Register Now

Cursive Handwriting

Compiled By: StephR

Teachers here on PT have great ideas for cursive writing! This collection has some of these ideas neatly rolled up into one.

Teaching Cursive Writing
Posted by: Betsy

I enjoy teaching my students cursive because they are generally excited about learning something new. Here are the things I do to teach cursive:

**The first day of cursive practice I asked the kids to watch me write a word on the overhead two times. The first time I wrote in regular print and the second time I wrote in cursive. Then I asked the class what they noticed different about the way I wrote the words. Students noticed that the second word had letters looped together, some said the cursive word was "prettier", and others noticed that I did not pick up my pen until I had written the entire word when I wrote in cursive. This of course is what I was hoping to hear. We talked about the fact that cursive writing can be faster because you do not have to continually pick up your pencil. We also discussed that as adults we are generally expected to sign our names in cursive. This set a purpose for learning cursive.

**We practiced two letters each Friday until all letters had been learned. Before the students tried the word, I demonstrated on the overhead and then had the students write the word in cursive in the air.

**I keep an ongoing writing sheet for each student. I write the letter(s) that each student needs to practice on his/her sheet, so students will be practicing different letters as needed. I also wrote their names in cursive and other phrases such as "Today is Monday" on their practice sheets. This takes a little prep time but it is well worth it.

**I have several cursive mats that were purchased at the dollar store. I let students practice cursive during free time on these mats.

**I have a chart hanging on the board that says "Cursive Word of the Day." Each morning I write a different word on the chart and students write the word on their morning work paper. I quickly walk around the room to check their word and help those who need it. Now we're writing a cursive phrase of the day. (We don't do this until we have learned to write all letters in cursive.)

**Students need to practice reading in cursive as well as writing. I have started writing homework assignments and the date in cursive on the board. When you think the class is ready, have them begin writing in cursive in small chunks. My students are now writing the heading of their papers in cursive. The heading includes name, date, subject. Friday I let them complete five sentences from their English book in cursive.

My students have beautiful cursive writing, and I must say that some of the girls AND boys can write better than I can.

Time for Cursive
Posted by: carolyn

I begin each year with a cursive letter of the day as part of morning work. I give the kids a piece of lined handwriting paper before they arrive, and I write the letter on the board with instructions for the kids to write two lines of the letter. When the kids sat down to write, they could see several small steps for forming the letter on the board, so that they could remember how the letter was formed. By the time I have finished taking lunch money and attendance, I was ready to go over the kids' morning work, which was a few math problems, then I showed them slowly, step by step (as if they had never heard it before. I collect all morning work. The whole process of going over a letter a day doesn't drain your academic schedule.

So that they aren't overwhelmed by the demands of cursive writing, if they aren't used to it, I scaffold. At first, I just have them write their spelling test words in cursive. Eventually, we move on to the point where we are writing complete essays in cursive. I only have one student right now who can't write very well in cursive, but he can't print very well, either.

Teaching Cursive
Posted by: litprof

In Grade 3, start from the very beginning. Sometimes, you will get new students who did not have cursive in Grade 2. Students forget over the summer. Start from scratch. Students have difficult times with many of the connectives: br, os, mn, etc. 3rd graders are great in writing one syllable words. . .they need practice in writing longer words and sentences. Take your time with practice. Have them "picture frame" their best letters in each row of practice. Have them write in the air, on their "palm pilots" (on the palms of hands), on desktops to get the feel of the letters and their connectives. For practice papers, make models with orange markers to that the kids can trace them. At times, let them do their practice in marker. . .the markers pen glide easily over paper since cursive letters glide and flow together.

Zaner-Bloser handwriting research coupled with research by Richard Gentry (one of the top spelling researchers) states that students should not do spelling and dictation tests in cursive. . .work should be printed. If students write in cursive, their brains have to do two translations: one in how to spell the word and one in how to write the word in cursive. Many spelling mistakes are actually handwriting mistakes.

