORE excited to help that character solve a problem!!

Have y’all read Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker?!  Ohmiword…LOVE it.  She sent this to me back in the Spring and ever since then I’ve been absolutely OBSESSED!  But I digress…


So it would go a little something like this.  *Square Cat*…aka: YOU…writes to the class…


The problem can be ANYTHING!  We solved ALL sorts of problems!  The big idea was to get the kids thinking…talking…and working together.  After you read the letter aloud…usually in a whole group setting…the kids use manipulatives to try and solve the problem. I’d give them a little bit of time to discuss the problem with their friends and then solve it…together or independently.  I’d call on a few friends to share their strategies & answers with the class and I’d always make them explain HOW they got their answers.  My kids were PROS at it!  Then we’d sit down as a class and write back…in this case, to Eula…the Square Cat.


SO…not only are we solving problems, but we’re writing, too!!!  This was the *perfect* little activity for reinforcing letter writing…even in Kindergarten!  As we’d write back, we talked about the greeting, body, closing, and signature.  I’d always remind the kids how important it is to have neat handwriting so that Square Cat/Eula could read it…if he can’t read it, then he doesn’t know how to solve his problem!!!  Depending on the amount of time, I’d have the kids come up to the easel and help me write the letter…sight words, numbers, etc.  It’s great for building math vocabulary & familiarity with key words, too :) 


If you get a chance to incorporate Mailbox Math into your class, you should!  The kids love it and it just lends itself to SO many learning/teaching opportunities! 

Since I LOVE incorporating math & literacy so much, I created a little packet combining the best of both worlds.  This is just another way I plan on integrating both into my class this year…in addition to Mailbox Math.

B2S Mystery Messages

I designed this packet for *Back to School*, but it can definitely be used throughout the year!  It includes 20 different mystery messages.  I’m SO excited to use these in my classroom!!!!  I know the kids will be, too!!  I mean, what kid doesn’t love a good mystery?!?!  HA!!!  If you want to read more about it, click on the pic for a detailed description…


In other news, I just signed up for MY FIRST 5K!!!!!!!!  Aaaaahhhh!!!  What am I getting myself into, for real??  I can barely walk 3 miles.  I don’t know what I’m thinking.  Let me just say that I succumb VERY easily to peer pressure.  One of my favorite Houston friends told me to do it, so I did.  See what I mean?!?!  TOO easy.  HOWEVER…it looks like SO much fun!!!  This is no ordinary 5K.  It’s the COLOR RUN 5K!!!!  Aaaahhhh!!!!   I LOVE IT!!!!  I CAN’T WAIT!!!  I’m starting the Couch to 5K training on Monday to get myself ready. {I have this weird thing about starting new workouts/diets on Mondays…after I’ve had the weekend to binge :)}  If you live in or around the Houston area, you should sign up, too!!!  Come join us on November 11th!!!  Just look how much fun you’ll have….


Seriously, people!  That looks like all kinds of color crazy madness!!!  And I’m ALL kinds of thrilled!!! 

I’ll be back soon with some freebies, updated schedule cards {free}, back to school stuff, and some crafts!  Have a GREAT day!!


  1. Congrats on being published! Your new packet is on my TpT wishlist...have a great day!


  2. So cute!

  3. Your mailbox math is so cute. Love to keep the magic alive!

  4. This is fabulous!! I always look forward to your math/literacy units. I used so many of them last year.
    Congrats on your 5K--I ran my first last August and then me and my Mr. decided we would do one each month. (It's a fun little goal we had) We have not done the color run BUT it looks fun! Enjoy the rest of your summer and good luck on your 5K.

    Sweet n Sassy in 2nd

  5. Very cute idea! Thanks Cara!
    Amy Burton

  6. Cara! You are crazy. I say get a really nice pair of sneakers to motivate you to run and then you can do it. I cannot wait to pictures.

