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Penmanship: The Art of Teaching Handwriting

Updated on March 7, 2018

How to hold a pen!

Proper Grip
Proper Grip | Source

Teaching Beginning Cursive

As a child I remember Mrs. Thompson, my first grade teacher, gently putting her hand over mine; guiding me in forming the letters. We wrote on green lined paper with dotted lines down the middle. After we had practiced for a whole week we were allowed to use the white paper to prove how beautiful our handwriting was becoming. We made sticks and balls and from a to z we learned to print.

When I taught in Costa Rica, I learned a method for teaching cursive. We learned not to go from a to z but to start with strokes. We learned letter e with l and letter i with t. Letter c was an ocean wave and as we learned each letter we began to put them together to spell words. It was here in Costa Rica that I fell in love with handwriting and teaching it to children.

Since then I have taught many, many children how to write and have gone from just paper and pencil to activities that involve texture, artistry and physical movement. It's fun to learn to write in cursive...

Teaching Cursive

Fun Handwriting Activities

Practicing Penmanship
Practicing Penmanship | Source

Writing Tools and Surfaces

Materials for Teaching how to write in Cursive ...

The basic materials needed to learn to write are simply a writing tool and a surface to write on. Of course you can start with a paper and pencil but I prefer chalk and a chalkboard. Standing up and writing with big motions is exciting for children and it helps them to feel the strokes of the letters with their entire bodies.

I introduce a new letter to the whole group as they stand near the board. I remind then of how to make the strokes that they may be having difficulty with. Then I show them how to connect the new letter with letters we have learned before.

I then ask several children at a time to come to the board and write the letters in large sweeping motions until they get the flow and feel of the letter.

The rest of the children are paired on the rug practicing the letters on each other's backs, an activity they love which keeps them on task as they wait for their turns at the board.

Most children get the idea quickly and are given permission to begin writing on practice paper. Several children need extra help. I choose one of these children for each group and place my hand over theirs until they can feel the motion. Sometimes having them close their eyes can help. These are the kids that I keep a careful eye on to make sure they are not developing bad habits.

I have many other materials available in handwriting centers around the room which can be used as soon as the children have finished their paper and pencil practice.

Journal Writing

Boy Writing in Notebook
Boy Writing in Notebook | Source

Cursive Alphabet Bulletin Board Set - Display the Cursive Alphabet

Few classrooms these days have the alphabet posted over the blackboard. So when I am substituting I find it difficult to help children when they forget how to form individual letters. I would like to propose that we return the cursive alphabet back to its proper position above the chalk board where all can see it.

How to form the letter e in cursive

Letter e
Letter e | Source

Cursive Letter e

Demonstrating how to form the letter e.

First I demonstrate how to form the letter. When teaching cursive, for example, I often start with the letter e. We point to the letters of the alphabet and recite the Alphabet song. We then repeat it until we get to the letter e. We quickly mention the sounds that the letter e makes and then point out that the letter e starts at the bottom line, curves to to the middle line and then curves back to the bottom line.

Practicing Cursive

Handwriting Practice
Handwriting Practice | Source

Writing Cursive Letter E - Writing Cursive Letter L

Writing Letter E
Writing Letter E | Source

Pointed letters vs. Flowing letters - Teaching Penmanship

Letters in Cursive
Letters in Cursive | Source

Which letters should you begin with when teaching cursive?

I chose letters u, i and t because they are easy to form and so much fun to dot and cross.

Some people, however, like to begin with the letters e and l.

I also chose the first letters because of the number of words that could be formed with just those three letters.

When you choose the letters you would like to first teach your children, think about the words that could be formed with them.


Words with u, i and t include it (in English) tu (in Spanish) and ti (in French)

Words with e and l include el (in Spanish) or le (in French)

Once your children have mastered all five letters they can write the words tell, till, lull, let, lit, tile, tule, lute, etc.

Girl Writing on the Wall

Drawing or Writing on the Wall
Drawing or Writing on the Wall | Source

Cursive Letters in the Air Writing Cursive Letters on your Partner's Back

Next we practice writing the letter in the air while pointing to the letter that I wrote on the board.

Writing in the air helps the children internalize the motions involved in making the letters. Saying the sounds aloud reinforces the letter sound relationship and will help them as they learn to read and spell words.

  • We write it very large with very large motions and each time we form the letter in the air we say the sound of the letter, in this case a short e sound.
  • Next, I have all the children find a partner and write the letter on each others backs.
  • Then they turn around and it's the child's turn.

Practicing Cursive Letters on Paper

Moving on to Handwriting Learning Centers

Now I give each of the children a chance to write the letter

on the board.

I check each of the children individually to make sure that they have understood how to form the letters and that they start at the bottom line, touch the middle line and then curve back down to the bottom line.

Those who are able to form the letter correctly are allowed to take a paper and pencil to practice at their desks. Those who are having difficulty work longer with me at the board. Any child that finishes writing on their paper can choose one of the handwriting centers set up around the room.

I have 6 to 10 handwriting centers set up around the room. I allow 2 - 4 children at a center and they are allowed to clean up and then change centers at will.

The Palmer Method - Watch the Cursive Letters being Formed

There are several different styles of handwriting that have traditionally been taught. Many use the D'Nealian or Zaner Bloser methods but one of the most elegant methods is the Palmer Method. People who learned with the Palmer Method have beautiful handwriting. Come try the Palmer Method...

Cursive Letter Order - In which order do you teach letters in cursive?

Teaching Letters in Cursive

I don't teach the letters in order from A to Z; instead, I teach them according to the type of strokes that are used to form each letter.

I first teach u, i, and t.

