Monday, May 12, 2014

Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Recently I've heard of schools dropping handwriting instruction because students type much of their schoolwork. In my mind, good handwriting instruction is still an important skill to teach. Lauren learned a bit of cursive handwriting as a first grader, but she was in need of an intense review this year.

We used (and reviewed) Logic of English's Essentials program for teaching reading, spelling, and writing last year. This year, Lauren had the opportunity to use the Logic of English Handwriting Program -- Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive (Complete Set).

Our daily lessons with Rhythm of Handwriting took approximately ten minutes, and we moved at an accelerated pace of two letters per day. I introduced the letters, and we would form the correct strokes in the air to make them. The Cursive Quick Reference chart helped me remember to label the strokes consistently. For instance, some letters start with a swing stroke and others have a curve stroke up to the midline. Lauren then traced the new letters using the tactile cards (see the green letter x in the graphic above). When she was comfortable with how to form the letter, she'd practice several times on the whiteboard before moving on to the practice pages in the student book.

I love that this program is developmentally appropriate for younger elementary students. As each letter is taught, the student practices the letter formation using gross motor skills first to form the letter in the air. The practice moves gradually toward the fine motor skills needed to write the letters on paper. When the student does move to the practice page, they are allowed to choose the size lines that feel most comfortable for them. Some students are more comfortable writing on smaller lines than those often used for beginning handwriting. Lauren chose to write a few letters on each line instead of choosing one particular size.

The gross motor instruction for the letters is ideal for kinesthetic learners and works well for nearly every student. The strokes for each letter are also shown using tactile cards that have raised letters for the student to trace. As Lauren formed the letters in the air or traced them on the tactile card, she also learned to say the strokes that formed each letter. These chants would particularly help an auditory learner and would help any student to hear the rhythmic way each letter is formed. Finally, after having the letter introduces using all those learning styles, the student then picks up a pencil to practice writing the letter on paper. You can see in the video clip below how Lauren repeats the letter formation rhythm while she writes the letter on the practice page.

Lauren's favorite part of the program are the "sparkly sparkles on the letter cards." The raised green letters on each of our cursive tactile cards have a rough, sandpaper-type texture that she thinks sparkles like glitter. Tracing over the letters with her finger was a fun way to learn the letter formation before she started writing on either the white board or the practice pages.

Lauren's handwriting is considerably better now that we've been using this program for a few weeks. Not only does are the letters written more neatly, I can tell a difference in the way she writes. Her cursive handwriting has letters than are formed more smoothly and naturally than her regular printing style.

The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive -- Complete Set includes a Cursive Workbook, a Quick Reference Chart, a set of Tactile Cards, and a Student Whiteboard for $65. The pieces are also available to purchase individually.

Logic of English recommends Rhythm of Handwriting for any student needing handwriting or letter formation practice -- ages 4 and up. In addition to using it for beginning students, I wouldn't hesitate to use these materials for an older child needing handing writing practice.

Be sure to click on the banner below to read more Logic of English reviews. In addition to reviews of Rhythm of Handwriting, many of the crew bloggers reviewed the language arts programs for elementary students.

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