    I love your mailbox ideas and I need to get that adorable cat book. Years ago they said they were publishing one of my center ideas in some big book of centers but I never found it :(

  7. What wonderful ideas!! I absolutely love characters writing letters with problems to solve. The Square Cat looks like something I need to check out.

    You will do awesome in the Color Run! I started with a 5K four years ago and now am on to triathlons. They are amazing, but I would love to do a Color Run they look like so much fun. Good luck with training!


    Apples and Papers

  8. I joined the color run as well in december I'm so definitely will be a cheerful day with all those colors :)

  9. I love, love, love the Mailbox Math idea. Without a doubt, I will be doing this in my 2nd grade classroom next year!! Thanks so much for sharing!

    I had an idea featured in Mailbox Magazine during my first year of teaching, and I cannot find the magazine for the life of me!!!

    So sad about it!!

    Thanks again Cara, you rock!

    Across the Hall in 2nd

  10. Love the math mailbox, definitely going to use it!!

  11. I love the Square Cat book! I got it this spring from Elizabeth too! I love having a character write a problem solving story! I think I'll have to do this mailbox math this year for sure. I think I'll do it once a week. I don't have much time to fit in extra things and this will keep them excited and on their toes! Thanks so much for the idea you are so creative! As for the color run I would love to do this even though I suck at cardio. It just looks so colorful and fun! Good luck!

  12. I love this idea! Looking forward to incorporating it into my classroom! The Color Run looks like SO much fun!! You should also check out Warrior Dash; it is a BLAST!!!

  13. Oh my goodness, it's 7 am (where I am) and I've already spent money at TPT. Ha! I couldn't help myself- all of your stuff is amazing! I love integrating math and literacy whenever I can. Your race looks like so much fun! Good luck! :)
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  14. My favorite part about teaching 1st grade is that they are still so into magic and make believe!! This idea is a great way to capitalize on that! Also, my friend's just did the color run in Philly I believe. They had a blast!!

    ❤ -Stephanie
    Falling Into First

  15. I, who am not a runner by any means of the word, did the Couch to 5K program last summer and believe me when I tell you it works! Good luck! And I love your mailbox idea - so fun!

  16. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely be incorporating this next year. I've put your mystery messages on my wishlist. Good luck with the 5k. I would love to try a color run.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

  17. This is such a cute idea! I teach the older kids, but I could easily adapt this with letters from famous people or whoever they are loving at the moment. Love it!

    Also, the Color Run is supposed to be so much fun! It came to Atlanta back in March. I couldn't participate because of an injury, but my friends' pictures looked great! Good luck!

  18. I love the mailbox idea! That is something I will have to try and incorporate in my classroom this year!!

    I did the color run in KC a few weeks ago and it is a BLAST!!!

  19. I love the Mailbox Math idea!! Super cute. I also added your math packet to my wishlist :)
    The Color Run looks like too much fun. I love doing crazy runs or "competitions" like that. It makes exercising much more motivating!! Good luck!
    Fun In First

  20. I did the Couch to 5K program before I ran my first 5K and it work AMAZINGLY well getting me in shape for my run! I'm sure it will do the same for you; I loved Couch to 5K because it was so easy and undaunting! Also, a good friend ran in the color run last year and she said it was so much fun - I might do it next time it rolls around here in Arizona!

    The Kinder Garden

  21. Your ideas are all amazing! I love your new product you just put on TPT. I plan on buying it when I get a little more mullah. That is so exciting that you had a math idea published in Mailbox! I think you are so creative!
    The Hive

  22. I am running the exact same race in Columbia! Wish we lived closer!!!!!

  23. Thanks for sharing! I was published six times in Mailbox as a Pre-K teacher. It's fun to get your name in there. :) I hope everything is going well this summer for you with all of your changes. You are a blessing to us. :)

    Sprinkles to Kindergarten

  24. You will love the Color Race - it is sooo much fun!! I am trying the Ragnar race here in Vegas in November.. check it out - CAH-RAZY!

    Love your packets - as always, and congrats on getting published!