These are the simplest letters and when the children practice them they can write the words it and the Spanish word for you: tu. Point out to the children that they do not pick up their pencils until the have finished the whole word and then go back to dot the i's and cross the t's and that you use a backward stroke to cross the t's.

Children love to write long lines of i's and t's and then go back to dot and cross their t's.

Letter e in Cursive

Letter e
Letter e | Source

Teaching Letters c, a, and d

Then I teach the letters c, a, and d.

I tell the children that the letter c looks like an ocean wave and as we form the letter we chant ocean wave. Notice that the letter c starts at the bottom line, curves up to the middle line and then tips halfway over before tracing it's way back exactly along the first line and then continues the curve down touching the bottom line and reaches out for the next letter.

The letter a is just like the c except that it ends with the same stroke as the letter c.

The letter d is just like the a but continues up above the middle line.

Note that the letters d and t both stop half way between the middle line and the top line and are the only letters to do that.

Finally we go on to letters n and m. These are confusing to children because they each have one more hump than they do in print.

Now we go back and pick up the letters that combine shapes.

h and k Be sure they go all the way to the top line.

Then f is the first letter to go below the line. Be sure it has a straight back all the way from the top to the bottom. With q which has the same kind of tail as the f.

x,y and z all start with humps like an n'

r and s start like an i.

Up to this point all the letters reach their hands out at the bottom to hold hands with the next letter in the word but now we go on to the ones who hold their hands at the top.

b and w . o and v.

These last four take lots of practice as the children learn how to connect them to letters that follow.

Now you're ready for the Capitals!

Which textbooks to use for teaching cursive? - Which are the best workbooks for teaching cursive?

Writing in Kindergarten
Writing in Kindergarten | Source

Books for Teaching Cursive

There are books that offer page by page instructions in how to teach cursive. It can be very helpful to use a textbook as a guide. It will help you to teach each letter in a uniform way.

For the children, however, this is the most boring way, and often leads to certain children never mastering the art of cursive writing. I suggest using these books only as a guide for the teacher.

Rather than following along page after page in a book, write words and sentences of interest to your child. Try to use only the letters that you have introduced so far. In the beginning you will only be able to write words. Once you have taught the letter a in cursive it is simple to teach the capital letter A which is just twice as high as the small letter a. Suddenly you are able to write whole sentences beginning with the word A.

You could write A cat can nap. or make it even more exciting. A cat is not an apple pie.

How to make the Letter f in Cursive - Teaching the Letter f

One of the most difficult letters to form is the letter f. The key is to make sure that it has a long straight back. There are so many curves in cursive that people tend to curve the back and then wonder why their cursive looks odd or babyish. Notice how the letter f is formed on the chart by Jan Brett.

Learning Letter F f in Cursive

Jan Brett's Cursive Letter F f
Jan Brett's Cursive Letter F f | Source

Letter F in Cursive Worksheet

Practicing Letter F in Cursive
Practicing Letter F in Cursive | Source

Penmanship Learning Center

I love Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations and the children love the animal themes.

Turn these beautiful pieces of art into a Penmanship Learning Center:

  • Copy each letter of the alphabet onto cardstock
  • Laminate them

The children can practice tracing the letters using dry erase markers or grease pens.

Cursive Practice Cards

Cards for Practicing Cursive
Cards for Practicing Cursive | Source

Cursive Card Learning Center

Laminate these cursive cards and you will be able to practice your cursive by tracing the letters over and over. Once your child has learned to form these letters you can begin to combine them to form words. This will probably go pretty well until you get to the letters that reach their hands over on the top.

If your child is having trouble with letters o, b, w and v, consider making your own laminated cards with words such as look, book, love, wool, broom, vroom, woven, wrote.

Writing the Letter G - Learning to write Letter G

Tracing the Letter G
Tracing the Letter G | Source

Zaner Bloser Cursive - Handwriting Practice Booklet

Cursive Workbook
Cursive Workbook | Source

Copperplate Script or English Round Hand - Old Fashioned Handwriting

This is the style of handwriting taught during the 19th Century. Australia adopted a more modern style in 1960. People in the United States will notice that the Decoration of Independence was written in Copperplate Script.

This video demonstrates how to write the capital letters including variations in English Round Hand.

Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting Without Tears Blocks
Handwriting Without Tears Blocks | Source

Handwriting Without Tears

I have to say that I have mixed feelings about including Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum since it seems to be a dumbed down version of the beautiful cursive that I grew up with, but many of you have mentioned it, liked it and swear by it. Handwriting Without Tears is also being used in the school where I teach so I hope to be able to give you a well thought out review of the program. So far I do like the activities, materials and approach to teaching letters to kindergärtners.

There are four magnetic pieces that can be used to make each of the capital letters in print and most of the small letters. The children like to manipulate the long and short lines as well as the small and big curves.

The Importance of Teaching Good Handwriting - Is handwriting still important?

The other day I went to the doctor's office and she handed me a list of things she wanted me to do to improve my health. I looked at the list and it was completely illegible. I even asked her secretary to translate it for me and the secretary had to go to the doctor to find out what it said.

Don't you think that your doctor should have good handwriting?

Is it still important to teach good handwriting?

Cursive Centers

Hands-on Cursive - Cursive can be fun, artistic and hands-on!

Writing a Letter
Writing a Letter | Source

How to Make Learning Cursive a Fun, Delightful Experience

As in all teaching, I take a hands-on approach. Children easily get bored just copying letters, words and sentences from a handwriting workbook. Instead we make up our own words and sentences using the letters we have learned so far. Each day we can add more words until we write full sentences in cursive. We try to make these words and sentences meaningful to the children. Sometimes the sentences are silly, sometimes they talk about something important to the child that day.