Please know that in Grade 3 many students have not truly mastered manuscript. Also do a lot of practice, modeling, guidance in mastering this.

Is it really necessary for students in Grade 3 to do a lot of work in cursive? When are times that they may choose? If you choose to have them do a lot of work in cursive, I would wait until at least 2nd semester with a gradual slide into it.

Something that I have found in my experience, too, is that many students have a very dificult time reading cursive. . .read any books written in cursive lately? When I write on the board, I write in manuscript no matter what the grade level. . .I do not want the information on the board to be misread or not read. When I write in cursive, I do so sparingly. Once in awhile, I will write a morning message in cursive.

Take your time with cursive. It will pay off. :s)

View Thread
Teaching Cursive
Posted by: sovay

I've been teaching cursive for over 25 years without a workbook, and I'll post my order (using Zaner Bloser) for anyone who is being asked to teach it with no reference, as often seems to be the case. I always start having them write their letters two-spaces high so they have that middle guide line to use.

Start with the lower case letters. There are several "families" of letters. I teach the families in this order: Under Curves (l, i, t, e, h, r, s, b, j, u, k, p, w, f), Over Curves (n, m, y, v, z, x), and Down Curves (a, c, g, d, o, q). I try to start with easier letters first so they don't get discouraged. There are also various tricky connection which I teach as needed. The various "hook" connections(br, be, or, os, wr, etc.) can be a real problem for some. The medial "u" is another one to watch. Getting two line in the "u" instead of one or three can be a problem.

Then teach the capitals. I start with A, C, and E. Then with the main family, which is the Cane Stem (N, M, U, V, W, Y, H, Z, K, X, Q). The rest don't have as much in common, so I teach them in any order until I am finished.

Finally, when the kids have a pretty good grasp of all the letter formations and connections, I work on shrinking the writing to one-space high, making sure that the "tall" letters touch the top line and the half-space letters aren't too big or too small.

Of course, this takes forever. Looking over this post, I can see why the cursive lessons that I used to be finished with by Christmas 20 years ago are only half done today. There is so much more in the third grade curriculum than there used to be. I know the question of which subject could be left out has appeared on one of these boards. There certainly isn't enough time to do justice to this one. It took me several years of trial and error to get the teaching of cursive right.

View Thread
3rd grade cursive
Posted by: Dee

I do 5 mins a day and teach lower case. We 'air write' first to get the muscles warm. Then proper position for writing. They observe me do it. I have an overhead with the dotted line paper and my cursive has improved! They practice one letter a day! So far I have kept on track and they should be writing all cursive by the middle of Jan.

Cursive in Third Grade
Posted by: lynn

I teach third grade. We are using "handwriting without tears". I do not allow my students to write in cursive outside of our cursive lessons at this point because we have not introduced all letters. The program begins with the lowercase letters and teaches the capitals last. The idea being we use lowercase letters most frequently. The program also is very basic in the letter formation. The belief here being to teach the students a simple style which they can later add their own fancy flair to. The program consists of a teacher's guide and a workbook and is very cheap.

Once I have introduced all letters I will allow students to write in cursive (after Christmas). I think I will still ask for printing on tests so that their effort can be spent on answering the question not perfecting their handwriting. I think journals is a great place to begin requiring cursive. This would also help make journal writing more fun for those who dread it. As far as next year (4th grade) I know the teacher will ask for cursive and most likely in 5th. After that I think the children get to choose what they are most comfortable with.

