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PHOTOS: Students celebrate Letterland Day at Valley Crossing

There was a parade of letters that traveled throughout the school before arriving at the cafeteria for a performance for their parents.1 / 4
Talking Tess and the Vowel Men attended the Letterland Day activities. Pictured, from back left, are Stephen Oslin, Kurri Anderson, Andrew Pape and Ike Thilgen. Haley Springman and Alec Wonsmos are pictured in the front row. Michelle Wirth / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Eli Lange is pictured dressed as a character for the letter 'E.'3 / 4
The K-1 students sang songs for their parents and asked the Vowel Men questions.4 / 4

A parade of letters could be seen walking and waving throughout Valley Crossing Elementary School on May 5.

The fourth-annual Letterland Day event was held in grades K-1 with teachers Kim Wilke and Linda Dobbs. Students dressed in costume according to a letter. There was a Bouncy Ben for the letter 'B,' Uppy Umbrella for the letter 'U' and many more.

Even the teachers were dressed for a letter. Wilke dressed as Harry the Hat man for the letter 'H' and Dobbs was dressed as Linda Lamplight for the letter 'L.'

Wilke said that Letterland Day is a phonics-based approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling.

"The Letterland characters transform plain black letter shapes into child-friendly pictograms and they all live in an imaginary place called Letterland," Wilke said.

Part of the celebration of Letterland involves students singing songs for their parents. Dobbs said that some of the songs that go with the Letterland characters have helped the students remember the different vowels and phonics rules. The songs include the phonics reminders and it helps the students learn in a musical way.

In addition to the students dressing as their favorite characters, a few high school seniors volunteered their time to dress up and portray the Letterland characters.

"The student's reactions are priceless since they see all of the characters in books all year long and then finally get to meet them in person," Wilke said.

This year's high school seniors who participated were Stephen Oslin, Kurri Anderson, Andrew Pape, Ike Thilgen, Haley Springman and Alec Wonsmos. They dressed as the characters Talking Tess and the Vowel Men. Thilgen portrayed the letter 'E' as the Easy Magic Man. He had even prepared a magic trick to show the students involving a pencil appearing out of nowhere.

Wilke said that they have discovered that the students grow a strong connection to the Letterland characters and their sounds. She said that some of the third-graders, who were the first class to celebrate Letterland Day, still talk about what characters they were and they often hear some students refer to the characters when they are in writer's workshops.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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