Another way to make learning fun and exciting is to practice using unexpected materials. Chocolate Pudding, for example, is just the right consistency for practicing handwriting. It's also fun to lick your cursive off when done. Hands-on projects for decorating birthday cards, posting vocabulary words or decorating a cake are other hands-on ways to practice your penmanship.

Chocolate Pudding Cursive Writing Center - Learning Cursive while writing in Pudding

Chocolate Pudding Cursive Writing Center
Chocolate Pudding Cursive Writing Center | Source

Chocolate Pudding Writing Center

Practicing your cursive letters in chocolate pudding spread out on a cookie sheet may seem messy but that can be just the thing to get some kids motivated to practice their handwriting. Fingers slip through the pudding and reveal the cookie sheet below forming the letter he or she is writing. The texture of the puddling encourages writing in the fluid motion needed to write in cursive.

Make a mistake? Letters don't seem to be formed correctly? Just wipe it smooth again with a spatula and practice your cursive letters again.

Note:I usually allow the kids to make their own pudding so that they get a chance to practice measuring and fractions thus covering math as well as handwriting.

Writing in Chocolate Pudding

Sticky and sweet, chocolate pudding is thick enough for resistance and smooth enough to allow for the curving lines of cursive. Once you are finished writing a letter, don't forget to lick your fingers. What a fun way to practice your penmanship!

Have you ever practiced your cursive by writing in Chocolate Pudding?

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Zen Cursive Center - Japanese Garden Cursive Center

Zen Rock Garden, Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Zen Rock Garden, Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Japan | Source

Japanese Zen Garden Handwriting Center

Set up a Japanese Zen Garden Handwriting Center where children can write their letters in the sand.

Pour a thin layer of sand on a cookie sheet or tray. Shake the tray so that the sand lies evenly across the tray.

Japanese Gardens have sand that is raked into beautiful patterns. Hang a poster of a Japanese Garden over the Handwriting Center. Offer children the choice of writing with their fingers, a stick or a small rake.

Have you practiced your handwriting with Zen sand? - Zen Penmanship

  • Sand is used to create a quiet meditative place.
  • Sand is raked into precise geometric forms surrounding rocks and plants to resemble flowing water.
  • Children can get a feel for a Zen Garden while practicing their handwriting while forming cursive letters in the sand with a rake.

Would you like to practice your handwriting in Zen sand?

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Scribble Cursive Art Center - Penmanship Art

Scribble lines
Scribble lines | Source

Scribble to Cursive

Scribbles | Source

Scribble Learning Center

When transitioning from print to cursive children need to learn to write the whole word without picking up the pencil. At this center, children are given the opportunity to pick the marker of their choice and draw a picture without picking up the marker.

Provide lots of paper and a variety of markers in different shapes and sizes.

Create flowing patterns of cursive movements to create artwork. Children love to practice these motions over and over as they create unique works of art. The control needed to scribble like this is the same as for penmanship. Without even realizing it, your children will be improving their handwriting.

Is a Scribble Handwriting Center an effective way to help improve penmanship?

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Playdough Cursive Letters

Rolling Playdough to form Cursive Letters
Rolling Playdough to form Cursive Letters | Source

Bread Dough Writing Center

Many children love to use play dough. This center helps children form the letters and reinforces the idea that the letters are made with one continuous line, that the letters are connected within a word and that cursive is a beautiful art.

Roll long snakes out of play dough, bread dough, Clay and use those snakes to form the cursive letters and words.

Once the children have been introduced to most of the letters, this center can be used to practice spelling or vocabulary words.

Some children like to write words in cursive clay, take pictures of them and use them on the covers of their books as titles to the stories they write.

Cursive Clay Question

Roll the clay or play dough into long snakes and then use these snakes to form letters in cursive. The long snakes remind the children that the letters keep flowing in cursive without picking up their pencils. If you use self-hardening clay you might be able to have the children write their names and use these names to decorate your room.

Have you tried creating cursive letters with clay or play dough?

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Learning Cursive with Wooden Trains - Cursive Train Tracks

Does your child love to play with trains? Here is a delightful way to learn cursive. Put train tracks together to form letters. Then your child can repeat the sound of the letter as he or she drives a train along the letter tracks.

Here is the letter a:

1. Put together Wooden Train Tracks in the form of the letters

2. Drive the Red Engine along the tracks saying the sound of the letters as you go.

Train Track Writing Center

Brio Train
Brio Train | Source

Train Track Letters

Here is the letter "O". How many other letters can you make with wooden railroad tracks?

Have you created cursive letters with wooden train tracks?

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Glitter Glue Words - Practicing Cursive with Glitter and Glue

Curisve in Glitter and Glue
Curisve in Glitter and Glue | Source

Santa's Christmas Sparkly Writing Center

Writing Words with Glue and Glitter

I realize that you can now get glitter and glue already mixed but there is just something satisfying about the way the glue flows on so smoothly, the feel of the glitter sprinkling through your fingers and the roughness of the letters once the glue has dried that makes writing cursive in glue and glitter so satisfying.

Christmas always feels like a time of glitter and sparkle. We love to write greeting cards in glitter and glue words.

Glitter Glue Writing

Swirl the glue in delightful curves. Create perfect letters that flow across the page. Writing with glitter and glue is a fun, artistic way to practice cursive and the control needed to write in glue and glitter will help improve handwriting.

Do you enjoy writing in cursive with glue and glitter?

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Close your eyes and feel the Cursive!

Sandpaper Cursive Learning Center

Using heavy Cardstock, trace the letters of the alphabet on sandpaper and cut them out with an old pair of scissors and glue them onto the card stock.

Once they are dry, children can close their eyes, run their fingers over the letters and guess which letter they are feeling. I have found that children love doing this activity. This center works best when children work in pairs.

