Title:
Mailbox Game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mailbox game includes a mailbox having a rectangular container or box with an opening, a lid and a hinge that attaches the lid to the box to cover the opening. The game also includes play stamps having an adhesive backing. The mailbox may have a rotating flag that is attached to the box and there may also be a dial with which to provide a mailbox status of full or empty. The mailbox game includes a method of providing a toy mailbox, mounting the mailbox on or adjacent to a door inside of a residence, depositing mail in the mailbox, and manipulating a signal device to indicate that mail has been deposited into the mailbox. The mailbox game may include writing on a marking area positioned on the mailbox to be viewed by a person passing by the mailbox or depositing mail therein.



Inventors:
Blanish, Mathew R. (West Newton, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/106662
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
04/21/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. (OTTAWA, KS, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is as follows:

1. A method of playing a mail game, said method comprising: mounting a toy mailbox to a door of a room; depositing mail in the mailbox; and manipulating a signal device to indicate that mail is deposited in said mail box.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said mounting includes mounting said toy mailbox with an adhesive.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said mounting includes mounting said toy mailbox with one or more magnets.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said depositing mail includes adhering a play stamp to said mail deposited in said mailbox.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein said manipulating said signal device includes raising a flag.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein said manipulating said signal device includes illuminating a light.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said mounting includes mounting said toy mailbox inside a residence.

8. A method of playing a mailbox game, comprising: providing a mailbox having a generally rectangular shape and defining an open top, said mailbox having a lid pivotally mounted to said box with a hinge for selectively covering said open top; mounting said mailbox to a door of a bedroom on the inside of a residence; depositing mail in said mailbox; and manipulating a signal device to indicate that mail is deposited in said mailbox.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein said mailbox includes a writing area on an external surface of said mailbox; said method further comprising writing a message on said writing area so that said message is viewable without opening said lid.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein said writing area is an erasable surface.

11. The method of claim 8, wherein said manipulating said signal device includes raising a flag.

12. The method of claim 8, wherein said manipulating said signal device includes illuminating a light.

13. The method of claim 8, wherein said depositing mail includes adhering a play stamp to said mail deposited in said mailbox.

14. The method of claim 8, wherein said mailbox includes side walls having generally rounded edges.

15. A method of playing a mail game, comprising the steps of: providing a toy mailbox having a generally rectangular shape and defining an open top, said mailbox having a lid pivotally mounted to said box with a hinge for selectively covering said open top, said mailbox including a writing area on an external surface of said mailbox; mounting said mailbox to one of a door, wall, dresser, or bed of a bedroom on the inside of a residence; depositing mail in said mailbox; and manipulating a signal device to indicate that mail is deposited in said mailbox.

16. The mailbox game as in claim 15, wherein said writing area is an eraseable surface.

17. The mailbox game as in claim 16, wherein said step of manipulating said signal device includes one of raising a flag or illuminating a light.

18. The mailbox game as in claim 16, further including the step of sending through a traditional mail service at least one card to a third party not living in the same residence in which said toy mailbox is mounted that includes words urging said third party to send letters or gifts through said traditional mail service to said residence in which said toy mailbox is mounted for further distribution by occupants of said residence to said toy mailbox.

19. The mailbox game as in claim 16, wherein said step of depositing mail includes adhering a play stamp to said mail deposited in said mailbox.

20. The mailbox game as in claim 15, wherein said mailbox includes side walls having generally rounded edges.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO THE RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a Continuation-in-Part of the utility patent application, Ser. No. 11/538,050, filed on Oct. 2, 2006, entitled Mailbox Game, which claims the priority of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/721,628 filed on Sep. 30, 2005, entitled Mailbox Game.

BACKGROUND

This invention relates generally to games and, more particularly, to a mailbox game in which a toy mailbox is mounted to a door of a room inside a residence and into which letters from family members may be inserted so as to promote letter writing and strengthening of family relationships.

Children are increasingly using the e-mail, instant messaging, and mobile telephones to communicate. This style of communication requires very little proper grammar and punctuation. As a result, children may be experiencing a loss of some reading and writing skills. Thus, a need exists to promote more formal written communication.

Therefore, it would be desirable to have a game that promotes family unity, letter writing skills, creativity, and imagination by simulating a postal service within a residential family setting.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The mailbox for children is a creative idea that broadens children's worlds by giving them a sense of independence and importance. The mailbox creates excitement for them when they check to see if they have mail. It encourages families to actually write letters again and builds family unity through the children. As a result, communication within the family and with friends is greatly enhanced and will help to revitalize and revolutionize letter writing.

In one general aspect, a mailbox game includes a mailbox having a rectangular container or box with an opening, a lid and a hinge that attaches the lid to the box to cover the opening. The game also includes play stamps having an adhesive backing.

