In 2013, North Carolina passed a “Back to Basics Law” that mandated teaching cursive handwriting. Second-grade teachers must teach cursive identification and sign your name. In third grade, teachers must teach students how to write in cursive.
It’s a little backward (okay, a lot), but it is what it is, and we’ve got to do it!
When this law passed, we were a little lost because we weren’t taught how to teach handwriting in college. We hadn’t seen explicit cursive instruction since we were in the third grade, so it had been a while!
My team and I worked together to create practical activities for teaching cursive handwriting. Let’s dive into these helpful activities!
1. Using Flashcards for Letter Identification
The first part of teaching cursive handwriting is identifying cursive letters. We start with lowercase letters. One thing I do is layer my print alphabet with a cursive alphabet on top. Having a visual like this helps students see.
Start your literacy time by going through each card. Say the letter name and repeat. Progress by adding letter sounds and building on phonemic awareness; that way, you’re knocking out two birds with one stone.
Once students have mastered the lowercase letters, move on to the uppercase letters. Eventually, you can mix them and even write sight words or academic vocabulary in cursive on flashcards.
Flashcards are great for the whole group, small group, and even individual practice.
2. Memory Games for Letter Identification
After some repetition with flashcards, it’s time to practice matching with print and cursive letters. You can do this with a memory game. Place the cards face down, and have students practice matching the print and cursive letters. Doing this with all the letters is overwhelming, so focus on just a few letters at a time. Use the videos below as a guide.
3. Videos for Teaching Cursive
In most cases, letter recognition happens quickly. It’s not long before we are transitioning into letter formation. When my colleagues and I were scrambling to find resources, we came across these KET videos. They are so old, but the strategies are GOLD!
We also use these videos to discuss now and then. You’ll see old business signs, cars, and fashion throughout the first video. It’s fun!
The sound quality on these videos is low, so make sure you turn the volume high. I like to use these after lunch, so students have some time to rest and digest while practicing a low-risk skill.
4. Keeping a Journal For Teaching Cursive
Every morning, my students warm up with their letters of the day. Practicing their letters helps them retain information from yesterday. Having lines to trace helps them build muscle memory.
I included sight words that integrate other letters they’ve learned, so they have a review. This cursive writing journal is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.
5. Signature Practice
After we’ve learned our letters, we practice signing our names. I created this editable page to type your students’ names on it. Then, they’ve got something they can trace. Another thing I do is create cursive name tags using this template. Because my students saw their names in cursive every day, I noticed that they were more willing to write their names in cursive. We also used a number system to decipher the papers, even if I couldn’t read their names.
These activities work! I know because I’ve used them for a long time. My students were eager to learn cursive, so I didn’t have to work hard to keep them engaged. They want to know because it’s a sign of maturity, like multiplication. They can write fancy, and little kids can’t read it!
I hope that you find these activities helpful as you teach your students how to write in cursive. Let me know how it goes in the comments!