Writing in the Snow - Large Motor Cursive Practice

Writing in the Snow
Writing in the Snow | Source

Cursive in the Snow

When the snow is a few inches deep and it's easy to pack down you can make cursive letter Fox and Geese games. Stomp down the path of the letter you are working on and then start chasing the geese while following along the path. Each time a goose is caught, shout out "This goose was caught in the letter___."

What a fun way to practice cursive while running around in the new fallen snow!

Do you practice your cursive in the snow?

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Have you practiced your cursive on cupcakes? - Cursive Cupcakes

Cake Writing
Cake Writing | Source

Cursive Cupcake Center

  • Traditionally words are written on cakes and cupcakes in fancy, swirly, cursive.
  • You can encourage your children to practice their cursive with Melissa and Doug wooden cupcakes.
  • The tops or frosting on the cupcakes can be written on with dry erase markers.
  • What a fun place to practice their handwriting!

Wouldn't it be fun to practice penmanship on cupcakes?

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Writing on Eggs - Practice Cursive on Eggs

Writing on Eggs
Writing on Eggs | Source

Wikki Sticks Handwriting Center - Wikki Sticks Cursive

Wikki Sticks can be shaped to form letters and they easily stick to without glue.

The children enjoy constructing cursive letters using Wikki Sticks. This activity helps the children to focus on the shape of each letter in detail. Often this concrete, tactile activity helps children internalize the actual shape of letters.

Program index cards with the letter or word your children are learning. They stick the Wikki Sticks right on the cards as if tracing. Because the Wikki Sticks actually stick to the cards, it is easier for the children to work with instead of pipecleaners.

Do you think that creating cursive letters with Wiki Sticks would be a fun way to learn the shapes of cursive letters?

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Underwater Writing Center - Practice Your Cursive in the Rain

No matter where you go or how wet it is, you can write on the AquaNotes Waterproof Notepad. The idea was invented by a young girl who saw the need and worked very hard to get her idea patented and then mass produced.

In a classroom setting this waterproof notebook could be used outside on a rainy day, when taking trips to the frog pond or to record observations at the sensory table.

As homeschoolers you could turn your bathtub or swimming pool into a learning center where your children could practice their cursive underwater.

Motivation for Practicing Cursive - Practice your Cursive Daily

Writing in Cursive
Writing in Cursive | Source

Teaching Cursive to 3rd - 5th Grades

Recently I have been substituting in third through fifth grade classes in Vermont. Most of the children are not regularly being taught cursive but the kids are fascinated by it. Whenever I get a chance we take a few moments to learn more strokes and letters. We start with the e and l , the i, u and t and soon move on to the ocean wave c. The kids love it.

After teaching first grade for many years, I am amazed at how much quicker a fourth grader can pick up the strokes and letters. This week the class I am teaching needed to write two thank you cards and a get well card. All of the children were delighted to show off their budding skills by writing the cards in cursive.

Because teachers no longer teach cursive on a regular basis, there was no cursive alphabet over the chalk board. We found an alphabet online to put up on the smart board and I wrote and demonstrated how to write letters and words on the dry erase board.

What a wonderful job these children did and I am sure that the recipients of these cards will be delighted to see that the children were thoughtful enough to write in cursive.

Cursive on the Chalkboard - Writing in Cursive on the Blackboard

Max's first cursive word
Max's first cursive word | Source

Chalkboard Cursive on any surface - The Artistic Cursive Spaces Learning Center

Did you know that you can use Chalkboard paint to turn any surface into a blackboard? Rough up the surface with sandpaper and then brush or spray with chalkboard paint. At first you might try rectangular pieces of wood which resemble a blackboard. But then, let your imagination go wild. How about covering a teapot with blackboard paint. You could write the kind of tea being served in cursive. Cover jars with blackboard paint for storing spices. Your cursive handwriting will look amazing on these jars.

Children love having a wall in the kitchen coated in blackboard paint. They spend hours writing all over the surfaces while their penmanship improves. Where would you paint in chalkboard paint?

Blackboard Paint - Chalkboard Paint

Did you know that there is a paint for turning any surface into a chalkboard? I have seen the walls of an entire kitchen painted in black chalkboard paint. Children could practice their handwriting all over the kitchen. Imagine practicing penmanship on the kitchen walls.

Is chalkboard paint a good idea for penmanship practice?

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Sand Tray Writing - Salt Tray Writing

Writing in the Sand
Writing in the Sand | Source

Writing in the Sand

My kids always loved writing in the damp sand at the beach. But if you can't go to the beach today...

Another fun way to practice your letters is to write them with your fingers in a tray of sand or salt.

  • Choose any shallow tray and cover the bottom with a liberal sprinkling of sand or salt.
  • Then use the pointer finger of your dominant hand to write the letters you are practicing.

Sand Trays or Salt Trays are a fun way to practice your spelling words as well.

Have you ever used a Sand Tray or a Salt Tray?

Penmanship Paper - Paper for Practicing and Showing off your Handwriting

Mrs. Thompson always had us practice each new letter over and over on green lined paper. Only when we were confident in writing each letter were we allowed to use white paper.

This method encourages a lot of practice with mastery as the reward. This same paper is available to you as you teach your children how to write in cursive or print.

Are we losing our ability to write? - Who has the best handwriting?

Is good penmanship becoming extinct? Are we losing our abilities generation by generation?

Think about the people in your family. Think of the diaries and letters written by those people.

Even after Aunt Mary's (Born in 1867) hands became shaky she still had beautiful handwriting.

Ira, my step-father, had the beautiful swirls and impeccable handwriting learned by the Palmer Method. (Born 1900).