In the teacher's guide I have, it states that most children below 3rd grade do not have the fine motor development to be successful with cursive. They suggest saving cursive instruction for third and fourth grade. However I can see the theory behind teaching it early since children's scribbles do resemble loops. Does this interfere with their ability to recognize letters in print? Are they able to make the print/cursive conversion? My main concern with cursive is my students' spelling workbooks use cursive and they can not read the words in cursvie. Much like printing, cursive writing comes in various styles with different flairs. I am beginning to write on board some in cursive, outside of cursive instruction, but I can see this will be a challenge. Any suggestions? In the program we are using they have "silly spelling tests". This activity requires the students to practice writing words that have letters that have been introduced. There are three levels. One is they suggest a word and I write it in cursive on the board and they copy it. All can do that. Level 2 is they give a word, I print it on the board and they write it in cursive in their book. Most can do this, but the neatness definitely falls off. The third level is when they give a word or I do, I spell it out loud and they must write it in cursive. They love the concept because they help give the words and the words can only include letters we have introduced and are practicing, but making the conversion from print to cursive is tough. Even with a cursive ABC line, they struggle since cursive is suppose to be one continous movement and you only lift your pencil at the completion of a word.

View Thread
Posted by: Sarah

I have a cursive book that has a half page of practice for every day of the week. I copy the whole week's work and give the packet to the students on Monday. It is due on Friday (before they can play!).

My children have been taught cursive in previous years, but still make many errors.

I analyze their packets on the weekend and meet with them individually on Monday morning to give them a "cursive prescription" for the new week. This is just 1 skill that I want them to focus on improving.

For example, I had a child this week who was making her f's and t's half the height they should be. I spent a minute showing her how to do it and it is what she will be looking out for this week.

Another student has letter formation down, but her writing slants every which way. I reminded her to point the corner of the paper to her belly button and she is going to work on the nice cursive slant.

Another child was making extra marks for some reason. I have her tracing, rather than rewriting the cursive, with a skinny marker to get "the feel".

Anyway, you get the point. I do give a letter grade for their packets. You'll have to determine the criteria for that yourself. Mine is: an A for excellent handwriting; B for good letter formation, but not consistent slant; C if there are some problems with letter formation; D for lots of errors. Everyone gets a D or above for trying. I have not had any A's yet.

Posted by: Cheryl

I use a program called "Loops" (I recieved it from our school Occupational Therapist). The letters are divided into sections. The first one is called "clock climbers". These letters all basically start the same way (like tracing around a clock).....a, d, g, c, q. Next are "kite strings".....i, u, y (this is all I have done so far so I don't remember the rest). When I began teaching handwriting we discussed the basic parts of the different lines. I referred to it as a house. The writing line is called the main floor. Then you have the upstairs and basement. I only teach one letter a day...then they practice it (2 rows). Once we learn all the letters I will give them words. Hopefully in June we can copy some poetry.

Posted by: AmyH

c (called the magic c)
cadg (made with magic c)
htp (familiar from printing)
elf (this group doesn't look like printed letters)
uyij (look like priniting- made with similar strokes)
krs (challenging group)
owbv(called tow-truck letters because they don't end at bottom line)
mn (bumps and bumps are tricky)
xzq (infrequently used and can be challenging)

Then we do upper case letters.

View Thread
Thoughtful Thursday
Posted by: lis3569

We do what we call "Thoughtful Thursday". They draw names each Thursday morning and then write a short note in cursive to that person. This is all done independently and takes very little thought on my part! The supplies are out on a shelf and every Thursday they just do it without any reminders from me. Their notes go in a large box. I peek at them to check them out and to check the handwriting and then the star student of the week passes them out during snack time.

View Thread
Cursive Handwriting
Posted by: Virginia

When I taught second grade and introduced cursive handwriting to my class, I found these incentives to be very helpful:

I laminated a sheet of posterboard and titled it with the caption "Handwriting Hall of Fame". I would be sure to give every child a chance to be in the Handwriting Hall of Fame, but I would choose extra neat papers to display weekly in the hallway outside our classroom. It was a real hit.

Also, I designed a "permit" and a "Handwriting License" for each of my students. At the beginning of the year, the students completed information on a special form as an application for a "Permit". Students had to provide their full name, hair and eye color, birthdate, and room number on the permit application.

Once a student demonstrated neat and legible handwriting, I issued a "Handwriting License" (I designed it to look like a driver's license). This license authorized the student to complete all work in cursive handwriting. Parents and students just loved these licenses!