Introducing: The Cursive Project

Trevor will be entering third grade in 6 weeks, the year students in California traditionally learn cursive. With the adoption of Common Core, cursive won't necessarily be taught in school anymore. (Note that Common Core does not require forbid the teaching of cursive. Instead, it doesn't require it. Big difference.) I'm not freaking out about this. I'm not one of those people who thinks civilization is going to crumble because our kids aren't learning cursive.

Trevor wants to learn cursive. Since he may not learn it in school, I'm choosing to teach him at home over the summer. (If it is taught at school, he'll be a step ahead. Nothing wrong with that.) During the month of July, we'll be doing The Cursive Project together. Each day, he'll learn one letter in cursive, then we'll do an art project that corresponds to that letter. By formalizing it and turning it into a project that we'll do every day, it will keep us both on track and excited about it.

I started by having him think of something that starts with each letter from A-Z that we have never made together before. While he was doing that, I prepped worksheets for each letter.

Then we went over his list together and talked about what materials we'd use for our first few projects. Once those were planned, we were ready for A.

He was so excited to finally learn cursive! He did very well for his first attempt.

As you can see, I kept the work extremely brief. Learning isn't fun for him (or anyone) if it's repetitive and tedious. After tracing my sample letters on the first row, he tried them on his own. Then he did a row of capitals and a row of lowercase. Then he connected Aa and finally aa. (Once we've gone all the way through the alphabet, he'll come back and write a sentence about his art project on the last three lines.) He was so proud of his first cursive writing!

Next, we moved on to our craft, a tissue paper apple. We gathered our materials: watercolor paper, paint brushes, tissue paper (red, yellow and two different greens), and Sta-Flo liquid starch. I've blogged about my love of crafting with liquid starch many times.  If you're not familiar with it, read this post.

Tear the tissue paper into small strips. Using the paintbrush, moisten the paper with a little bit of undiluted starch, then place a piece of tissue paper on it.  Paint over the top with more starch.  

Layer the colors and overlap the strips to add interest. I chose to make two apples (one red and one green). My paper looked like this when I was done.  

Let the paper dry completely, then cut out your apple shape. We each did a quick sketch on the back of our paper, then held it up to the window to be sure that we were happy with the placement and colors.

Cut out the apple, then use scraps to make a stem and leaves. Here's Trevor's apple:

These are mine:

The Cursive Project is off to a great start!


  1. A very cute and fun way to learn cursive!
    Good for Trevor to want to learn even though he may not have to!
    I am one of those people who thinks that the only cursive a child needs to learn is how to sign their name...other than that, no need. After all I learned cursive, and I prefer to, and always, write in print. As do most people I know.
    Hope the cursive project continues to be fun for you and Trevor!!

    1. I prefer printing too. I used cursive when I taught it years ago, plus one really weird quarter of college where I decided to take notes for my four classes in four different ways: hardest class was left hand printing, next hardest was left hand cursive, easier class was right hand printing, and easiest class with almost no note taking was right hand cursive.

    2. Hahahahaha! That IS weird but interesting!

  2. I think it's great that he wants to learn, too! And honestly, I love seeing beautiful penmanship! It's a total quirk of mine - goes back to the days of watching my older brother practice calligraphy or drawing, while I doodled "Mrs. Shawn Cassidy" a million times (or Mark Hamill, or whoever was my crush at the time, LOL). I also think it is SO wonderful that you've developed such an interest in learning and arts in Trevor that he WANTS to spend his summer learning and reading and doing projects that are meaningful and worthwhile. So many kids just want to play video games or sleep, or hang out with their friends. I really admire what a great job you do as a mom and teacher!! :)

  3. I was shocked (but not overly concerned like yourself) that cursive is no longer a requirement .... but then I thought about it ... by the time Brookie has grandkids, I will be shocked if ANYONE is still actually writing at all :) I loveeeee the apples ... so fun!!!!!!

  4. Glad you are teaching him cursive though. I love good penmanship...I always handwrite my journaling for the fear that my handwriting would deteriorate if I don't practise. Everything is typed on the computer these days.

  5. The apples turned out great. You always have such terrific ideas for using art for learning. Love the tie in here with art and the alphabet. Great way to keep Trevor engaged. It looks to be a very fruitful summer, pun intended!

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