Mom and Dad's cursive is legible but nothing to brag about. (Born in the 1930s)

My handwriting was adequate until I began to teach handwriting. (Born 1950s) It has improved tremendously but not the work of art of 100 years ago.

My children have all been taught to write both in print and in cursive but generally choose not to. (Born around 1990).

Which generation has the best handwriting?

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Reading in Cursive - Messages in Cursive

Reading Good Morning in Cursive
Reading Good Morning in Cursive | Source

Reading in Cursive

Not only do children need to learn to write in cursive, they need to learn to read it as well.

Writing at least part of the morning message in cursive will help children become familiar with the way words look when written in cursive.

As we begin learning cursive I slowly begin to write more and more of the words in cursive. I begin with the words "Good Morning".

These are words that the children have come to expect at the beginning of the morning message each day so they can quickly read those words.

During independent centers, I place laminated word cards in the cursive center for the children to trace with dry erase markers.

Tracing the letters helps kinesthetic learners to begin reading the words in cursive.

Do you write your morning message in cursive?

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Learn to read in Cursive! - Print to Cursive Matching Game

Learn to read in Cursive
Learn to read in Cursive | Source

Teach your children how to read in cursive.

  • Make a set of color matching eggs.
  • Write the color words in print on one set of cards and in print on the other.
  • Laminate the cards and then play games such as Concentration or Go Fish in order to practice reading the words in cursive.
  • Later your child might like to color the eggs, reinforcing the skill of reading in both print and in cursive.

Movable Cursive - Multisensory Cursive Cards and Blocks

Learning which letters hold hands at the top as opposed to those that hold hands at the bottom can be difficult for children. These sandpaper double letters are fun to trace with fingers adding the sense of touch to the lesson.

For a fun activity, close your eyes and pick up the tiles randomly. Carefully feel the shape and see if you can recognize the letters without looking.

This is a fun partner or center activity.

Cursive Handwriting Worksheets - Make your own Cursive Handswriting Worksheets

TwistyNoodle has a worksheet creator for helping children learn to write in cursive.Choose your child's favorite animal, write a sentence about it and let your children trace the cursive letters.

Halloween Handwriting - Practice Cursive with Finger Puppets

Slip a Bat Finger Puppet on your finger and practice your penmanship while the bat swoops through the air. This is a fun way to practice your cursive as Halloween approaches. Practicing the motions in the air helps children to develop a smooth motion when writing. As they write each letter they should say the motions out loud making each letter in big swooping motions. When they go back to their seats to practice with a pencil or pen then can imagine that the tip of the pencil is a swooping little brown bat.

Where do you like to write? - What is your favorite surface for practicing your cursive?

Traditionally penmanship was practiced at a desk or on the kitchen table, but that may not be your favorite place for writing. Think of the possibilities. Would you like to write on the wall, the floor or in the bathtub. Do you like to write on cupcakes? Come vote on your favorite place to practice handwriting...

Where do you perfer to write?

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Slants, Swirls and Curls? - Dumbed Down Cursive?

Now that cursive is deemed to be less important, a new method has emerged for those who wish to teach their children cursive. It is a dumbed down version with straight letters, no slants, swirls or curls. It may seem easier to teach or to transition from print to cursive but what your children will be missing will be the opportunity to learn the embellishments that make cursive so beautiful. I would argue strongly against purchasing Handwriting Without Tears. It is a transition cursive that makes learning to slant and swirl more difficult than necessary. Stick to the beautiful cursive of generations past. Include the curls in the capital letters and be sure to slant your letters.

Should children be taught to slant their cursive letters?

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The quick brown fox

jumped over the lazy dog.

How did you learn cursive?

Tell us about your experiences learning cursive or teaching others. Did you use a certain method? Which of the learning center activities would you like to try?

The Barbar Stories are written in cursive

Children love to read them. These stories are wonderful to help children practice reading in cursive. As your children head back to school, be sure that they can both read and write in cursive. It may be a dieing art for some but it will put your children at a great advantage when they are the ones who can read and write when the power goes out!

How is your handwriting? - Are you teaching your child cursive?

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      The underwater writing product is a new one for me! Makes sense, I do some of my best thinking in the shower.

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      I had learned both printing and cursive and cannot imagine anyone not knowing how to write with a pencil or pen. Everyone needs a backup system when electronics fail.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      I think it's really sad that many schools want to do away with cursive. It seems like a dumbing down of society. I absolutely think that we sould continue to teach and use cursive and I wish there were more of an emphasis on penmanship today.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 4 years ago from Kentucky

      This is going to be very helpful in the future- especially when the schools start taking cursive handwriting out of their curriculum. I don't know about all areas, but I've been hearing a lot lately about schools no longer teaching cursive. This is really disappointing to me, and a big thanks to people like yourself who spend hours compiling all this information and creating such a masterpiece lens or article on the subject!

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 4 years ago

      Some of the kiddos I work with in Literacy Group still want to try cursive -- and ask for it as a favored activity on "Fun Learning Friday." Take that, texting!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I really enjoyed teaching my children cursive. I even learned techniques to improve my own handwriting.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      wow, this is a great lens for a teacher or kids needing to understand cursive writing a little better - they say it will be an art fewer people will be able to do!

    • TheJVilleKid profile image

      TheJVilleKid 4 years ago

      WOW!!!! What a ton of information on what I consider a long lost artform. As soon as the school says they have the option to print or write in cursive, kids opt for printing, which I think takes more energy to produce then cursive. Thanks again for the great info!

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      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      What a great Lens about writing in cursives. At the moment I'm 43 years and learning to handwrite again, because my writing hand is paralized. I was left handed and now I'm doing my best to become right handed as well. Some of your tips are very useful, thank you, I add your Lens to my squidoo favorite bookmarks on my computer! And I've added your Lens to the related Lenses on my "Back to school shopping tips: become a school shopping graduate!" Lens. Have a lovely day!

