If you’re a Letterland teacher, you probably know just how real Letterland becomes to children when they begin to learn about all the characters. So why not make it a real place for a day?
You may have heard about the Letterland Days at Tweetsie, but there are many schools that create their own ‘home-made’ Letterland Days. Check out some top tips from Katrina Turbyfill on how to create your own.
By Katrina Turbyfill (a K-2 Literacy Facilitator for Swain County Schools, Bryson City, North Carolina, who has run amazing Letterland days since 2011!)
1. Form a committee of several people – Get the committee to plan each station as well as gathering the supplies.
Top tip: Ask each grade level at your school (or all the schools involved) to be responsible for a few stations.
2. Locate funds to help purchase materials – Our community businesses gave donations and we wrote a grant for a small amount of money to get us started with supplies. We needed t-shirts, stationary supplies, decorations, etc.
3. Choose a date – This can be very tricky in the spring due to testing and assessments and other special occasions and events.
4. Choose a venue – In Swain County, we are blessed with a wonderful football stadium with a full track around it. There are other large areas for running games or exhibits from the community.
5. Consider bad weather options for the date and venue if planning for a day outside.
6. Choose the attendees – We invite our Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grades.
7. Decide how to present the characters – Last year, we had four Letterland Worlds. For example, in Jumping Jim’s Jungle, there was Jumping Jim, Zig Zag Zebra, Eddy Elephant , etc., and all of the activities were jungle themed.
Top tip: Create a station for every character with grade appropriate activities. For example, Peter Puppy will be sharing popsicles with the children and Dippy Duck will have plastic ducks floating in water for the children to pick up. On the bottom of the duck will be a letter, digraph or blend and the children will be directed to use it in some way, depending on grade level.
8. Supply your stations – Will you need a water table? Plastic Ducks? Will you need baby wipes or paper towels? Where will you get books for Quarrelsome Queen to read, etc.?
9. Locate a group that will help you with artwork – Our high school art department painted t-shirts with all the characters on them as well as signs and photo opportunities. They painted Letterland characters made of plywood that had a face-sized hole cut out. This meant children could stand behind the board and put their face in the hole and have a photo taken.
10. Locate another group that will dress as characters and run stations – Our high school’s Freshmen Academy took time to learn about Letterland and all the Letterlanders. The students learned their songs and stories, and designed appropriate costumes for their charachters. This is a vital step in the success of any Letterland Day. Costumes have to be accurate and each high school student must know their character’s story and song. The children will demand it of them!
Top tip: Put on Letterland plays for all the children and hold a parade of characters at the end of the day.
11. Plan out a schedule, map and transportation – Each of those that are attending will need a schedule of when and how they will arrive at the venue. Each teacher will need a map of the stations with a notation of where to start with their group and how long to spend at each station.
12. Invite community support – For our next day, we are having some students come in to demonstrate Munching Mike’s motorcycle racing and a community member is bringing in Red Robot’s Race Car. We have had firemen and ambulance trucks and drivers too.
Top tip: Invite local clubs to help set up and clean up.
13. Other things to think about - Will you need microphones? Where will you get cameras and who will take photos? Do you need tables and chairs? How will these items get to the venue? Will you need to provide food or drinks for volunteers? Can you get bags for your attendees so that they can keep their prizes, etc.? Will you need sunscreen for the children or your volunteers? Do you need permission notes sent home?
14. Ignite excitement – Have your teachers prepare the children days before by telling them that they get to go on a trip or will be having visitors. If the teachers are excited, the children will be excited. We even had children asking, “How far is it to Letterland?”. In their minds, it is a real place.
Top tip: Share the prospect of going to Letterland at the end of the school year much earlier in the year so that it acts clearly as both an incentive and reward for children to work hard at their reading and in all subjects in order to qualify to attend.
15. Prepare to be amazed – When you see the children arrive and you hear, “It’s Golden Girl!” or “There’s Red Robot!” all of the work and planning is so worth it!
16. Have the children write thank you letters – Letters for all of your volunteers will instil appreciation in your students and make the work worth it for your volunteers.
Happy Letterland Day!
Want to know more? Check out our post on when Letterland comes to life at Tweetsie.
Had your own Letterland Day recently? We'd love to hear all about it. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may even be featured on the blog!