(Last Updated on April 14, 2021)
When my oldest son had some pre-writing work under his belt and was ready to start learning how to write letters and words, I researched the depths of the internet in the hopes of finding the one right, best method for teaching handwriting.
Long story short, there’s no such thing.
Some experts say cursive first, others say manuscript. Some say lower case first, others say upper case. They all seem to have an opinion about which letters to teach first and which font style is the best for beginning writers – D’Nealian, Zaner-Bloser, Palmer, Getty-Dubay, Wingdings (ok, probably not that last one). What size should the primary lines be for which grade level? Will tracing ruin my child forever or is it a great first step toward handwriting success? And on and on and on…
It’s enough to make you write the whole thing off! (bad pun, sorry)
I began to think that the only way to guarantee handwriting success would be to invest in some expensive curriculum since it’s all so complicated and “you get what you pay for,” right?
Well, after looking closely at a variety of pricey curricula, I realized there’s nothing magical about them. They all model handwriting, walk students through the formation of letters and then provide practice. Obviously, I’m oversimplifying but really that’s the main gist of it. The differences mostly lie in the presentation, formatting, style, and pacing.
Of course, that’s NOT to say that all handwriting curricula are a waste of money – many are very solid programs and a lot of families have found great success in using them. Some work better for certain learning styles and others are geared toward certain writing strengths or weaknesses.
I’m just saying don’t feel pressured into buying a fancy program out of FEAR that it’s the ONLY path to success.
In sifting through the choices and looking for budget-conscious options, I began to see quality materials for low prices or free online – and not just a few. There are a LOT of really amazing handwriting resources available at the click of a button!
You can use free and inexpensive resources to create a highly customized, budget-friendly (and still effective!), skill-based handwriting program for your kids. And all this without too much effort on your part! Win-Win!
Here’s a list of handwriting resources we’ve found helpful:
Handwriting Worksheet Generators
- WorksheetWorks.com lets you make very customized worksheets. It’s quick to use and has more options than any other worksheet maker I’ve come across.
- HandWritingWorksheets.com offers a worksheet generator for making custom tracing/copying worksheets in a variety of styles and line sizes.
- SoftSchools.com is another option that’s quick to use because it offers less customization options. They also have dozens of free handwriting printables and a lot of free content for other subjects.
FREE Printable Handwriting Practice Sheets
- TLSbooks.com offers many free fine motor skills practice printables in a variety of styles. There’s a lot of other free content on this site, too!
- Studenthandouts.com offers a variety of free handwriting pages for practice at all levels (beginner tracing pages up through cursive copywork quotations). It’s kind of a random assortment of themes and pages but still a lot of good content.
- K12 Reader has free cursive and print worksheets plus blank lined primary handwriting paper printables.
- K5 Learning offers printing and cursive pages for free (or you can download their compilation workbooks – sets of the individual downloads in one PDF – for a very low price).
- The Measured Mom has a lot of free handwriting worksheets (plus more for purchase) that progress by skill level starting with some unique beginner sheets. These worked really well for my youngest son!
- WorksheetFun.com has hundreds of free printables for early elementary grades. Most of them are math pages but there are also dozens of alphabet tracing and letter practice pages plus blank primary lined paper. The site seems glitchy but they have some cute themed pages that make it worth a look. **2021 Update: I’m no longer experiencing any “glitchy-ness” on this website and there are even more printables now!**
Inexpensive Handwriting Programs
- The 3 R’s by Ruth Beechick demystifies education and is a great basic starting point if you’re anxious or overwhelmed (about handwriting or homeschooling in general). If I had to summarize this book in one sentence it would be “learning and teaching don’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make them.” This isn’t exactly a curriculum but a book explaining to parents a down-to-earth approach to teaching reading, writing and math. Her section on writing includes just a few basic thoughts on handwriting. She advocates a very natural approach beginning with tracing and then basically copying quality examples of increasing difficulty.
- The Complete Book of Handwriting (Grades K-3) is a thick workbook – 416 pages! The first half covers manuscript and the second half teaches cursive handwriting. I got it for a few dollars from a homeschooling book sale but even at its modest full price it would be a great value for the amount of quality content inside. We used it along with our other printables but I could easily see this book alone being a complete handwriting course for many students.
- Manuscript Writing Workbook (Grade K-2) is great for supplementing another program or for extra practice. I’ve found inexpensive workbooks like this one at garage sales, homeschool book sales or dollar stores. If you only have a B&W printer at home, sprinkle in some cheery, colorful pages from books like these to keep things interesting without a huge cost.
Other Ideas for Handwriting & Copywork
- Print out free primary lined paper and personalize the handwriting practice by writing your own model text by hand for your kids to trace or copy. I used this method as a once-in-a-while break from our usual pages and wrote funny little phrases for the kids to copy.
- Primary lined composition books work well for many but my left-handed boys tended to be frustrated by the binding. They preferred single sheets – either loose-leaf primary lined paper or pages from top-bound handwriting paper pads.
- If you download a primary line font, you can easily make 100% customized pages for your kids. I use “Penmanship Print” and found that once I had a few templates set up, it was not too time consuming at all. You can tailor margins, sizes and content as needed and easily align your handwriting with topics you’re studying in other subjects. It’s the ultimate level of customization!
Whether you’re supplementing a formal handwriting curriculum or creating your own program from scratch, there’s so much out there you’re sure to find the right solution for your needs! (sorry, another bad pun… I just can’t help myself)
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