In this age of mobile devices, keyboards, touchpads, and voice-controlled devices, some teachers may wonder if handwriting is no longer the required skill as before. And others may be looking for resources to help them teach this skill and support their pupils in as effective a way as possible using the tools which are now available to schools. Either way, read on and help is at hand online.
So Why Still Teach Handwriting?
Larry Ferlazzo put together an article entitled Resources For Learning About Handwriting & Learning. Here he has collected together links to research, studies and articles about why, even in this digital age, handwriting still has an important place to aid learning.
How Handwriting Trains the brain is an article (shared by Craig McDonald) by Gwendolyn Bounds about research on the impact learning handwriting has on cognitive ability. It explains how reseacrh has shown that even in this digital age the learning of handwriting by children, or the characters of a new language by adults, can be shown to have an impact on overall learning.
Downloadable Handwriting Animations
Download the interactive Powerpoint presentations from the literacy section of Comminucations4All website where you can choose any letter and the magic pencil will show you how to form that letter in handwriting on screen. These resources can also be found at the TES teacher resource site. These have a Sassoon font, and cursive and non-cursive versions.
Online Animated Handwriting Resources
Sky Writer from ICT Games is an online handwriting demonstration tool where pupils click on the chosen letter and the aeroplane traces the formation of that letter in clouds. This is a non-cursive font.
Animated Letters provides free on-screen animations of each letter in print form (upper and lower case) with audio narration and sound effects aimed at younger children. The animations are free. though are linked to commercial resources.
Handwriting for Kids site by Linda Readman has animated on-screen alphabets in lower and upper case. In addition there is a wide range of practice sheets which can be adapted by the teacher by filling in the empty boxes with text of your own choice, and selecting images to suit your purposes.
The Handwriting for Kids handwriting animations use an image format called an animated gif. And if you (or your pupils) find that the animations online don’t form the letters in the font style preferred by you or your school then this can inspire to make your own animated gifs. Www.abcya.com/animate.htm ABCYa Animation lets users create an animated gif animation, frame by frame, drawing and editing as you go, from 2-40 frame animations. Each frame is hand-drawn using a selection of tools, though you can also duplicate indvidual slides for re-use elsewhere in the animation, and you can also choose to display the contents of a previous slide in the slide being worked on so that it makes it easier to make smooth animated movements. The completed animation is saved as an animated gif, which means it behaves like saving a photograph to your PC and will appear animated when displayed on a website or blog.
Interactive Whiteboard Handwriting Resources
Where pupils are being taught a particular handwriting style, which the teacher wishes to support with animated resources to show pupils the desired way to form each letter, interactive whiteboard software (such as Smart Notebook software) comes complete with writing templates as well as a selection of background lined paper. And of course interactive whiteboards have pen tools to mimic the use of a pen. In addition the interactive whiteboard software has a recording tool so that a teacher can record a demonstration of single letters or words and phrases. These can then be played and viewed as often as required by pupils. And since the recorded video is saved in a format which can downloaded it can also be shared on a class website or blog and viewed by pupils elsewhere. View the video below for a demonstration of creating a recording using a Smart board:
Visualiser for Projecting Handwriting Demonstrations
A visualiser (also known as a document camera) can be used to project the demonstration of the formation of letters to a whole class, where the writing is being done with a normal writing implement on paper on the desk. This can be with a teacher demonstrating or by pupils sharing their progress. Visualisers also have a recording function so such demonstrations can be recorded for subsequent use or to celebrate pupil progress.
Print or Display Handwriting Resources for Download
Of course there are also traditional printable sheets for practising handwriting – a search for these in a search engine (along with the name of the font style desired) will reveal a wide range of these for downloading. Some specific sites to look at would include:
Primary Resources – handwriting - including Powerpoint presentations, lesson plans and advice sheets, lined paper printables and resources designed for use with an interactive whiteboard.
The SEN Teacher Handwriting Resources let the teacher choose the font style, the size, the text (from provided examples or input your own by typing), and whether the text displays with or without lines, as solid text or dotted, joined or not.
Handwriting for Kids by Linda Readman has a host of worksheet templates, each of which can be tailored by the teacher before printing (or perhaps showing on screen for use with an interactive whiteboard). Teachers can add their own text and can select from a wide range of images. This site also has blank writing guide sheet templates, and has on-screen animations.
Amazing Handwriting Worksheets lets you choose from a variety of types to show print, hollow or cursive. You can add your own text and the tool will produce on-screen or print sheets which you can choose to have the guidelines, to have the starting points for the pen indicated or not, and to show direction of travel of pen or not.
Handwriting Apps for the Mobile Device
With the greater prevalence of mobile devices used by learners there are apps which help them practise handwriting in engaging ways. Each device has an online search facility which can be used to find handwriting tools. An example is Better Letters.