    T.G.I.F. (Thank God it's First Grade!)

  25. That race looks like so much fun! I hope you have a blast! I've been published in the Mailbox magazine a couple of times and it is always thrilling. I love how they send you a free issue when you get ideas in the magazine. This packet looks amazing! I'm going to add it to my wishlist.

    Swimming into Second

  26. I recently signed up for my first 5K, too! It certainly is not going to be as fun as yours, though. I love your Mystery Messages idea. Another fabulous way to get kids totally excited and engaged in math!

    Mrs. Webster’s Classroom Connections

  27. These math ideas are so cute. I am definitely going to be getting that packet for my class this year. :)

  28. Hi, I'm a lurker but when I saw that you had registered for the color run houston I had to comment because I just registered too! About to start couch to 5k again to get ready for it.

    Oh and Square Cat is too cute, I'm going to have to use it in my classroom sometime! :)

  29. Love this idea! Square Cat looks adorable. I love that your kids write back to the character. Your class could even "prove" their answer by writing down different ways you solved the problem on the reply letter. You could call up a student or two to write down their strategy. Oh, the possibilities! Love this, girlfriend.

    Oh my word, and you will LOVE running a 5k. I ran a 10k last year (on my birthday!) in Washington D.C, and I am now working my way up to a half marathon. I *loved* the 10k race, especially since the trees were changing and the air was cool. Ha! We will see about this half. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

    That packet looks adorable! Awesome!!!


    A Year of Many Firsts

  30. I love your math and literature connection. I can't wait to try it this year. On another note, I found that when I was training for a 5K it is best to have a friend to train with. She spurs you on during those difficult days. My running partner has done a color run and said it was just too much fun. Enjoy!

  31. Hi Cara,

    What an INGENIOUS idea! I'm excited to incorporate the Mailbox Math idea into my math/literacy activities. Thank you for sharing and have fun with your training.

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  32. What a wonderful idea! I would love to try this with my kiddos!
    The Color Run looks so fun!

    Blessings of Teaching

  33. Wow! I love the mystery messages! What a great idea! I'm your newest follower! :) Come check out my blog!

  34. Good for you, Cara! I love the mystery messages! It's on my wish list ! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Great ideas Cara! I plan to steal mailbox math indefinitely {thanksverymuch}and the mystery messages are in my cart.

    I am so excited for you about your run. You will totally catch running fever after you start training. {You'll be chiseled baby!} Wish Houston was just a little closer! :)

  36. OMG! I just signed up for my first Color Run in November...maybe I should get off of my computer...

    :) Michelle
    Apples and ABC's

  37. Cara you are so talented! However, I'm going to go use all my money on all your awesome creations!!! Are you teaching first grade at your new school?! Anxious to hear!

  38. Fabulous idea! I can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

  39. I just did the COLOR RUN as my first 5k. There were 25,000 runners in Philly! It was awesome!!! I'm posting pics on my blog soon, stop on :)

  40. My husband, mom, my friends {actually, almost everyone I know except me!} did Color Me Rad this past weekend! I didn't do it because I had to photograph them....{or I just hate running!} They had so much fun!

  41. I LOVE this math mailbox idea. It is such a great way to integrate literature and switch things up from a normal morning message. i am SO excited to use it. I am doing the color run on 7/28 in Boston! I did a couch to 5k plan to get ready, too. I am an elliptical/spin/yoga kind of girl so I was in good shape, but never a runner. The plan is easy, you will be ready in no time! I will try to post some pictures on my blog !

  42. Cara, I love the mailbox math and can't wait to try it in my Pre-K class... actually I'll have to wait a little bit but I'm really excited. Thanks
    Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales

  43. Love the math/literacy idea... and your Square Cat is adorable!

    The School Supply Addict

  44. I love, love, love your idea and I just know my Kindergarten kiddos will love getting the mail!!! Thank you so much!!! Good luck with your run, my sister was just telling about this and is running the 5K in Indianapolis.