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 4 years ago

      How come when I and my kids were at school the teachers found plenty of time to teach us cursive handwriting. The kids school hours seem to be longer but there is less time!!!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My Handwriting is nice but not to nice

    • MarthaBuckly profile image

      MarthaBuckly 4 years ago

      This is very creative approach! I would never think about something like this on my own.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 4 years ago from Royalton

      @goldenrulecomics: With the tips and a little practice you can greatly improve your handwriting if you decide to. Which of the many suggestions do you think would be most fun for you?

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      Great lens! Unfortunately my cursive writing is pretty poor...

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wish they'll put more emphasis on this in schools.

    • EliasZanetti LM profile image

      EliasZanetti LM 5 years ago

      My handwriting is beautiful .. I would love to practice and be taught the Cursive method though!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      Both in regular school and homeschool, we tried to teach my son penmanship to no avail. He did eight years of it and his handwriting in no way resembles anything but chicken scratch. I do think it is an important skill and you have a terrific page. Blessed!

    • techmom profile image

      techmom 5 years ago

      My children are still printing, but next year starts cursive. You've given me so many great ideas to make it fun to teach!

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      marsha32 5 years ago

      I didn't start homeschooling until my son was in 10th grade (he is my oldest and my first to be homeschooled) He did not even know how to sign his own name in cursive. Yes, I made him do 2 whole workbooks for cursive writing. He will be 30 years old this year and all he writes in cursive is his signature. He doesn't choose to use it any other time, but at least he has a signature!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Clearly you are a phenomenal teacher! I wish I had learned penmanship from you when I was a girl. Blessed!

    • endamclarnon profile image

      Enda McLarnon 5 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      I found this by mistake but became curious from the first paragraph. I had a teacher also called Miss Boyle who was relentless in the art of good hand writing which is still with me today. It is sadly a fading art as email etc takes over our busy worlds.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      My biggest complaint with this lens is that there are not enough ways to teach cursive here. Just kidding, this is one of the most complete lenses I have ever seen - absolutely deserving of the Purple Star. I would have so loved to be a student in your classroom - you know how to have fun and still teach! Pinned to my Teaching and Homeschooling board, blessed, tweeted. linked to in my rock garden lens as a way to use a zen garden creatively - and added to my own lens: "Squidoo Lenses I wish I'd written." Great job, Evelyn.

    • PennyHowe profile image

      PennyHowe 5 years ago

      Wow! I am overwhelmed with this fabulous purple star winning lens. Packed full of ideas and very deserving. Love you idea of a game to learn to read in Cursive. I think that skill is often presumed instead of taught and needs more attention.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      @maryLuu: If your son has good control over his fingers, five would be a fine time to begin cursive. Be sure to also give him lots of time to play with play dough, use a paper punch and color. All these activities will help him to develop his fine motor muscles.

    • maryLuu profile image

      maryLuu 5 years ago

      My son just started to study cursive so we have lot of fun trying. He is only 5 but I like the way he is trying.

    • sunny saib profile image

      sunny saib 5 years ago

      I had a wonderful time reading this lens.. Good job :)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      @MrMojo01: Many people have gotten out of the habit of writing in cursive but if you would like to improve your handwriting there are dozens of fun activities to make learning cursive a pleasure.

    • MrMojo01 profile image

      MrMojo01 5 years ago

      My handwriting is awful and I honestly do not remember the last time I used cursive!

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      I once wrote a goodbye note to a co-worker in a card and some people commented that I had good handwriting and that it was a lost art. I never really thought about it but after reading this lens, I realized I was doing the Zaner Bloser Cursive style. Thanks to the Belgian and French nuns who taught us this.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Evelyn, you have done such a thorough job with this lens!

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      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Impressive lens, I enjoyed every minute of it. This is very enlightening for anyone wanting to know about teaching kids handwriting! You've done a fantastic job here.

      Im going right now to pin this on Pinterest, facebooking and, tweeting it so I can find it again and to share it with others. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

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      Tahamtan 5 years ago

      Lol! This lense was amazing. So many innovative and fun ideas I had never heard of before :)

    • MelanieMurphyMyer profile image

      MelanieMurphyMyer 5 years ago

      Nice lens. Adding it to my Draw And Write Worksheets lens. :)

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 5 years ago

      Nice lens ! Useful and informative. Thanks for sharing.

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      mumsgather 5 years ago

      I've always thought that it should be taught from a to z. Thanks. I learned something new today.

    • IQplusone profile image

      IQplusone 5 years ago

      Cursive writing is not only helpful for writing quickly, it can be beautful too, as you have illustrated on this excellent lens. Thank you.

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 5 years ago

      evelyn, this is a massive lens on cursive handwriting. Don't think I've ever read so much about it until I came across this lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Back to this great lens to leave you a blessing. My sister and I were talking about the art of Handwriting and she told me that a lot of schools were no longer teaching it. I think that is so sad. How will these young people sign their names? printing?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Evelyn, this is such a wonderful lens. I need to improve my pensmanship and your lens gives me hope that it can be done! Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I always thought of improving my writing... thanks this would help me

    • avigarret profile image

      avigarret 5 years ago

      A fascinating and educational lens, truly deserving of the purple star and all your success.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      What a fantastic page on penmanship. All the advice, tips and suggestions you've given demonstrate your obvious love for the subject. Enjoyed this very much. :)

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      getmoreinfo 6 years ago

      High Five for having such a great resource for learning handwriting and the best letters to start teaching a child to write penmanship.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I was taught italic cursive but have decided to teach my children traditional cursive. They are very young and so I was looking for activities to make learning more fun. Your article was perfect!

