Ransom Note


Elizabeth Berry

Rachel Kim

Sarah McCormick

Zoe Hall

Level: ,
Duration: 1 week
Filed Under: , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

This is built on an ice-breaker I use on the first day of class where I ask students to share the name of a celebrity they’d like to kidnap for whatever reason. It ends up being a fun, low stakes, way to ease into the class, and remember students’ names. There wouldn’t be a formal crit. at the end of this one, more like a show and tell. Plus it’s just entertaining to read how each student words their ransom note.

Using found letters from various print sources, students need to create a ransom note with a list of demands for the release of their chosen celebrity. The design of the note must reflect some aspect of the persona of the celebrity in a creative way. Also, the note should include at least one letter from the following categories:

  • Blackletter
  • Humanist Serif or Old Style
  • Transitional Serif
  • Modern Serif
  • Slab Serif
  • Neo-Grotesque Sans
  • Geometric Sans
  • Humanist Sans

Learning Objectives

  • To get students to start looking at letterforms as interesting, varied, communicative shapes not just letters.
  • To reinforce type classification knowledge. Since they need to look for examples of specific type classifications, they’ll get more familiar with the visual idiosyncrasies of each.


8” square paper mounted on thick, black card stock or foam core.


To further reinforce the lesson, I display the pieces around the classroom and have each student pick one they’d like to focus on, making sure each ransom note has at least 1 student judging it. Then have them fill out a grading sheet where, again, they get to practice their classification knowledge by checking to see if the note they’re looking at managed to find all the typefaces.

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