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Teaching Letter Formation Successfully and Easily

Handwriting Letter Formatio

Teaching Letter Formation in an Order that Makes Sense…

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I am describing an order of teaching lowercase letter formation that has always been successful in my classroom. I usually present 4 letters per week… one new letter on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and a review on Friday.

In the very beginning stages of writing, students “draw” letters in unique ways.  However, if less efficient letter formations are allowed to persist, writing can become quite labored and tedious for some students. Proper letter formation makes handwriting much easier and more efficient in the long run.

I also teach the sounds of the letters that students are learning to form. This accomplishes 2 things at once. My handwriting worksheets begin with the easiest letters, and include word writing that uses letters that have been previously taught.

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I have created videos for letter formation for all lowercase letters, as well as capital letters. They can be found on my YouTube Channel by clicking on the image to the left. In the videos, I call the 3 writing lines the “top line”, “dotted line” and “baseline” while demonstrating letter formation. All letters with tall lines start at the top line. I begin with the letters that are easiest to make. This allows students to feel successful in their beginning attempts at correct letter formation.
You will notice that the first 3 letters are made with all straight lines.  The last letter begins with a straight line and has one curve.
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To make the letter “l”, start at the top line and make a straight line down to the baseline. To make the letter “i”, start at the dotted line, and make a straight line down to the baseline. Next, make a dot just above the dotted line. To make the letter “t”, start halfway between the top line and the dotted line, and make a straight line that touches the baseline. Next, make a straight line that starts on the dotted line and crosses the straight line to make a “t”. To make the letter “h”, start at the top line, and make a straight line down to the baseline. Then trace up and make a curved line that touches the dotted line and then curves down to the baseline.
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The next 4 letters are c, o, a, d.

The letter “c” starts a little below the dotted line and curves up to touch the dotted line. Then continue the curve until it reaches the baseline and swing up a little. After teaching the letter “c”, the letter “o” is easily made by beginning like the letter “c” and then continuing to close the circle
Next, the letter “a” is easily made by beginning like the letter “c”, closing it up like the letter “o”, and then making a straight line down to turn it into the letter “a”.
 
The letter “d” is easily made by beginning like the letter “c”, closing it up like the letter “o”, and then making a straight line that goes all the way up to the top line and then traces back down to the bottom line.

The next 4 letters for the third week of introducing letter formation are:

r, n, m, u

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These letters all naturally progress as well. For the letter “r” begin at the dotted line, make a straight line down to the baseline, then trace up and make a small curve that touches the dotted line. For the letter “n”, begin just like the letter “r”, but after making the small curve, go straight down to the baseline. The letter “m” is made by beginning just like the letter n, but tracing back up to make another curve that goes straight down to the baseline.
The letter “u” is somewhat different.  It begins at the dotted line, and has a straight line that goes down almost to the baseline, but then curves before it touches the baseline. Then, continue the curve upward and end with a straight line that goes up the the dotted line and then traces back down to the baseline.

The next 4 letters I teach are not as related as the first 12.

However, at this point, students have learned basic strokes and are ready for a more diverse selection of letters.

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The letter “s” begins just below the dotted line, and curves up to touch the dotted line.  The curve continues and ends halfway between the dotted line and the baseline.  Next, make another curve that goes the other way and comes down to touch the baseline. Then, continue to swing up a little from the baseline. The letter “e” begins halfway between the dotted line and the baseline.  It begins with a straight line that goes from left to right. Next, curve up to touch the dotted line.  Keep the curve going until it reaches the baseline. Swing up a little from the baseline.
The letter “f” begins a little below the top line and curves up to touch the top line. Continue the curve, and then go straight down to the baseline. The letter “k” begins with a straight line that starts at the top line and ends on the baseline. Next, start at the dotted line, and make a diagonal line that touches the straight tall line halfway between the dotted line and the baseline. Then make another diagonal line that slants the other way and touches the baseline.
The letter “b” begins with a straight line that starts at the top line and goes down to the baseline.  Then, trace up and make a circle that touches the dotted line and then comes down to the baseline and closes. The letter “p” begins with a straight line that starts at the dotted line and hangs below the baseline.

The next 4 letters begin to include “tail” letters.

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The letter “q” starts like the letter “c” and then has a straight line that touches the dotted line and hangs below the baseline with a small hook. The letter “g” starts like the letter “c” and has a straight line that starts at the dotted line, but curves below the baseline.

The next 4 letters include 2 related letters, v and w, as well as 2 more “tail” letters.

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The letter “j” starts with a straight line that begins at the dotted line and hangs its tail below the baseline. The letter “v” begins with a diagonal line that starts at the dotted line and touches the baseline. Then continue from the baseline, and make a diagonal line that goes up to the dotted line.
The letter “w” begins just like the letter “v” and then if we make another “v” it turns into a “w”. I tell students it should have been called “double v” instead of “double u”! LOL! The letter “y” begins with a short diagonal line that begins at the dotted line and slants down to the baseline.  Then, pick up your pencil, and make a longer straight diagonal line that starts at the dotted line and hangs below the baseline.
The letter “x” begins with a short diagonal line that starts at the dotted line and ends at the baseline. Pick up your pencil and make another short diagonal line that starts at the dotted line and ends at the baseline. The letter “z” begins with a short straight line that is made on the dotted line.  Then make a short diagonal line that slants down to the baseline. Lastly, make a short straight line on the baseline.

The last 2 letters are x and z.

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Handwriting Worksheets - Lowercase Letter Formation
If you would like to follow my order of presenation, here is the set of handwriting worksheets I use for students to practice their letter formations. It contains 40 worksheets: 26 worksheets that focus on each letter of the alphabet, as well as 14 periodic review sheets. You can find it in my store by clicking the image to the left.
 
As I said earlier, I always teach the sounds of the letters at the same time.  I do have a blog post Teaching Phonics in a Meaningful Way that you should find helpful.
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