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 6 years ago

      My printing is so much neater than my handwriting that I no longer use cursive. But I love your ideas and hope that everyone still learns to handwrite.

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      brynimagire 6 years ago

      Nice hand writing information ! fantastic lens !

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens! Cursive handwriting is beautiful.

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      JollyJ 6 years ago

      thank you for these lens - many useful ideas

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      theCNAtraining 6 years ago

      great lens, handwriting was very hard for me when i was in school, even reading handwriting was harder! great lens! and i think its much faster to handwrite than normal writing!

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      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      I don't think students learn to write cursive anymore, the computer sort of made it unnecessary beyond signing your own signature.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'm happy to see your lens. Too bad you can't be in every classroom at once. I'm afraid I am aware that there is a school of thought today the teaching penmanship is putting all students into the old "waffle maker" and forcing them to all be the same. Loosening up your hand so you can write smoothly is the only way you can devolop you own handwriting. I have seen college students who have the tight scrawl of a third-grader. Their personalities are not expressed through their handwriting and most who have this problem are embarresed and avoid writing.

      I can remember working on penmanship as late as fifth grade but today practice is not encouraged. (it's called unnecessary drudgery)

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 6 years ago

      Great Lens. You mention you can remember back to first grade. Holy Smokes... what a memory ...LOL Me, I can't remember what I did yesterday !!! (I would have written this reply in cursive writing) but my keyboard said No ...

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      antoniow 6 years ago

      What a great lens! keep up the good work! thumbs up

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 6 years ago

      Well, although my cursive is of the chicken scratch variety, I must say I've always admired beautiful penmanship. Excellent lens!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've always been told I had beautiful handwriting. I attribute most of that to Mrs. Brooks, a teacher who was adamant that I be allowed to adapt techniques that were best for left-handed writers instead of forcing the standard right-handed techniques. Yay Mrs. Brooks :)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      During my parents' time, there was emphasis on cursive handwriting. My dad and mother have beautiful cursive handwriting. I wished I've took the initiative in my handwriting when growing up.

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 6 years ago

      I enjoyed teaching my children cursive writing. Such a terrific lens filled with unique ideas to make teaching cursive writing even more fun.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      Beautiful lens with many useful ideas. Cursive writing now looks almost like rocket science to me;)

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      Ultra-Great Lens about a skill that has all but vanished.

    • krakensquid profile image

      krakensquid 6 years ago

      Another really great lens you've made! This seems very useful, great job!

    • Egylover LM profile image

      Egylover LM 6 years ago

      What a resource! Amazing article, liked and bookmarked. I'm going to need this! thansk a lot

    • pencilonpaper profile image

      pencilonpaper 6 years ago

      Since Im mostly typing, my handwriting has suffered tremendous. I don't think any grownup still writes cursive, everybody has deviated to a certain degree. For example my capital letters are the same as the typed ones.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 6 years ago

      I started home schooling my daughter when she was three. Beginning at about age six, she started begging me to teach her cursive. I finally gave in, teaching her cursive at a much earlier age than I had learned. I taught her exactly as I had been taught 25 years previously, which is identical to the alphabet posted above as "Cursive Letter Order." She was a determined little girl, and learned quickly. When that was mastered, we went on to what she pleaded for next - calligraphy. Now, as an adult, she does beautiful decorative lettering, and finds great satisfaction in it. (So does her proud mother!)

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      sustainableartist 6 years ago

      I love handwriting. I just did a lens actually on digital versus handwriting, and my favorite recycled notebook, but I see you have covered the handwriting side pretty extensively :) Good job! I was always awful at cursive, but I am extremely fast at printing and have been complimented on my penmanship. Thanks for bringing this underappreciated topic to light!

    • Paki Bazar profile image

      Paki Bazar 6 years ago

      you have a nice blog gr8 effort


      please can you add more unique stuff so as we can enjoy it reading


    • WayneDave LM profile image

      WayneDave LM 6 years ago

      This is great. I can see you have put loads of effort into this one. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have the worst penmanship cause I wanted to be a doctor like my Dad and thought all doctors had to have bad handwriting. I still love your lens and wish I had known all this before!

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image

      jenniferteacher1 6 years ago

      Thanks for these tips! I teach in Korea, which only has block letters, so some of my students struggle with cursive. I feel like a fraud teaching them, though, because my own penmanship leaves a lot to be desired!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      I have already been to this fabulous page, however this time I can bestow a deserving Angels Blessing!

    • profile image

      dvpwli 6 years ago

      Ohh, Congrats This one is also Purple Stat Winner so I must Have to Give more Hugs and Bless for this one also.

    • profile image

      mrducksmrnot 6 years ago

      I've always took pride in my penmanship. I hate to try and read letters and especially signatures that a chicken has scratched up. Hard to find good penmanship today. A well made lens which I will bookmark and share with friends who home school their children. Thanks so much for bringing the art back to life.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      My daughter's handwriting was great when she was small, now it is no more so beautiful, I think maybe the handwriting takes a nosedive when we grow older.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      terrific lens. my penmanship is so bad that i write in block letters if anyone is to read it. however, if i'm not being LAZY, it's pretty good.:wait, block letters take forever. what am i doing? oh right i work online... )

    • demoninsnow profile image

      demoninsnow 6 years ago

      I love it!!!

    • cheech1981 profile image

      cheech1981 6 years ago

      i was just watching a special on national geographic tv and they were talking about monk scribes from the middle ages and how they wrote about one page an hour. of course their caligraphy looked perfect as if it came from a typewriter!

    • pd6914 profile image

      pd6914 6 years ago

      My handwriting is great. It's gotten somewhat more relaxed now that I'm not writing as much and typing instead. I get compliments all the time. :) I have my mom to thank because she used to encourage me to write as much as I could to practice. I prefer writing in cursive because it's faster for me.