  45. Eula Square Cat, the Mathematician! Well, of course! Thank you, Mrs.Carroll! Purrrfect! Love this!


  46. Thank you for the great idea!! i will definitly use this.

  47. I love this! We get mail all of the time: The Letter Snatcher, Cranky Crab and Flora Flamingo (our blend friends), Mr. Gobbles, Sam I am, etc. I am all kinds of excited about how you incorporated math. My brain wheels are spinning now. =)

    If you get the chance, I would love for you to hop over and read the 2 poems I shared about your heart being in your room and about God using us to make a difference in the lives of our little ones. The poem "In This Room" makes me think of your room and what an amazing place it must be. =)


    Heather's Heart

  48. Thank you for sharing these things. You are a very dedicated teacher. I have decided to nominate you for my first award. The Caring and Sharing award. You may go get your award here

    the rules are:
    1. The blog that you nominate must be a teacher blog.
    2. They must share some products or ideas free.
    3. Once you are nominated you need to link the award back to:
    4. You need to give the award to three other blogs and link them on your blog.
    5. Have fun recognizing those who care and share.

  49. The color run has to be the best 5K to start off with. I'm sure you will have a blast! It was even better than the 5K I ran in Disney Land!

    Best Wishes!


  50. You will LOVE the color run! I love races like that and can't wait to do the Color Run in Milwaukee this year. After that you will have to try the Warrior Dash!!! Nothing like crawling through some mudd with friends, SOOO MUCH FUN!!! And just a heads up... usually after your first 5k you are hooked and ready for more :)

    Cora Boucher

  51. So cute! Good luck on your training. I used the same program to get ready for a race! Loved it!

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

  52. Sounds like a really great way to integrate math and literacy. Good luck on the 5K--i have the app, and have yet to use it. Don't ask me what i'm waiting for.

  53. OH MY WORD! This sounds like such a GREAT way to incorporate Critical Thinking in Math!... hello Common Core Standards! You are a genius! I love it.


  54. What a WONDERFUL idea! Congrats on getting it into The Mailbox! Have fun training for your 5K! :)

    Second Grade Sparkle

  55. I just love everything you do and say. Haha. What fun back to school ideas! And I LOVE the Couch to 5k program. I used it and got to the point where I could run a 5k, and then..... I stopped and have to start all over again. If I lived closer I would love to do the color run! I'll have to look up some in my area. :)


  56. Just came across your blog, though I've seen many of your great ideas floating around :) I ran the Color Run in Columbus today. I had a BLAST. Enjoy the training, but know if it's anything like it was here, you'll get breaks as you go through each color. AND bring wipes to have in the car :)

    Courtney (

  57. I love the mailbox math letters! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being published in mailbox! :). I had a few friends run the color run in Philly a few weeks ago and they had a blast! :)


  58. Just did the color run in OKC and it was SO MUCH fun! You will have a blast :D

  59. Ran the color run in Michigan today! It's amazing! Truly is the happiest 5k on the planet. Don't worry about being speedy...people take their time in this runa nd just have fun! I ran with a friend and we carried a camera and our goal was to take a picture after each new color, so I was trying to run and take and picture and she was like we can stop and take the's okay we aren't being timed! Oh, yeah! It was great so much fun!

  60. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your ideas! Be careful, once you do your first 5k you will be hooked, especially since your doing the Color Run first! My girlfriends and I are avid runners. We run 5k's, 10k's and half-marathons, doing the Disney half in Feb and the Diva coming up in Oct.! You will love the couch to 5k, it will def. get you prepared! Keep us updated on your progess, I love to read your blog!

  61. I absolutely love your creative ideas! The Mailbox math letters are so clever!

    My husband and I (along with a group of friends) are running the Color Run this weekend in Massachusetts! We're pumped!

  62. I have nominated you for the versatile bloggers award.

  63. Awesome and interesting blog, keep following you and looking for further surprise at mascot costumes and giant stuffed animals, thank you