Since National Handwriting Day lands on a Sunday this year, January 23rd, I believe it is a great opportunity to share about handwriting or cursive any time this next week! Make it one day or the whole week! I started last Friday with a "Cursive Contest" and my favorite Tedtalk video about why cursive is so beneficial. Check it out, here. It is only sixteen minutes and I passed out a cursive paragraph page for middle school.
One of my all time favorite benefits of cursive as a teacher is that it seriously makes a classroom so quiet. Why? Because it is a practice of concentration. Students rarely talk when they are in deep concentration with a handwriting task, cursive or print. Although, since cursive is continuous, I believe the concentration is more. Just try it. You can find cursive sheets for just about any subject or topic. It is great to learn two things at one time and develop this skill. I have used it for strengthening understanding in science, social studies, geography, Bible verses, character education , cool facts and even poetry.
We also practiced our best John Hancock! This is a phrase used to mean your best
signature. The reason the holiday is on January 23rd is because it is John Hancock's birthday. He had the largest and most prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence. I asked my 7th grade students to write their name at least five times on the back of their page and to circle their best one as another contest entry. I noticed that many of my students had forgotten the capital letters and could not remember them for their name. So on Monday or this week, I will pass out an example sheet of just capitals so they can practice and make their name as stylish as they can. Or possibly I should bring my favorite cursive pillow!
Can you teach cursive fast? Yes! It can be done! One of my classes had about a third who did not
know their cursive at all or had not learned it. So I shared how simple it can be. I have previously taught a forty-five minute Cursive class in the community at our local library. I had students ranging from 2nd grade to age 22 learning for the first time! Cursive only has four styles of strokes for all twenty-six letters. For a crash course, last Friday, I taught the whole alphabet in only fifteen minutes. Teaching on a white board is great to show the movement and strokes. But I have also taught it side by side to individual students.
The four styles of letters are:
The ocean letters (I call them this because you start with the "c" and it looks like the ocean when you put a line of C's together.) These letters are : c, a, d, g, q
The hill letters all begin or end with a hill. These letters are: n, m, h, y, x, v, z
The slant letters all begin with a slant up. These letters are: i, t, j, u, w, p, r, s
The loop letters of course, are loopy. These letters are: e, l, b, f, k, o
This is quite a basic list and some of them do cross over to two letter styles but mainly this is a good way to group and teach the letters together. I like to have them write the same letter at least three times or continuous across the page. I was quite pleased with some of the newbies to cursive who really did well. The best thing about learning cursive is that it always gets better with practice. It is almost near impossible to get worse at cursive if you practice regularly. I think there are many great cursive programs on the internet. When teaching older children, I like using these simple named groups. I named my letters this way because I am writing a story about them. My main character loves the letter "c" connected together because it looks likes the waves of the ocean.
Four cool facts I tell students about using cursive. 1. Handwriting style and cursive is unique to them. Specialists study how everyone's handwriting is unique like their own fingerprint. 2. If they ever have to write a note in the dark, they should use cursive because it will be more legible. (Seriously try it! They love this.) 3. Making their own stylish signature is a great identity that they can keep. 4. Cursive helps the brain with focus, attention, memory and they may even have more creativity if they use it.
I have always loved teaching cursive because it is such a personal achievement to each student and it is something that every student can be proud of, when they write their name in a way that no one else can.
Happy National Handwriting Day! I hope you are encouraged to share some fun with handwriting this week. Stay tuned for more fun activities. Like cursive name art and more contests ideas like closing your eyes and writing a note to someone and then try writing the same thing in print and see which one looks best. I will be giving out prizes of special pens, pencils & stickers all week for awesome handwriting and cursive activities.