For five years running in May, Tweetsie Railroad's famous theme park has been providing schools from near and far with the chance to finish their academic year with some fabulous Letterland Day celebrations. Lyn Wendon, creator of the Letterland system for teaching reading, writing and spelling sends special thanks to owners Chris and Cathy Robbins for cooperating with teachers wishing to turn their historic Tweetsie theme park into Letterland each year, and for doing it once again this May 2012!
The inspired idea of transforming the beautiful Tweetsie park areas into Letterland came from Kathy Oliver, Literacy Specialist, who found that children wanted to believe the imaginary world of Letterland was real. Let's make it real, she thought, and together with Chris and Cathy Robbins' help they did!
In the first year (2007) Kathy Oliver relied on High School students to create all the decorations and signs to make the park into Letterland for a day, and to turn themselves into the a–z Letterland characters for the children to meet and greet, dressed in costumes they made themselves.
The whole idea proved so popular that each year the event has grown to three, then four days, evolving more and more skilled presentations, with members of the Tweetsie staff joining in to make Letterland more believable, and contributing Letterland plays written by Tweetsie's Education Advisor and Entertainment Director, Joe Clark, liaising across the Atlantic with the creator, Lyn Wendon, who lives in England.
Now that celebration has become an annual event, and this splendid occasion also functions as a great incentive for children to do well in their studies throughout the year, as they look forward to a real visit to Letterland. So Tweetsie is once again contributing to childrens' learning in its own unique way.
This May, tickets were sold out for four full TWEETSIE/LETTERLAND Days well in advance. Schools from near and far brought their children by the busload, escorted by teachers and parent volunteers. The very first Letterlander they met was Firefighter Fred, a very real firefighter with his very real engine and full fire fighting gear.
Once on to Main Street, with Letterland songs in the air, the children met more of the Letterland characters. Many of the children's reaction was to rush up and hug them! The photos convey the tingling atmosphere better than any words can.
The rides included turns on Clever Cat's Carousel, Firefighter Fred's Ferris Wheel, Golden Girl's Go Carts (with the children themselves doing the steering!), a train ride into Munching Mike's Mouse Mine, and of course the fabulous trip around the mountainside in the historic Tweetsie train itself – stopping just long enough for a little drama about catching Red Robot in the woods. At the very top there were all the special treats of Zig Zag Zebra's Letterland Zoo – in fact something exciting at every turn.
Lyn Wendon and her son Mark (alias Harry Hat Man) were delighted that they could fly over from England, and also Tom Wendon (Mark's son) and Letterland International's lead teacher trainer, Lesley White, to witness all the fun this year. They also learned that visitors included teachers from Georgia and Wisconsin! So the fame of theTweetsie Letterland Days is really travelling!
© Letterland International, 2011. Registered in England no. 1540779. Registered office: 8/10 South Street, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 7PF. VAT Number 424813757.