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      squidoolover76 6 years ago

      As usual another lovely lens from you,i can teach my daughter the same way you mentioned.

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      I don't have children, and I teach other arguments, like science and ecology, but I would surely teach handwriting, if I had children!

      Thank you for your lens, so informative and reach of a mix of fun and "serious" things!

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      RedHotDesign 6 years ago

      Great work- I love this lens! What an awesome resource, and so well written!! Thank you for creating it!

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      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      My handwriting is terrible, but I work at it every day. I'm learning Japanese and making it a point to work very hard on my calligraphy right from the start. As for your lens, it's terrific. Your passion shines through and I am certain you must be a great teacher because you have so many different ways of teaching the material.

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      MinRu 6 years ago

      I am not very good at cursive writing and your lense has provide ample information for me to begin my training for cursive writing. thanks !

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      coralbue 6 years ago

      I remember practicing cursive in what was it, 3rd grade? That was a long time ago! I was never good at it. I might actually try some of your suggestions such as the chocolate pudding, that sounds fun! Great lens!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 6 years ago

      Lots of good stuff here! My little guy has dysgraphia so even though he is entering the 4th grade, he is not near ready for cursive yet. We use to use Zaner-Bloser, but it wasn't working for him. His OT got us on Handwriting Without Tears and it is working great. I don't think it is as pretty of font, but the important thing is just to get him writing well. After he gets to printing well, then we will start trying cursive.

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      NidhiRajat 6 years ago

      Oh My god..its just amazing to have on squidoo.....a wonderful bucket of knowledge!!!

    • profile image

      NidhiRajat 6 years ago

      Oh My god..its just amazing to have on squidoo.....a wonderful bucket of knowledge!!!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      Beautifully done. A Blessing to go with the Purple Star.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Evelyn, as usual a stellar lens, but don't you think it's too short? ROFL...

      I have excellent handwriting and even do calligraphy, but it came naturally to me. In my new 3rd grade school,, the school had taught handwriting to the 2nd graders and I was a new 3rd grader but my old school taught it in 3rd my teacher just put the letters above the board and told me to copy them till I learned. So I have my own way of doing it, but everyone seems to think it is really pretty.

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 6 years ago from Texas

      This brilliant lens is very informative. I have terrible handwriting. I have to type notes to my husband because he can't even read my handwriting when I print, much less write in cursive. My handwriting has gotten worse over the years since I now type and text just about everything, even my grocery list. I'm actually embarrassed by my handwriting. There have been many times at my daughter's school that I've had to admit I have terrible writing and pass the duty on to another mom when it came to writing our kids' names on something.


    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I can see why this is a purple star lens. Great job with the information provided here. Yes, we are teaching cursive.

    • TeacherRenee profile image

      TeacherRenee 6 years ago

      It is so important to teach children good handwriting skill when they are young -- they will last a lifetime. As a retired kindergarten teacher, teaching each child to have good penmanship was a year-long goal of mine.

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      JoshK47 6 years ago

      What an amazingly insightful lens! Great work on this!

    • tutor1235 lm profile image

      tutor1235 lm 6 years ago

      Totally awesome lens, Evelyn, and very much needed. Most of the middle and high school students I work with claim they can't read cursive and they certainly can't write it! I'm very much afraid it's a dying art and that would be a shame.

    • LakeMom profile image

      LakeMom 6 years ago

      My daughters are 11 & 13 and claim they can't read or write cursive. We are working this summer to correct that! Thanks for the great pointers! I was looking for something beyond the worksheets!

    • walnutgrovebooks profile image

      walnutgrovebooks 6 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens! My son has been learning cursive for the past couple of months. He still needs a lot of practice. I am going to use some of your ideas to make it more fun for him. I think he will really enjoy writing in pudding. Thanks for the ideas!

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      WorldVisionary 6 years ago

      Excellent timing for this lens! My oldest daughter just tried cursive writing tonight for the first time! I have a few handwriting lenses for the younger crowd: Free Handwriting Fonts For Preschool and Printable Writing Paper For Kindergarten

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      bossypants 6 years ago

      Well I was quite certain I learned the Palmer Method, but having researched it, I see I was taught ZB! I am not a teacher and I so thoroughly enjoyed this lens all the same. I can see how inspirational this lens must be for educators and parents. I was so enthralled with the content that I only peripherally realized how delightfully interactive you've made this lens! Deserving of the Purple Star. Congratulations!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      As a student and an artist, I resisted learning to use the keyboard to write; my penmanship was legible and beautiful. As a high school teacher, and trying to stay ahead of my students in computer skills, I finally mastered the keyboard and began losing my cursive skills. Now, I will be homeschooling my granddaughter, who is entering the 6th grade and only able to write her name in cursive (if you can't bubble it in on an answer sheet, it isn't taught in school anymore). We will be learning together. Our goal is legibility and consistency in form, our culminating activity will be an illuminated manuscript we are both excited about the journey!

    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 6 years ago

      print....I don't really remember at what age I decided I did not like the look of my longhand and changed to print. If you were my next door neighbor I would be at your house everyday to learn how to write again! You have such wonderful ways of it.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      Like Chris, I used to have good handwriting but university life, laboratory jobs and a generally hurried life have resulted often in a scrawl. I like his idea that to focus on handwriting is an exercise to slow the pace of the mind, something I could use from time to time.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      I used to be able to write QUITE nicely, despite being a left-hander - 6 years at college, taking intensive high-speed notes all day long, 5-and-a-half days a week, appears to have done serious damage - is it ever too late to re-learn to slow the pace of the mind to the speed of the hand?