Over the last few years, our school district has implemented the Letterland reading program in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. Letterland is a phonics based approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling. Each letter is a character who lives in Letterland and each of the letter characters has a sound and story that goes with it. Children are intrigued by the adventures of Annie Apple, Bouncy Ben, Clever Cat and Dippy Duck. There are videos for each character with sounds, stories and songs that teach students how to read, write and spell with the Letterland characters.
In 2014, our district sponsored “Letterland Day” at a large park. Children and their families were able to come to the park (free admission) and see Letterland in action. The entire park was crawling with Letterland characters and children who were excited to see them. Firefighter Fred brought his real fire engine, Clever Cat offered a carousel ride and Bouncy Ben offered boat rides. Children were able to have their picture taken at Peter Puppy’s Picture Booth and have their faces painted with Impy Ink at the Golden Girl’s Gazebo. There were train rides on Talking Tess’s train as well as a play space to make noise with Noisy Nick. Children also enjoyed playing a bean toss game at Munching Mike’s Bean Bag Toss.
The Quarrelsome Queen was at the entrance welcoming all of the families to Letterland. The Queen of Letterland was played by Len Wendon, the author of Letterland. She flew from her home in England to be a special part of this great day.
Wendon developed the reading program when she was a classroom teacher to help struggling readers. Later she published Letterland to share the rich resources with other teachers. Today, Letterland is used in more than 100 countries around the world.
Letterland Day has continued to grow each year since 2014. In 2016, I attended Letterland Day and volunteered to work at Dippy Duck’s fishing pond. Children came with a card that had all 26 letters of the alphabet on it. They could mark off each of the letter stations they engaged in throughout the day. Many children came to Dippy Duck’s fishing pond to fish out the letter “D” or a picture of Dippy Duck. If they fished out two cards that matched, they were able to trade them in for a small prize. The children were splashing in the pond (which was a small swimming pool) and enjoyed learning to fish with the fishing poles. I would see families come up to the pond and hear children squealing, “mom, it’s Dippy Duck!”
All through the park, children ran with excitement from one Letterland character station to another. The children had the biggest smiles on their faces and families really seemed to enjoy spending time together enjoying the beautiful day. The best thing about Letterland Day was that children were learning letters, sounds and stories about the letter characters in Letterland. The excitement of the day helped motivate children to want to learn their letters and sounds using the Letterland reading program.