The Melbourne Writers Festival 2014 is on 21-31 August and there are several sessions which are focused on kids and families.
Lady AB and I attended Alphabet City Melbourne at ArtPlay where we got to learn our ABCs with author and illustrator Maree Coote.
The workshop was particularly well-timed as Lady AB is just starting to get interested in writing letters and spelling words. Poor girl loves books but gets frustrated that she’s not able to ‘talk’ them.
During the workshop Maree introduced kids from 3-6 years old to the concept of ‘typography’. She started by showing a series of pictures of Melbourne landscapes where you can find surprising letters and shapes – much like the content within Alphabet City Melbourne. The kids had great fun shouting out all the letters they could see.
Then she switched to different ways in which the letters spelling the names of places could be used to form the picture. For instance, Maree showed us how the letters of L-U-N-A P-A-R-K could been manipulated to become the famous grinning entrance of Luna Park! Everyone was encouraged to create their own pictures from letters or to draw a portrait of themselves using their name.
These typographical puzzles are the basis of Maree Coote’s newest books. ‘Letters from Melbourne’ is bright and colourful and each page contains a short poem about Melbourne with a short historical fact. Then the puzzle is to pick out the letters that form the word, from to St Paul’s Cathedral.
‘Alphabet City Zoo’ has a similar structure, with animals all made of the letters of their name.
While Lady AB was one of the younger participants at Alphabet City Melbourne and couldn’t do some of the more sophisticated activities, I know that she learnt something from the workshop. Since that day she’s been showing me making letter shapes with her arms and fingers, showing me shapes in chair legs and is fascinated with making letter shapes on her spelling and writing app, Reading Raven.
We also now own a signed copy of ‘Letters from Melbourne’ to match our other Maree Coote books!
For other Melbourne Writers Festival events designed for children and families click here.