Therefore, a general object of this invention is to provide a mailbox game in which a toy mailbox may be mounted to or adjacent to a bedroom door or anywhere within the proximity of a child's bedroom within a residence for the delivery of pretend mail.

Another object of this invention is to provide a mailbox game, as aforesaid, that promotes letter writing and family unity.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a mailbox game, as aforesaid, that is intuitive to play and easy to set up.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, embodiments of this invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mailbox used in the game according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention with a lid in a closed configuration;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the mailbox as in FIG. 1 with the lid in an open configuration; and

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the mailbox as in FIG. 1 with signal lights in use as the mail signal device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a toy mailbox 100 used in the game. The mailbox 100 is a generally rectangular box 102 with an opening, a lid 104 and a hinge 105 that attaches the lid 104 to the box 102 to cover the opening. Preferably, the mailbox 100 includes rounded edges that provide safety to children who may bump into the mailbox 100 by accident. The lid 104, therefore, is movable between open (FIG. 2) and closed (FIG. 1) configurations. Outer surfaces of the box 102 may be coated with a paint that can be used as a writing or drawing surface. Alternatively, the box 102 may include a writing area 110 on which a message may be written with a pen, crayon, chalk, or dry erase marker. The writing area 110, therefore, may be of a dry-erase marker board or chalkboard material or other erasable surface.

A flag 106 may be attached to the outside of the mailbox 100. The flag may be rotated to a vertical position or it may be positioned horizontally. As another feature, a dial 108 may be mounted to the outside of the mailbox to show a mail status as either empty or full. Alternatively, a sliding bar or other indicator may be used to show mail status. Still further, one or more lights 107 may be positioned on the outer surface and illuminated when mail has been received into the mailbox. The lights, of course, may be electrically connected to a processor, power source, and sensor that detects the receipt of mail (not shown). The processor may also be connected to a sound generator that emits an audible sound when mail is detected (not shown).

The game may include play stamps with an adhesive backing and that have a similar appearance to U.S. Post Office stamps. The game may also have other accessories, such as, for example, stationary, letters, envelopes and/or notes. A package of letters may be included to personalize the mailbox with the child's name. The mailbox may also have other features such as a viewing peep-hole or a light, such as an LED.

Surfaces may be smooth, textured, or ribbed depending on production suggestions from the manufacturer. Colors of mailbox may also vary. Some sections on the front of the box may be left smooth and unobstructed to allow for future marketing of Trademark designs, for example, “Spiderman” or “My Little Pony.”

Certain safety features may be incorporated into the mailbox design. For example, edges of the mailbox may be rounded or folded for safety. The mailbox may be made of high impact plastic in a variety of colors. The mailbox may also be designed for ease of use. For example, the mailbox may have a sliding drawer with a knob to pull out or push in the drawer. As another example, the mailbox may have a pivoting drawer.

Another important aspect of this invention is that it may include a pack of postcards (not shown) that may be sent through the traditional U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail to friends and family explaining the mail game and encouraging them to mail letters, postcards, gifts, and the like to the parents USPS address for further distribution by the parents to the toy mailboxes inside the residence. This step essentially initiates the inventive methodology as further described below.

The present invention includes a methodology for playing a mail game. More particularly, a user may mount one or more mailboxes inside a residence, such as on a door or wall or door outside of a child or parent's bedroom. In addition, a mailbox may be mounted adjacent the door, inside a bedroom such as to or adjacent a bed, or even used as a freestanding unit on or adjacent to a dresser or nightstand. Preferably, a mailbox may be mounted to a bedroom door with screws, an adhesive, or one or more magnets. A family member may write messages on the writing area 110. These messages may be seen as messages to the mail carrier. A child may pretend that these are messages to passers by in the hallway. Further, a child may be encouraged to write letters to real and/or imaginary family members or friends and to deliver them to the mailbox of a sibling or parent. In turn, received letters may be deposited into the mailbox of each child. It should be appreciated that items placed within a respective mailbox may be real mail first received into a family's USPS mailbox from an outside source and then redistributed to a child's mailbox, informal letters between family members, gifts from a parent to a child, and the like. When mail has been deposited, a signaling device may be manipulated to indicate the receipt of mail. For example, a flag may be raised, a light may be activated, etc. Play stamps may be used to send a letter within a household so that the children have the feeling of receiving authentic mail.

It should be appreciated that term “toy mailbox” or “play stamps” should be interpreted to mean that the mailbox or stamps are not government sponsored or government approved, but not to imply that this invention is only a toy for children. Quite to the contrary, the present invention may be used by both adults and children and is a means for encouraging family unity, promoting increased communication amongst friends and family, and imparting the practice of letter writing skills.

It can be seen that the present invention provides an innovative device and method of play that encourages children and parent alike to communicate with one another using written letters. The present invention promotes a level of communication that has largely been lost in an age of high technology and electronic entertainment.